Greetings from Western Massachusetts!

I am please to begin blogging here following Snowmageddon 2011!

Recently, I read an excellent blog post about what skills are needed for the digital humanities. I was grateful to come across this as I am in the process of creating a syllabi for an undergraduate digital humanities methods class. One would expect burgeoning digital humanists to be able to be able to do ‘hands on’ projects, ‘write for all different contexts-online, blogging, and formal’ and have ‘software development methodologies.’ But there are other skills that might not be obvious to folks outside DH like ‘openness,’ ‘attitude-experiment and play,’ and ‘being prepared to fail.’ These ideas percolated in my mind when I travelled to Dartmouth on 15 October to chair a panel called, ‘Don’t Mind the Gap: Archivists, Librarians, and Faculty Teaching Together.’

The session featured the case studies from Archives and Special Collections at Mount Holyoke College and Harvard University’s Houghton Library. Librarians spoke about classroom exercises they conducted and touted new outreach strategies, all of were fantastic. Once  James Capobianco began talk about digital projects, my brain clicked into DH MODE. He described various digitization projects and initiatives used in classroom experiences for undergraduates, a target outreach population for Houghton.

For our purposes, the most useful tool Capobianco described was Aeon, a circulation system for special collections and archives. Aeon is a remarkable tool for managing patron registration, but it is also a tool researchers can use to remotely request collections for use in reading rooms bypassing paper call slips, carbon copies, and  long email exchanges with reference staffs to request materials. The Beinecke Library at Yale University recently bid farewell to paper call sips. The Houghton Library was an early adopter and managed to think beyond the traditional boundaries of  the system’s capabilities and empower students, faculty, and outside researchers. Aeon allows them to discover hidden collections and readily use materials in research and teaching. With the Houghton’s implementation of Aeon, these constituencies are invited to participate in selection and in some cases as the curators of their classes.

I firmly believe librarians, archivists, and curators are essential collaborators for the Digital Humanities. We can provide access and help practitioners discover new and underused collections that can be given new life in the digital context. And that’s exactly what Houghton is doing with their collections and staff. Capobianco talked extensively about how students really enjoyed engaging with the process of making selections for classes, taking ownership of the process, exactly the type of competencies described in the opening blog post.

Capobianco also described how curators and librarians at the Houghton Library were planning to use Aeon to solicit ideas about collections to digitize. This kind of patron driven engagement challenges the content versus containers binary that libraries struggle with as library as concept develops.

The ethos of our session is that faculty, librarians, and archivists are powerful collaborators in our students’ education. Libraries and archives can act as  laboratories for our students to experiment with collections as the raw material for digital projects, for exhibitions, and to practice digital humanities skills. Don’t mind the gap as we all work together to forge new paths in digital humanities and higher education at large.

Caro Pinto is the librarian for social science & emerging technologies at Hampshire College, where she oversees collection development, outreach, and instruction for the school of Critical Social Inquiry as well as evaluating and integrating emerging technology into classroom and library practice. Currently, she’s developing a digital humanities methods course for undergraduates at Hampshire.

From 2009-2011, Pinto was an archivist at the Yale University Library where she arranged and described collections, managed a large-scale digitization project, taught research education courses, and provided reference and outreach services. Pinto is a graduate of Smith College; she holds a MA in history from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a MS in library and information science from Simmons College.

Caro has just returned from the fall meeting (PDF) of New England Archivists; stay tuned for a post on what she learned there.

[Readers: Want to contribute to DHNE? We’re still accepting new editors.]

Would you like to help foster a larger, more connected community of digital-humanities practitioners in New England?

Do you follow Twitter and digital humanities blogs on a regular basis?

Would you like to add an item to the “professional service” section of your CV?

Then volunteer as an editor (contributor) for this blog. Read the rest of this entry »

Are you involved in Digital Humanities in New England? Define that however you like! From the geek in grad school who’s the only one in hir humanities classroom to be taking notes on a laptop to the manager of massive institutional digital project, we want to know who and where you are!

After THATCampNewEngland, some of us were talking about a DH pub night, or DH work days, or some informal gathering where we can get together, skillshare, network, or even just kvetch about the things that keep breaking in our work! Since Cliotropic has so generously set up this space for us, I thought, hey! why not use it?

To kick us off: I’m Marta, recent Ph.D. in English from Tufts University. My website is PhDeviate.org. I got into digital humanities years before I knew there was a term for what I did! Also years before I knew anyone else was doing it! Confusing! But eventually I stopped reinventing the wheel and learned that there’s a community of people who think about tools the way I do. (Disclaimers: I don’t promise never to reinvent the wheel again, and not everyone in DH thinks about tools the way I do. Broad strokes here!) My current interests include digital scholarly editions, digital productivity tools, and digital teaching tools. I’m currently involved in learning XML.

So, who are you? What do you do? What events would you like to see in New England?

If you’re interested in learning more about digital-humanities methods and/or looking for a working vacation next summer, mark your calendars for June 6-9, 2011. The Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria (British Columbia) is one of the best opportunities for researchers of all backgrounds to pick up new skills from experts. Their courses include something for everyone, from digitization fundamentals to multimedia to GIS to text analysis.

Graduate students: sponsored tuition scholarships are available, first-come-first-served. Applications just opened today.

(Summer being what it is for scholars, DHSI is cross-scheduled with several other conferences; yours truly will be at the triennial Berkshire Conference on the History of Women at UMass Amherst. I’d be happy to hear from other Big Berks attendees who are interested in talking about digital research methods and/or publication.)

THATCamp: The Humanities and Technology Camp, New England

Thanks to the hard work of an organizing committee, applications are now open for THATCamp New England, to be held in Boston at Wentworth Institute of Technology, November 13-14, 2010. It will follow the standard THATCamp “unconference” format, which means that everyone who attends is expected to present something. (If you’re new to digital humanities, don’t be intimidated! Surely you’ve got a research or teaching puzzle that you’d like to talk about with other people. THATCamps are often a great forum for swapping problems and solutions.)

For those who want more structured training, November 13 will have a BootCamp training track. Travel funding is available (up to $500) for four people (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, untenured faculty) who plan to attend all of the BootCamp sessions and write up a report about their experience. If you’ve got expertise in a particular area of digital humanities and want to teach a BootCamp session, the organizing committee would love to hear more about your ideas.

Due to space limitations, only 90 people can be accepted to THATCamp New England— apply soon if you’re interested. (As of this post, the organizers have already gotten 17 applicants.)

Welcome!

March 25, 2010

Inspired by the Digital Humanities SoCal blog, I created this space as a way to disseminate information about digital-humanities events and research projects in Boston and the greater New England region.  Given how many colleges and universities call New England home, I know that there must be interesting DH projects going on in the area, but as a graduate student at Brandeis for the past 6 years, I’ve had trouble finding them. I keep meeting people who are the One Digital Humanities Person in their department or office, and I want to make a space where we can all find one another.

Right now, the only upcoming DH event I’m aware of is the humanities+digital visual interpretations conference, being held at MIT, May 20-22. I also hear rumors of a New England regional THATCamp in the works, but nothing’s been confirmed yet.

If you’re affiliated with a research center, department, conference, or other project that’s engaged in digital-humanities work, I’d love to hear from you about what you do. I’d particularly welcome guest posts or other contributions from advanced undergrads, graduate student, library/information sciences people, and alternative-academics as well as faculty, in a variety of genres: project overviews, opinion pieces, calls for papers. Please comment below, find me on twitter (@cliotropic), or email me at srl at (mytwittername) dot org.