At Nobel Symposium “Going Digital”

I am currently at Nobel Symposium 147 “Going Digital: Evolutionary and Revolutionary Aspects of Digitization” at the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. This is the first morning and the program will continue for the whole week. This morning Robert Darnton, Harvard University, will start the day off through “A Literary Tour de France, 1778”. Subsequently Adrian van Der Weel, Leiden University, will talk about “Explorations in the Libroverse” and just before lunch, Nicholas Barker, The Book Collector, will about “Google, Gutenberg and earlier revolutions in communication”. If time allows, I will do some reporting here.

Update: There is a windows media stream available from here.


I gave a talk yesterday in the lab for the Spaces for Learning conference at Umeå University. Here is the abstract:

From optical fiber to conceptual cyberinfrastructure

Could an acqarium or a bean bag be more important to a technology rich learning space than a workstation or a screen? Using HUMlab as a case study, and the current discussion of cyberinfrastructure and e-science as a vantage point, a number of factors will be discussed that play into the design, use and development of technology enriched learning spaces. It will be argued that we need to be concerned with detail as well as more general design principles and what may be called conceptual cyberinfrastructure.

It was great to do this in the lab as I could physically draw on HUMlab and the history of the lab. Among the more general points I made was:

  • the importance of allowing and supporting exploration
  • the importance of paying attention to pay attention to small details
  • the importance of persistently engage with the space
  • think about design principles
  • the importance of situating spatial configuration, design and technology in a held-together conceptual-level framework
  • retrofitting is always going to be important (work with the space you have – making it situated)
  • the task is not only to find out about what can be done and how, but also to make it happen – and to that we need to engage in institutional, policy-making work

I have come up with an array of tentative design principles (for an article I am working on) and I will present those here at some point, and part of my argument was that we we need to work at multiple levels:

  1. details (that can play a very important role)/actual implementation
  2. design principles
  3. conceptual cyberinfrastructure/conceptual underpinning

I also related to the discourse of cyberinfrastructure and e-science – both critically and in terms of how the humanities can position itself to tweak that discourse and create funding opportunities etc.

Also, I enjoyed making use of two screens when presenting (experimenting) and also the screenscape in the new part of HUMlab.

Born-digital Scholarship

The College Art Association has an interesting post in CAA News — on its website — about a new collaborative effort between the MLA and HASTAC to create guidelines to evaluate born-digital work for tenure — since born-digital scholarship is becoming increasingly common among junior scholars and there is currently a lack of attention paid to this kind of work from tenure committees. Christopher Howard writes about it here:

“Even as the use of electronic media has become common across fields for research and teaching,” reports Scott Jaschik at Insider Higher Ed, “what is taken for granted among young scholars is still foreign to many of those who sit on tenure and promotion committees.” While junior professors lament the exclusion or diminution from tenure reviews of their born-digital work, whether publication or project, the Modern Language Association (MLA) and a group called the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC) are tackling the issue head on with new guides that offer tenure committees help in properly evaluating digital scholarship. MLA’s Information Technology Committee is developing these guides through a wiki, which publishes both finished and in-progress work. In his article, “Tenure in a Digital Era,” Jaschik examines the many perceptions and problems at issue, including peer review; digital and print publications; and work that crosses traditional categories of research, teaching, and service.

The MLA wiki is here. Very cool. While this initiative may not be of equal interest to scholars pursuing academic careers outside North America — where tenure might not be an issue — I think it’s still a heartening sign for all of us that digital forms of scholarship are gaining wider recognition and respect in universities across the board.

This post is also available on my blog.

Open Source Embroidery

Last weekend I went to Ele’s opening of the Open Source Embroidery exhibition at Bildmuseet. It was so wonderfully put together, and the performance by Yusra Warsama, Jason Singh and David Littler was great. If I understand correctly that they mix samples of music, embroidery and stories.

Sampler – Culture Clash brings together the worlds of embroidery and dj-ing through the common word Sampler. David and Jason will present work in progress created over the last 8 months through collaborating with embroiderers, dj’s, beat-boxers, performance poets, filmmakers and curators from the V&A and the Embroiderers’ Guild.

via Chris Joseph’s blog

If you want to check out a small sample of the exhibition, click on the video below. But if you are in the Umeå area, you really should go check out the real thing. Go by and create a running stitch with GPS, or embroider a Sampler Culture Clash chair. The exhibition will be up and running at BildMuseet over the next three months.


learning spaces, transforming religious values and eclectic tech carnival

While most of the university is slowing down (the semester is soon over), things remain rather hectic at HUMlab. This past weekend, Ele Carpenter’s exhibition Open Source Embroidery premiered at the BildMuseet, and this coming week the large-scale event Eclectic Tech Carnival will happen in the lab. ETC has been co-organized by HUMlab fellow Stefanie Wuschitz and project worker Karin Jangert (and others).

Also, two conferences will make use of HUMlab this coming week. The first one is the “Changing Societies – Values, Religions, and Education” conference organized by the School of Education at Umeå University and supported by the Swedish Research Council. Here one session will take part in the lab and the three following presentations will be done by HUMlab affiliated researchers:

Religion in New Places: Retoric of the Holy in Online Virtual World of Second Life. Jim Barrett (English literature).
Virtual churches: Transforming religious values and practise. Stefan Gelfgren (History of Ideas).
Some experiences of using Internet based platform in Religious Education. Hanna Zipernovszky (Religious Studies).

On Thursday and Friday, Umeå University will host an international conference on “Spaces for Learning” (organized by the School of Education in collaboration with HUMlab), and two presentations will be made by myself and postdoctoral fellow Erica Robles in HUMlab. Hopefully we will be able to use the space playfully.

From Optical Fiber to Conceptual Cyberinfrastructure. Patrik Svensson.
The Psychology of Information Displays: Designing Screens For Social Contexts. Erica Robles.

A very promising week indeed!

Getting ready for /ETC

Stefanie and Karin were working hard today in the lab getting the preparations for the eclectic tech carnival going. I have seen lots of other women in and out of the lab helping and discussing. It looks like it is going to be a really great event!

Here is a little video to show the very beginnings of the set up (I know that the planning has been going on for quite some time).


Open Source Embroidery Artists Arrive

The Open Source Embroidery exhibition opens at BildMuseet on Saturday at 13.30 and we are busy installing the exhibition this week. It’s been brewing since 2005, and has taken the truly interdisciplinary vision of both HUMlab and BildMuseet to realise this major exhibit.

I’ve just got back from a welcome Pizza with Jen Southern from the UK and her collaborative partners Jen Hamilton and Chris St Amand from Canada, and their two beautiful children. They are here to host their Running Stitch project inviting people in Umea to make a GPS hand stitched map of the town. It’s great to have them town for the next 12 days, and they hope to visit HUMlab and find out more about Sami use of GPS to track reindeer. They’ll be at BildMuseet on June 6th and 7th, so do come by and say hello and find out about their work. Artists from Sampler – Culture Clash and SketchPatch will also be arriving this week.

Hamilton, Southern & St Amand have a social and tactile approach to the use of technology. They work with groups of people to explore a location and are currently interested in how technologies, such as satellite navigation, can be used to explore a kinaesthetic sense of place through movement. Their work is made through residencies that engage with local people, producing installations, performances and websites. Hamilton & Southern have also worked closely with a games company to produce ‘Landlines’, a collaborative mapping tool for mobile phones.

Jen Southern is a practicing artist and PhD student in Sociology at Lancaster University, England.  Her art practice is collaborative, process based and participatory, working with audiences to explore movement and sense of place through mobile technologies. In 2004 she was awarded an ITEM commission from FACT gallery Liverpool, NESTA and Arts Council England to collaborate with industry partners on the development of new tools for collaborative mapping, which resulted in the exhibition ‘Running Stitch’ at Fabrica Gallery, Brighton, UK (2006). Jen was an invited expert at the Sagasnet European Creative Lab Concepting Mobile Multi-User Applications in Oulu, Finland, (2004) and Stuttgart, Germany (2005) and a participant in the BBC Innovations Lab, UK (2007).