[Humanist] 24.858 attracting students, colleagues, computer scientists

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Apr 7 08:26:57 CEST 2011

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 858.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    "Helena Barbas" <hebarbas at fcsh.unl.pt>                    (35)
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 24.855 attracting students and colleagues

  [2]   From:    James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>                      (24)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.855 attracting students and colleagues

  [3]   From:    Patricia Galloway <galloway at ischool.utexas.edu>           (21)
        Subject: Attracting computer scientists

        Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2011 12:54:21 +0100
        From: "Helena Barbas" <hebarbas at fcsh.unl.pt>
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 24.855 attracting students and colleagues
        In-Reply-To: <20110406071059.706891296C2 at woodward.joyent.us>

Hello all, hello Willard :)

Coming from the other side of Humanities –Literature – I also feel inspired
to contribute to this discussion. For more than 5 years now, I'’ve been
teaching Literature and new media, and e-learning techniques at Master level
to k-12 teachers with very little computing experience, or none at all.
There are two things that have proven to be a success.  One of them is using
blogs; the teachers make a classroom blog where their students write reviews
of the books they borrow from the school library; another is to let them put
together a collective thematic blog regarding the authors they have to read.
The other one – following the example of the Penguin Project «We tell
Stories» http://wetellstories.co.uk/ - is to use Google Maps to recreate the
itinerary of the characters in the book they have to study (this only works
for ‘realistic’ novels). I have also used mashups to re-build historical
itineraries in a cultural heritage perspective,– namely the circuit of the
templar castles in Portugal.  In another course – Portuguese Literature and
the web.2 – the final assessment work has been the making of an interactive
narrative using any software they feel at ease with – some used powerpoint
with amazing results.  I think that the main problem with these students is
not to feel overwhelmed by the technical issues they do not understand very

Best regards

Helena Barbas (PhD)
Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas
Departamento de Estudos Portugueses
(Gabinete B - bloco B)
Av. de Berna, 26-C
1069-061 Lisboa - Portugal
Url: http://www.helenabarbas.net

        Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2011 08:09:20 -0400
        From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.855 attracting students and colleagues
        In-Reply-To: <20110406071059.706891296C2 at woodward.joyent.us>

I may descend into stereotypes here, but they're partially based on
experience: many computer science types have a great attraction to works of
fantasy or imagination.  They might take the form of Star Wars, Dungeons and
Dragons, World of Warcraft, or whatever else happens to be current at the
time, but they are not strangers to the appeals of the humanities.  A
significant and very profitable part of the computer industry is devoted
just to gaming, most of which requires the integration of plot and character
with an often very sophisticated visual aesthetic.

What I think we might want to do is restate the question a bit -- how do we
get computer scientists interested in digital humanities -beyond-
sci-fi/fantasy and gaming?  I think we might show them the appeal of this
work in terms of their current interests.  One popular new game, for
example, is Dante's Inferno: http://www.dantesinferno.com/home.action -- a
700 year old text inspired the creation of an online video game today.  Why
can't it inspire digital projects that better help us study these the
original texts?

Jim R

> I've asked recently what might attract students to the digital
> humanities. Let me add a somewhat different question to the mix: what
> attracts or might attract computer scientists? Interesting problems, of
> course -- but what kind? How do computer scientists see this field? What
> stands out as especially challenging?

        Date: Wed, 06 Apr 2011 12:17:53 -0500
        From: Patricia Galloway <galloway at ischool.utexas.edu>
        Subject: Attracting computer scientists
        In-Reply-To: <20110406071059.706891296C2 at woodward.joyent.us>

Watch what you hope for, in case you may get it. Computer scientists who 
don't want to lose their disciplinary chops bring with them entirely 
different reward structures that are often not in agreement with those 
of the humanities. Humanities tools, for example, are made pretty much 
around an open-source model and supported by communities; computer 
scientists, whether they like it are not, are at least in the US on 
university radar screens for grabbing a share of any profit that faculty 
work may generate, and computer scientists move on from project to 
project because maintenance of a viable tool is less well-rewarded (or 
not rewarded at all) by grant money. (Grant money? we ask; what's that?) 
In the field of digital archiving, we are seeing this (for example) in 
the form of potentially usable tools, whose development was  funded by 
NDIIPP money, that are no longer available and were never finished 
because the grant money dried up. Which is not to say that CS colleagues 
are not stimulating to work with, but like it or not, they live in a 
world that is much more constrained to specific funding behaviors when 
it comes to promotion and tenure than is the world of humanities 
specialists. At least at present.

Pat Galloway
School of Information
University of Texas at Austin

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