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Discussion Notes and Reflections

Nikolaus Wasmoen

University at Buffalo

Seminar website (request invite for access):

Co-leaders: Suzanne Churchill and Nikolaus Wasmoen

Participating Projects and People:
  • “considered queer by us mortals”: Sarah Payne & William Quinn
  • DigitalYoknapatawpha: Johannes Burgers & Worthy Martin
  • Marianne Moore Digital Archive: Cris Miller & Nikolaus Wasmoen 
  • Mina Loy: Navigating the Avant-Garde: Linda Kinnahan, Susan Rosenbaum & Suzanne Churchill
  • Modernist Archives Publishing Project: Michael Widner, Helen Southworth, and Alice Staveley
  • ModNets: Pamela Caughie, David Chinitz, & Nikolaus Wasmoen 
In attendance in Pasadena: Johannes Burgers, Pamela Caughie, David Chinitz, Suzanne Churchill, Worthy Martin, Cris Miller, Bill Quinn, Sarah Payne, Susan Rosenbaum, Helen Southworth, Alice Stavely, Nick Wasmoen, Mike Widner

Discussion Topics and Questions

Infrastructure: What content management, database, and/or metadata systems does your project us? Do you make your metadata available to users?
Interface: How is your site’s interface designed? Has your interface changed over the course of the project?
  • ModNets: Making preparation of metadata for ingestion easier and more transparent, platform interoperability
    • ModNets infrastructure maintained for them - can’t change but may customize a bit
  • Infrastructure problems metadata poses - need for databases is crucial. 
  • Aggregation complex because of categories like author vs. screenwriter.
    • Crucial to be able to search and aggregate sites/ data
    • Any digital objects displayed in browser should have metadata - scholarly description. 
    • MESA the node itself actually handles RDF generation for centralized indexing.
      • downside = individual projects not in control    
    • future possibility = github repository of RDF generation scripts to help facilitate indexing of new projects
    • Is there a good tool for cataloging metadata that is compatible with WordPress?
      • another strategy: get a developer to create a WordPress plugin for scholarly metadata.
    Pedagogy: How are you involving students and/or integrating your project into your classes and assignments?
    • How do we set learning goals for using digitals tools?
    • What does proficiency /success in meeting goals look like? How do we measure success if we as teachers don’t have proficiency ourselves?
    • Should success be measured in terms of product or via reflection essay on process and lessons learned?
    • New approaches for evaluating digital work
      • Rubrics
      • Contract grading (Peter Elbow, Cathy Davidson)
      • Process logs
      • Prototypes / minimal viable products
      • Benchmarking
    • Is there a useful distinction between pedagogy and scholarship?
      • Pedagogical tools, after all, are probably used by the scholars, not the students 
    Peer-Review: What principles and processes of peer review have you employed or do you plan to implement?
    • ModNets: Post model examples of peer review to alleviate concerns
      • Peer review so far has been constructive, process driven 
    • Concern for junior colleagues and grad students who get involved - how can digital projects be measured by standards in the field.
      • Need for best practices standards and set of equivalencies to articles and books.
      • Work with MSA and MLA to work out standards. 
      • Stanford UP is also working on these review standards. Alan Harvey = managing editor. 
      • How do you improve the work you do on the site?
      • How do you show grant or tenure committee that you have achieved a certain standard?
    • See Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s work on how digital humanities is changing notion of authorship--moving away from single-authored monographs.
    • How do we know if underlying data is valid?
      • Creators have to enunciate and make visible / available methods and practices. 
      • Data could be in correct formats but still incorrect.  
      • This isn’t really a new problem--how much scholarship is based on unknowable field data in private notebooks?  
      • But digital work does have illusion of being more objective/reliable/comprehensive. 
    • At what point does peer review happen?
      • Whenever you need it. 
      • At different points in the process?
    • Badging system: peer reviewing different aspects of project at different points.
      • Problem might be that badges could result in constraining rubrics 
      • Need for holistic assessment 
    • Passing peer review means it can be federated in ModNets, but there can be qualitative differences in assessments. 
    Funding: What sources of funding and support have you applied for and/or received for your project?
    • How do we convince NEH to support DH scholarship and not just digital tools? NEH needs to understand that all DH is collaborative, so projects are highly relevant to collaborative grant, while digital scholarship grant, which precludes collaboration, makes little sense for DH.
    • Marie Curie grant is worth pursuing if you have an EU partner.
    • Funding for sustainability, both for sites themselves and to persuade funding organizations to see projects as sustainable
    • Benefit of international teams for capturing funds
    • Create a centralized list/calendar of DH grants germane to Modernist Scholarship … on ModNets? 
    • Create a set of successful proposals for reference? ACLS collaborative, NEH startup, SSHRC
    • How to secure support for scholarly and pedagogical purposes, and not just for tool development? NEH lobbying? 
    • Collaboration at the core of MAPP’s appeals, bringing together different disciplines and people
    Sustainability: How have you addressed issues of sustainability, including maintaining the site with current directors and looking ahead to potential changes in leadership and hosting sites
    • Partner with library and work with dean of library to give support to faculty
    • Standards in library work. 
    • Faculty need to credit librarians’ work, treat them as intellectual partners. 
      • Another moment of de-hierarchizations, which hierarchy doesn’t like to see 
      • Debate: is this digital research or digital research support? 
      • Needs to be recognized as scholarship. 
    • Separate data from interface
    • Durable data, disposable interface
    • form /ux design being crucial presents conundrum for preservation.
    • IIPC : International Internet Preservation Consortium is taking on these issues.
    Impact: What are your plans and goals for having an impact in your field or discipline and/or in Modernist Studies?
    • How do you measure impact? 
    • Do you measure it in terms of scholarly or pedagogical impact?
    • Do we think of it in terms of traditional scholarly intervention or redefined in terms of data exploration or other forms of exploration?
    • Use of resources/tools/prototypes in classroom as a measure of impact.
    • Comparative information may be aspirational, rather than a measure of “hits”: show projects you want to be like.
    • Put downloadable documents on your site so that you can measure # of downloads, e.g. teaching guide, syllabi, lesson plans.
    • Need for community of scholars who report to one another when we use each other’s digital resources in our classes.
    • Put notice on sites: if you are using this in your course, please let us know. Like the pleas you see on Firefox or in for financial support, but this would just be support via reporting usage.
    • M/M print plus platform on digital pedagogy/scholarship.
    Visualization: What tools and styles of data visualization do you offer? Do you provide narrative interpretations, and if so, in what form?
    No discussion during meeting due to lack of time.
    Takeaways: some of the actionable plans considered listed below.
    • Since many projects have similar databases or content management systems, it may be useful for ModNets to make available a Github repository of previously used RDF generation scripts to help facilitate indexing of new projects.
    • Since some potential applicants have been reticent to submit for formal peer review, ModNets may post model examples of peer review reports to help alleviate concerns and demonstrate that peer review so far has been constructive and process driven for applicants. 
    • Since there is concern, especially for junior colleagues and grad students who get involved in DH work, we should continue to work toward recognizing, and updating, best practices standards and set of equivalencies to articles and books, as well as seek out organizational support from groups active in these areas such as MSA and MLA.
    • Since it can be hard to track the opportunities that are available for DH projects, a centralized list/calendar of DH grants germane to Modernist Scholarship should be created, perhaps on ModNets. 
    • Since grant application instructions can be so complex and opaque, it would be very helpful if there were a set of previously successful proposals for reference, especially for grants including, amongs other annual competitions, the ACLS, NEH, and SSHRC. 
    • Since it can be hard to gauge “usage” or “impact” once a site is published, there is a need for a community of scholars who report to one another when we use each other’s digital resources in our classes and research. We should all participate in this effort by leaving feedback and reporting to other scholars on the uses we make of their work online, including being willing to peer review or publish reviews. dhCommons is active in this area, maintaining a list of people who have indicated a willingness to collaborate as peer reviewers, which individuals might consider joining and/or using:
    • Since users may often be unaware that sites could very much use feedback, sites might be encouraged to put notices up: e.g. “If you are using this in your course, please let us know.” with easy links or feedback forms, similar to the pleas you see on Firefox or in for financial support, but in this case only for helping to report usage.