Category Archives: Digital Scholarship

Author Agreement for a DH Project — Is That a Thing?

This post by Liz Crisenbery, 2018-2019 Project Manager for Project Vox, is part of a series on graduate students’ “Intern Experience” at Duke University Libraries. 

Author agreements — contractual documents provided by the publisher to the author, explaining the terms of publication — are foundational to many print and digital publications. Yet this stock element of publishing is not frequently discussed in relation to DH projects. Open access is a hallmark of digital humanities — making content available to anyone with an internet connection and thereby challenging the paywall approach to scholarly publishing. While open access also pushes against the overuse of copyright protections, it doesn’t oppose or necessarily undermine the rights of authors. How might digital humanities projects use author agreements to help acknowledge and protect the labor of people who develop content while also ensuring the resulting works can have broad access and use?

Communicate the role of the author agreement as a contract
Why might an established DH project consider creating author agreements?

Enter Project Vox, an open-access digital-humanities project that seeks to amplify the voices of early modern female philosophers, challenge the canon, and provide access to teaching materials and research guides. It is chiefly a collaborative effort, dependent upon a team of individuals who research, write, edit, and stage biographical and bibliographical entries on women philosophers.

Project Vox itself is an open educational resource, yet not all the content that appears on the site is created by the team. As the range of content types published by Project Vox has expanded, we have realized the need to better communicate protections and access for works published on our site.

For instance, Project Vox recently published the first English translation of Émilie Du Châtelet’s essay on optics (the complete version of which was itself only recently discovered and transcribed). As project manager I worked with Liz Milewicz (co-director of Project Vox and Head of Duke Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Services) to create an author agreement that could be used for this translation and also future Project Vox publications. We wanted the translation to be easily accessible to a wide audience and to be available for use in research and instruction; we also wanted to protect the translator, Bryce Gessell, from having his work published in other forms without his consent.

Fortunately, we were able to consult with Duke Libraries’ Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communications, specifically Arnetta Girardeau (Duke Libraries’ Copyright & Information Policy Consultant) and Dave Hansen (Associate University Librarian for Research, Collections, and Scholarly Communication), to create a template author agreement for Project Vox publications. Suffice it to say, we would not have created such a document without their expertise and guidance. This is the resulting template for Project Vox author agreements: Project Vox Author Agreement – Master Template.

The process of creating this agreement highlighted for us how author agreements can be challenging for DH publications and yet necessary if we truly hope to protect and honor the work of content creators while also making that content freely available. While some of the information included in the author agreement is relatively mundane (e.g., the name of the author, the name of the work, information used to create a citation, etc.), much of the document establishes legal relationships between different parties. In the process of creating our author agreement, we realized our long-held assumption that Project Vox was the “publisher” of content needed to be reevaluated. Rather, because Project Vox is hosted by Duke University Libraries, and because the Libraries provide a more stable partner for entering into agreements, the Libraries are named as the publisher. Increasingly, academic libraries are acting as publishers, challenging the nature of publishing and creating new models. (Maria Bonn and Mike Furlough edited an essay collection on this very subject, which is itself available via open access.)

illustrate what a Creative Commons license looks like
Creative Commons licenses provide digital projects and publications legal protections while promoting open access.

Additionally, the author in our agreement is tasked with choosing the type of Creative Commons license for their work and then to apply for that license. As stated on the Creative Commons organization’s website, “The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional ‘all rights reserved’ setting that copyright law creates. Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law.”[1] These licenses allow copyright holders the ability to qualify how their work can be re-used while prioritizing greater access to the work.

Through creating this template and publishing the first work on Project Vox with a signed author agreement, I’ve gained insight into parts of DH publishing that I never previously considered, particularly related to process and documentation from the standpoint of a publisher. As DH projects continue to partner with libraries to facilitate hosting and digital publication, I hope to have more conversations about how different projects handle publication, if they have author agreements, and what processes they follow to make content accessible.

[1] https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

Liz Crisenbery is a PhD Candidate in musicology who studies early twentieth-century Italian opera, exploring the intersection of gender, politics, and music. Her dissertation examines masculine identities of fascist composers and reception of their operas during the height of Italian fascism. Other research interests include digital humanities, opera and media, and riot grrrl. During the 2018-19 academic year, Liz worked as project manager for Project Vox with the support of Bass Connections.

Data Lost, but not Forgotten

Intern Experience: Kaylee Alexander (Data & Visualization Services)

This post by Kaylee Alexander, 2019 Humanities Unbounded Graduate Assistant, is part of a series on graduate students’ “Intern Experience” at Duke University Libraries. 

With the growing popularity of digital humanities projects, the question of how humanists should manage data, and specifically missing data and data limitations, is of increasing importance. Often the glittering possibilities of integrating technology and data-driven research methods into historical analysis makes us forget that we are still dealing with imperfect information, albeit processed in new and meaningful ways. In my own research on 19th-century funerary monuments in Paris, the issue of survival bias has been pervasive, as very few tombs—only the most expensive—have survived into the present day.

Survival bias occurs when we focus on people or things that have passed through a selection process and overlooking those that haven’t. In 1943, for example, damaged bomber planes returning from combat were being studied to identify areas that needed additional reinforcements. However, these planes had survived. What about those that didn’t? Where had they sustained damage? This was the question posed by statistician Abraham Wald, who argued that damage to returned planes represented not where improvements were needed, but rather where planes could sustain damage and could still return safely. It was the undamaged areas that were more telling.

Diagram showing areas of damage to returned WWII bomber planes (red) and recommended areas for reinforcement based on Wald’s analysis.

Historical studies are, not surprisingly, prone to such survival biases. Objects and documents get lost or damaged; others are not deemed worthy of being kept. Some information is just never recorded. But, just like Wald’s returned bomber planes, what does survive can be used to consider what we’ve lost. This is a concept that I work with all of the time, and a bias that my work specifically tries to overcome through data-driven practices. However, it is not something that I had yet considered in the context of inherited datasets.

As a Humanities Unbounded Graduate Assistant with Duke Libraries’ Data and Visualization Services, I began working with members of the Representing Migration Humanities Lab in preparation for their Data+ project, “Remembering the Middle Passage.” Led by English professor Charlotte Sussman, one of the original goals of the project was to use data representing nearly 36,000 transatlantic slave voyages to see if it would be possible to map a reasonable location for a deep-sea memorial to the transatlantic slave trade. Data on these voyages had been compiled and made openly accessible online by a team of researchers working with the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (among others). The promises of these data were great; we just had to figure out how to use them.

My primary task was getting to know the data and providing support in preparation for the upcoming Data+ session. So, I began with the Slave Voyages website.

Home page for the Slave Voyages website: https://www.slavevoyages.org/

The landing page for the database boasts that “this digital memorial raises questions about the largest slave trades in history and offers access to the documentation available to answer them.” Here, you can view and download data on these voyages as well as access summary tables and interactive data visualizations, timelines, and maps, allowing users to easily interact with a wealth of information. Clearly labeled columns, filled with rows of data, project an image of endless research possibilities with all the data you could ever need.

Web-based interface to voyages data in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.

However, the online interactive database only represents about half of the variables included in the full version of the database, which can be downloaded, but certainly isn’t as user-friendly as the front-facing version. One of the most glaring things I noticed when I first opened this file was all of the empty cells.

Excel sheet showing the full version of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database downloaded from https://slavevoyages.org/voyage/downloads.

It soon became clear that the online version only included a selection of the most complete variables (many of which were estimates based on original sources).

One of the first things I do when working with a new dataset in my own work is to create an overview of all of my variables and the percentage of records that have each variable. This provides me with useful insights into how complete my data are, and also how reliable certain variables will be for the types of questions I want to ask. I find this to be particularly useful when working with data that I have not compiled myself, even when a codebook already exists, as it helps you to get really quickly familiar with exactly what you have and what might be possible. More often than not, I end up revising my research questions as a result of this process. So, I wondered how this might help the Data+ team set their goals.

While the original questions of the project had been formed around mortality and how to map the experiences of enslaved people on board these voyages, a reconsideration of the data showed how the answers to these questions would only be attainable for a fraction of the voyages in the database—and nothing of any voyages that hadn’t been accounted for.

The question of all this missing data then became an essential part of the research project. How could all these gaps inform us about what isn’t there? Why were data missing, and how could we use this to think more broadly about erasure in the context of the slave trade? If our goal was to memorialize lives lost, how could we best and most appropriately accomplish this given the data we didn’t have?

There is still much work to be done before we can even begin answering these questions, and I leave that in the capable hands of the Data+ team and the Representing Migration Lab. But until then, my take away is this: missing data should not become forgotten data. Knowing what we’re working with, whether it be inherited data or data we’ve constructed, and being aware of the data we’re missing, allows us to reformulate our research objectives in new and more meaningful ways.

Kaylee P. Alexander is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, where she is also a research assistant with the Duke Art, Law & Markets Initiative (DALMI). Her dissertation research focuses on the visual culture of the cemetery and the market for funerary monuments in nineteenth-century Paris. In the spring of 2019, she served as a Humanities Unbounded graduate assistant with Data and Visualization Services at Duke University Libraries. Follow her on Twitter @kpalex91

Project Vox publishes du Châtelet’s “Essay on Optics”

Project Vox, a collaboration between Duke University Libraries and the Department of Philosophy, recently announced the publication of the first English translation of Émilie Du Châtelet’s Essai sur l’Optique, or “essay on optics.” Duke doctoral student Bryce Gessell played a pivotal role in making this translation—and the transcription that preceded it—publicly available and accessible to scholars, instructors, and students worldwide. You can read more about Bryce’s work on the translation on the Duke Graduate School’s website.

Image shows handwritten text from the original manuscript
Excerpts of Emilie du Châtelet’s handwritten “Essai sur l’Optique” that were used to construct the translation. (Images courtesy of Project Vox)

Scholars have known about Du Châtelet’s Essai sur l’Optique for many years, but until recently the text has been unavailable because all copies were thought to be lost. In 1947 Ira O. Wade published the first known edition of the Essai’s fourth chapter, which was held among Voltaire’s papers in Russia. Sixty years later, Fritz Nagel, Director of the Basel Research Center of the Bernoulli Edition, discovered the first complete copy of the Essai in the Bernoulli archives in Basel. Two other complete copies, which had previously gone unnoticed, were then discovered among Du Châtelet’s surviving manuscript material.

Working with Nagel and with Duke Philosophy professor Andrew Janiak, Gessell helped produce and publish a transcription of du Châtelet’s Essai on Project Vox in 2017. The translation, more accessible to undergraduate philosophy students, helps the next generation of scholars recognize and follow the development of Châtelet’s ideas about natural philosophy.

Project Vox seeks to transform the discipline of philosophy by making the lives, works, and ideas of early modern women philosophers available for research and classroom use. Since its inception in 2014, this open educational resource has been produced by a cross-professional, cross-disciplinary, and cross-institutional team made up mostly of students, with review and advisement from philosophers worldwide. Learn more about how Duke University Libraries increase access to scholarship at ScholarWorks.duke.edu.

Digital Project Profiles: Project Vox

The Digital Project Profiles series features projects that have partnered or worked closely with Duke Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Services (DSS) department. These projects illustrate the kinds of research, pedagogical, and publishing questions that DSS addresses. For assistance with your own project, contact askdigital@duke.edu.

The Project

Project Vox, http://projectvox.library.duke.edu
2014 – ongoing
An open educational resource, created and run primarily by students and volunteers, that provides resources for incorporating early modern women philosophers into research and instruction.

In late spring 2014, a project team formed at Duke University to build a website that could support research and teaching about non-canonical women philosophers, and they launched the Project Vox website in March 2015. From the start, the team has included undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, librarians, and technical staff. The Project Vox website serves as the virtual hub for an international network of scholars to work together in expanding research and teaching beyond the traditional philosophical “canon” and beyond traditional narratives of modern philosophy’s history.

What motivated Project Vox?

Philosophy is a surprisingly static and homogenous discipline. For the past fifty years, the humanities have been dominated by women; yet in philosophy, women make up only one-third of advanced degree recipients. In terms of gender diversity, it aligns more closely with (and in some cases falls below) the historically male-dominated sciences. What could be the reason for this gender gap? Recent studies suggest that undergraduate philosophy courses set the stage for this divide, particularly when the majority of figures studied are male. While the latter half of the 20th century saw many humanities disciplines expand and reform their canons to include marginalized voices, the discipline of philosophy saw little change. The figures and texts that dominated philosophy in the early 20th century persisted into the 21st, despite research demonstrating that a number of early modern women actively engaged with and influenced philosophical discussions with their more famous peers. Ultimately, Project Vox seeks to change the field and the face of philosophy by providing information and materials necessary to incorporate women philosophers into undergraduate instruction.

What makes Project Vox an important case study for digital scholarship?

In addition to its intellectual aims, Project Vox is an important case study because of its successful open-access publication model and the workflows that support it.

Project Vox is an open-access publishing project, run by a predominantly student team, that provides participants with hands-on experience and education in digital publishing while also presenting users worldwide with resources for changing their philosophy research and instruction. As a project with long-term and lofty objectives, Project Vox pursues incremental impact toward its goals while minimizing the costs for sustaining that effort. To do that, the project has placed particular emphasis on outreach and assessment, systematically engaging with the project’s audiences to solicit feedback and encourage participation in the project. To increase the pace of publication and distribute work, the team has developed a collaborative approach to research; Project Vox is now in the process of codifying this workflow for sharing with international partners.

What has working on Project Vox taught us?  

For staff in the Digital Scholarship Services department, Project Vox has provided a wealth of insights into digital publishing and increased our own capacity for advising others wishing to pursue their own publishing projects (a short list of topics is provided below, along with places where you can find more information):

  • Making an open educational resource (OER) discoverable and citable (e.g., using WordPress plugins to display Dublin Core metadata for use in citation management software such as Zotero and Open Graph metadata for sharing on social media; creating a MARC record for the website, making it discoverable in the library catalog)
  • Low-cost, low-maintenance website hosting for academics (using Reclaim Hosting to run the WordPress platform for Project Vox)
  • Gathering alternative metrics for an open-access website (using, for example, the Altmetric Explorer for Institutions tool that’s licensed by Duke University Libraries, or Google Analytics data to monitor site traffic)
  • Research management for teams over time (using Duke-licensed tools like Box for sharing and organizing content)
  • Project management tools and approaches (e.g., use of MeisterTask for project management; Toolkits for provisioning resources to team members; sponsored accounts for providing outside reviewers with access to pre-publication entries)
  • Collaborative workflows for research and publishing (in particular, how to take what has been a predominantly solitary enterprise—humanistic research and writing—and make it a collective effort)

Following are a few lessons learned from the Project Vox team members:

Roy Auh, T’19

“I’ve learned new research techniques by working on a team and it’s been awesome to grow from a research assistant to a lead researcher. […] Now I know the trusted sources and my way around the library and the available databases.”

Jen Semler, T’19

“I now have a better understanding of the many factors (finding sources, translating texts, acquiring images, applying for funding, etc.) that go into a large-scale research project like this. I am often impressed with all the work this team has been able to do and how well the team has communicated.”

Mattia Begali, Romance Studies Lecturing Fellow

“I really had the chance to explore how a community of practice like the Project Vox team interacts and collaborates. Behind the scenes of Project Vox there is a complex digital habitat meant to sustain the workflow of the group. Before joining the team of this project, I was only partially aware of how complex and stratified this digital habitat is. Also, it was fascinating for me to see how the role of each member gets defined by highly specialized practices.”

Liz Crisenbery, PhD Candidate in Musicology

“Being involved with Project Vox and DSS has also pushed me to think about how my research intersects with the digital humanities. As a musicologist who studies opera, I’m keen to incorporate recorded performances into my dissertation; providing open access to the music I write about is very important to facilitate a better understanding of my work.”

Abigail Flanigan, 2016 MLS from the UNC-CH School of Information & Library Science

“In my time as an intern on Project Vox, I learned about these very specific topics—editorial processes for digital publications and altmetrics—but I also learned more broadly about what is takes to create and manage a digital project on this scale. From the legal (researching copyright owners for images) to the technical (building the site’s infrastructure) to the creative (designing the logo), it takes many people with many different skills to build a project like Project Vox.”

More information

If you’d like to be a part of the Project Vox team, there are a number of ways you can get involved:

  • Volunteer
  • Participate in a Field Experience through Digital Scholarship Services
  • Earn course credit (spring 2019)
    • Bass Connections project, EHD 396 for undergraduates and EHD 796 for graduate students
    • Digital Publishing course, ISS 550S

To keep up with Project Vox on social media, please follow them on Facebook and Twitter. For questions about this and other digital scholarship projects or to get advice for your own, contact askdigital@duke.edu.

Introducing the Digital Humanities to Graduate Students

At a recent lunch discussion organized by the Versatile Humanists program, I had the opportunity to talk with Duke graduate students about getting started in the digital humanities.  The proposition sounds straightforward in some ways: if you want to get started, well, jump right in. But our conversation underscored the difficulties of approaching the digital humanities as a novice.  Where do you go for training or mentoring, for example? What does training entail? Do you need to code? Should you plan a digital humanities project of your own or join an established one? How do you know whether a project “counts” as digital humanities at all?  

Those are all good questions, and they’re sometimes difficult to answer directly because DH seems so diverse and amorphous.  To help address some of these issues, I thought it would be useful to recap some of the big questions from our lunch conversation–to reflect on the digital humanities with an eye toward helping graduate students understand their nature and, ultimately, how to jump right in.  (Those wanting to pose their own questions are invited to join an encore conversation Thursday, October 18, 12:00-1:00 PM, as Liz Milewicz and I launch the Digital Brown Bag series on topics, projects, and questions in digital scholarship.)    

What are the digital humanities?
The digital humanities involve using computational technology to explore, understand, preserve, and communicate about our cultural heritage.  Anybody can do it, and you don’t need to code, but coding can offer you a fast track to understanding some of the technical dimensions of our craft.  

At least, that’s my view.  The term “digital humanities” is a site of open debate, and the debate ranges from serious critique (“is this a field with a general research agenda?”) to quibbles (“can you really call yourself a digital humanist if you can’t code?”). If you’re at all interested in the digital humanities, you’ll eventually encounter this kind of writing, which seeks to define our label and work out its implications.  For example, Routledge has published a book, edited by some DH luminaries, called Defining Digital Humanities: A Reader.  At 330 pages, it encompasses a lot of defining, and it’s not even comprehensive.  

Your enthusiasm for this genre of rhetoric may wax and wane as you do DH.  It’s easy to feel jaded after a while, but we all know and feel the scholarly urge to define, in unambiguous terms, what we’re talking about when we talk about something.  One of the hallmarks of the digital humanities themselves, though, is a comfort with variable outcomes, with uncertainty, with unexpected detours and discoveries, with transdisciplinary experimentation.  With the novel and weird — with things that are difficult to define.

Maybe defining DH is less important than we reflexively think. As Lisa Spiro has pointed out, community and shared values are a lot more useful than abstract definitions.  I think it’s enough to say that you’ll find out what the term “digital humanities” means for you if you start working in the field.  You may even find the term inadequate and prefer, as one of my colleagues does, phrases like “Big Humanities” — a banner of both venturesome scholarship and inclusivity, one that may entail fewer shibboleths and more varieties of hacking.  

But how do I get started? Do I need to code?  Do I need training in specific technologies?
The digital humanities are many things to many people, but for me, their animating spirit isn’t technology per se; instead, it’s a mode of imaginative attention that engenders certain approaches to understanding objects of humanistic study. That mode of attention is technologically inflected, but it arises primarily from the instincts of the humanist. In other words: you generally want to lead with your research interests, not with an interest in technology that may or may not meet your needs.

At the same time, it’s not difficult to imagine how exploring technology–a digital exhibit platform, a topic modeling tool, GIS software–can influence your research agenda.  A basic condition of the digital humanities is that we often use tools of precision and formal expression to learn about cultural artifacts whose enduring value is rooted in ambiguity.  But I think the use of those tools and approaches has a sharpening effect on one’s scholarly vision. When you create or work with digitized materials, when you create models, when you try to be precise and unambiguous even though you know that ambiguity is a soil where meaning grows, you have to interrogate assumptions and first impressions.  It doesn’t do to trust vague notions when you are preparing a digital edition, mapping a novel, or understanding the results of your automated text analysis. What do we really mean by this location or that name? Are we sure that we know what we think we know about this place? What does it mean for a text analysis program to discern “topics” in a corpus?  And, at a more general level, what possibilities open up when we grapple with these questions in the context of digital scholarship?

This kind of reflection seems worthwhile for scholars, and it’s also a reason that digital scholarship often serves a pedagogical function analogous to that of old-school, kinda-formalist close reading. The act of naming or identifying things precisely also reveals imprecision and uncertainty or ambiguity in a text.  Realizing cultural artifacts — literature, architecture, paintings, music — as data isn’t just anatomizing them for convenience. It’s also helping us understand those artifacts in other ways.

Put another way: to make our cultural record computationally tractable in ways that illuminate and retain what’s distinctive and untranslatable about that record, we need the experience and the perspective of the humanist scholar. And because doing DH so often means interrogating and revising our assumptions about a cultural artifact, we also sharpen that humanistic experience and perspective in doing it.  

This is a roundabout way of addressing the questions above, and I don’t mean to sell short the perspective of technologists or the value of learning to code.  In fact, I think humanists should learn to code, for many of the reasons I express above, and I think that the best digital humanities projects are broadly collaborative ventures that draw inspiration from many people with diverse competencies and interests.

Learning from doing–and failing
For that reason (and others), it probably doesn’t make sense to undertake a large digital humanities project on your own in graduate school.  But there are two good ways to immerse yourselves in the digital humanities: joining a project and aimlessly playing around.

If you can join an existing project in some capacity, you will learn a lot about the diverse and complex elements of digital humanities work.  You’ll also learn more simply by absorbing what goes on around you than you will in a year of reading about the digital humanities.

The other way of learning — aimless playing around — should become habit, too.  The DH community is supportive and experimentally inclined; you’ll be right at home asking how things work, experimenting, and emulating what you like.  And more locally, consultants, training, and support services at Duke are available to catalyze your exploration.

Of course, much of what you try isn’t going to work.  Failure happens a lot in DH, so it’s a good environment to shed any phobias of failure (and to mitigate impostor syndrome; everybody in DH is learning on the fly).  The digital humanities invite you to think about failure differently: as a ticket back to the planning stage, only you’re much wiser this time, or as an open door to a new course of project development or dissemination.  There’s always something generative about failure and failed ideas in DH, and generally speaking, the DH community is open to talking about misfires and sharing lessons from work gone wrong.

Exploring further
For more on the digital humanities, including resources and organizations here at Duke, you may want to check out the following.  For convenience, this list includes inline links from the text above.

Local events, resources, and organizations

Introductory texts and learning resources

 

Finding Frankenstein Online

Since Frankenstein is 200 years old, it’s firmly in the public domain, which means you can find many editions and versions online.  Today I’m continuing my series of blog posts with a list of several resources that I think will be of interest!

First you can read the text at Project Gutenberg!

You can also trace the evolution of the novel with images and transcriptions of the notebooks at the Shelley-Godwin Archive.  This archive  provides the digitized manuscripts of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft.

There’s the Stuart Curran’s digital edition in the Romantic Circles Editions.  It provides both the 1818 and 1831 publications of Frankenstein.  It also has a link to a comparative text tool through Juxta Commons for both these years.

The Pittsburgh Frankenstein Project is working on a new digital edition that builds on and expands the work done by Curran and others.

The Frankenstein Bicentennial Project has several fun projects worth looking at, including Frankenbook (a collective reading and collaborative annotation experience of the original 1818).

I also discovered what looks like the beginning of a mapping project involving the novel.  It looks incomplete, but an interesting experiment (pun intended) nonetheless. You can see both the Creature’s journey and Victor Frankenstein’s journey.

Let’s end on a fun note with the web series Frankenstein, MD, a collaboration between Pemberley Digital and PBS Digital Studios.  You can find links to all the videos here.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for Frankenreads!

Launching Digital Projects from Scratch – Some Advice

Guest post by Adrian Linden-High, PhD student in Classical Studies, Humanities Writ Large research assistant with Digital Scholarship Services at Duke University Libraries in the spring of 2017.

Image tiles of Polygonal Wall: Zach Heater (CC-BY).

Getting a digital project off the ground by yourself can be challenging. With rare exceptions, digital projects rely on collaboration – for the simple reason that it is impossible to unite in one person all the skills needed to deliver a digital product of which fellow scholars will take any note. Still, if you come up with an idea for a digital project, you will almost certainly first have to build prototypes and mock-ups on your own to communicate your vision to potential collaborators. Even this preliminary work in the digital arena represents a challenge for most of us. In this post, I summarize what I have learned from going through the process of starting a digital project from scratch and offer some general advice that will take you to the next, more collaborative, stage of your digital project.

Set realistic goals

Especially if you are new to digital humanities (DH), your project will most likely take much longer to complete than you expect. There are always unforeseen hurdles along the way. Even simple tasks, such as transferring data from one hard drive to another, can be plagued by snags: the data volume in digital projects is often much larger than you encounter in day-to-day computing tasks; if you are working across operating systems (in my case, Mac and PC), you have to make sure you are using a compatible file system for your external hard drives. You get the point. For your project to be a success later, it is shrewd to set realistic goals at the outset. Be ready to scale back your expectations for the initial phase of your project. Just get something up and running. To be sure, this won’t be your final product!

An image stitching project I am working on easily fills 75% of a 1TB external hard drive. I formatted it using the exFAT file system, which is read/write compatible between Windows and OS X and also supports unlimited file size. Click on image for more info on file systems.

Seek out help

Tenaciously seeking out help is vital in the early stages of a digital project. Don’t be satisfied with one answer; get multiple opinions and choose the one that seems the best fit for your abilities, your project goals, and the current phase of your project. It’s worth exploring several tool kits and workflows. There are at least three pools you can dip into for opinions:

  • At your own institution you will most easily have access to students and faculty at your department who are working on digital projects. There may also be a DH unit embedded in your institution’s library (for example, the Digital Scholarship Services department at Duke University Libraries). Beyond this, most colleges and universities have IT professionals who can be extraordinarily helpful, though they may have less time for individual consulting or training (for example, Trinity Technology Services at Duke University).
  • Digital humanities training institutes and conferences are a phenomenal way to connect with people who can help you think critically about your project and connect you with other projects that have a similar vision. Don’t expect to be proficient at any digital technology after only a week or two of training. Most of these skills are acquired and honed over the course of years, not weeks. Premiere digital humanities summer institutes include the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria, Canada, and Humanities Intensive Learning and Teaching (US). The best outcome you can expect from attending one of these institutes is to have your eyes opened to what is possible and to return home with a welter of new contacts in your address book.
  • Industry is another sphere worth exploring for solutions to your problems. When I was looking for a way to publish and annotate ultra-high resolution visualizations online, I reached out to a company called GIGAmacro that has created such a platform as part of an imaging solution it markets to entomologists, geologists, and manufacturing. I described my project to them and they agreed to let me use their platform free of charge (see GIF demo at the end of this post).

Generate prototypes

It is hard to overstate the value of generating prototypes, especially if you are starting your project as a one-person show and need to drum up interest and funding. Prototyping helps you get a more realistic sense of what is possible and on what time scale. In addition, you will quickly discover how much help you need for a full-scale product and in which areas collaborators are indispensable. Perhaps most importantly, a prototype gives you something to show and share. There is no better way to communicate your idea.

In an initial phase of my digital project focusing on a wall of inscriptions in Delphi, I built an admittedly somewhat clunky mock-up using Lucidchart. Despite many shortcomings, it allowed me to demonstrate what I had in mind and get key advice on how to move forward.

Keep a log

Yes, I know, this one sounds like drudgery, especially for folks from the humanities who aren’t familiar with lab notebooks. But keeping a log for a digital project will save you much time and frustration, believe me. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Tool comparison: When testing tooling options for your project, you will benefit from recording the positives and negatives of each potential digital tool, perhaps even in a table or spreadsheet. It is easy to get confused as to which tool offers which feature. A log also helps you keep track of which ones you have already tried.
  • Reproducibility: Once you have made tooling decisions and are working with the software solution of your choice, you might want to record all the settings you are adjusting in the program. This is especially advisable for things like image processing or stitching where it might take many iterations of fine-tuning settings and rendering to get the desired result. You need an exact record of what you did not only for the sake of convenience and reproducibility, but also methodological transparency. Some programs can generate logs. Take advantage of them!

    If specialized software does not allow you to save a log, consider making screenshots of your tweaked settings for later reference. In this case, I was experimenting with the sliders at the bottom and needed a record of which combinations I had already tried.
  • Project management: A more prosaic reason for keeping a log is that for many of us digital projects are not the main thing we do. They are often side projects and not our bread and butter, at least not yet. And when you haven’t worked on something in a long time, you naturally forget where you left off. A log entry can serve as a great springboard to get back into a slumbering project.
An excerpt from a log I kept while working a visualization of Delphic inscriptions. This entry reflects my struggles with file systems (I had to reformat to exFAT because I was working cross-platform) and preserves some code (a terminal command) I later referred to multiple times.

Start with a small sample of your data

As with any research project, digital or analog, test your idea with a small sample of your data. This is particularly relevant in the digital sphere where you most likely will not have all the necessary skills to tackle all the components of your projects. In the early stages, you can often bridge these gaps temporarily with mock-ups made with less than suitable tools. With a small sample, processing times will be shorter, and data will be more manageable. You are less likely, overall, to get overwhelmed right at the outset. Remember as well that you are testing whether a process will work or not. If you try to be as comprehensive as possible with the first iteration, you run the risk of wasting time and resources on a flawed approach. You can always scale up your project once something small works well. Starting with a small sample, finally, is a great reality check in terms of your hardware capabilities. If your current hardware configuration struggles to process a small sample, you know you will need to find more powerful computers to tackle the next stage.

The animated gif above illustrates how I progressively added more tiles to an image stitching task, going from three to ca. fifty. My laptop crashed when I attempted to stitch 100 tiles, whereupon I had to migrate to a lab with beefier machines. There I finally succeeded in stitching my entire batch of 600 image tiles.

Prioritize project components

Once you have determined the building blocks your project falls into, it is time to decide what to tackle first. Many variables enter this equation and they will be weighted differently from project to project, so it is hard to give general advice. One thing worth thinking about is what potential collaborators and funders are interested in. More likely than not, they will not be looking for a flashy demo, but solid ground in terms of planning and project feasibility. Some Digital Humanities grant programs focus on social infrastructure, planning, and collaboration as much as (or more than) technology per se. Having said that, a prototype of your project can be a phenomenally effective way to communicate your idea. If it is visually appealing, all the better. Above all, as I stated at the outset, remember to be realistic: you have time and resource constraints, and everything will take longer than you expect. Projects can get derailed by focusing too much on creating something flashy to the exclusion of more essential project components, like content creation, target audience assessment, data structuring, or rights/fair use assessment, to name a few.

A more advanced prototype of the visualization of the wall of inscriptions in Delphi using the GIGAmacro Viewer which includes features such as support for extreme resolution images, polygon annotations, and many more. Click on the image to have a look yourself!

 

Good luck!

 


Adrian Linden-High is a fifth-year Classical Studies PhD student at Duke University whose research centers on inscriptions and papyri that capture what everyday life was like in the ancient world. Currently, he is working on a rich archive of inscriptions from Delphi recording more than 1,000 slave manumissions (see digital visualization prototype). In the spring of 2017, he served as a Humanities Writ Large research assistant with Digital Scholarship Services at Duke University Libraries.

Library RCR Days!

The Duke University Libraries will be offering a suite of RCR workshops for graduate students over Fall Break, October 8-9, 2018, including:

Monday, October 8

Ethics and Visualization
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
This session introduces participants to core ideas in the ethics of visualization—designing to avoid distortion, designing ethically for broad user communities, developing empathy for people represented within the data, and using reproducibility to increase the transparency of design.
Learn more and register

Digital Publishing: Multimodal Storytelling
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
This session will provide an overview of common options for publishing sound and video on the web, focusing on the benefits of various platforms, licensing and rights issues, accessibility issues to consider, and methods of integrating multiple media into research publications.
Learn more and register

Research Impact Concepts and Tools
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
This workshop is designed to help you, as a graduate student, better understand how research impact is currently measured and outline Duke’s resources for assessing impact, from Web of Science to Altmetric Explorer. The workshop will include hands-on exploration of research impact tools, so please bring your laptop to participate.
Learn more and register

Digital Publishing: Reaching and Engaging Audiences
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Who are the intended users of your digital publication? How can you reach new audiences and keep your existing audiences actively engaged? We’ll learn about some of the ways successful projects connect with their users and promote their work to potential audiences. Participants will leave this session with a solid grounding in the ethical and logistical dimensions of engaging audiences and incorporating audience involvement into their own publication practices.
Learn more and register

Image Copyright and Acquisition for Scholars
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Visual literacy standards and the law are necessary for nearly every humanities and social-sciences project.  This workshop addresses two aspects of image use in scholarship: 1) techniques in obtaining scholarly images (what a scholarly image is, determining original resolution, searching free- and free-to-use images for scholarly research, and when you should pay), and 2) a brief course on image copyright and intellectual property—both the scholar’s and the user’s rights and how each can be asserted.  Relevant case history examples will be cited to back up a scholar’s use of images.
Learn more and register

Tuesday, October 9

Retractions in Science and Social Science Literature
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
This workshop will discuss the burgeoning phenomena of retractions in the scientific and social scientific literature. No one plans to have an article retracted, so we will cover what to do to avoid or address a retraction or expression of concern and what the existing editorial literature can offer if you do find yourself dealing with a retraction as an author or one of a group of authors.
Learn more and register

Text/Data: Acquiring and Preparing a Corpus of Texts
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
This session focuses on the technical dimensions of corpus development.  Using an array of printed matter—from digital facsimiles of incunabula to modern letterpress/offset books—we will explore the risks and benefits of optical character recognition (OCR); file formatting and naming issues; organization strategies for large corpora; and problems of data cleaning and preparation. While this session will not examine legal issues in detail, we will discuss some common legal concerns around the use of textual corpora.
Learn more and register

Text/Data: Topic Modeling and Document Classification With MALLET
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Participants in this session will acquire a general understanding of topic modeling, the automated analysis technique often referred to as “text mining.”  In addition to topic modeling, this session introduces the concepts of sequence labeling and automated document classification, both of which are also possible with MALLET.
Learn more and register

Shaping Your Professional Identity Online
3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
This workshop is designed to help you consider the best ways to navigate how you want to present yourself online.  We will discuss topics such as what to share and how to share, the ethical issues involved, and how to maintain the right balance of privacy.  We will also examine some steps you can take, such as creating a profile on Google Scholar, creating a Google alert for your name, creating an ORCID ID, interacting professionally on Twitter, and creating an online portfolio.
Learn more and register

Engaging Students in Neurodiversity Activism: Q&A with Marion Quirici

“Working with the Library” is an occasional series of stories highlighting collaborations between librarians and the people around campus whose teaching and research we support.

Dr. Marion Quirici is a Lecturing Fellow in the Thompson Writing Program and a faculty advisor for the Duke Disability Alliance. This semester she is teaching Writing 101: Neurodiversity, Narrative, Activism. Her students are working on projects that fight stigma by educating the public about the social contexts of mental and psychiatric disabilities. Kim Duckett, Head of Research and Instructional Services, has been Marion’s course librarian for three semesters.. She recently asked Marion a few questions about how the library has supported her teaching and research in the area of disability studies.


What are your primary goals for your students working on their neurodiversity activism projects?

Student Sydny Long with her graphic novel, “The Lonely Brain.”

The goal is to train students to communicate an impactful message to a broad audience beyond the classroom. Their message should challenge mainstream assumptions and stereotypes about mental disabilities, and generate deeper understanding of the social contexts that make mental differences meaningful. The assignment is flexible in terms of format and medium. Students have a lot of freedom in figuring out what they want to say, how they want to say it, and whom they want to address. Some of their projects may involve more traditional forms of academic writing (articles, blogs, or op-eds), but students can also communicate their message through visual art, film, creative writing, posters, websites, social media campaigns, and dialogic forms of activism such as canvassing and teach-ins. What every project has to do is take the knowledge and skills cultivated in my course and transfer them into real-world situations. Through this assignment, I want students to come to terms with their own power and learn to use their research and writing skills to enact change.

What unique challenges does this assignment present?

Because my courses are situated in the field of disability studies, there are two main challenges that we reckon with as a group when designing these projects. The first is upholding the mantra of the disability rights movement: “nothing about us without us.” In the “disability rights are human rights” conversation, we must center disabled perspectives. While some of my students identify as disabled and incorporate their own experiences into their activism,

Student Laura Benzing with her visual art piece, “Language of Autism.”

the majority identify as nondisabled and neurotypical. It is therefore essential that students rigorously consider the lived experiences of psychiatric consumers, survivors, and ex-patients in order to challenge their own assumptions. In advocacy work and activism, it is important not to place an onus of recovery on the individual. Instead, I ask students to research the social structures and cultural conditions that contribute to the challenges individuals face. To be good allies, students have to resist thinking of “us” and “them” — it’s just “us.”

The second challenge is accessibility. The activism project must be accessible not only to a general audience that is unfamiliar with the neurodiversity paradigm, but also to people with all kinds of disabilities. Students learned to use accessibility software to caption their videos, and create audio descriptions of the visual components of their projects. Some thought about ways to incorporate tactile elements into their artwork, while others created accessible maps and navigational aids to help guide participants to their events. I organized the projects into a website here: tinyurl.com/disabilityart.

How has the library supported your teaching?

The Thompson Writing Program follows a “writing in the disciplines” model, which means that every faculty member designs writing courses within a specific discipline in which they have advanced training and expertise. We each have an assigned course librarian with specialized knowledge of our discipline–you, in my case–who visit our classes once or twice a semester to train students in their research methods. This semester you visited twice: once to discuss non-traditional forms of research for the activism projects, for which students were expected to find first-person perspectives on topics relating to mental health, and a second time to train students to use the library databases to compile and analyze a variety of critical sources for their research papers.

Student work from Dr. Quirici’s class last year featured on the Campus Club wall in Perkins Library.

Duke’s librarians have collaborated on a number of resources that are useful for the teaching of writing, which they organized into a “Library 101 Toolkit.” The toolkit contains worksheets that help students choose a topic, consider their audience by identifying stakeholders, and evaluate their sources. My favorite handout is called “Classifying Sources: The BAAM Method.” It outlines four different ways a student might engage with a source in their writing: Background, Artifact, Argument, and Method. I find that having students organize their sources into these categories during the research process helps them structure their papers, and situate their own ideas alongside the work of others.

A really unique way that the library has supported my teaching has been their willingness to provide opportunities for my students to exhibit their work. Last year, the students who created visual art for their activism projects had their work featured on the Campus Club Wall in Perkins Library for a month, thanks to the help of Meg Brown. This year, librarians in Lilly helped one of my students organize a shelf display of recommended reading for Disability Pride Week and contribute a post to the Libraries’ blog.

How about your research?

The Duke Libraries have an online database called “Disability and the Modern World” that I have found useful for browsing for the kinds of resources I would not have known to search for, including periodicals, film and television sources, and archival materials. Resources are organized by subject, discipline, geographical

Students Jay Patel and Nick Saba with their children’s book, “New Friends.”

location, and people, which always makes for a really generative browsing experience. I was so excited to discover an Australian chat show called “No Limits,” which covers a range of topics on disability representation in the media, and features one of my favorite disability activists, Stella Young.

The Rubenstein Library also has an extensive History of Medicine Collection that has been useful to my research. When I was writing a lecture on Psychiatric Degeneration Theory for the Neurohumanities Research Group this past February, I was able to consult a first edition of Bénédict Morel’s 1857 treatise on the so-called “physical, intellectual, and moral degeneration of the human race,” and study the development of a harmful theory that would later be used to justify eugenics and racial cleansing.

What are three things you think that undergraduates should know about using information and the library?

First, to generate as many questions as possible about your topic before you start searching. It’s important at the beginning of the research process to consider your topic from all angles, and to keep an open mind about what you might argue until you’ve learned what other scholars have already written. The more questions students ask about their topic at the beginning of the process, the more options they will have for taking a unique approach on the subject.

Second, not to be overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. Disability is a topic people initially perceive as marginal, but this is a misconception, and there is scholarship connecting disability to almost anything you can think of. Students can feel daunted by this. But once they take the time to comb through what’s out there by engaging in distant reading, they find more sophisticated ways to articulate what exactly interests them. It can be really exciting to watch them discover the originality of their own ideas.

Third, to be comfortable asking for help. Research should never be done in total isolation. Having a conversation with a librarian, classmate, or professor can help you not only articulate your project to yourself, but also to get feedback on how well others are understanding your ideas. They might raise questions, introduce perspectives you had not considered, and help you define your topic. Think of the librarians as extra professors outside the classroom. They have many years of experience organizing research and gaining access to information, and students should take advantage of all that expertise!

Publishing as Conversation, Dec. 1

Image by Stefan Stefancik

Re:Publishing: Publishing as Conversation
Friday, December 1, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
The Edge Workshop Room (Bostock 127)

Scholarly publishing is often treated as one-way communication: send some knowledge out into the world, then hope others learn from it and maybe cite it somewhere down the road. But how can we make publishing an opportunity to engage with others? How can it be a conversation while avoiding trolls, hecklers, and defeatists?

This event will feature a moderated discussion among members of the Duke community about these ideas and more, exploring what it means to approach scholarly publishing as a conversation and how to find, seed, and engage in broader discussion of your scholarly work.

Panelists include:

Registration is required for lunch. Please RSVP

This event is part of the Re:Publishing series co-sponsored by Duke University Libraries, Center for Instructional Technology (CIT), Digital Humanities Initiative, Digital Scholarship Services (Duke University Libraries), Forum for Scholars and Publics, John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, Office of Copyright & Scholarly Communication (Duke University Libraries), Office of Interdisciplinary Studies, PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge,  Duke Initiative for Science & Society and Wired! Lab for Digital Art History and Visual Culture.

Get more information on this and other events in the Re:Publishing series.

New Digital Scholarship Fellow: Imani Mosley

Imani Mosley (PhD student, Department of Music)

This fall the Libraries welcome a new graduate student fellow — and fellowship — to help encourage and aid digital humanities research and publishing at Duke. Imani Mosley joins the Digital Scholarship Services team as its first Harsha Murthy Fellow in Digital Scholarship, a position created with funding from Harsha Murthy (T‘81), a longtime member of our Library Advisory Board. The Murthy Fellow helps to raise awareness of and engagement in digital scholarship at Duke, primarily by promoting activities and programs in the Murthy Digital Studio in The Edge.

The Murthy Digital Studio in The/EDGE (Bostock Library Level 1)

Located on the western corner of The/EDGE overlooking Telecom Drive, the Murthy Digital Studio is a light-filled, comfortable space for a range of digital activities, from hands-on workshops and research talks, to discussion groups and project work.

Imani is already helping to organize, promote, and facilitate a number of events and projects, but gamely took a few minutes to answer some questions that would help us get to know her and this new position.

Tell us a little about yourself, what you are doing at Duke and what brought you to the digital humanities.

I’m a North Carolina native and a musicologist, and I’m working on my dissertation on twentieth-century opera entitled “‘The queer things he said’: British Identity, Social History, and Press Reception of Benjamin Britten’s Postwar Operas.” Last year, I joined the Digital Scholarship Services team and oversaw social media and outreach. I have a strong background in technology and social media so working for DSS seemed like a great fit for me.

What was it about the Murthy Fellowship in Digital Scholarship that appealed to you?

For a long time, at least back to when I started grad school at Columbia (which coincidentally is when I first started working for Apple), I’ve been fascinated with making connections between technology and the digital with the scholarly. I was always looking for ways to make my life as a scholar more public, more accessible, and more current. So the idea of being able to coordinate and create events that did just that, for graduate students and faculty, really excited me. I’ve learned so much in the last ten years — from engaging with academic communities online to converting published content to Open Access (and the legal and procedural processes involved) to working with academic software, both specific to my field and more general. Through this work with the Murthy Digital Studio, I can organize events in which I can share that information as well as learn from others who’ve had similar experiences.

What do you think will be some of the major challenges in this new role?

I think there’s no denying how much of it will be logistical. Everyone at Duke deals with a barrage of information about all of the awesome things happening on campus and for me, it’s about finding a way to cut through the din. I recognize that since this is a brand new position, that a lot of it will be about laying the groundwork, but of course I want people to come to events! So trying to be innovative and find a way to stand out that creates (assessable) results is, I think, my foremost challenge.

Something more conceptual that will be challenging in this position is identifying audiences and creating spaces that fit their needs…and finding ways to get different groups working together. I would love for humanists to ponder the possibilities of the digital humanities and digital scholarship just as I would love for those outside of the humanities to come in contact with some of the things we do. Basically, I’m hoping for interdisciplinarity at its finest!

Look for more updates from Imani soon, as she spreads the word about what’s happening in the Studio this fall! You can follow her tweets @murthydigital or subscribe directly to the Studio’s announcement list — murthydigitalstudio@duke.edu

In-Depth Look at SNCC’s Past Offers Lessons for Activists Today

Man and woman looking over a brochure for a political candidate before election day in Lowndes County, Alabama, November, 1966, Photograph by Jim Peppler, Courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.

What can the immediate past teach us about voting rights, self-determination, and democracy today? A new website created by the SNCC Legacy Project and Duke University explores how the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)—the only youth-led national civil rights group—organized a grassroots movement in the 1960s that empowered Black communities and transformed the nation.  Told from the perspectives of the activists themselves, the SNCC Digital Gateway: Learn from the Past, Organize for the Future, Make Democracy Work (snccdigital.org) highlights SNCC’s thinking and work building democracy from the ground up, making those experiences and strategies accessible to activists, educators, and engaged citizens today.

Generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the site uses documentary footage, audio recordings, photographs, and documents to chronicle how SNCC organizers, alongside thousands of local Black residents in the Deep South, worked to enable Black people to take control of their lives. The gateway unveils and examines the inner workings of SNCC over the course of its 12-year existence—its structure, how it coordinated sit-ins and other direct action protests, and how it organized voter registration efforts and economic cooperatives to effect social change. SNCC had more field staff than any civil rights organization and was considered the cutting edge of the civil rights movement.

The SNCC Digital Gateway also presents the voices of today’s young activists in the Movement for Black Lives, sharing their views on the impact of SNCC and the southern civil rights movement of the 1960s on their activities today. “Reading through the SNCC Digital Gateway website is like taking a masters class in community organizing,” explains Jennifer Bryant, a community organizer based in Washington, D.C. “The primary source documents provide a deeper understanding of how SNCC was structured, the day-to-day work of field organizers and how campaigns were shaped. The site serves as a reminder that the civil rights movement was fought by everyday people. It provides hope that in these perilous times, we too can fight and win.” Courtland Cox, chairman of the SNCC Legacy Project, who served as an organizer in Mississippi and Alabama in the 1960s, explains, “Our experiences have created a level of ‘informational wealth’ that we need to pass on to young people. This unprecedented collaboration with Duke University hopefully will pilot a way for other academic institutions to re-engage history and those who make it.”

The website is a product of a groundbreaking partnership among veteran civil rights activists of the SNCC Legacy Project, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke, Duke University Libraries, and civil rights scholars. Wesley Hogan, director of the Center for Documentary Studies, who has written extensively about SNCC’s work and legacy explains, “The way we are working together—activists, archivists, and scholars—is a powerful new model. This project gives us a unique opportunity to understand the work of the local people who broke apart Jim Crow that would otherwise be lost to future generations.”


For more information, contact:

Wesley Hogan, Director, Center for Documentary Studies
(919) 660-3610
wesley.hogan@duke.edu

Courtland Cox, Chairman, SNCC Legacy Project
(220) 550-8455
courtlandc@starpower.net

John Gartrell, John Hope Franklin Research Center, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
(919) 660-5922
john.gartrell@duke.edu

Edge Lightning Talks: Research in Progress, Dec. 9

edge-lightning-talks-600x360


What: Research talks, coffee, and dessert
Where: The Edge Workshop Room (Bostock 127)
When: Friday, December 9, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

You’ve seen their projects around campus—come find out what these students are working on! Join us for a series of lightning talks given by students working on projects in the Ruppert Commons for Research, Technology and Collaboration (also known as “The Edge”) or with significant collaboration from Duke University Libraries. They will discuss their research and future plans.

The participating students are working on projects with:

Following the lightning talks and a panel Q&A, join presenters for a coffee and dessert reception to celebrate a successful semester.

Interested in project space in The Edge for the spring 2017 semester? We’re now accepting applications. Submit an application online or email us at edge@duke.edu for more information.

Sponsored by The Edge: The Ruppert Commons for Research, Technology and Collaboration

Supporting Digital Scholarship: 10th Profile in ARL Series

22498925656_389ac2984d_zThe latest installment in the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) series highlighting digital scholarship support at ARL member libraries features the work of the Duke University Libraries.

The Duke University profile, written by ARL visiting program officer Catherine Davidson, presents a brief history of the evolution of digital scholarship support at the university, highlighting The Edge: The Ruppert Commons for Research, Technology, and Collaboration.

This profile includes information about staffing, workspaces, programming, services, and collaboration, and concludes with a brief discussion of how the Duke University Libraries are looking to the future to expand connections through “scholarly engagement platforms,” such as The Edge.

Four established projects are featured in the profile:

SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) Legacy Project: which chronicles the historic struggles for voting rights in the United States and develops programs to foster a more civil and inclusive democracy

Project Vox: an online resource and international research initiative that aims to restore the voices of early modern women philosophers through traditional and digital publishing efforts

Sonic Dictionary: a collection of recordings curated by students from Duke and other collaborating institutions, developed to fill a gap in audio culture resources

MorphoSource: an open data archive of 3-D images of skeletal specimens contributed by registered users.

To read each of the profiles in this series as they are published, watch the ARL website, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or subscribe to our e-mail news lists or the profiles RSS feed.

Edge Lightning Talks: Creativity + Research

Workshop Room

What: Research + creativity on display, coffee and dessert
Where: The Edge Workshop Room (Bostock 127)
When: April 11, 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

You’ve seen their projects around campus–come find out what these students are working on! Join us in The Edge for a series of lightning talks given by undergraduate students using the Innovation Co-Lab or The Edge to power their work. They will discuss their research work and future plans. The participating students are working on projects with:

Following the lightning talks and a panel Q&A, join presenters for a coffee and dessert reception to celebrate a successful semester. Student projects from the Innovation Studio will be on display in the Lounge during this time.

Interested in project space in The Edge next semester? We’re accepting applications for Summer  or Fall 2016 semesters. Submit an application online or email us at edge@duke.edu for more information.

Learn more about the Innovation Co-Lab and their projects and programming: https://colab.duke.edu/.

This event is co-sponsored by the Innovation Co-Lab and Duke University Libraries.

Fairy Tales on The Edge

Welcome to our blog series on innovative projects coming out of The Edge! The Edge is a collaborative space in Bostock Library where students, faculty, and staff can work on research projects over the course of a semester or academic year. If think you have a project that would be ideal for the Edge, head over to our project spaces page to apply.

The Project: Fairy Tales, from Grimms to Disney

Fairy Tales, from Grimms to Disney is a digital library of 210 Grimms Fairy Tales in English translation, ordered by number and themes. The team built this digital library in WordPress to support the lecture course “Fairy Tales: Grimms to Disney” (Professor Jakob Norberg, Department of German), and students use the WordPress site to blog about weekly readings. Heidi Madden, Librarian for Western European Studies and Medieval Literature, answered some questions for us about this project.

What inspired this project?

Rumpelstiltskin. All images and illustrations by Arthur Rackham from public domain sources.
Rumpelstiltskin. All images and illustrations by Arthur Rackham from public domain sources.

The Fairy Tales course is a popular lecture course taught every year in the German Department by Professor Jakob Norberg. The project arose in conversation with Professor Norberg, who wanted to draw on the visual elements of fairy tales to inspire students to read widely. He also wanted to make the large course more interactive. Students discover and write about modern versions of fairy tales; they find a wide variety—with many international examples—of tales based on Grimm fairy tale characters, themes, and plots. Professor Norberg wanted to capture some of that information from one year to the next by having students contribute their ideas to a blog.

Who are the members of your team? What departments and schools are they part of?

  • Professor Jakob Norberg, Department of German
  • Heidi Madden, Duke University Libraries
  • Nele Fritz is a Library Science student (B.A.) at TH Köln – University of Technology, Arts and Sciences, Cologne, Germany. From September 2015 to March 2016 she worked as an intern in International and Area Studies and in Research Services at Duke University Libraries.
  • Liz Milewics and Will Shaw as Digital Scholarship consultants

How has working in The Edge influenced your team?

The Edge space was an ideal central meeting place for the team. The most important affordances of the project room were the display screen and the writable walls. The site has many pages and images, and we needed room to sketch and evaluate the site. It was also useful to have a large table, so that we could work together on tasks where we needed immediate feedback. Having the project room available to us two afternoons a week really helped with keeping us on schedule.

Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood

What tools do you use to work collaboratively?

We used WordPress, SAKAI, Basecamp, and Photoshop. Many students in the course are in engineering and computer science, and they have explored research involving text-mining and other digital tools for students to work with text data and images. Professor Norberg wanted his class site to list examples of that type of research as inspiration for students who take the class in the future. Having those clean text files readily available on the site allows for mobile reading, but also for downloading text data for projects.

What are you learning as part of this project that is surprising to you?

WordPress can be surprisingly difficult when building multimedia content and when building it with many pages. That’s why planning and sketching out the whole site is very important. Getting an overview of what the plug-ins offer is time-consuming. However, once the project was running, Professor Norberg was delighted to get to know his 43 students through their blogs very quickly.

Tom Thumb
Tom Thumb

What are the difficult problems you are trying to solve?

When the spring course is over, we want to turn the course site into a public site, so students interested in the course can explore the website. We also want to use the public website to showcase some of the original and tech-savvy research students are doing. In addition to that, we want to retain the bibliography of Grimm version fairy tales that students bring to the course from all of their diverse backgrounds.

What would you do with your project if you had unlimited resources?

We want the site to be used in teaching beyond Duke.

Final Thoughts

Nele Fritz, a graduate student from Germany, worked on this project as part of her field experience. Besides planning, sketching and building the site, this experience also included getting to know WordPress very well and monitoring the project with project management tools and strategies.

This post was written and compiled by Hannah Pope, a Master’s of Library Science student at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is interested in instruction, helping with research, and encouraging student innovation in libraries. She is currently working as a field experience intern in the Assessment and User Experience department and with The Edge at the Duke University Libraries.

Edge Lightning Talks: A Series of Works in Progress

Edge Lightning Talks Photo
Ever wonder who those teams of people are and what they’re working on? Come find out December 4!

 

What: Research-in-progress, coffee and dessert
Where: The Edge Workshop Room (Bostock Library 127)
When: Friday, December 4, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

You’ve seen the project teams in The Edge—come find out what they’re working on! In between LDOC festivities, join us in The Edge for a series of lightning talks given by Bass Connections project team participants about their team’s research work in progress and future plans. The participating teams are:

Following the lightning talks and a panel Q&A, join the team members for a coffee and dessert reception to celebrate a successful semester.

Interested in project space in The Edge next semester? We’re accepting applications for the Spring 2016 semester. Submit an application online or email us at edge@duke.edu for more information.

edge600x360

History Hackathon – a collaborative happening

Students in Rubenstein Reading Room

What is a History Hackathon?

The term “Hackathon” traditionally refers to an event in which computer programmers collaborate intensively on software projects. But Duke University Libraries and the History Department are putting a historical twist on their approach to the Hackathon phenomenon. In this case, the History Hackathon is a contest for undergraduate student teams to research, collaborate, and create projects inspired by the resources available in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library collections. Projects may include performances, essays, websites, infographics, lectures, podcasts, and more. A panel of experts will serve as judges and rank the top three teams. Cash Prizes will be awarded to the winning teams.

The History Hackathon will take place over a 72-hour period from October 23-25, in the Rubenstein Library and The Edge.  All the  guidelines, rules, and details may be found at the History Hackathon: a Collaborative Happening  site.Students in the Edge

  • When:  Friday, October 23rd to
    Sunday, October 25th

http://sites.duke.edu/historyhackathon/register/

Contact : HistoryHackathon@duke.edu


Sponsored by the Duke History Department,  the Duke University Libraries, the David M. Rubenstein Library, and the Duke University Undergraduate Research Support Office.

Contributor: Susannah Roberson

 

 

Coming to Bostock Library in January 2015: The Research Commons

 

Architectural rendering of a planned social lounge space in the Research Commons on the first floor of Bostock Library.
Architectural rendering of a planned social lounge space in the Research Commons on the first floor of Bostock Library. Renovations will take place May-November 2014.

To meet the growing needs of interdisciplinary, team-based, and data-driven research at Duke, the Duke University Libraries will transform the first floor of Bostock Library into a new academic service hub equipped with tools and workspaces for digital scholarship, reservable rooms for project teams, and expanded technology and training facilities.

The new space will be known as the “Research Commons” and will officially open in January 2015. The improvements will allow for more technology-focused library services, more spaces for collaborative work, and an attractive new destination for students and faculty in the heart of campus.

The main period of renovation activity will be May – November 2014, in order to minimize disruptions to students and faculty. The $3.5 million project was approved by the Board of Trustees at their October 2013 meeting.

Floor plan of the Research Commons, which will occupy the entire first floor of Bostock Library.
Floor plan of the Research Commons, which will occupy the entire first floor of Bostock Library. Click on the image to see a larger version.

The Research Commons will increase the Libraries’ ability to support interdisciplinary and team-based teaching and learning at Duke, such as the innovative projects emerging from the Bass Connections initiative. The space will bring together the Libraries’ Brandaleone Data and GIS Services Lab (relocated from the second floor of Perkins Library); workshop and presentation space for groups large (45-50) and small (6-8); reservable and drop-in project rooms; and expert library staff assistance, available on-site or by appointment.

“The goal of the Research Commons is to allow individual researchers and project teams to experiment with new ideas and approaches with experts, technology and training available in close proximity,” said Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and the Vice Provost for Library Affairs. “It will be the kind of space that invites discovery, experimentation, and collaboration.”

Plans for the Research Commons came about through a multi-year planning process in which faculty, students, and library staff explored how Duke researchers are increasingly conducting their work in the context of interdisciplinary collaborations and digital production. Generous funding for the project was made possible through the Duke Forward Campaign.

In order to make room for the renovation, collection materials and furniture on the first floor of Bostock Library will be relocated to other library locations beginning in May. The Libraries will free up additional study space elsewhere in Perkins and Bostock to accommodate students temporarily displaced by the work. A complete list of which collections are moving is available on the Research Commons FAQ page.

Rendering of the Open Lab seating area of the Research Commons.
Rendering of the Open Lab seating area of the Research Commons.

Also in May, the front entrance of Perkins Library will close due to the Rubenstein Library renovation on May 12 and remain closed until summer 2015. Library users and visitors will enter the library through the side entrance beneath the Perkins/Bostock connector, or through the von der Heyden Pavilion, which will remain open throughout the renovations. To better accommodate patrons, a Library Service Desk will be placed near the side entrance of Perkins while the front entrance is closed.

More information on the Research Commons, including a renovation timeline and FAQ, can be found on the Libraries’ website at library.duke.edu/research/commons. More information about the Rubenstein Library renovation can be found at library.duke.edu/renovation.

Duke to Host Scholarly Communication Institute

Scholarly Comm Institute
The Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute invites proposals from groups interested in participating in a series of seminars, discussions, presentations, and workshops, to be held over four days in Chapel Hill, NC, in November 2014.

DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke University Libraries have received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support an annual Scholarly Communication Institute with the goal of advancing scholarship, teaching, and publishing in the humanities through the application of digital technologies.

Over the last two decades, rapid technological changes have fundamentally altered the way in which research and other scholarly writings are created, evaluated for quality, disseminated to the scholarly community, and preserved for future use. There has been lively debate among scholars, librarians, publishers, and technologists about the ways in which scholars share their research within the academic community and beyond. Duke has long been a vocal participant in these discussions and a strong advocate for the knowledge-sharing mission of research universities.

The Scholarly Communication Institute (SCI) began as a Mellon-funded initiative at the University of Virginia in 2003 and was based there for nine years. Duke will host the new SCI, working in close collaboration with partners at the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Central University, and the Triangle Research Libraries Network.

Like its predecessor program at UVA, the Triangle SCI will bring together a broad range of experts from inside and outside academia to discuss needs and opportunities in the domain of scholarly communications. The emphasis will be on productive dialogue across boundaries that often separate academic communities with an ultimate goal of fostering new types of collaboration and new models of scholarly dissemination.

“The goal of the SCI is not to schedule breakthroughs, but to create conditions that favor them,” said Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs at Duke.

“It will bring diverse groups together and provide a combination of structured and unstructured time to brainstorm, organize, and jump-start ideas, to experiment and solve problems, and even begin to build,” she said. “This will be an opportunity both to talk and to do.”

Each annual institute will be organized under a broad theme. This year’s is “Scholarship and the Crowd.” It will be held November 9-13 at the Rizzo Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Participants will be selected through a competitive proposal process. For the 2014 institute, applicants from the Triangle area are especially encouraged to submit. Proposals are being accepted through March 24. More information and application instructions are available at the institute’s website: trianglesci.org.

 

Digital Humanities Project Management, Nov. 21

DoingDHImage

Doing DH is a Digital Scholarship series focusing on the basic skills needed for working in the digital humanities. Lightning-talk panels, presentations, and workshops showcase people, projects, and expertise in the Triangle and offer insights into the practical side of being a digital humanist. Presentations and panel discussions are in the FHI Garage (Bay 4, Smith Warehouse). Light refreshments will be served. Workshops are in the Wired! Lab (Bay 11 Smith Warehouse).

The next events in this series are November 21 : a workshop and panel discussion on project management in the digital humanities (more information below).

 

Digital Humanities Project Management Workshop
Date: Thursday, November 21
Time:
4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Location: Wired! Lab, Smith Warehouse, Bay 11 (click for map)
Registration: Required (seating is limited). Please register to attend.
Contact: Liz Milewicz, liz.milewicz@duke.edu

Introduction to digital humanities project planning and management, with special emphasis on choosing the tools and applications (from free apps like Google Docs to professional software like BaseCamp and Jira) that best suit your project and your team. Participants are encouraged to bring their own laptops.

 

Digital Humanities Project Management Panel
Date: Thursday, November 21
Time: 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Location: FHI Garage, Smith Warehouse Bay 4 (click for map)
Registration: Register online
Contact: Liz Milewicz, liz.milewicz@duke.edu

Light refreshments will be served.

Following the workshop, join us for a panel discussion on common issues in digital humanities project development. What planning and management challenges are specific to digital humanities? How do DH project managers coordinate team effort, communicate with stakeholders, and control unexpected changes in project scope? Participating panelists hail from both Duke and UNC, including:

  • Mary Caton Lingold (Soundbox Project co-director and English Department doctoral student, Duke University)
  • Erin Parish (Cultural Anthropology Department doctoral student, Duke University)
  • Ashley Reed (Manager, William Blake Archive, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Josh Sosin (Duke Collaboratory in Classics Computing and Associate Professor of Classical Studies, Duke University)

Sponsored by the Duke University Libraries Digital Scholarship Services department and the Wired! Group.

The Landscape of Crowdsourcing and Transcription: Nov. 20

OCR software doesn't recognize handwriting (even very fine handwriting like Francis Calley Gray's, shown here). So human volunteers must transcribe it before it can be data-mined.
OCR software doesn’t recognize handwriting (even very fine handwriting like Francis Calley Gray’s, shown here). So human volunteers must transcribe it before it can be data-mined.

Date: Wednesday, November 20
Time: 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Location: Perkins Library, Room 217 (Click for map)
Contact: Joshua Sosin, joshua.sosin@duke.edu, or 919-681-2992

This event is free and open to the public.

One of the most popular applications of crowdsourcing to cultural heritage is transcription. Since OCR software doesn’t recognize handwriting, human volunteers are converting letters, diaries, and log books into formats that can be read, mined, searched, and used to improve collection metadata. But cultural heritage institutions aren’t the only organizations working with handwritten material, and many innovations are happening within investigative journalism, citizen science, and genealogy.

This talk will present an overview of the landscape of crowdsourced transcription: where it came from, who’s doing it, and the kinds of contributions their volunteers make, followed by a discussion of motivation, participation, recruitment, and quality controls.

 

About the Speaker

Ben Brumfield earned his B.A. in Computer Science and Linguistics from Rice University in 1997. He has seventeen years experience as a professional software engineer, including a dozen years building software for non-profit organizations, from libraries to genealogical organizations. In 2005, he began developing FromThePage, a collaborative transcription platform. He has spoken on crowdsourcing and collaborative manuscript transcription at the American Historical Association, Museum Computer Network, IMLS WebWise, Text Encoding Initiative, and Digital Humanities conferences,in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Sponsored by the Duke Collaboratory for Classics Computing.

Library Blogs Monthly Recap: October 2013

October disappeared while we were illicitly munching on Halloween candy, and November has appeared out of nowhere, with its shorter days and longer shadows. In case you missed something, here’s a summary of some of the top stories from around the Libraries for the month of October.

 

DoingDHImageDoing Digital Humanities: New Workshops this Fall

Our Digital Scholarship Services department has organized a series of panels, presentations, and workshops this fall to focus on basic skills in digital humanities research.

 

 

4426568251_f9ed0bd32eThe Big Picture About Peer Review

Kevin Smith, Director of Copyright and Scholarly Communications, reacts to a recent report in the journal Science and why its conclusions on open-access publishing and peer review were so wrong.

 

facultybooks13Fall Faculty Books: Yoga, Cholesterol, and Britten                                              

The faculty at Duke have been busy writing on spectrum of topics, from minority aging to differential equations and everything in between. Check out this extensive list of books penned by our very own Duke faculty members, all available in the library.

 

fantasy_collecting_600x360Fantasy Collecting Source Code Released

The source code for Fantasy Collecting, an art education and market simulation program developed here at Duke, was recently made publicly available. Fantasy Collecting is a bit like fantasy football for the art world. Students aim to increase the value and scope of their virtual art collections through promoting, acquiring, and trading art.

 

 A Postcard from Our National Book Collecting Contest Winner 

Ashley Young, a Ph.D. student at Duke and 2nd-prize winner in the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest, wrote about her trip to the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Library of Congress.

 

httpexhibitslibrarydukeedupluginsdropboxfilesncmph080010030_609b67fac8Soul and Service: The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company

A new exhibit at the Center for Documentary Arts celebrates the 115th anniversary of NC Mutual, the country’s largest and oldest African-American owned insurance company. The exhibit is co-sponsored by NC Mutual and the John Hope Franklin Research Center, part of the Rubenstein Library.

 

ResearchLibrariesAptman and Middlesworth Prize Winners Announced

The winners of the Aptman and Middlesworth research prize were recognized at a special awards ceremony during Duke Family Weekend. These students were recognized for their outstanding work in research and the utilization of library sources.

 

 

Kick off the fall “Fantasy” season… with art!

fc_title2This fall the source code for Fantasy Collecting, a pedagogical and research tool inspired by Fantasy Football and developed at Duke University, became publicly available on GitHub.

You may think you “know good art when you see it,” but this online art game will test your mettle as a tastemaker. Art fans, hackers, educators, and economists everywhere can now use Fantasy Collecting to both become the proud owners of masterpieces and attempt to mint new ones.

For those new to the notion of “fantasy art collecting” (which likely includes most of us), the Fantasy Collecting game is a classroom teaching and research tool that uses the pulse-pounding, high adrenaline activity of a virtual art market to teach art history and economics. Students try their hands at strategically increasing their collections’ value by promoting, acquiring, and trading works of art while performing micro-scholarship in the process.

Game co-designers Katherine Jentleson (Ph.D. Candidate in the Art, Art History, and Visual Studies department and member of the Duke Art, Law and Markets Initiative) and William Shaw (Duke University Libraries’ Digital Humanities Technology Consultant with the Humanities Writ Large initiative) developed and tested the game with art history and economics classes before preparing the code for public release under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. Thanks to a collaboration with Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art, students were able to play first with works from the world-renowned contemporary art collection of Duke alumni Jason Rubell and later with the 1,000+ permanent collection works that the Nasher has digitized as part of its eMuseum.

Built as a teaching tool with many potential applications, the game can now be used by others as a supplement to classroom and book learning, as a basis for research studies on topics like art preferences and auction behavior, or even just for casual play. The flexibility of the code allows new users to populate the game with images relevant to his or her teaching or research goals, determine the length of desired rounds of the game, and customize game events that incentivize players to meet challenges like writing “vision statements” about their collections. Documentation and explanatory videos provided along with the code offer instruction on how the game and game play work, and specifically how it was used for art history instruction.

The three videos below explain the concept and purpose behind the Fantasy Collecting game, the rules of game play (including video captures), as well as educational outcomes and student engagement.

Background: http://youtu.be/MQsHH7fnS4c

Game Play: http://youtu.be/i8QG2bexQKM

Outcomes: http://youtu.be/aSNtbcCF3zg

Digital Forensics, Emulation, and the Art of Restoration: April 24

The Thing

Who: Ben Fino-Radin
When: Wednesday, April 24, 4:00 p.m.
Where: Perkins Library, Room 217 (Click for map)
Contact: Winston Atkins (winston.atkins@duke.edu)

In 1991, from a basement in lower Manhattan, contemporary artist Wolfgang Staehle founded The Thing, an electronic Bulletin Board System (BBS) that served as a cyber-utopian hub for NYC-based artists integrating computers and into their creative practice.

The Thing emerged at a moment when contemporary artists were coming to grips with personal computers and the role they played in visual art. The BBS, which began as a temporary experiment, grew to become an international network of artists and ideas. Then the World Wide Web emerged and in 1995 Staehle abandoned the BBS for a web-based iteration of The Thing. The cultural record of these crucial early years, inscribed on the platters of the hard drive that hosted the BBS, was left to sit in a dusty basement.

The Thing 2

Fast forward to 2013. Digital conservator Ben Fino-Radin reached out to Staehle to investigate the state of the BBS. Did the machine that hosted The Thing still exist? Could the board be restored to working order?

For scholars interested in the intersection of art and technology, the ability to investigate the contents of the BBS and observe its original look and feel would help flesh out the history of the emergence of personal computers and visual art. Tragically, it was discovered that the computer that hosted The Thing BBS was at some point discarded.

Join Ben Fino-Radin on April 24 to discuss the process of digital forensics, investigation, and anthropology involved in the process of restoring The Thing BBS from the scattered bits and pieces of evidence that managed to survive, and how this story serves as a case-study in the need for a new model of digital preservation in archives.

This event is free and open to the public.

 

About the Speaker
fino-radinBen Fino-Radin is a New York based media archaeologist and conservator of born-digital and computer-based works of contemporary art. At Rhizome at the New Museum, he leads the preservation and curation of the ArtBase, one of the oldest and most comprehensive collections of born-digital works of art. He is also in practice in the conservation department of the Museum of Modern Art, managing the museum’s repository for digital assets in the collection, as well as contributing to media conservation projects. He is near completion of an MFA in digital arts and MS in Library and Information Science at Pratt Institute, with a BFA from Alfred University.

 

Find Out More

Ben Fino-Radin:

The Thing:

Rhizome:

  • Rhizome is dedicated to the creation, presentation, preservation, and critique of emerging artistic practices that engage technology.” (from the Rhizome mission statement)

 

When Art Makes the Man

Undergraduate course and exhibition, Rivalrous Masculinities, explores competing constructions of masculinity over time.

It’s one thing to tell a student that gender is constructed. It’s quite another to ask a student to collect and explain historical images of masculinity. Add to that the added challenges of communicating these insights in a foreign language with students in another country in order to develop an exhibition for the Nasher Museum of Art, and you have no ordinary undergraduate class.

In this case, the class is Rivalrous Masculinities, a seminar co-developed by Professor Anne Marie Rasmussen and Ph.D. candidates Steffen Kaupp and Christian Straubhaar of the German Languages department. They structured this course so that their students would meet and work regularly with students at German universities in order to construct an exhibition focusing on competing social and cultural constructions of masculinity over time.

RM-Exhibit-Poster
Click on the image to visit the online exhibition

With approval and funding from the Mellon Foundation-funded Humanities Writ Large project, this Rivalrous Masculinities project team was put in touch with Will Shaw (Duke University Libraries’ Digital Humanities Technology Consultant), who steered them in the direction of Omeka, a freely available and open source web-publishing platform especially useful in the organization and online presentation of image collections. Students in the fall 2012 Rivalrous Masculinities course used Omeka to collect, describe, and share images with their classmates and instructors.

This collective research can now be viewed as part of a virtual exhibition, launched in March 2013 and available through 2014. Students signed up for the fall 2013 Rivalrous Masculinities course will continue the project, this time in collaboration with students from Humboldt University of Berlin and the University of Hamberg, to prepare a physical exhibition of these works in the Nasher Museum of Art in 2014.

New Library Service: Digitize This Book

The Duke University Libraries are pleased to announce a new digitization-on-demand service that lets you have out-of-copyright books scanned and delivered to you digitally for free.

Internet Archive Scribe
From stacks to scanner to your inbox. We’re piloting a new service to digitize public domain books for Duke users on demand.

digitize_this_book2Starting this semester, Duke University faculty, students, and staff can request to have certain public domain books scanned on demand. If a book is published before 1923* and located in the Perkins, Bostock, Lilly, or Music Library or in the Library Service Center (LSC), a green “Digitize This Book” button (pictured here) will appear in its online catalog record. Clicking on this button starts the request.

Within two weeks (although likely sooner), you will get an email with a link to the digitized book in the Duke University Libraries collections on the Internet Archive. You—and the rest of the world—can now read this book online, download it to your Kindle, export it as a PDF, or get it as a fully searchable text-only file. And you never have to worry about late fees or recalls!

Throughout the spring semester, Duke University Libraries will be testing how this service works and tweaking the process. Pending the results of this pilot, we hope to expand this service to other library materials and users.

So give it a try, and let us know what you think! Email us directly at digitizebook@duke.edu. If you have questions, feel free as always to ask a librarian.

For answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about the “Digitize This Book” service, visit the Duke University Libraries + Digital Scholarship site.

*Because of copyright restrictions, only books published before 1923 that have entered the public domain are eligible for this service.