Hello world!

Welcome to Day of DH 2010. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

‘Morning, day of DH

View from our bedroom, sunrise looking past the 13th Century thatched tavern towards the Cotswolds hills

View from our bedroom, sunrise looking past the 13th Century thatched tavern towards the Cotswolds hills


One of the wonders of doing what might be considered digital humanities, (primarily online, for a UK university), is that I am able to work from home – for 2 days a week (as part of an official ‘flexible work arrangement’). Today is 1 of those days. So as soon as our 5-year-old gets us up I login to my email etc. and start work! This morning I’m blogging for this day of DH instead of answering messages.

I’ll try to help with breakfasts for the boys, and sorting their packed lunches – making up for the days I have to rush out of the door, late for my train. Later in the day I’ll look after the youngest boy whilst my wife teaches piano (in our ‘front room’). I’ll fit work in around this until late evening, sometimes catching up at the weekend.

Without these days at home I would rarely see the boys apart from at the weekend. I used to work 40-50 hours a week, mostly in the evenings and weekends at home. Slowly I’m wising-up, so on the other 3 days I work as full a day as possible usually 9am-7pm in the office, in Oxford University Computing Services Learning Technologies Group – with accompanying commute by train, about 2 hours door-to-door.

So, what to write about?

Well, I hope to record some of the activities of the day. Yesterday was a frustrating day in the office, which I started with plans to make in-roads into writing RunCoCo training material, from which I got diverted by other more pressing work. Today I suspect I’ll have more focussed time but less of it at home – the distractions being mainly the kids. As well as the activities I wonder about recording the tools used, including social media and social networks – would that be good? I’ve an idea to follow Bridget Jones’ example of whining narcissism in her diary (written by Helen Fielding)… the daily struggles with e-mails, spam, tweets read and sent as well as other distractions from the Internet. What about over-indulgence in alcohol and cigarettes [Hmmmm! Scratch that!] the number of words written – training material, messages – statistics only, nothing qualitative about originality! And what of the career? The future?

How to write it?

I hope to record some of the day’s activities in much shorter blog posts than this, maybe more of a photo-story?

We’ll see!

Written: 437 words in 1 blog post using WordPress on my Dell latitude laptop, MS Windows, Firefox browser – and Nokia N95 to take the photos.


Email breakfast

Quick check of email, multi-tasking whilst eating breakfast – calming down 5-year-old, watching on TV ‘Lunar Jim’ and my favourite ‘Timmy Time’ (I’m serious), and reading the local paper.

Read: 17 emails since last login yesterday evening (softball spring training starts this weekend, aaargh! Unshelved cartoon, Librarian in Black blog update ‘REVENGE OF FAIL WHALE‘) and deleted about 4 spam. Also the local rag.

Written: 95 words, acccording to the wordcount at the end of this post!

Consumed: orange juice (1 glass), tea (1 mug), Rice Krispies (1 bowl), a banana


Breakfast with Snap, Crackle and Pop, Asterix and The Prisoner


Postcards [check] Lunchbox [fail]

Postcards for The Great War Archive and the First World War Poetry Digital Archive given to Number 1 son to give to his history teacher (he asked for this!). Happy to promote the amazing Education resources on those websites created by teachers for teachers.

In confusion of the morning Number 2 son left for school without his lunchbox… probably my fault! S rushes to fill the box with sandwich etc and take it round to school.

Written: 79 words

Consumed: humble pie.


Retreat from Mons

Mons Myth

One email from last night followed up – from a colleague who has just retired to the west country. He’s no Internet connection (yet) so this has been the first communication in days. Anyway, gave me opportunity to share a book review, one of those ’saw this and thought of you’ as we share an interest in the Retreat from Mons in the autumn of 1914 at the start of the First World War – my great-uncle was in the B.E.F.

Written: 85 words (this post), about 30 words (1 email)


Facebook friends

Quick check on Facebook – my online social area. I keep in touch with friends from school, uni, former workplaces, even colleagues. I often blur work/social life on Facebook. I don’t stay on for long usually, as everyone else can see if you are online. However Facebook Chat has been useful – I find colleagues especially will use that channel to ‘chat’ about work, as I don’t use other IM clients. This morning I check (very very briefly) the status of about 20 friends. Send birthday greetings to a colleague in Manchester University. Yesterday Facebook reminded me of an ‘old’ friend’s birthday, and we exchanged Facebook emails throughout the day, catching-up.

[Breaks - for quick shower!]

And then I follow-up my posting yesterday…

Wardrobe malfunction tweets

Yesterday I posted on Facebook a link to a blog about Twitter, a story with the moral:

People don’t stop talking about your firm outside of office hours

When someone talks about your firm online, many other people are listening in too

Motivated staff who can display initiative are good for all sorts of reasons – but their ability to react sensibly to online discussion about the firm is another one to add to the list

The story is about crowdsourcing, a dirty word in the creative industries, but a concept which is starting to gain ground in the humanities – especially the cultural sector, like museums and archives – and something which RunCoCo, the project I manage, is training people about. Anyway a former Intute colleague from the University of Nottingham comments and I reply. It’s almost a social life?

Written: 282 words (blog), 100 words (Facebook)

Read: 20 status updates and 3-4 comments (Facebook)


Listening to: wife practising piano (she’s a piano teacher)


Europeana and other emails

More email, a lot of it relating to Europeana.eu, an EU-funded portal to digital objects, images, text, sound and film on the Internet. This week we met in Oxford with some of their marketing team (email received this morning thanking us) to try to ‘brain-dump’ as much good practice from The Great War Archive and about the open source CoCoCo software for Europeana work which may be launched for the public to contribute to later in 2010. Also we’re involved in a bid for Europeana user-generated-content and community collections – which is driving a lot of traffic through my email (4 messages so far this morning) from the ‘project’ workspace that has been set-up using Basecamp. The pleasures of collaborative writing of work packages alongside institutions and projects from across Europe (including UKOLN)! Our suggestion for user-generated content is, of course, the First World War 1914-1918, but there are many themes being discussed. This could lead on to working in a number of European countries as a test case to build on The Great War Archive across Europe in time for the 2014 anniversary. If you are part of an education or public sector organisation in the EU and are interested in being involved in the user-generated-content proposal for 2011- please email runcoco@oucs.ox.ac.uk. We would also love to hear from anyone interested in being involved in a pan-European Great War Archive, or even a truly worldwide initiative to include all the countries involved in the First World War.

Other messages, 1 from a colleague reporting a typo on our website, and another reminding me that dayofdh is similar to an unsuccessful (Oxford) Humanities Computing Unit bid for funding in 2001 – both prompted by reading my dayofdh posts!

Written: 313 words (blog), 2 replies to emails

Read: 19 emails – some about softball training (can I resist?), and deleted 2 spam, read 3 notes on Basecamp

Listening to: wife still practising piano (she’s a piano teacher)


Perambulate as fast as the local gravity will allow

A quick walk to the post office to post a very belated mother's day card (for mum-in-law), and to buy a paper

Observed: my first daffodil (growing in the ground) for 2010! Did you see the Twitter story this week, as the daffodils are late to appear in the Lake District (that inspired the poet William Wordsworth)? I was in Keswick, in the Lake District, last week and it was beautiful, but stark and still in the grips of winter.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake,
beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Social interaction: actually spoke to 1 person! Last year we worked with Margi Blunden (one of the daughters of Edmund Blunden) to research for the First World War Poetry Digital Archive. One of the stories she told of her father was that, late in life, he came to terms with the fact that he would never be able to just pop in to the post office, without first having rehearsed the whole scene several times. A form of shyness I guess, something which I notice myself doing all the time!

Exercise: less than 3/4 mile

Sci-fi inspired post title: quote

Written: 219 words


Love joy

Multi-tasking over lunch. Again.

  • Monitoring email, and posts and comments on this dayofdh blog.
  • Trying to schedule a meeting tomorrow with the department director, the project P.I. (both extremely busy people) and me (done, sorted!) about a bid to write.
  • Flicking through my latest secondhand book purchase (delivered from eBay today), the graphic novel Charley’s War part II
  • All whilst watching on the television a 10th anniversary episode of ‘Bargain Hunt’, bliss! It could only be better if it was a repeat of an early episode of ‘Lovejoy’

Written: 120 words (blog), 4 emails, comments on this blog and on Basecamp, and meeting invites

Read: 34 emails, (1 spam deleted), 1st chapter of the graphic novel, about 20 other posts on this dayofdh blog

Consumed: bread, olive tapenade, cherry toms, grapes, hot cross bun and butter



I added to the right hand margin of this blog the Twitter widget for @RunCoCo. I also tweet for @ww1lit, @intute, @ltgoxford and as myself. I use Tweetdeck for this. It allows you to tweet under different usernames, and you can follow threads and even look at Facebook updates, linkedin and Flickr. However, leaving Tweetdeck on in the background is so distracting – I must reconfigure the settings as at the moment I receive a pop-up alert whenever a new tweet comes in. Therefore I only look at Tweetdeck once or twice a day.

This lunchtime I checked in, and read/skimmed more than 100 tweets. Some days this will generate many many links to Web pages I want to read – mainly for work. If there’s anything I really want to share or bookmark for future use then I use the RunCoCo delicious account.

Dear me, that Tweetdeck alert is so distracting – I’ve got to switch Tweetdeck off till I next look at Twitter.

I feel like that talking dog in the film Up! ‘Squirrel!’

Anyway, we’ve used Twitter in Oxford to successfully engage with other professionals and our users for the First World War Poetry Digital Archive and starting to make contact with people interested in running a community collection or harnessing the public enthusiasm to add to their existing online collections.

Read: 100+ messages of 140 characters or less, 5 Web pages linked from those including DNA tests fail to identify unknown WWI soldiers

Written: 227 words (blog), 3 tweets