HUMlab and Museum Studies Present Student Exam Project in Second Life

Virtual worlds such as Second Life have become an area of ever expanding interest for pedagogical and artistic experiments. Now, students from the museology program at Umeå University have engaged with the 3D virtual world platform.

A vernissage exhibition will take place on Tuesday 20 January at 7:00 PM at HUMlab at Umeå University, located one level below the University Library.

Second Life is a 3D virtual world accessible via the internet with users around the entire globe. Countless galleries, museums and artists are already engaged in worlds like Second Life. The museology program students at the Department of Culture and Media Studies are the latest example of how virtual online worlds can be used in education.

For several intensive weeks within the framework of their study program, the students have explored the possible opportunities that virtual worlds have as museological platforms. The result is four exhibitions that illustrate and adapt to themes such as gender/sexuality/disability, social stratification, place/region/nation, and ethnicity/religion.

Existing Second Life users can experience the exhibition from the 20th of January via:

The 3D world of Second Life is a social arena that makes it possible to communicate and learn in new and different ways than previous digital platforms. A far as we know, the museology programme at Umeå University is the first in Sweden to use Second Life in this educational format.

Time: Tuesday 20 January, 7:00 PM
Place: HUMLab, Social Sciences Building
Web site:

For further information, please contact:
Susanne Lindström, Department of Culture and Media Studies
Phone: +46 (0) 90-786 69 79

HUMlab Syjunta opens next week

24 – 30 January 2009
12.00 – 17.00 daily

Vernissage: Friday 23rd January 4-6pm

Syjunta (GYRMBC): Tuesday 27th January 2-4pm
Syjunta (Yarn): Thursday 29th January 2-4pm

HUMlab Syjunta is an intervention of patterned code and encoded craft into the HUMlab interdisciplinary digital humanities research lab at Umeå University, initiated as part of my research fellowship. The exhibition will present some exisitng OSE artworks (Iain Clark, Paul Grimmer, Clare Roddock, Lisa Wallbank, and James Wallbank) alongside new works in progress created in HUMlab. These will include the collaborative HUMlab GYRMBC Tent, and the collectively stitched Yarn text quilt. Individual works include Suzanne Martin’s Knitted Pattern flat screen cover, Stephanie Wuschitz’s Wireless Women, and Haishu Zhang’s meticulously embroidered HUMlab logo.

HUMlab Syjunta sewing circles will bring together HUMlab html users to stitch the RGB and CMYK hexadecimal colour codes onto the GYRMC tent, and invite the Yarn stitchers to sew their embroidered texts into a single patchwork quilt.

The one-person GYRMBC (Get Your Rabbits Mated Before Christmas) Tent has been created by HUMlab workers to illustrate the combination of RGB and CMYK colour sequences, and to recognise the need for individual creative space alongside the opportunity to collaborate with others.

During November 2008 the Open Source Embroidery Fika workshops at the Fine Art School and HUMlab inspired the stitching of the Raqs Media Collective’s definition of ‘Yarn’ (2003), which describes the metaphorical and material quality of threads, yarn and cables, and how they carry stories through weaving, stitching and bandwidth.

During the HUMlab Syjunta exhibition, I will be embroidering the script for the Patchwiki interface onto the back of the patchwork, so do pop by to say hello.

It’s also a great sneak preview of some of the works in progress which will form part of the major Open Source Embroidery exhibition presented at BildMuseet, June 7th – September 6th 2009.

Shock/Fear rhetoric

I opened this video thinking I was going to watch a creative mash-up debate between the wiki and the blog – and while that is SORT OF what I saw, I was simultaneously shocked rhetoric used in this short film.


The debate is between Kennedy and Nixon, with Kennedy defending the wiki and Nixon the blog. The language, however, is all about control and ‘freedom of speech’. And even a little ‘protect your kids from lurking pedophiles thrown in’ for good measure.

Some excerpts:

Blogs allow you to control content and ‘keep away internet predators‘, something that wikis do not do… you can tell who said what without compromising the integrity of the content. Comments can be screened by the blog facilitator- comment by Mashup Nixon

…editing the text that is viewed by the children of this generation… –comment by Mashup Nixon

Blogs are ‘unconstitutional‘ – the true freedom of speech can be found in a wiki. The voice of the people should not be suppressed… ‘Not only are blogs unconstitutional, but they do not allow for the freedom of speech. –comment by Mashup Kennedy

Do you want what is posted on your wiki to be representative of your thoughts and beliefs. Do you want your content to be at the mercy of the (slight echo effect) critical masses? –comment by Mashup Nixon

Mashup Kennedy rebuttal, ‘Now we know what you think of the American people, Mr. Nixon’… ‘I want the people of this nation to know that with a wiki your voice will be heard…’

As someone who researches blogging culture – or even just as someone who has used both tools, I find this argument unfounded (both tools allow for a measure of ‘freedom’ or control’ and it is really the user who determines how it is used) and slightly incendiary. I hope those who watch it enjoy it for it’s comedic value (it is a cute mashup idea, after all), but not as having any authority on the culture of blogging and wikis.

A day in the Life of Digital Humanities

This from a Humanist post (22.448) this morning about a project coordinated by our friends at University of Alberta in Canada (where I visited in November).

Digital Humanists,

On March 18th, 2009, digital humanists from around the world are planning to collectively document their day, and we are looking for interested participants!

A Day in the Life of the Digital Humanities (ADLDH) is a community project that will bring together digital humanists to document what they do on one day, March 18th. It is an autoethnography project by digital humanists about the digital humanities. The goal of the project is to create a web site that weaves together the journals of the participants into a picture that answers the question, “Just what do computing humanists really do?” Participants will document their day through photographs and commentary in a blog-like journal. The collection of these journals with links, tags, and comments will make up the final work online.

To participate, please complete the application form by January 30th.
Apply yourself or encourage your colleagues and students to join in.
We will accept reasonable applications that provide different perspectives on what it is to do computing in the humanities. We are looking for a diversity of participants from different regions, backgrounds, roles, and disciplinary perspectives.

More information can be found at:

Geoffrey Rockwell, Stan Ruecker, Peter Organisciak University of Alberta

lab photo from today

This is a photo from earlier today when some museology students, media studies students and others were working the lab.

There have been quite a lot of people in the lab this week, and there are many upcoming activities in the next 1,5 weeks: two vernissages , a creative industry workshop, an artist talk, an eclectic tech carnival information meeting and more. A very good start to the new semester!


E C L E C T I C   T E C H   C A R N I V A L
in Umeå

Participants will share their knowledge
in workshops and lectures,
experiment with hardware and explore
new creative ways of using technology.

The Eclectic Tech Carnival has been held
at least once a year since 2002,
each time in a different place,
like e.g. Austria, Brazil or Romania. 

This year, from the 8th-12th of June 2009,
the Eclectic Tech Carnival will be held in Sweden for
the first time.

HUMlab is collaborating with Bildmuseet and
"She's got the beat" to make this festival
an extraordinary experience for everyone.

We want to tell you more about it on our

with fika

the 19th of January, 2009
at 5 pm
at HUMlab

Many people from several departments and groups
will be joining forces to make this happen.
You could contribute too!

We need things as e.g.

-        Computers
-        Computer trash
-        borrowed bikes
-        borrowed mattresses, etc..

It would be great if you could volunteer for:

•        Translating during workshops
•        Setting up before workshops
•        Hosting and coordinating international participants
•        Coordinating electronic equipment
•        Picking up guests from the airport or train station
•        Car driving
•        Cooking/Food shopping

We hope you will be able to make it to the info event, but if not, you
could send an email to


to subscribe to the Umeå /ETC mailing list and keep yourself updated on
the event.

Find more information on:

Here is a video documentary on the /ETC event in Belgrade, 2004:


A R T I S T  T A L K  :    I R I S   P I E R S   A N D   O L A   L I N D E F E L T

In collaboration with Moonshake:

Together with sound artist Ola Lindefelt, Iris Piers will give a lecture on her most recent collaborative art work.

The next day, on the 17th, Iris and Ola are going to perform at the Moonshake event “Art’s Birthday”  showing their live cinema performance.

Iris Piers, born in 1983, is an experimental filmmaker who creates film installations, live cinema performances, music videos and sound art.
From 2001-2006 she studied Fine Arts in Berlin, Rotterdam and New York City, during
and after her studies she has set up exhibitions, screenings and performances in many
places around the world, for example at the Transmediale in Berlin, Full Pull in Malmö,
the Berkeley Art Museum in California, LMAK Projects in New York and SDLX in Tokyo.
Her work has been nominated at various film festivals and in 2007 the short film
’Casimiration or the Beginning of Dreaming’ won the award for Best Online Film at the
national Dutch Film Festival.
Her main focus in 2008/2009 is collaboration and the developing of new film and sound


This Friday, 5 pm
at HUMlab

Not avaliable

Um, What?!? What has happened YouTube?

I am an avid YouTube user, and often use videos in my teaching. Not so recently there was a Pork and Beans Dance contest that I was using in a class as an example of remediation, but when I tried to show the video in class – whoops, gone.

And while some are trying to help by filming their screen and putting back online, the crack down at YouTube is causing more and more of these accounts to be suspended.

Are we in the middle of a war between old-fashioned copyright and the remix generation. But what seems to be escaping many of these old-copyright carpetbaggers is that remixing often spreads their artists’ music better than all their expensive publicity. Users have experienced the creativity of the remix and don’t want to go back to passive reception of media.

Example of entry in pork and beans contest:

And another arrangement by Walt Ribeiro:


Some people are getting it…



And some people got it *because* of YouTube and participatory media (Remember Soulja Boy?)


I can’t help but wonder if these restrictions will be a slow death for YouTube? Will users who came to YouTube to be an active participant get tired of the punishments and restrictions and move to competing, smaller video hosting sites?

It will be interesting to see just who does ends up ‘getting’ it. Because one thing that we can be sure of is that participatory media has just gotten started.


John Bradley (the designer of the long standing text tool TACT 1985-1992) received the Andrew W Mellon Foundation ‘Award for Technology Collaboration’ for his work on Pliny recently. Pliny is a tool for humanities researchers, and interesting in several respects in regard to the ongoing discussion on digital tools for the humanities.

I read Bradley’s article “Pliny: A model for digital support of scholarship” (Journal for Digital Information, 2008) yesterday and I have also used Pliny (although not for a long time and not consistently). I really appreciate the reflection articulated in Bradley’s work and the interest in research processes and “users” that have gone into projecting and implementing the tool. Bradley also discusses digital tools more generally and tool making.

In Bradley 2005 I suggested that tool builders in the digital humanities would have better success persuading their non-digital colleagues that computers could have a significant positive benefit on their research if the tools they built fit better into how humanities scholarship is generally done, rather than if they developed new tools that were premised upon a radically different way to do things.

I think this is a good point. Although he refers to the often dramatic IT rhetoric often associated with tools, I also think it would be useful to make a distinction between discourse (or premise) and actual implementation. I would argue that many humanities computing tools are not (in terms of actual implementation) about radically different ways to do things as much as digital transformation of some parts of the research process. Often what gets digitalized is what parts of the process are easy to make digital and where there are clear advantages to be made based on computer processing power etc. (cf. concordance tools). It is fairly rare to see tools that are very strong in terms of the interpretative parts of a research process. Bradley also makes the point about the need for tools that go beyond storage and retrieval.

Another interesting point has to do with where data resides and web versus locally installed client software.

First, that although the WWW has been an important driving force for much thinking about scholarship in the humanities, it can only be a part of the entire story. The web has focused the attention of the digital humanities scholar on the nature of resources to support humanities scholarship, and has resulted in work that has shown how resources for the humanities can be made potentially significantly more useful. However, with the WWW comes the browser, and with that the limitation of the browser user as “client” in the “client/server” model of the WWW. The limitations that browser technology imposes on the resource user (generally in the interest of security) are strong and they often restrict the user’s use of these digital resources to viewing and printing.  […] Pliny is not a thick client on top of the WWW.  It is more of an attempt to blend remote and local materials, and blend the operation of reading and interpreting them on the local machine, under the control of the scholar whose materials are being managed.  In placing itself primarily on the user’s personal machine, it places itself close to where the actual research work is done. In this, at least, Pliny is meant to reflect actual conventional scholarly practice.

I have just been working on the tools section of my second article on the digital humanities, and of course, one very strong development generally is towards web-based tools. At large and to some extent in the humanities computing community. There are several things at play here. I think it is important to make a distinction between general web functionality (and need to work collaboratively, drawing on other resources etc.) and distributed access to data. I gave up old-style bookmarking five or six years ago because I have never limited myself to using on computer. Hence the distributed nature of tools such as, Zotero (the new version) and Biblioscape really works well for me. Some of these tools are web based, others are not. The important thing is that they allow distributed access to data. Pliny does not do that (at least not currently as far as can make out), and I would argue that the idea of the “user’s personal machine” may not be totally congruent with many humanities researcher’s practice in that they use multiple computers and other devices (in multiple locations). Using my office computer with Pliny would not stop me from wanting to add resources or continue the interpretative process when I work on my laptop in a café in the evening or from my computer at home. Ideally (but maybe not realistic at an early stage), I may also want to add a resource or (more likely) check something in my Pliny database from my iphone. One solution to this would be to have Pliny data on a network drive, but I do not think the program supports this, and the “local sentiment” might seem to clash with such a solution:

First, Pliny is about the storing and working over personal information. In the same way that it does not seem entirely comfortable to create ones Word documents and only store and work with them on a remote server (although, it is true a few of us are apparently trying out Google tools for this purpose), it does not seem appropriate to use a browser as the vehicle for creating and entering personal materials and storing them on someone else’s web server. (“Playing together: modular tools and Pliny”)

The question of whether tools should or should not support collaborative work practices, shared data and collective interpretation is another matter, but I have no problem respecting Pliny’s focus on the individual researcher as a choice.

I have worked some with Pliny, but not enough to be able to do a real evaluation. My impressions are favorable and the tool has a good “feeling” to it. It carries with it a certain degree of inspiration even though it may not look exciting at first glance. I like the way the system has been designed – both in terms of basic grounding and in terms of actual implementation. As Bradley points out, it is “thought-piece” and not a finished product. Even so it seems to work well operationally. There is fair bit of flexibility in the design of the system, and being able to easily bring different types of resources together is useful. I also quite like the spatial model used to for instance allow for a note on “digital tools for the humanities” with an accompanying space, to which I could drag and drop (well supported in Pliny) different kinds of contents as well as placing different kinds of content spatially to create meaning. The individual resources (e.g. a pdf or a web site) have their own identity in the system and can be used in multiple places, and they can also have their own notes, annotations etc. The system also supports content that may not have a digital representation (i.e. a book, an idea etc). Part of the power comes from the openness and not making too many assumptions about what resources may be valid or how a detailed interpretative process works (instead allowing space for that interpretation to be carried out). The modular approach (with plugins) adds to the flexibility as well. There is much more to be discussed (handling of dynamic content – snapshotability?, browser integration etc.), but I need to do some more exploring first.