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DLCL ATS round-up, fall 2020

2020 was the first year I taught in the fall -- and I'm very glad to have arranged teaching that way, so I have the rest of the year to continue supporting DLCL students on their projects.  Teaching either of my classes (Digital Humanities Across Borders AKA Multilingual DH, or Project Management and Ethical Collaboration for Humanists AKA the DH RPG class) has a way of being all-consuming, and having over 20 students  made it even more so! I was excited to explore some new languages with students: Arabic, Latin, Malay, and Vietnamese. The class was held asynchronously, though we started doing Friday hang-outs where I learned some new tricks, too (like changing the UI language in Netflix in order to get access to different sets of subtitles). It was a challenging quarter, with more than one student moving out of the state (or country), multiple hospitalizations, and the stress of the election getting to everyone, myself included. But I'm really proud of everything they managed to do despite it all, and I hope to share some of their work here (with permission) over the next few months.

Existing projects

Progress tends to be slower on my other collaborative  projects while I'm teaching. Discussions with the Global Medieval Sourcebook over fall quarter led to the decision to migrate the website to Jekyll (rather than our initial plan to use Wax).

DLCL ATS round-up, summer 2020

It’s hard to believe that fall is already here. A couple weeks of virtual first grade have given me some time to start preparing for teaching my non-English DH course this fall, but as usual, a lot of it will be worked out in the moment, responding to the students’ own languages, projects, and needs. Before getting too far into the work of fall quarter, here’s the summer 2020 round-up.


Over the summer, I held a workshop for CESTA’s summer interns about how to structure and organize data, and consulted with a number of summer projects on various code and data issues. I also had the chance to chat with a number of undergrads, recent grads, and people starting graduate programs in the humanities and library and information science about DH. Most of them had a background in some non-English language. It’s really beautiful to see the interest in DH from people who work in other languages — seeing DH methods make real inroads in non-English languages has been my dream for the last 15+ years, and now it’s happening. I have a great deal of hope for a future where people who want to use DH methods for non-English languages don’t have to justify that choice (beyond what anyone has to justify when doing DH), or feeling like they’re the only person doing that work in their language.

DLCL ATS round-up, spring 2020

In describing this quarter, it’s hard to avoid the cliches of our time, starting with “unprecedented”. Daycare and public schools in Berkeley shut down at the end of winter quarter, and daycare — for my two youngest children, 4 and just-turned-2 — didn’t reopen for 50 workdays. The 6-year-old has been upgraded to “junior coworker”, and all signs suggest that he’ll be home every day for at least the first half of next school year. Our current “new normal” has no shortage of challenges, but it’s been an interesting space for experimentation.


I've signed up to teach my non-English DH course online this coming fall, and I’ve started thinking about how to rework it for that new medium. Because the course is now filling in for a medieval DH offering as well, I’m thinking the technical portions of the class will be something of a choose-your-own-adventure — any students working on medieval texts might be very interested in Transkribus for handwritten text recognition, but may be more limited in what they can do out-of-the-box with NLP (though I hope at least some of them can give CLTK a try.) Putting this course together will be one of the major things I’ll be working on this summer.

DLCL ATS round-up, winter 2020

It is a strange time to be writing my quarter-in-review blog post. The quarter is over (according to the calendar we started the year with, it’s spring break right now) but I feel like a normal sense of time is one of the things that’s already started to dissolve, and the shelter-in-place order in the Bay Area has only been in place a week.

February’s monthly blog post was supposed to be a reflection on the Russian NLP hackathon that we held on Valentine’s Day at CESTA. I’d still like to write that reflection, but I need to think it through some more; the conclusions I’d reached assume a level of freedom of time and travel that we might not have back anytime soon.

In the current working conditions (and I’ve written about my own, here) there’s a balance to be struck between maintaining standing meetings, monthly blog post schedules, and other structures that arose under very different circumstances, and rethinking everything from the ground up, at a point where decision fatigue (and straight-up fatigue) are major factors. Tentatively, I’m inclined to try to keep up my monthly blogging. If nothing else, I’ve always seen these quarterly round-ups as an important form of accountability to myself, my bosses, and my communities, given the very unstructured nature of my job.