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A guide to writing DH conference submissions

This year I’ve had the opportunity to try to convince a number of graduate students — both at Stanford and beyond — to submit something to the international DH conference. I’ve been to every North America-based iteration of the conference since 2007, as well as a handful of the European ones, and especially for early career scholars it’s hard to find a better place for getting a broad sense of the field, ideas for possible directions for your own work, and a different kind of interdisciplinary feedback on your projects.

I really appreciate what the DH 2020 program committee has done this year with streamlining the submission process. The word limit is shorter, which makes it more feasible to get a submission together. If anything, it might involve a struggle to be concise. With the exception of long presentations, the maximum word count for any submission type (posters, lightning talks, short presentations, panels, and forums) is 500 words, about one page. But in the course of these conversations with grad students, I’ve been reminded that it’s not the length that’s the barrier, it’s the feeling of writing in an unfamiliar style if you’ve never submitted something to a conference before. You can find many examples of abstracts that were submitted to the DH conference online (e.g. this from the 2019 conference), but not everyone finds it easy to parse their structure. 

DLCL ATS round-up, summer 2019

In my first summer as the DLCL ATS, I have concluded that the quarter’s reputation as a “slow” time is crucially overlooking all the conferences and events that get scheduled, precisely because it’s supposed to be “slow”. It’s certainly been quieter around the DLCL, with most faculty and students distributing themselves throughout the globe as soon as spring quarter ends, but distance has little impact on projects. Before the fall quarter gets too far underway, here’s a look back at the summer.

Existing projects

Global Medieval Sourcebook

Two undergrads, Nina Du and Tina Zhang, joined the project over the summer, courtesy of CESTA’s summer internship program. The direction I’d suggested for their work turned out to be a dead-end: the Versioning Machine performs well enough on mobile, and making further refinement would involve getting deep into the weeds of CSS. Instead, the students primarily worked on transcription and translation, and Nina did some work on a more mobile-friendly theme for the website. More recently, an opportunity has arisen for us to write a paper about GMS for “Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies”. I’m glad to have a deadline for making some progress on the restructuring of the project, focusing on publishing texts through our institutional digital repository rather than as a stand-alone website.

Technical enough

One of the most memorable panels at ACH was the one with DH Developers talking about how they got to where they are. Matthew Lincoln, Zoe LeBlanc, Rebecca Sutton Koeser, and Jamie Folsom all came to their careers in different ways, and work under different conditions. Even the largest shop (Scholars' Lab), with enough staff to have "junior" and "senior" developer roles, feels small, and everyone seemed interested in cultivating more of a community that crosses institutional boundaries. Some folks, including Rebecca, have begun to get involved with the emerging Research Software Engineering scene in the US. At the end, they called for more developers to tell their "origin stories", referencing the 2013 "Speaking in Code" workshop. 

To DH and ACH with a Skeleton in Tow

July was the month of digital humanities conferences, with DH 2019 in Utrecht, closely followed by ACH 2019 in Pittsburgh. I was fortunate enough to attend both, and the experience has left me reflecting on the different shapes that community takes within digital humanities.
My DH 2019 started with a workshop on doing DH in non-Latin scripts, which left me grateful that — other than the occasional Unicode issue — the script isn't a major challenge for doing work on Russian. The workshop mostly focused on Near Eastern (often right-to-left) writing systems, with some Chinese, Japanese, and Korean as well. While relatively little of it was directly relevant to projects I’m currently working on, I was glad to get a better sense of the current state of the art for optical character recognition, and approaches to text linking, annotation, and display that are geared towards non-Latin alphabets. Despite the linguistic diversity in the room, the workshop attendees had a surprisingly good rapport; many of us went out for drinks together that evening to continue the conversation. We decided to start an ad-hoc working group with a mailing list, a basic home page and a collection of resource lists that we’ll collectively maintain, including the guide to non-English NLP that I initially put together for a talk at UCLA last spring.

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.