Hello DH world!

Starting my Day of DH 2010 still up and working after midnight. Unsuprisingly I am not the only HuCo grad student working late on their thesis proposal, Victoria Smith, Silvia Russell, Joyce Yu, Sophia Hoosein and I are offering moral support and very welcome distraction over google wave. I am becoming increasingly selfaware of my typo filled posts as it gets later and I am sure everyone is tired of watching me delete and retype the same simple words over and over trying to make my fingers and brain coordinate. It looks like those last cups of coffee have completely worn off.  There is no point in making my early morning editing more difficult than I have to.

Time to grab a couple hours of sleep before a full day on campus.


After several days of beautiful sunshine and warm weather Edmonton is dreary and snowing today. After a cup of coffee and a quick edit of my assignment Matt and I sneak past Charlie (our cat) and he drops me off at the bus stop on his way to work. We started taking Charlie outside on a leash and harness because we live on a busy corner and I am a paranoid helicopter cat parent. He really loves being outside, but I can’t help but think I am setting him up for some serious psychological problems in the near future. It must be incredibly embarassing for him to be out on a leash while the neighbour cats get to roam around freely (I know I am embarassed to be seen walking him, it has to make me look at least a little crazy).


Thursday mornings I am in Geoffrey Rockwell’s project management class. Dan Sondheim and I are working on a database project for the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation for this course and spent a few hours yesterday working on the design for the relational database in the TAPoR lab.

Hopefully this drawing will still make sense when we start coding the queries over the weekend.

Today we are talking about ISPs, intellectual property rights and the progress we have made on our projects.

Perhaps the best part of today so far has been the Day of DH cupcakes Joyce brought to the class. (Thanks Joyce!)

coffee break #1

First coffee break of the day – stopped at the GSA office for some free (terrible, but free) coffee but they were out. Being impatient and in need of a reliable caffeine fix we headed for the Starbucks in the Cameron library.

Best quote from HuCo530 today…

“My god! They’ve got these hunks! Doesn’t it look like he’s wasting time lifting weights instead of working on your website?”

-Dr. Geoffrey Rockwell (in response to a cheesy website ad for an ISP)

I have to agree, these guys didn’t really look like computer programmers.

coffee break #2

Coffee break between Geoffrey and Harvey’s lectures – thank you GSA!

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

This is the chair in the HuCo lab where I will spend about seven hours today. My day of DH may not be exciting, but it is consistent. Thursdays this term are an epic five to six hour education adventure with Geoffrey Rockwell and Harvey Quamen teaching the 2009-2011 (hopefully!) cohort project management and technical workshops. So many laptops in this class.
I feel that we spend so much time in our generic office chairs we should get our names engraved on the back (or maybe sharpies and masking tape would be more appropriate).

Paper Drill Meeting

Just had a meeting with Stan Ruecker and Milena Radzikowska about the interface design for a citation chaining tool called the Paper Drill. Stan does an excellent job of describing the project in his DH blog post. This is one of my first projects getting to work on graphic and interface design and I am really lucky to be able to work with Stan and Milena who have not only been very patient (and unnecessarily kind) with my early attempts but have been giving me a crash course in how  not to make ugly or boring things.

It doesn’t hurt that Stan and Milena are really wonderful people to get to work with – and Milena brought cookies today. Two instances of free baking today! and people say that grad school is hard.

We are meeting in Stan’s office which is just across the hall from my office (which I share with four other grad students). These offices are basically the same size. I have no complaints. Space on campus is always at a premium and I am so grateful to have a desk of my own. It does let you know your place in the academic food chain though.

I did not think I would have the opportunity to do this kind of work in humanities computing but the UofA offers so many different  research projects it’s easy to find something you are personally interested in and pursue it. I did a BFA in photography at Concordia before coming to the UofA and I am really excited to be able to keep up some creative visual work (although interface design is a very different project than feeding your own ego making very personal and reflective art – not that JoJo lets her students get away with that). Concordia also has a really interesting intermedia and cyber arts program that does fascinating work and has some really excellent artists teaching in the  department including the brilliant Tim Clark and Nelson Hendricks (maybe they could be convinced to participate in the next Day of DH).

Bad Idea.

Cutting through the library building on my way home I cross through the passage between HUB and Rutherford. These extremely pathetic, desperate plants reaching for the windows are pretty demoralizing as the winter semister winds down. Too eerily reflective of my desire to get out of the lab and into the sunlight.

This was a poor architectural design choice.

Very poor.

In Transit

On my way back home from campus on the number 7 bus. Six of the eight people sitting in my immediate vicinity are tapping and scrolling on their smart phones. I am always grateful when the bus lingers in the terminal with free wifi for a few minutes so I can download enough to read to keep me busy for the entire ride home without having to use my data plan. I’m not usually one to fetishize gadgets but I really feel at a loss when I don’t have it with me. Unfortunately I have been reading far fewer novels since I got my phone in November. Travelling on public transit is a great excuse to slow down and do some light reading. I do read a lot more blogs while on the bus and reading the day of DH postings today has been really addictive.

This terrible billboard on the corner of Whyte Ave and 99th St has me mystified – it’s advertising a ‘Women’s Show’ with a photo of a soap opera action. I cannot even begin to imagine what this is about or who it is for.

Maybe it is an Alberta thing.