Author Archives: Kevin L. Ferguson

CFP: Digital Humanities and Listening

Hi all! I’ve been eagerly following along with your progress on your projects. I wanted to share a CFP that seemed appropriate for the Civil War Sound group:

For this year’s annual “World Listening Month” Forum, we are interested in posts considering the role of “listening” in the digital humanities. How have particular digital studies, projects, apps, and online archives addressed, challenged, expanded, played with, sharpened, questioned, and/or shifted “listening”? What happens to digital humanities when we use “listening” as a keyword rather than (or alongside) “sound”?

Examples of Project Websites

Great dataset presentations today!

A few of you asked me questions after class about the final project option 3, creating a website analyzing two data sets. I hope the guidelines we gave today will be helpful, but I also want to make sure that if you pick that option you understand the scope of the project: it is much more involved than just cleaning up your dataset project. It is not just presenting data in graphical form or visualizing it using a tool, but rather asking and answering questions of two related data sets in order to create some new knowledge or insight about your topic.

To give a sense, here are some examples of what I would consider to be successful website projects (from a DH 101 class at UCLA; these are undergraduates, but they’re working in teams):

Elf Yelp
Project Chop Suey
Exploring Andean Pottery
Getty’s Provenance Data

The Problem of Libraries

We didn’t get to talk much about Ramsay last night, but this review of John Palfrey’s BiblioTech covers some of the same intellectual ground

So is the library, storehouse and lender of books, as anachronistic as the record store, the telephone booth, and the Playboy centerfold? Perversely, the most popular service at some libraries has become free Internet access. People wait in line for terminals that will let them play solitaire and Minecraft, and librarians provide coffee. Other patrons stay in their cars outside just to use the Wi-Fi. No one can be happy with a situation that reduces the library to a Starbucks wannabe.

Perhaps worst of all: the “bookless library” is now a thing. You can look it up in Wikipedia.

Code in the News

Volkswagen’s Diesel Fraud Makes Critic of Secret Code a Prophet

The code in automobiles is tightly protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Last year, several groups sought to have the code made available for “good-faith testing, identifying, disclosing and fixing of malfunctions, security flaws or vulnerabilities,” as Alex Davies reported last week in Wired.
A group of automobile manufacturers said that opening the code to scrutiny could create “serious threats to safety and security.” And two months ago, the E.P.A. said it, too, opposed such a move because people might try to reprogram their cars to beat emission rules.

Karen Barad on Apparatuses

[Niels] Bohr argues that classical physics seriously underestimates and undercounts the contribution that apparatuses make. Apparatuses are not mere instruments serving as a system of lenses that magnify and focus our attention on the object world, rather they are laborers that help constitute and are an integral part of the phenomena being investigated. Furthermore, apparatuses do not simply detect differences that are already in place; rather they contribute to the production and reconfiguring of difference. The failure to take proper account of the role of apparatuses in the production of phenomena seriously compromises the objectivity of the investigation. Accounting for apparatuses means attending to specific practices of differentiating and the marks on bodies they produce. Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway, 2007, 232.
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2 Things

1) We’ve adjusted the calendar, switching Nov. 9 and Nov. 16 (the readings remain the same, just the topic changed).

2) I love the Language Log blog and today they introduced me to a neologism that seemed relevant to our current readings: “rhetoricometry — methods that let you analyze political discourse without having to listen to it or read it.” I wonder if Sample call this facile or difficult thinking?


We’ll talk about scholarly communication all semester, and on Thursday specifically about Kirschenbaum’s argument that DH is in part “a populist term, self-identified and self-perpetuating through the algorithmic structures of contemporary social media,” but here’s a recent example of how it works in practice: the author of the popular parody Twitter account “Shit Academics Say” (@AcademicsSay) recently outed himself and described the reasons why he created the account. He even shares his graduate school syllabus on “Digital and Social Media in Higher Education.”

@AcademicsSay: The Story Behind a Social-Media Experiment: