Looking forward to Day of DH 2010

I’m really looking forward to participating in Day of DH 2010. While we wait for the big day, I’ll introduce myself. I’m a PhD candidate in English at the University of Victoria, where I work with Ray Siemens and Mary Elizabeth Leighton (among others). My dissertation is about the work of textual remediation in late-19th-century English departments (mainly Oxford and Cambridge) and in modern Digital Literary Studies. My main focus is on the future of scholarly publishing.

I also work as a research assistant at the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab and I’m the Assistant Director of the Digital Humanities Summer Institute.

Good Morning!

Anyone who knows me knows I am decidedly not a morning person. I’m still bitter about losing an hour’s sleep this past weekend. I usually spend the first half hour of my morning hunched over my laptop while I eat breakfast. If anyone at home asks me a question, I just make a pathetic groaning noise and burrow deeper into my robe.

One thing I can handle in the morning is checking email. This morning I have been responding to DHSI emails that came in overnight. Fortunately for me, Ray Siemens is far more of a morning person (we joke that Ray has outsourced sleeping so he can work 24/7) so I can bounce requests off him and reply to emails right away.

On my agenda today: head to the ETCL, get coffee (lots and lots of coffee), attend Ray’s Literary Computing grad class so I can see more of the student presentations on new media objects, meet with Meagan Timney and Ray so we can discuss something we’re working on about the future of scholarly publishing, assorted DHSI tasks, make a decision about how much teaching I can realistically take on next year, and plenty more.

I’m starting to feel marginally more human now so I’m going to finish getting ready to leave my lair and head to campus.

Catching Up

Coffee and a little Big Star to get me through the rest of the morning.

Finally made it out of the house this morning but not before saving the day by coming up with a way to clean some dirty ballet shoes mere hours before a performance. I usually work from home on Thursdays but I have been sitting in on Ray’s Literary Computing grad class lately and I filled in for him while he was away a couple of weeks ago. The students are doing individual presentations on new media objects and I want to see as many of them as possible.

The first presentation this morning was on Batman Arkham Asylum, specifically on its narrative structure and how it differs from a challenge-reward type of game. I was really interested in how the game rules change along with the narrative structure. Except for the summer I spent obsessively playing Tetris on my Atari 2600, I have never been into video games so the whole genre is completely foreign to me. That’s why I’m so interested in learning about narrative (something I know a lot about) in games (something I know nothing about). Last year, Ray and I did a presentation on narrative from a literary studies perspective for some game designers and they were just as interested in narratology as I was in their craft.

One amusing moment in the seminar — Ray asked the class how familiar they were with Northrop Frye’s work and if that was something people still learned about in undergrad. There was dead silence except for me in the back. U Waterloo Rhetoric students, represent!

Time for lunch. The plan is to work through lunch answering email, putting together some PowerPoint slides, and reading Robert Darnton’s piece in the New York Review of Books blog: “Blogging, Now and Then.”

Meetings + Me vs. The Fax Machine

Ray, Meagan, and I sat down to go over some PowerPoint slides for a presentation we’re working on. We’re trying to find the best way for Ray to present but to have us speak about our own projects. We’re thinking of embedding short videos which I will only do if I can edit it to make it look like I’m in the witness protection program. (I have a thing about being videotaped!) Or I will present my bit using sock puppets. It will be like Sifl and Olly’s Day of DH.

Once we wrapped that up, it was time to go another round with the fax machine. I have been trying to fax some important DHSI-related documents for two days now with absolutely no luck. I’m seriously considering hand delivering them to downtown Victoria. Right now, 50% of my DHSI work involves sending emails (or faxes) and the other 50% is waiting for emails (or faxes). It’s a lot of hurry-up-and-wait right now. Registration is winding down and most of our classes are full. Room and lab booking is almost done. It’s too early to prepare our printed material. The Visitor Information blog is up and running. So far everything is going smoothly.

I feel like I should apologize for the apparent lack of work I’m doing today. I’m actually heading home in about five minutes to do some shopping and tidy up my apartment in preparation for having people over for dinner tonight. I will be doing DH work, and blogging about it, after I get home and I usually work until about 2 or 3 am. There is definitely more to come.

Late Night Post

So. Last entry I said I was going home in 5 minutes. An hour later I actually made it out of the lab and headed home to get ready to have a few people over for dinner. That was about 8 hours ago and I’m just settling down with my laptop now to write a bit more about my Day of DH.

Dinner was a lot of fun. It was just a few of us hanging around my living room eating soup (Provençal Vegetable Soup) with bread and cheese. Nothing fancy but it was great to sit around talking about books and movies and school/work. My guests got to watch Marigold the wonder kitten tear around the room and Lilith the emo cat sulk in her cave. I also got to show off some of my latest finds;  I like having friends who appreciate my collecting of weird, random things because I have the design sense of a magpie.

Of course, we did spend some time talking about DH. Even though we all work in slightly different areas, the one thing we all have in common is that we have benefited from working collaboratively with each other and with other people in the DH community. We could all think of times when someone in our community has gone out of his or her way to offer help or praise our work. I love being able to work with people who are excited and passionate about what they do and who want to hear about what I’m working on, too.

A Quick Story Before Bed

My plan to stay up really late and work was a little ambitious. I’m beat and will probably turn in after I write this. I didn’t want the whole Day of DH to go by without saying something about my dissertation since it is the thing I work on the most even when I’m not actively working on it.

I’m usually quite shy about talking about my dissertation in public. Actually, shy isn’t the right word. I’m paranoid. I’m convinced that someone is going to hear about it and email me to say they just read a great paper on exactly the same topic and then I’ll cry.

Just a little while ago, I ended up on the same bus home as Hugh Craig, who is spending his sabbatical in Victoria and has been working in the lab. He was asking me about my dissertation and I was explaining that as part of it I am creating a digital edition of a book that was published anonymously in 1907. All of the publisher’s records for that time period were pulped for the war effort and there is almost no contemporary mention of the novel. We were speculating about its similarity to a later novel, which is something I’m researching but it hasn’t come to much. After I got home I tweeted something about feeling weird about having discussed my project on the bus and was teased about how people were now going to steal my sweet ideas.

The next day, Hugh told me that after I got off the bus, a man came up to him and asked, “were you the one talking to the woman about her dissertation?” (Insert panic here.) Then Gentleman Bus Rider said, “she should try looking at library records for the book to see if she can find out who borrowed it around that time.”

I love that I got a good research lead from talking about the book on the bus because a big part of my dissertation is about the value of harnessing collective knowledge in edition production. Thank you, anonymous patron of public transit for the tip and the story!