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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.


Developed at CESTA's Humanities + Design Lab, Palladio is a widely-used web-based tool for visualizing data using networks and maps. You can save your work by downloading a file that you can upload to the Palladio interface when you return to it. While there is currently no easy way to embed Palladio visualizations in websites, CIDR staff are working on the documentation for how to use Palladio's visualizations in a stand-alone way.

Generous Thinking January

January was a rough month, between the last gasps of a too-long family trip over the holidays, getting ready for teaching a new course on Project Management and Ethical Collaboration for Humanists, and then being out sick for a whole week. Amidst this new year chaos came a DH Twitter project that shone a thoughtful light on some of the daily decisions that go into the beginning of the quarter.

Hannah Alpert-Abrams, Mimi Winick, and Amanda Henrichs set out the prompt of a month of “Generous Thinking”, in the spirit of Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s book of the same name. What are concrete steps that we can take — especially those of us in various alt-ac and other staff positions — to make the university a more humane place, and meaningfully engage with broader world?