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Quinn Dombrowski's blog

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.

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?

DLCL ATS round-up, fall 2019

It's been an eventful quarter in the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages and Stanford Libraries! Writing it up, it's hard to believe it was packed into just three months.

Existing projects

Global Medieval Sourcebook

This quarter, I got the paperwork signed to start accessioning texts from the Global Medieval Sourcebook into the Stanford Digital Repository. At the end of the quarter, we had a meeting with metadata and technical staff about the next steps, and I’m excited to start experimenting with getting these texts into the repository and out to the world via WorldCat. This quarter an opportunity arose to co-author a paper with Prof. Kathryn Starkey and Mae Lyons-Penner on the evolution of the project and our current approach, for a special issue of “Seminar” (a German Studies journal) on digital curation. I’m looking forward to having the chance to articulate the considerations that led to the project’s current trajectory.

Book Review: "Failing Gloriously and Other Essays" by Shawn Graham

After 15 years of doing DH in some form or another, opportunities to sit in the company of fellow “veterans”, swapping tales of bygone years and campaigns won and lost, are a rare and wonderful treat. “Remember ‘Second Life’?” “Ugh, it made me so angry to have to virtually walk around to access information when we had this great thing called the ‘web browser’ where you could just search.” 

In these conversations, there’s little explanation needed (everyone remembers how it was), and especially after a drink or two, people will start opening up about failure. There’s no criticism or judgement, just commiseration.

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. 

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