Hello World-Wide Reader!

7:25am. After seven hours of sleep, I am back at my desk. Quite early, I know, but I am close to finish some important work which is always a good motivation for me. Checking emails. There is nothing important and there is nothing to distract me from what I want (and have) to do. Though, there is. Since I agreed participating in the Day of DH, I am writing this down. I am not a blogger at all. Never have been. But this promises to be an opportunity to promote our (young or not so young?) discipline and to learn more about my fellows.

7:45am. Now, finally, I found the email with the password to log in and to paste my text! Done.

8:10am. So, here’s today’s plan: get as much work done for the publication of my PhD thesis (overdue); continue to write a paper for a journal on medieval studies (overdue); mark a student’s exam (close to deadline); play some sports (wanted and needed); do some work for the Digital Medievalist (regular); and: try to reduce any other business (eating up usually 70% of my working time).

9:30am. I have redone a couple of images and tables in my thesis. Time for some tea. And to write a little bit about that work. I submitted my thesis more than a year ago and passed the oral exam last spring. However, according to German habits, you have to publish your thesis and usually you need to revise bits and pieces for this. Some things, your supervisors ask you to rethink, some you are yourself not happy with any longer, and a lot of my illustrations and included screenshots do not have the right quality to allow them to be printed. These are the kind of changes, I am doing right now. My thesis is the digital edition of “kundige bok”. It has two parts: the (to be) printed introduction and the digital texts. Here is an extremly brief description of that work, pasted from my website:

“Kundige Bok: This is a 15th century manuscript, I have recently finished working on with the purpose of creating a digital edition. The text is dealing with regulations for everyday life (“Burspraken”) in North German Göttingen. The text was revised almost annually, producing a large number of deletions, additions, transpositions and comments. The idea of the project is to fully exploit the features of information technology in order to interact with the user and create a dynamic output. See here for a brief description of the project.”

11:10am. Images redrawn. Though, screenshots need to be redone, too. But now, time for a break!

12:15am. Did some work for the “Jahrbuch für Computerphilologie“. This is a yearly publication, co-edited by my boss and as part of my job, I am responsible for communication with the authors, technical editing and taking care of deadlines.

12:30am. Checking emails. Christiane, Georg and the other guys from the IDE are discussing the organisation of the next summer school. As IDE, we ran three week-long summer schools so far (with me being exeptionally inactive…), teaching one of the probably most famous aspects of Digital Humanities, which is text encoding (based on XML/TEI) and text processing. From our network IDE, Torsten, Franz and Patrick are also participating in this bloggy. Together, we comprise already two third of all German participants in the Day of DH, although DH in Germany is a highly active field! Well, it can be improved but it is not that bad that we are only five.  Maybe it is just the language barrier that prevent people here from taking part, or maybe we are just too busy :-) Should check France and Italy on the list of participants. Ah, even worse! Now, this really touches a sore point: UK, USA, Canada — that’s it, basically. Pity.

Mid(?)-session interval

12:40am. Lunch time!


1:45pm. Finished marking the intermediate exam of a student of mine. It was on digital editing.

2:45pm. I wonder whether I can get some intellectual work done today. I have just spent an hour (thanks to the bloggy, I can tell precisely!) formatting the bibliography. Unnerving. Although, most is done automatically. I use citavi as database which has a nice BibTeX export function which in turn can easily (more or less…) be used within my LaTeX document. Don’t dare to imagine to do all these 400+ entries manually.

2.55pm. The word cloud tool just tells me that “work” is the most used word by me, ahead of “day” and “digital”. Now, they will all score once more…

2.57pm. No, they don’t. Because they are in quotation marks?

3:00pm. Checking emails again. Good news from a friend and colleague from Galway. Well done! This message reminds me also on some other work that needs to be done. We are lecturing on manuscript encoding at the next Galway spring school. This needs to be prepared. Will reserve a couple of hours for this tomorrow to get started.

3.15pm. The computer’s been on for almost six hours now. Time to switch it off for a while. Spring has finally come and the sun is shining. It is pretty warm outside, 16C or something. Würzburg, where I live, is in the south of Germany. Well, it is not really in the south of the country, just a little bit. The north of the south so to say. One of the cool things of this job is that there are many days when you can decide yourself where and when to work. This is one of these days. I often work early in the mornings, have a break in the afternoon and resume in the evening. Looks like something I will do today, too.

Afternoon, the Second

4.30pm. Went out for a run. Up and downhill in the Würzburg vineyards. A cross-country fartlek, at least as cross as the country here is. I am preparing for an orienteering competition the day after tomorrow. Ultra-long distance. Scary…

The image shows the profile of today’s run. It is a simple way of visualising information. I could include (and relate) more data, of course, like heart rate or pace. But that is private. I am mentioning information visualisation because it is one of the hot topics in Digital Humanities (though, I still prefer the term Humanities Computing) and certainly the one I am currently most interested in. In particular, dynamic, interactive visualisation — otherwiese we won’t do any better than Minard’s famous thematic maps from the 19th century (which were brilliant for that time, but research always has to make progress). I believe that InfVis is still at the very beginning in DH. There some quite sophisticated efforts, though.

5:15pm. I am back at my desk. Had a phone call in between with a colleague to discuss something on multispectral imaging which was one of my projects in Ireland. The email front is still astonishingly calm today. Something in preparation for our meeting later today. And a message from the university administration. You want to guess? Yes, you are right: I need to fill in a form!

Evening session

9pm. Puh, just finished a 2-hours conversation on skype with Becky, Dan and Peter, the editorial team for the Digital Medievalist journal, discussing the upcoming issue. Digital Humanities is very international, and this was a trans-continental chat with eight(?) hours of time difference. Late for me, early for Dan. We have this meeting regularly and it is always productive and interesting. Online chat is prefered, though sometimes we do a conference call as well.

10pm. I will call it a Day of Digital Humanities, now. Tomorrow? Same, but different, I guess! Good night and good luck!

Post-Mortem Summary

So, the day was “just digital work” (check the word count on the right)!