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DLCL ATS round-up, spring 2019

My first academic year at Stanford has come to a close, ushering in a summer that promises to be surprisingly busy, despite the relatively empty hallways and offices around campus. Working in central IT, I’d forgotten what it’s like to be so directly impacted by the rhythms of the school year, and the way everyone heads overseas as soon as finals wrap up.

Summer is already underway, with CESTA’s undergraduate interns starting yesterday, and deadlines drawing near for finishing things in time for the international DH conference. But before I get too far into things this summer, here’s what I’ve been up to over the course of the spring.

Brandes in translation: multilingual corpora at the Digital Brandes Hackathon

What do you do when you're invited to a hackathon around a text in a language you can't read? In keeping with my tendency to navigate difficulty by means of additional complications, I added more languages!

Prof. Tim Tangherlini (UCLA) organized the Digital Brandes hackathon at the UC Berkeley Scandinavian department on April 25-26, which brought together the Danish team of Brandes and Danish computational linguistics experts behind an upcoming digital edition of Georg Brandes's groundbreaking work on 19th century literature. While not all the technical folks (which included my CIDR developer colleague Peter Broadwell, Dave Shepherd from UCLA, and Peter Leonard—virtually— from Yale) could read Danish, I was at a double disadvantage by having a background in Slavic (not Scandinavian) linguistics (not literature). The first thing I had to learn was who Georg Brandes was. The second thing  I had to learn was what romanticism was, and what followed it, and I'm grateful to Peter Broadwell for his Cliff Notes version thereof.

Translating Language, Culture, & Form at "Workshop on Digital Humanities to Preserve Knowledge and Cultural Heritage"

On April 15th, CESTA hosted the Workshop on Digital Humanities to Preserve Knowledge and Cultural Heritage, bringing together scholars working with a wide range of materials and methods. The workshop was convened by the Rosetta Project (ResOurces for Endangered languages Through TranslAted texts), a collaboration between Stanford English professor and Director of American Studies Shelley Fisher Fishkin, and colleagues from the Université de Lille  Ronald Jenn (Professor of Translation Studies and Digital Humanities) and Amel Fraisse (Associate Professor of Information and Computer Science, Digital Humanities and Language Processing), along with Zheng Zhang (PhD student in Natural Language Processing at Université Paris-Saclay). The project builds on the work of an earlier “Global Huck” project (which aimed to collect and examine all the translations of “Huckleberry Finn”) by using that collection as a large parallel corpus for developing NLP resources.

DLCL ATS round-up, winter 2019

Winter quarter 2019 was almost entirely devoured by the time demands of developing and running “Digital Humanities Across Borders”, my non-English textual DH course. I was grateful to be granted the space to do this; fortunately, none of the projects I’ve been supporting had any deadlines at the beginning of the year, and everyone has been very gracious and understanding about delays on my end on account of class prep.

There were two aspects of the class that made time-consuming, "just-in-time" class prep an inevitability: first, I initially packed everything I could imagine doing into the draft syllabus, and asked the students to fill out a survey to help prioritize the topics. Not all of my favorites made the cut (I regret not making them spend more time working through technical documentation), but I wasn’t unhappy with the results overall. Thematic research collections (AKA Drupal/WordPress/Omeka sites) were cut from the revised syllabus, as was TEI. The convenient elimination of those two topics leaves me with some suspicions that my attempt to present all the topics impartially before sending out the survey was not entirely successful. Not knowing what we’d actually cover in the class before it was underway meant I couldn’t easily work ahead with my class prep before the quarter started. Now that I’ve run the course once, I have materials to draw from next time, even if there’s incomplete topical overlap.

ATS Unpacked: Why I love my job and you might, too

“Academic Technology Specialist” is one of the most generic titles I’ve ever held — it’s hard to guess whether the position answers LMS help tickets, digitizes media, updates webpages, runs workshops, or any of a hundred other things that fall broadly under “academic technology”. It’s easy for such a position to escape attention — especially from people who aren’t actively looking for jobs (as I wasn’t a year ago). After nearly six months in this role, I’d like to unpack what being an “ATS” has meant for me, and why the currently-listed History ATS position might be worth considering even if you’re not otherwise looking for a new job.

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