Hello (again), world.

I’m participating again this year in the international digital humanities ethnography experiment, Day of DH. This was great fun last year, where I documented a fairly typical day around the Scholars’ Lab in my role as Director of Digital Research & Scholarship for the library system at the University of Virginia.

I’m planning to do the same thing today as last year — drop in some quick, place-holder posts to be filled out with more detail later — because who has time to blog when you’re living your #dayofDH?

pre-game scrimmage

A placeholder for talking about morning stuff, including the essential habit I’ve cultivated of dealing with some overnight DH email while waiting for various kinds of water to heat up: for tea, and for a morning shower. Also at stoplights. (Is there a special dispensation for illegal activity revealed on Day of DH blogs?)

in which I heartily recommend…

…a colleague’s proposed NEH project (ie. last-minute letter-writing) and make Alice-in-Wonderland analogies for the present state of the library’s digital collections.

I should also talk about what’s been going on this week generally in the Scholars’ Lab, by way of explaining my last-minuteness on some correspondence. I’ll come back later and describe visits to the Scholars’ Lab by Julie Meloni, Mark Matienzo, and Dave Lester. Julie and Mark left yesterday, and Dave’s still here working with us today.

(Later…) Actually, I don’t think I’ll have time today to come back and flesh this out more than to say that Julie gave a fabulous talk in the SLab on Tuesday, at which Jerry McGann and I served as respondents, and it was wonderful that she could stick around for an extra day to spend some time with us all. Mark was here to work with some other units in the Library on the AIMS project, which is a Mellon-funded initiative related to digital preservation. We snagged him to go out to lunch and talk about EAD issues in our Neatline project and in an XForms editor Ethan Gruber, who works in my department, has been playing with on his “research days.” (That’s Friday, for everybody, when I can harangue them into taking advantage of it!) And Dave is here to work on his own stuff and get consultation from us under the rubric of our visiting scholars program. Here’s Dave, in his temporary digs.

further with the sporting stuff, & #alt-ac emails

Wayne Graham, our head of R&D in the Scholar’s Lab, is running some kind of office betting pool without the betting (see? no illegality in these posts!) related to a series of sporting events that may or may not involve basketball. (People just laugh at me when I ask for clarification.) Anyway — an important part of my DayofDH was deemed to be the filling out of a chart in which I pitted Mormons against Catholics, and Catholics against Baptists in earlier rounds of the contest, before predicting a sweeping win by the Mountaineers (presuming that is the mascot) of my home state in the final crescendo of sportingness.

And then response to a couple of emails related to an open-access book I’m editing, on non-typical (non-tenure-track, “alternate academic”) paths for humanities scholars within and around the academy. You can occasionally find interesting conversation in on this topic by following the #alt-ac hashtag on Twitter.

Also some running around in response to upcoming events and collaborations that will include a programmer from my department working on initiatives outside of my department. (Making sure he’s got a path back to us when this jaunt is over. This is the kind of managerial stuff on which I spend a good deal of time and is the cost of operating a digital humanities unit inside a larger organization that also has IT needs.)

Enabling Geospatial Scholarship in the Humanities

And a placeholder for a phone call we’re having in a few minutes with Anne Knowles, who is directing the next round of our Scholars’ Lab / NEH Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship. We’re finalizing the curriculum based on what we’ve learned about the needs of our selected attendees for the “scholarship” round, to be held in May. Amazing faculty — anticipating great conversations and useful training.

Quick update: WOW. Could not be more thrilled with the way this is coming together. Anne and I were just commenting that it’s going to be the training program and set of conversations about geospatial scholarship that I needed before getting the grant to host this puppy, and Anne needed before writing and editing major works on historical GIS and becoming a noted expert in the field.

this old house

Phone call about a quick request for ballpark budget figures on a desired remodeling project in the Scholars’ Lab. We’d like to turn our current classroom into a dedicated lab space where our Grad Fellows in Digital Humanities and the faculty we’re working with intensively could be given desk space on revolving, year-long “lease.” Then we’d share a bigger, lovelier classroom (also freshly remodeled) with the reference and instructional librarians in Alderman Library’s humanities and social science services. Anne Houston and I, along with Mike Furlough, will be presenting on the past, present, and future of the Scholars’ Lab facilities at the spring meeting of CNI, the Coalition for Networked Information.

in the ThinkTank

Just back from my regular, weekly meeting with Joe Gilbert and Wayne Graham. Joe heads the Scholars’ Lab group and Wayne runs our R&D department. The way we work in our open-format offices, we see a lot of each other all week long, but this is our real catch-up and planning meeting. We hold these in the ThinkTank, out in the Scholars’ Lab proper. I’ll come back and add a photo of the ThinkTank later, if I have time — it’s my favorite room, and we fixed it up ourselves! Imagine leather fainting couches, dark grey walls and glowing red lampshades, a gigantic LCD and a little whiteboard, and a shabby-chic homemade coffee-table with a glass top (it used to be a Special Collections display case) filled with motion-sensitive LEDs.

Today’s meeting was pretty typical — some discussion of specifics related to ongoing projects, a little bit of conversation on a funding issue and on relations with some other local groups devoted to digital humanities.

One nice thing I learned is that Dave Lester, who is spending a few days here as a visiting scholar under the rubric of our GIS institute, is going to walk out this afternoon with a functional, Ruby on Rails framework for mapping and querying his historical place-based data. Two days, one tool?

[Edited later to insert some dark and slightly odd images of the ThinkTank, taken through the glass windows that give it its name. Was too lazy to go and fetch the key.]

what passes for lunch

15 minutes to peel and scarf a drippy grapefruit while trying to answer time-sensitive email

HR stuff & Scholars’ Lab coordinators

A placeholder to discuss — if I have time to return to it — my last two meetings: an interim performance review (it’s that time of year) for my wonderful assistant, Becca, and a meeting with our newly-expanded (by one — the fortuitous addition of Ronda as communications maven!) group of Scholars’ Lab coordinators. This is our regular, weekly half-hour check-in on all things logistical related to public services that run out of the Scholars’ Lab. Today it was mostly events planning (our regular speaker series, upcoming luncheon talks by our Grad Fellows, and #geoinst logistics), a bit of publicity stuff (how hard can it be to get some stickers purchased through the University’s system?), and a discussion of the soon-to-be implemented scheduling software that will let people reserve our computers, ThinkTank, classroom, and private desks.

Becca gives me the same incredulous look in this picture several times a day.

what I’m missing

I see from a quick glance at the blog of my colleague and fellow Day of DH participant, Kelly Johnston, that I missed a very interesting talk next door, as part of Charlottesville’s Festival of the Book. And right now I’m missing a workshop by Kelly and Chris Gist, who both work as GIS Specialists in the Scholars’ Lab, on digitizing and editing spatial data. This is one in a hugely popular, several-part training series they offer, which takes participants from novices to being quite accomplished in geospatial tools and methods. I haven’t been able to make it to a single one this semester, but I did take the series they designed especially for humanities scholars last year. Chris and Kelly will bring some of this curriculum to the Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship in May, and we’ll also be publishing it in a “Step by Step” series on a spatial humanities website we’re creating as part of the Institute.

quick walkabout

I’ve been a proponent of Managing By Walking Around long before I knew it had a name. This is a placeholder post for some pics of staff and spaces around the Scholars’ Lab. (I picked a moment to walk around in which most people were engaged in consultations, so I didn’t pester with the camera, but a few goodhearted folks agreed to make a guest appearance on this Day of DH blog.)

Here you see Joe Gilbert, looking scruffier than last year’s Day of DH, and Ethan Gruber, who will be giving a talk next week on his amazing 3d timelapse modelling of the way light fell on mosaics in Roman villas. Seriously. And Ronda Grizzle models her geek queen tiara — note the little LEDs and resistors. Also, the Common Room of the Scholars’ Lab is bustling.

loose ends around the office

Not only am I preparing to be out of the office until Tuesday (I’m headed off tomorrow to participate in Great Lakes THATCamp and teach a workshop on wearable tech, soft-circuits, and e-textiles with Bill Turkel), but I also need to leave early today to pick up the kids. My husband usually does this, and fixes their dinner, which has the unfortunate effect of leaving me free to stay in the office for an hour or so after everybody else leaves in the evenings — actually often my most productive time. But not today! So I’m tying up loose ends around here, checking in with everybody about any last-minute things they need from me, and heading out around 4:15.

After the kids go to bed tonight, I’ll do a little more email triage, pack up supplies for the workshop and my luggage, and create some slides I can share by way of introduction and inspiration for our participants. It’s really going to be fun, and I’m looking forward to learning a lot from Bill, as I have in the past. Here’s a link to the warm-up exercise we’re going to do, for people who are new to sewing or to creating a functional circuit, or who just want their very own nerdy, THATCamp self-meriting merit badge.

And if you want to know more about soft circuits and wearable tech, you couldn’t do better than to start with (and hey, contribute to!) our Zotero group.

that’s all, folks

The Day of DH is far from over, but we’ve come to the end of what I’ll be documenting this year. Thanks again to Geoffrey and everyone for a fabulous idea, and to all the colleagues, friends, and strangers who participated for demonstrating the breadth of activity within the digital humanities. That’s all for me! And this is me, on my Day of DH 2010.