Simon Lindgren’s seminar

Simon Lindgren is providing an interesting approach to understanding file sharing from a sociological point of view. The seminar is still going on. There are quite a few participants and a good mix. And not everyone chooses to sit in the ‘seminar chairs’. I like that.


We have been discussing liminality in the lab lately – especially me and Jennie (who is just about to move from Umeå University and HUMlab to Luleå University of Technology – thus becoming a HUMlab alumni or remote associate).

The liminal state is characterized by ambiguity, openness, and indeterminacy. One’s sense of identity dissolves to some extent, bringing about disorientation. Liminality is a period of transition, during which your normal limits to thought, self-understanding, and behavior are relaxed, opening the way to something new. (Wikipedia)

To a large extent, HUMlab is a liminal entity. As a structure it is somewhere in between different disciplines, disciplinary areas, technologies, different categories of people, traditional humanities/digital humanities, reflecting/creating, analogue/digital, university/non-university, work/non-work etc. And while there is a sense of stability in that liminal space, ‘the liminal’ is constantly being reconfigured and rebalanced.

new technology

Getting new technology is an important part of running HUMlab. Of course there is the regular upgrades but there is also a continual process of assessing new development, directions, needs and possibilities. When I talked at the Cyberinfrastructure Institute in San Diego this summer, Matt Ratto made a remark after my talk on ‘conceptual cyberinfrastructure’ and there is something to that concept. Regarding HUMlab it is about visions, use, practice and balance. I am looking very much forward to actually realizing an idea of expanded lab that I/we have been thinking about for several years now.

On a more concrete level, right now we are looking at getting a new game computer, a new research workstation, installing an updated image on our PCs (with a bit of new software) and getting a new, powerful Macintosh for post production. And today we ordered a new slide scanner and slide feeder (for 50 slides). HUMlab users are encouraged to come with suggestions about things to get. Feel free to send me an email or comment on this blog entry.

Moving pains

I should be an expert. I have moved 40 times…and while I am FAR from the most organized person on this earth, I know how to knock it down and build it back up. And considering the number I have moved my personal blog, I should be an expert at blog moving as well… but not so much. I have been working on this move for the HUMlab blog for weeks. There always seems to be some small glitch that needs tweaking. Today I finished tweaking the broken entries and author attribution for nearly 400 entries (did I mention this was done manually!!). But now we are up and going strong. It no longer looks like I have blogged it all myself, and the older entires are once again complete 🙂 Enjoy 🙂

Blogging Workshop by Skype (Movement over Distance)

I am taking part in a blogging workshop being given by Stephanie in the Lab, but I am at home listing in with Skype. This is the latest episode in my efforts to be in two places at once. Being at home on parent leave but still wanting to do/listen/learn in HUMlab, these last few weeks has been interesting for experiencing presence over distance. Right now Stephanie is describing how to blog on our new WordPress blog platform. I try to follow her descriptions on the screen that I am sitting in front of here at home. It is not easy but it does work somewhat. It seems that one problem is the slow processing speed on the laptop she is using. My Skype session is slowing things down a bit. My first impressions of the new platform are that is a much more Web 2.0 style blog tool. WordPress seems to give greater network capabilities in the form of pinging, linking, the WordPress community and support. The interface is much more direct; in the sense of what you see in the editing is what you get on the page. Tags are up front in the writing of a post.I have now just had to log off due to slowing down the teaching laptop, but it was an interesting experiment. The experience so far for me of trying to “distance interact” has me thinking that I am much too stationary in my own technology. Following a hard drive crash a couple of years ago I decided that information must always be in movement (mostly being stored online or shared in P2P networks) for it to be most durable. I now see that for myself to benefit from this information I also have to be able to connect and interact from multiple points. This is something I will address in the next 12 months.

Trotsky’s Shoes

Ana Valdés recent seminar emphasized the democratic power of digital media, especially with regard to its ability to spread information in unique ways. Interestingly, she suggested that visual art functions as the primary force in spreading political information; text seems to inhabit a dependent, complimentary role in many contexts. Aside from digital media examples, Valdés supported the greater impact of visual images with an interesting comment about Soviet photographs featuring Trotsky’s shoes (sans Trotsky). Several examples of modern artistic activism were brought up and exhibited. Valdés also discussed the potentially threatening control commercial interests may pose to previously ‘free’ activist projects/websites. Be sure to watch the archived version of her seminar if you missed it.

The week of October 9 in HUMlab

Here in HUMlab, we have yet another week filled with different types of activities ahead of us. This afternoon Ana Valdés will be presenting on activism and new media, and we expect quite some crowd to turn up. After her seminar, Jennie is teaching our five-credit course and today’s topic is representational techniques. From what I have heard she is planning on letting the student try out some quite innovative techniques, like representations in computer games, for instance. Tomorrow, Stephanie has summoned to a blog meeting, where we will get tips concerning how to best make use of the features of WordPress, as well as some more general writing tips. I am really looking forward to that, and hope that it will give us all an energy buzz to do some more blogging.

On Thursday, the lab will be invaded by school kids exploring the university during “Upptäcksfärden”. They will get to play with the dance mats and try reach-in, paint with wacom board, participate in a treasure hunt taking place in the virtual and the physical HUMlab and create noise (or perhaps even music?) on our music Mac. I find this annual event to be really rewarding since younger kids have so much energy and curiosity. The tricky thing is how to explain that we actually do conduct research here too, and don not play on the dance mats all day long. Apart from these activities, four employees are attending a project meeting in Uppsala for the QVIZ project, in which HUMlab is the coordinating partner. So, all in all, there is quite a lot going on!

today’s seminar

Today Ana Valdés is going to talk about activism, art and digital media in the lab. The talk will be in Swedish. We will be reporting on the talk here later.  There is a short biographical text here (in Swedish).