Cathy Davidson on technology in the age of humanism

Cathy Davidson just published “A Manifesto for Technology in the Age of the Humanities (if only humanists will claim our Age)” on the HASTAC blog. It is a preliminary version. She is a very interesting thinker, and her text is also personal and passionate. I like that.

It is all about what it means to be human and only humanists have the training and expertise to take all of the differentiated and sometimes radically segmented and even segregated knowledge components to combine them into large insights that do not lose sight of the local and specific and historical determinants of those insights. 


Our HASTAC mission is to understand what it means to be human in the present moment and to work collaboratively with others who share this goal to come up with the most complex and interesting and engaged answers (hardly stable or final ones) that help make our students more informed and astute students of a complex world.

The HASTAC mission corresponds very well to the mission of HUMlab, and I am happy that we are involved in this discussion. Also, I find it quite interesting to see how different kinds of funding agencies support/not not support the kind of work Cathy talks about. It is quite clear there has been a radical change, and that many more universities – not least in the US – are showing a pronounced interest in this mission. It seems to me that cybersinfrastructure has been one ‘way in’, and here there are clear parallels between the US and Sweden.

Anders Sjöborg in lab

Anders Sjöborg from Uppsala universitet will be speaking (in Swedish) in the lab today about  “Guds ord på nätet? En digital generation möter en religiös auktoritet. The abstract and links are below:

I den första vågen av forskning om Internet och religion antogs att mediet på ett revolutionerande sätt skulle ändra förutsättningarna för religiös verksamhet, särskilt mot bakgrund av förutsättningen att auktoriteter med hjälp av dessa kunde ifrågasättas. Denna tes har kommit att nyanseras.
I presentationen behandlas en studie av ungas sätt att förhålla sig till Bibeln – vilken traditionellt uppfattats som en religiös auktoritet. Här diskuteras hur ett massmedium som till sin karaktär är pluralistiskt, heterogent och interaktivt används av ungdomar med skilda motiv och från olika bakgrunder för att skapa mening.

As usual, the seminar will be streamed and you can participate through the chat. Both will open a few minutes before the seminar at 15.15 CET.

Workshops and Seminars

Today is a pretty exciting day in HUMlab! We will have a workshop in the morning with Barbara Ganley from Middlebury College called “Social Software in the University Classroom: Uses of Blogs, Wikis, Podcasting and Emerging Social Technologies across the Disciplines”.

Later that day, Cecilia Lindhé from Blekinge tekniska högskola och Uppsala universitet will speak (in Swedish) about Visuella vändningar i Kerstin Ekmans författarskap: skönlitteratur, film, hypertexter och datorspel.

As usual, the seminar will be streamed and you can participate through the chat. Both will open a few minutes before the seminar at 15.15 CET.

Informatics seminar tomorrow on IT and anthropology

Wednesday, April 18, 1.15 pm
MIT Building, MC 413, Umeå University

The Interface Between Interaction Technology and Anthropology
Kazuomi Kuniyoshi

Kazuomi Kuniyoshi grew up in Tokyo, Japan, but has been living in Finland for the last 12 years. He has a master’s in Applied Linguistics and Cultural Anthropology and a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Jyväskylä. Nowadays he’s a research fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Lappeenrata University of Technology, where he’s also been teaching the course in user interfaces in the Department of Information Technology. He’s also an adviser to the User Science Institute at Kyushu University in Japan.

Inclusive Design Process and Case Studies
Yasuyuki Yas Hirai

Yasuyuki Yas Hirai has more than 20 years of experience in office industry as a designer and design consultant, working for Kokuyo in Japan and IDEO Product Development in USA. His expertise is in the areas of workplace design and inclusive design, both for innovative approaches to realize human and knowledge centric solutions.

The current and recent focus of his work includes developing work environment solutions for Steelcase AP, collaboration with New Office Promotion Association in Japan, and the Office Age project with the Helen Hamlyn Centre at the Royal College of Art, together with DEGW, IDEO, and Steelcase.

Why can’t good be enough?

I just read To the average Joe, blogs aren’t cutting it and one thought comes to mind… why can’t ‘good’ be enough? Why do these reports about one tool always want to make it the be all and end all of web tools? Blogs are not going to drown out mainstream media (sorry hyper-myths). Blogs are not going to change the world (yep. they can have moments of great impact – but, well).

Blogging is a TOOL. And I don’t mean the slang version. They are a tool. A way to quickly publish information. They are a way to network. They are a way to create a presence more ‘complete’ than a simple CV or bio. They are a way of sharing and comparing and supporting. They are a *great* tool. But alone, blogging technology will not change the world.

What can is the combination of tools (flickr, geotagging, blogging, YouTube, etc) to facilitate collective idea building, collective research, collective mythbusting. And just as important as this ability to collect and connect is the network of people that filter and share all this information. Just as no one person can alone change the world, neither can one tool.

Blogging is a great tool. And it is a powerful tool. But man, the pressure put on the poor blog! Remember, it is just one part of the creative and collaborative toolbox we are watching emerge.

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cross posted from the sum of my parts

WIP conference for Humanities students at Umeå University (Reminder)

I sent this out earlier in the month, I just want to send out a reminder that the last day to sign up (email me) is April 17th. There are still places left! Hurry 🙂

Konferens för doktorander vid Humanistisk fakultet 12 juni 2007

Humanistiska doktorandföreningen samt Humanistiska fakulteten vid Umeå universitet inbjuder till en konferens för doktorander den 12 juni 2007. Syftet med konferensen är bland annat:

•    att öka kontakten mellan fakultetens doktorander
•    att ge tillfälle till en övning i att presentera sitt doktorandprojekt
•    att kombinera intellektuellt utbyte och social samvaro

Vi vet att det pågår intressant forskning bland doktoranderna samt att det kan vara mycket givande att över ämnesgränserna ta del av denna. Vi tror också att det för den enskilde doktoranden kan vara av stort värde att träna sig att presentera sitt avhandlingsprojekt utanför det egna seminariet – att så att säga prova på “konferensformatet”.

Vi vill därför inbjuda alla doktorander vid fakulteten till att bidra med en presentation som anknyter till hans/hennes avhandlingsarbete. Det kan vara projektet i sin helhet, eller någon mindre del av detsamma. Det behöver absolut inte vara något “färdigt” resultat utan kan lika gärna vara mer problemorienterat. Varje presentation disponerar 30 minuter – högst 20 minuter för muntlig presentation och 10 minuter för diskussion och frågor. Vi vill betona att det ska handla om “work-in-progress”. Alla ska därför känna sig välkomna – antingen de är i början eller i slutet av sina forskarstudier.

Konferensspråken är skandinaviska eller engelska. Det krävs inget skriftligt utöver en kort sammanfattning (abstract) som information i anslutning till konferensprogrammet.

Vi kommer, beroende på antalet anmälningar, att ha en eller två parallella sessioner. Vi vill inte tematisera sessionerna (“typ” en för språkvetare, en för histfilare). Detta för att understryka att detta är en konferens för hela fakulteten. Därför ska presentationerna vara anpassade för en bredare akademisk publik, inte för ämnesspecialister.
Konferensen äger rum den 12 juni i Humanisthuset. Den börjar kl 9 och avslutas med gemensam buffémiddag kvällen samma dag (förhoppningsvis på försommarvacker innegård).

Intresseanmälan med rubrik för presentation skall senast 13/4 sändas till Stephanie Hendrick, e-post: Det räcker alltså med rubrik. Sedan förväntar vi oss att de som anmält presentation senast 25/5 kommer med en kort abstract (“typ” halv A 4).
Varmt välkomna!

motion capture, flickr and more

“Are you on the set?” was the question posed to me as I parked (illegally it turned out) in the court yard next to the building I thought I was looking for. This was Hollywood, and I was there to meet with people at MotionAnalysis to learn a bit more about motion capture, tracking etc, and more specifically, to talk to Dave Blackburn who has been an important figure in the field for a long time, and who has also done great work also in relation to on-screen virtual environments etc. It was a very good visit, and I have a much better sense of things now – at least the more high-end side of things. Professional-grade stuff, of course, and well-contextualized. Look at some of their work! I got quite a few pointers for our thinking about these things.

On Tuesday, I met with Noah Wardrip-Fruin at UCSD and I also attended a talk by Cicero Inacio da Silva on “From Browsing to ZigZag: a theoretical study of Theodor Nelson’s ZigZag project”. I also met with out friends out UCHRI at UC Irvine discussing collaboration. It was great getting together with Noah as we have tried to find a time for a meeting for some time now. He is doing excellent work, and has also a more over-arching interest for the emerging field of digital humanities.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending two talks – BrainJam – at Yahoo! Research here in Berkeley together with a friend from archeaology here (there is some very progressive work going on here in archeaology).

Mor Naaman: Over-Exposed Privacy Patterns and Considerations in Online and Mobile Photo Sharing 

Morgan Ames: Why We Tag: Motivations for Annotation in Mobile and Online Media


Among other things, Ames discussed different fuctions of flickr use – organization and communication – in relation to the parameter of sociality (self- social). She stressed that there are often multiple motivations for tagging – and that communication is an important and not always apparent use of tagging. I would like to have a closer look at her research. Interesting stuff. Naaman presented an analysis of how ZoneTags is used, and in particular, how privacy is seen and handled. He talked about issues such as security, identity managment, sharing convenience and social disclosure. Both talks also dicussed design implications.

It really seems like they are developing some very interesting tools here, and it was great to hear about some of the work going on at Yahoo and elsewhere. ZoneTag and Flickr behavior were in focus. There are some zonetagged photos from the talks (location tagged Berkeley) here. There was a good group of people there, and I made some contacts (I believe), and I also got to learn about interesting research. Apart from the researchers presenting, quite a few references was made to Nancy Van House‘s work (she was also present). Well worth looking into more closely – here is a list of her publications. Very impressive breadth and interest in HUMlab-like matters. There was time for snacks and drinks (they seemed to have a very good supply!) afterwards, and I got to talk to people working with Flickr among other things. Among things discussed were photos taken of inworld activities, APIs and innovation strategies.

Steina Vasulka in HUMlab

Tomorrow Steina Vasulka, a sound and video artist, will speak in the lab about “The Artist and Her Tools”. Steina will use a mix of analog and technology and will draw on her 40 years of experience to examine the relationship between technology and art in her soundscapes.

Steina Vasulka in lab

After her talk, she will perform Violin Power!

Violin Power
(excuse the cell phone pictures…will post better later)
The seminar will be streamed here (not open until the seminar begins) and you can participate through the chat here.

Looking forward!

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Cathy on wikipedia/Bruce on virtual worlds

“We Can’t Ignore the Influence of Digital Technologies” is an interesting article by Cathy Davidson on wikipedia and potential banning. From the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Meeting in the Ether” is a *long* installment by Bruce Damer on the history of virtual worlds (not least facilitating events) on Terra Nova. He makes reference to our Virtual Worlds Timeline project there. I talked to Bruce yesterday on Skype, and we are both looking forward to get started for real.

Excellent Seminar Next Week

Although it is Easter and anyone reading this is technically working or surfing on a holiday (what am I doing??) I am rather excited about the visit by Steina Vasulka to HUMlab and the Academy of Fine Art at Umeå University next week (I have already blogged here about Stina). Steina will be giving a seminar in HUMlab on Tuesday 11 April at 15:00 with the title The Artist and Her Tools with a possible performance of Violin Power as well (yes please…). The seminar will be live streamed as is usual for HUMlab and will be available from HERE a few minutes before the given seminar time. A live chat is run during the seminar as well for questions and comments. It will be reachable from HERE. Hope to see you then!