Notes from some of the #UMEDH lectures

I have decided to make some of my very scattered notes from the course public here on the blog. I guess that is a good way of sharing the knowledge that we were exposed to. I did not take notes from all the talks, so I urge more of you to do the same.

Finn Arne sharing his words of wisdom
Finn Arne sharing his words of wisdom

Web presence for academics (Finn Arne)

Controlling your web presence is important when you are in the position of applying for jobs, collaborating with people in other institutions, applying for funding etc (any time you’re not in your ivory tower). It is important to let people easily see your competences and research interests. Be professional in your style. Be personal but not private. There are too many services, and it is impossible to be present in all. Finn Arne’s tip is to have a few that are frequently updated and well groomed, and link to these sites from the others. Pick a few and use them well. Claim your name in other places, but use them to link to your “real” sites. Try to use the same name and “personal image” (not necessarily the same picture, but same “style”) all over the board. Recognition is important.

  • is good for letting people see your articles. Keep this one up to date, because lots of people use it. Should be groomed.
  • linkedIn is not so relevant in academia, but “everyone” has an account, so it is important to be present.
  • Google+ (the failed Facebook), might hit some people, so use it, but link to other profiles.
  • Web of Science / Google Scholar – create profiles, so these sites will index your articles right. If you don’t, the sites will auto generate a profile for you, and then you’re not in control. These sites might be important when applying for jobs, so they should be groomed.
  • your personal blog/website or your home institution profile site needs to be good, and show off your top publications and competences
  • use Twitter, and use it in a professional way (keep the photos of your kids on Facebook if you need to put them on the Internet)

The main point – your competence and your academic achievements (publications!) should be the first thing people see if they search for you on the net.

The research blog (Dolly)

Dolly were focusing on the single person, single research blog. In her example, she posts on or close to her topic 1-3 times per week. A typical post is 500-1000 words, and contains 1-3 pictures (pictures are important on blogs!!). She blogs on three main things:

  • summaries of things she has published, summaries of talks at conferences etc. She doesn’t publish the entire talk, but makes summaries. This is more accessible, and also forces you to be short an to the point.
  • interesting documents, books etc. that is relevant for her research that she has come over
  • interesting news in the field

In order to get your blog read, contact topical sites and carnivals to get your blog listed. In order to get a blog listed, it is important that it is focused in its topics, so don’t blog about cupcakes, makeup and what you had for dinner on your research blog.

Data, text mining and text analysis (Finn Arne)

In the course readings article “The hermeneutics of screwing around” Ramsay talks about that there are too many books and too little time. One of the solutions to this problem in the digital humanities is what is known as distant reading as opposed to the close reading most of us are used to. The terminology is developed by Franco Moretti, who has been talking about graphs, maps and trees as abstract models for literary history. Today we se a huge increase in the research on Victorian literature because of the Google books initiative to scan enormous amounts of books and run OCR (optical character recognition) on them. This video sums up some of the points: A lot of the services are freely accessible online. Here are some that were mentioned:

  • ngram – google service for reporting trends in words in books
  • wordle – “beautiful word clouds”
  • tapor – a text analysis portal
  • paper machine – a analysis plugin for Zotero
  • gephi – open source network maps
  • topsy – analysis of twitter messages etc.

For topic modelling – get yourself an ally in computer scienc 🙂

Guest lecture by Simon Lindgren

Simon Lindgren, professor of Sociology at Umeå, gave a guest lecture on Connected Content Analysis (CCA) a method for close distant reading. Traditionally in the social sciences there has been a schism between people using qualitative and quantitative methods. The consensus today is to try to find a middle ground, and do a “triangulation” between the two approaches and bridge the divide. CCA is a method for oscillation instead of triangulation between the methods. The tool in question is Textometrica – a tool developed at HUMlab combining approaches from bibliometrics and computational linguistics. Lindgren gave a pretty neat demonstration analyzing the communist manifesto, finding surprising (or not so surprising) results – like that bourgeoisie and bourgois are the most frequent words, and that the co-occur often with class. The example is summed up in this video:

Maps, spaces and place (Finn Arne)

A space become a place when you attach meaning to it

This talk was more or less a showcase of all the wondrous tool that are out there for spatial representation. This is one of the fields where the digital tools are particularly powerful. Many of the approaches are mentioned in our course article by Theibault.

  • ArcGIS is the industry high end standard for making maps. This is expensive, but your home university might have an account. There are open source alternatives.
  • Neatline is a nice map, timeline and text management software
  • The is a simple and neat timeline tool
  • Hypercities is a layered map of cities, where you can “travel back in time” and see how a specific place in a city has developed over time
  • The David Ramsay Map Collection (now transferred to Stanford) is an online repository of the awesomest size for historical maps
  • Another Stanford project with high wow-ness factor: ORBIS – a “goole directions” map of the Roman world: – how long to go from Rome to Constantinople by heavily loaded mule in May? 22,7 days if you manage to get on a boat from Heracleum to Ichtys. Totally awesome!

I did not take proper notes Lindhé’s talk, Dolly’s talk on databases and Finn Arne’s talks on access and copyright, digital museums, exhibits and editions, or digital publications.

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