The North in the South…

(The desk that I sit at. But I moved the next day)

Ok, I was a little late starting today but this doesn’t matter because as I am in Melbourne, Australia (not Melbourne Florida), I am up before most people participating in the Day of the Digital Humanities anyhow.

I woke in my room in my crappy 1970s unit in the suburbs of Melbourne at about 730AM.  I was a little tired as I was out late last night; first at a lecture by Clive Hamilton on the climate debate, then at a dinner party at a mates place in Carlton. We drank a bottle of wine that had set the dangerous precedent of not having a year that it was bottling on the label. It had the hour that it was bottled, but not the year. 2.00AM was a good hour!

I drove my crappy Mitsubishi to work eagerly anticipating the day that I will have enough money to buy a motorcycle. I miss the motorcycle I had in London. But apart from the Real Ale, it is the only real thing I miss from that city.

When I arrived at work, I plugged in my laptop and opened my email client. There were a lot of emails. I respond to the emails and this always takes longer than I imagine. There is a discussion about a National Gazetteer Service and another about data curation in the Library environment (I worry about that word ‘curation’; there isn’t really such a word as ‘curation’).

I make a couple of appointments for next week and then visit Nick Thieberger; a linguist and co-developer of the fantastic project Paradisec. Nick has been involved in the broader Digital Humanities field for many years and his project about endangered languages in the Australian region has received a number of prises and research-funding awards. Nick introduces me to some new software and I mention some people that he should visit when he goes to the UK.

After this, I attend a meeting where some of the results of a review about VeRSI are presented by a consultant names Carol. The results are fairly positive and the milestones and challenges that VeRSI has encountered over the past 4 years are outlined in a PowerPoint presentation. The presentation is attended by almost all of the VeRSI staff; there are about 17 of us in total.  But the presentation does have a science bias and I question this, but Carol assures me that the humanities projects that we are involved in are mentioned.

In the afternoon I discuss the possibility of putting on a workshop here at Melbourne for the Digital Humanities. I ask a couple of people in the office about this and how we may sponsor it.  A introductory type of workshop in terms of community-building is something that should be easy to organise and would get the ball running quickly. This could lead onto larger events around specific themes at a later date.

I also discuss with a colleague, the possibility of using MDID (Madison Digital Image Database) on a project at La Trobe University; one of VeRSI’s partners. I am warming to MDID; but I would need to learn much more about the specific project and the needs of the project (today I was ironically to do a ‘needs analysis’ workshop around some of the AGILE software development concepts). Iterative design is extraordinary important in the humanities because most of what we do is ‘cultural’ and is often difficult to be translated into formal computing infrastructure.

( I then update my blog and the VeRSI humanities blog and then this blog.  A Digital Humanities luminary accused me of being noisy online…good!)




Later that day…

Later in the afternoon I again replied to a few emails. I run Thunderbird as a email client and have lots of filters on it. The university account I have doesn’t have much spam, but my personal account receives about 80% spam traffic.  And I enjoy deleting spam; it gives me great satisfaction, but I am fighting a loosing battle. Every few years I change my email account and move onto a fresh account until the Spam again almost reaches a real-time flood.  Time to get a new account!.

I arrange via email a couple of meetings for colleagues going to Europe.  One, a Senior Researcher here at Melbourne University is going to Oxford University so I recommended he visit a Digital Humanities researcher at OUCS (Oxford University Computer Centre). The other colleague, the director of a Digital Humanities centre also here at Melbourne, is going to Berlin so I suggested he visit Alex at Academie Der Wissenscharten.

I chat with Alex in Berlin for sometime on Skype about my colleagues possible visit and also my possible visit directly before the Digital Humanities Conference at King’s College in London in July.

I then chat to Gabriel Bodard, an ex-colleague at the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King’s. I ask him what the name is for the second edition of the Blackwell’s Companion to Digital Humanities. He tells me that it is the Blackwell Companion to Digital Literature Studies but cost 95 pounds (ouch!). This one can wait I think; but I need to write a ‘white paper’ soon about Digital Literature studies for VeRSI. I wrote a white paper the other day on eResearch in the Digital Humanities which is pretty difficult territory because eResearch is largely driven by a service imputes in Australia and indeed services to Science. Still, the Digital Humanities is probably in the best position that it has been in about 2 decades in Australia largely driven by this broader eResearch agenda.

Time to go home now.  And crap; my Mitsubishi has a parking ticket. Damn! I should have ridden my bicycle to work today.