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Todd Suomela

Digital History & Argument White Paper - Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media - 0 views

    "This white paper is the product of the Arguing with Digital History Workshop organized by Stephen Robertson and Lincoln Mullen of George Mason University, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The two-day workshop, which involved twenty-four invited participants at different stages in their careers, working in a variety of fields with a range of digital methods, was conceived with a focus on one particular form of digital history, arguments directed at scholarly audiences and disciplinary conversations. Despite recurrent calls for digital history in this form from digital and analog historians, few examples exist. The original aim of the workshop was to promote digital history that directly engaged with historiographical arguments by producing a white paper that addressed the conceptual and structural issues involved in such scholarship. Input from the participants expanded the scope of the white paper to also elaborate the arguments made by other forms of digital history and address the obstacles to professional recognition of those interpretations. The result was a document that aims to help bridge the argumentative practices of digital history and the broader historical profession. On the one hand, it aims to demonstrate to the wider historical discipline how digital history is already making arguments in different forms than analog scholarship. On the other hand, it aims to help digital historians weave the scholarship they produce into historiographical conversations in the discipline."
Todd Suomela

The State of Open Data Report 2017 - 0 views

    "Figshare's annual report, The State of Open Data 2017, looks at global attitudes towards open data. It includes survey results of 2,300 respondents and a collection of articles from industry experts, as well as a foreword from Jean-Claude Burgelman, Head of Unit Open Data Policies and Science Cloud at the European Commission.

    Its key finding is that open data has become more embedded in the research community - 82% of survey respondents are aware of open data sets and more researchers are curating their data for sharing."
Todd Suomela

From Good Intentions to Real Outcomes - Connected Learning Alliance - 0 views

    "The growth of online communication, media, and gaming is driving dramatic changes in how we learn. Responding to these shifts, new forms of technology-enhanced learning and instruction, such as personalized learning, open online courses, educational games and apps, and tools for learning analytics, are garnering significant public attention and private investment. These technologies hold tremendous promise for improving learning experiences and outcomes. Despite this promise, however, evidence is mounting that these new technologies tend to be used and accessed in unequal ways, and they may even exacerbate inequity.

    In February and May 2017, leading researchers, educators, and technologists convened for in-depth working sessions to share challenges and solutions for how learning technologies can provide the greatest benefits for our most vulnerable learners.The aim was to develop guiding principles and a shared agenda for how educational platforms and funders can best serve diverse and disadvantaged learners. These principles include inclusive design processes, ways of addressing barriers, and meth- ods to effectively measure impact.

    This report synthesizes the research, learnings, and recommendations that participants offered at the two workshops. After framing the nature of the challenge, the report then describes promising strategies and examples, and it ends with recommendations for next steps in research and coalition building."
Todd Suomela

Home - OpenMinTeD - 0 views

    "OpenMinted sets out to create an open, service-oriented ep-Infrastructure for Text and Data Mining (TDM) of scientific and scholarly content. Researchers can collaboratively create, discover, share and re-use Knowledge from a wide range of text-based scientific related sources in a seamless way."

The Digital-Humanities Bust - The Chronicle of Higher Education - 0 views

  • To ask about the field is really to ask how or what DH knows, and what it allows us to know. The answer, it turns out, is not much.

    Let’s begin with the tension between promise and product. Any neophyte to digital-humanities literature notices its extravagant rhetoric of exuberance. The field may be "transforming long-established disciplines like history or literary criticism," according to a Stanford Literary Lab email likely unread or disregarded by a majority in those disciplines. Laura Mandell, director of the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture at Texas A&M University, promises to break "the book format" without explaining why one might want to — even as books, against all predictions, doggedly persist, filling the airplane-hanger-sized warehouses of

  • A similar shortfall is evident when digital humanists turn to straight literary criticism. "Distant reading," a method of studying novels without reading them, uses computer scanning to search for "units that are much smaller or much larger than the text" (in Franco Moretti’s words) — tropes, at one end, genres or systems, at the other. One of the most intelligent examples of the technique is Richard Jean So and Andrew Piper’s 2016 Atlantic article, "How Has the MFA Changed the American Novel?" (based on their research for articles published in academic journals). The authors set out to quantify "how similar authors were across a range of literary aspects, including diction, style, theme, setting." But they never cite exactly what the computers were asked to quantify. In the real world of novels, after all, style, theme, and character are often achieved relationally — that is, without leaving a trace in words or phrases recognizable as patterns by a program.
  • Perhaps toward that end, So, an assistant professor of English at the University of Chicago, wrote an elaborate article in Critical Inquiry with Hoyt Long (also of Chicago) on the uses of machine learning and "literary pattern recognition" in the study of modernist haiku poetry. Here they actually do specify what they instructed programmers to look for, and what computers actually counted. But the explanation introduces new problems that somehow escape the authors. By their own admission, some of their interpretations derive from what they knew "in advance"; hence the findings do not need the data and, as a result, are somewhat pointless. After 30 pages of highly technical discussion, the payoff is to tell us that haikus have formal features different from other short poems. We already knew that.
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  • The outsized promises of big-data mining (which have been a fixture in big-figure grant proposals) seem curiously stuck at the level of confident assertion. In a 2011 New Left Review article, "Network Theory, Plot Analysis," Moretti gives us a promissory note that characterizes a lot of DH writing: "One day, after we add to these skeletons the layers of direction, weight and semantics, those richer images will perhaps make us see different genres — tragedies and comedies; picaresque, gothic, Bildungsroman … — as different shapes; ideally, they may even make visible the micro-patterns out of which these larger network shapes emerge."

    But what are the semantics of a shape when measured against the tragedy to which it corresponds? If "shape" is only a place-holder meant to allow for more-complex calculations of literary meaning (disburdened of their annoyingly human baggage), by what synesthetic principle do we reconvert it into its original, now reconfigured, genre-form? It is not simply that no answers are provided; it is that DH never asks the questions. And without them, how can Moretti’s "one day" ever arrive?

  • For all its resources, the digital humanities makes a rookie mistake: It confuses more information for more knowledge. DH doesn’t know why it thinks it knows what it does not know. And that is an odd place for a science to be.
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