Waiting for Day of DH

It will be a (part of a) whole community speaking on Thursday.  A testimony of underground or well-known practices.

This shared blog-day will show an incredible variety of ways of thinking what is / how to do Digital Humanities. We already have a lot of clues. From theory to practice, these 150 blogs will allow each of us to look at the workshop of colleagues around the world, to get inspired, to build some legitimity for this field.

And to share.

Looking around

Funny to have a look to this community emerging : the rss feed gives us the feeling of how everyone is coping with the platform, how everyone chooses to describe him/herself — Julia Flanders, with some lists ; Ray Siemens, minimalistically (and waiting for the time to go to the pub (!)) ; self-declared plagiarism ; sitting on a bench

Many are doubtful of the value of their ordinary life . Seems to me there would be no individual lives in this project, if one makes the effort to cross-read some of these blogs.


As usual, having a look to mail/twitter/netnewswire (in that order!), screening to see if there is something new quite interesting. Nothing in mail. Twitter : an article on droit d’auteur, which is quite ironical after yesterday’s discussion about Gallimard’s request addressed to Wikisource asking to withdraw some texts still under French copyright ; a strange face not blurred in GoogleMaps (!), etc. No time for Netnewswire now (grr, writing a post for DH Day, what an idea…), time for kids/breakfast/school, my virtual life will continue in two hours.


This morning, meeting with PM, a cégep colleague, to plan a book on contemporary short story collections in Québec literature. Some coffee, two laptops, and intense brainstorming on the editorial form of this project. Between 25 and 30 texts proposed : far too long (and too expensive) for a traditional book (l’ouvrage collectif cannot afford to be that big, or it won’t exist, because nobody would buy it). How can we propose a digital form, without evacuating editorial stamp and value ? Online encyclopedia of… ; ebook produced by an editor in the humanities field ; online journal… ? The importance of peer-review is back on the table, and so are the constraints of editorial process. We decide not to consider paper edition. We’ll see how to manage online publication of that big editorial project.

At the same time, DL worked on the moving of an old server — which was literally hidden in a closet — to a more secure spot. Now linked to the Laboratoire Ex situ I put in place in the last year, that server hosts different projects important to my work : online journal (temps zéro), many wikis, online databases, online course, etc. These will be soon transfered on a new machine ; the old one will be our sandbox to test and tame Alfresco, the EMS chosen to drive project DÉCALCQ (an online repository of scientific archives in Québec literature and culture). Everything’s still to be done…

New things

IT is the world of the new (ask Bertrand Gervais, he will confirm). New media, new hardware (and it is worst in French language, I must admit). Having a look to rss’es, to twitter : always trying to figure out what is relevant for your field, what can be useful in our tasks.

I am always on a screening mode. New publications in literary studies, in IT, about contemporary literature. Finding once a week in my mailbox a mail from Vigilibris (what’s new in bookstores in France), my rss of Fabula, followed colleagues on twitter. Is it really the entry door for DH ? Seems too simple, too basic — but looking at many colleagues and students, it really is part of DH tasks. Efficiency in this survey may be a hint about IT integration in the common tasks of faculty members… (?)


Always working on my computer. What a chance to be in literary studies : from time to time, I have to take a book in my hands. Unless, I would be paraplegic. With stress and not-that-good posture, I have developed first symptoms of tennis elbow — on my left arm, it let me my right hand to play tennis on Wii (!). And today, I am trying Apple Magic Mouse : nice to scroll with my fingers on the top of the mouse, but it is too small, my wrist does not like it. I don’t think it will stay on my desk for long.

Yet to come

Not much of a vibrating full-of-IT DH day : meetings with students in afternoon, back home soon. But we’re going forward at the Lab, planning how to cope with pounds of boxes full of archives from old research projects (metadatas : Dublin Core and what else ? what can be available online without restrictions ? what about the rules from funders asking for delivering raw data of scientific projects ?). Also at stake : how this tool (Alfresco, a EMS) can be used as a platform for current scientific projects (to ensure to preserve all digital data of future projects by an virtual environment).

In mind, for the next weeks :

  • push students from my Literature and Technology class to understand better the consequences of digital world on literature (and help them in reading some online/hypermediatic works)
  • go forward in my survey of ebooks and new reading devices (round table in cégep in a few weeks on that topic)
  • in Ex situ lab : first tests of scanning and indexing scientific archives (and define protocols for students who will work this summer for the project)

And take a few hours to read all these journeys through DH. Nice experience, thanks to the team.

(Pictures : from an event, on Feb 26th, named « Fabrique du numérique », gathering librarians, scholars, publishers and bloggers around the topic of ebooks and changes in the book industry)