Guest blogger Professor Pelle Snickars: “Streaming Heritage: ‘Following Files’ in Digital Music Distribution”

The research project “Streaming Heritage: ‘Following Files’ in Digital Music Distribution”, funded by the Swedish Research Council, is now in its second year. The project team consists of Pelle Snickars (project leader), Rasmus Fleischer, Anna Johansson, Patrick Vonderau and Maria Eriksson. The project is located at HUMlab where developers Roger Mähler and Fredrik Palm do the actual coding.

In short, the project studies emerging streaming media cultures in general, and the music service Spotify in particular (with a bearing on the digital challenges posed by direct access to musical heritage.) Building on the tradition of ‘breaching experiments’ in ethnomethodology, the research group seeks to break into the hidden infrastructures of digital music distribution in order to study its underlying norms and structures. The key idea is to ‘follow files’ (rather than the people making or using them) on their distributive journey through the streaming ecosystem.

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Photo: Elin Berge

So far research has focused basically four broader areas: the history and evolvement of streaming music in general and Spotify in particular (Fleischer), streaming aggregation’s politics and effects on value and cultural production (Vonderau), the tracing of historical development of music metadata management and its ties to knowledge production and management that falls under the headline of ‘big data’ (Eriksson), and various forms of bot culture in relation to automated music aggregation (Snickars).

One article has been published, and more preliminary results are to be presented in a number of upcoming articles and conferences during 2016. Eriksson, for example recently submitted an article around digital music distribution increasingly powered by automated mechanisms that capture, sort and analyze large amounts of web-based data. The article traces the historical development of music metadata management and its ties to the field of ‘big data’ knowledge production. In particular, it explores the data catching mechanisms enabled by the Spotify-owned company The Echo Nest, and provides a close reading of parts of the company’s collection and analysis of data regarding musicians. In a similar manner, Johansson and Eriksson are exploring how music recommendations are entangled with fantasies of for example age, gender, and geography. By capturing and analyzing the music recommendations Spotify delivers to a selected number of pre-designed Spotify users, the experiment sets out to explore how the Spotify client, and it’s algorithms, are performative of user identities and taste constellations. Results will be presented at various conferences during next year. In addition, Snickars has continued working with the HUMlab programers on various forms of “bot experiments”. One forthcoming article focuses the streaming notion of “more music”, and an abstract for the upcoming DH-conference in Kraków (during the summer of 2016) is entitled: “SpotiBot—Turing testing Spotify”. It reads as follows, and gives an indication of the ways in which the project is being conducted:

Under the computational hood of streaming services all streams are equal, and every stream thus means (potentially) increased revenue from advertisers. Spotify is hence likely to include—rather than reject—various forms of (semi-)automated music, sounds and (audio) bots. At HUMlab we therefore set up an experiment—SpotiBot—with the purpose to determine if it was possible to provoke, or even to some extent undermine, the Spotify business model (based on the 30 second royalty rule). Royalties from Spotify are only disbursed once a song is registered as a play, which happens after 30 seconds. The SpotiBot engine was be used to play a single track repeatedly (both self-produced music and Abba’s ”Dancing Queen”), during less and more than 30 seconds, and with a fixed repetition scheme running from 10 to n times, simultaneously with different Spotify account. Based on a set of tools provided by Selenium the SpotiBot engine automated the Spotify web client by simulating user interaction within the web interface. From a computational perspective the Spotify web client appeared as black box; the logics that the Spotify application was governed by was, for example, not known in advance, and the web page structure (in HTML) and client side scripting quite complex. It was not doable within the experiment to gain a fuller understanding of the dialogue between the client and the server. As a consequence, the development of the SpotiBot-experiment was (to some extent) based on ‘trial and error’ how the client behaved, and what kind of data was sent from the server for different user actions. Using a single virtual machine—hidden behind only one proxy IP—the results nevertheless indicate that it is possible to automatically play tracks for thousands of repetitions that exceeds the royalty rule. Even if we encountered a number of problems and deviations that interrupted the client execution, the Spotify business model can in short be tampered with. In other words, one might ask what happens when—not if—streaming bots approximate human listener behavior in such a way that it becomes impossible to distinguish between a human and a machine? Streaming fraud, as it has been labeled, then runs the risk of undermining the economic revenue models of streaming services as Spotify.

Finally, during the following weeks the project group will do presentations in the U.S. The first one is called, “Spotify Teardown”, and consists of a project presentation and roundtable at the Center for Information Technology and Society at the University of California, Santa Barbara. On the one hand the presentation will have a focus on methodology, background research and preliminary findings, and on the other hand try to initiate a discussion with three focused areas: (1.) ”Ethical and Legal Limitations”: What are the ethical/legal issues that arise in relation to activist projects, and how to tackle them? (2.) ”Metaphors for Research”: What metaphors are useful, or more useful than conventional metaphors such as “platform” or “platform responsibility”? and (3.) ”New Qualitative Methods and Old Disciplinary Frameworks”: What are the key challenges of working with qualitative, inter- and pelle175transdisciplinary methods in institutional environments? In addition, Pelle Snickars will also do another project presentation in New York at Cuny (The City University of New York) at the conference, ”Digging Deep: Ecosystems, Institutions and Processes for Critical Making”.

Pelle Snickars is Professor of Media and Communication Studies, specialising in digital humanities at Umeå university, with an affiliation to HUMlab.

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Konstverket “Vinden bär oss med sig” invigt

Ett rum i betong, sparsamt möblerat, utan väggar och tak, där man kommer att höra telefonsamtal mellan människor från hela världen. Den 4 november invigdes konstverket “Vinden bär oss med sig” av Mandana Moghaddam och parken “Vindarnas torg” utanför Humanisthuset. HUMlab har deltagit i arbetet med konstverket genom att hjälpa Mandana Moghaddam med inspelning av ljudet i verket.


Vid invigningen talade förutom Mandana Moghaddam också Roger Granberg, fastighetschef Akademiska hus region norr, Inger Höjer Aspemyr intendent förmedling Statens konstråd och Anders Fällström, prorektor Umeå universitet

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HUMlab gives perspective to Nature

Imagine that you are shown a spectacular photograph of a magnificent scene from nature, one that is unfamiliar to you. Can you distinguish which parts have been digitally processed? How do we perceive the natural environment as filtered by means of digital technology? Studying nature might seem a far cry from HUMlab’s activities, but digital technology plays a major role in how people perceive and interpret nature.

finnarnejFinn Arne Jørgensen (left) is Associate Professor of History of Technology and Environment at the Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Umeå University. He is a researcher in the field of Digital Environmental Humanities and an affiliated researcher at HUMlab.

“Humanistic researchers have an important task in trying to increase digital literacy, in other words our ability to interpret and recognise material that has been produced or processed digitally. One example is pictures of the earth. We have all seen pictures of the earth taken from space – a beautiful blue planet with distinguishable continents and clouds. Many of us almost certainly believe we are looking at a photograph, that this is what earth looks like, whereas in actual fact what we are seeing is a visualisation of data collected from satellites. This visualisation often leaves out data showing the vast amount of objects, satellites, space junk and other stuff surrounding the earth. People have a doctored image of the earth without realising what enormous consequences this can have, for example in the climate debate,” says Finn Arne Jørgensen.

Experiencing ‘real’ nature
In his research, Finn Arne Jørgensen is looking at how digital technology affects our way of looking at and relating to nature.
“A lot of people have this notion that they want to experience ‘real’ nature, and that if they use technology to experience nature then this is not a genuine natural experience. But the fact is that nowadays, we never head out into nature without various technical aids: we might be wearing waterproof shoes on our feet, or a jacket that protects us from the wind. We can sleep in functional tents and lightres using matches or lighters. These types of analogue technology are a natural element of being in the forest and countryside, and they are not seen as obstacles to ‘real’ natural experiences. But digital technology is often regarded this way.”

HUMlab has advanced equipment that can be used for alternative visualisations of nature, by means of which scientists can investigate how our view of nature changes when it is shown to us in different ways. This also calls into question the image of nature as an unspoilt other.
“We cannot say today that any part of the natural world remains untouched; all the world’s eco-systems are affected by humans. This is what the relatively new concept of an anthropocene era focuses upon. The few remaining undisturbed natural places are to a large degree so because people actively monitor and protect them. It is therefore very important to investigate how new technology relates to nature. How is it used? Who uses it? Who does not use it? Digital technology and how it works is so much more than the technical definitions of it,” says Finn Arne.

Technology that excludes and includes
Another area that HUMlab’s researchers are interested in is how digital technology can affect political decisions. One such example is GIS technology and how it relates to the mining industry and reindeer husbandry. The industries are represented in a GIS system that then generates data for politicians who are to make decisions. The design of the sys-tem, what it includes and whose perspective it represents is therefore crucial to the future development of the natural environment and the mountain world.
“Humanists are really needed here to carry out critical research into how ‘the digital’ functions in interaction with nature,” says Finn Arne.

“This is a broad and largely unexplored field where Umeå University has come a long way. Places like HUMlab become incredibly important meeting places for building up such a new field of research. Helping researchers come together enables not only more research but also completely new perspectives in the research.”


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Vad händer med alla elektroniska prylar när vi inte längre vill ha dem?

Nyligen genomfördes konferensen ”From Media to Materialities. Mapping the afterlife of digital technologies” vid HUMlab, Umeå universitet. Konferensen samlade ett 30-tal svenska och internationella forskare som alla intresserar sig för vad som händer med det elektronikavfall (e-avfall) som följer med vår allt större konsumtion av tekniska prylar.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFoto vänster: Jennie Olofsson, HUMlab

- E-avfall är ett växande dolt problem i världen, och det är ännu större än den enskilda mobiltelefonen eller tv-apparaten. Exempelvis så kan man räkna med att för varje 2 gram microchip som produceras, produceras också 26 kilo avfall. Även om vi i Sverige är relativt bra på att återvinna gamla datorer, tv-apparater och mobiltelefoner (nästan 16 kilo per person och år!) så är många nya produkter svåra att återvinna. För att förstå hur vi ska öka återvinningen räcker det inte med att bara informera om var återvinningsstationen ligger. Vi måste också förstå vad den nya tekniken betyder för människor, var e-avfallet finns och vilket värde det har. Det ville vi undersöka under konferensen ”From Media to Materialities”, berättar Jennie Olofsson, biträdande lektor vid HUMlab, och arrangör av konferensen.

Påminna om digitala produkters materialitet
Mobiltelefoner, datorer, tv-apparater, pulsklockan, matberedaren – antalet digitala produkter i varje människas liv ökar ständigt. Jennie Olofsson pekar på risker med att vi mindre och mindre ser elektronik som fysiska objekt,
- Ofta marknadsförs dagens elektroniska produkter som tjänster eller upplevelser, och detta kan göra att deras materialitet lätt glöms bort. Forskaren Jennifer Gabrys, från Goldsmiths, University of London, talade under konferensen om det nödvändiga i att ”re-thingify” (”åter-tingifiera”) våra elektroniska produkter för att vi ska kunna se dem som de plaster och metaller de består av, och därmed ta ansvar för vad som händer med dem när vi inte längre vill ha dem.

Varför sparas telefonen i byrålådan?
En förutsättning för att elektronikskrot ska kunna återanvändas är att det lämnas in till en återvinningsstation.
- Per Berg, forskare vid Chalmers i Göteborg, hade försökt kartlägga vad som händer med våra teknikprylar när vi inte längre använder dem. Enligt hans undersökning är snitt-tiden vi använder en mobiltelefon innan vi köper en ny 3-4 år, men när mobiltelefon når en återvinningsstation är den i snitt 7-8 år gammal. Samma mönster kan vi se med datorer: vi använder våra bärbara datorer i snitt 4-6 år, men de datorer som kommer in till återvinningsstationen är i snitt 10 år gamla. Vi lagrar alltså stora mängder teknik i våra hem som vi inte använder, och vars material istället skulle kunna återvinnas och användas på annat sätt, berättar Jennie Olofsson.

Men varför vill vi inte göra oss av med teknik som vi inte längre använder? Kristina Lindström och Åsa Ståhl från Designhögskolan i Umeå hade i ett kombinerat forsknings- och konstprojekt rest runt till personer som har skänkt sina gamla mobiltelefoner till dem.
- Personerna som deltog i experimentet fick berätta hur det kändes att ge bort sin telefon. Flera berättade att den avlagda telefonen fortfarande hade ett värde för dem, men det var sällan telefonen i sig som kändes värdefull, utan dess innehåll. Man hade sparat bilder, filmer, meddelanden med mera på sin telefon, och detta innehåll var man både rädd om och ville inte sprida. Varför man ansåg att en telefon fungerade eller inte var inte heller helt beroende av telefonen i sig. En telefon som bara kunde koppla upp mot ett äldre nät ansågs inte fungera, trots att telefonens tekniska funktioner fungerade. En annan telefon ansågs icke-fungerande eftersom telefonen inte kunde använda vissa applikationer som man behövde, säger Jennie Olofsson. Det visar på ett av problemen med e-avfall: även om produkten i sig fortfarande fungerar så fungerar inte vissa uppgraderingar, ingångar och mjukvaror som behövs för att leva i ett ständigt uppkopplat liv.

Bild, workshop i maj

Bild ovan: exempel på elektronikskrot

Onyanserad mediabild av ny teknik
Jon Raundalen, från Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet, hade undersökt hur den digitala revolutionen visas upp i dagspress i Norge. I sina studier hade han kunnat se hur teknik som ämne förflyttats från specialtidningar och datortidningar, till något som kan finnas på förstasidan på norska kvällstidningar.
- När ny teknik beskrevs i norsk dagspress bestod rapporteringen dels av inköpstips och tester av nya produkter, och dels framgångssagor där till exempel skolklasser har kunnat utveckla sin undervisning med hjälp av ny teknik. Mycket sällan skrevs något kritiskt om ny teknik, och när det gjordes togs sällan problemet med avfall upp. Jon Raundalen pekade på att den mycket positiva rapporteringen om teknik kan göra oss blinda för de negativa aspekterna av den tekniska utvecklingen, berättar Jennie Olofsson.

Även på en samhällelig nivå finns förslag för att förbättra och effektivisera återvinning av metaller och elektronikskrot.
- Nils Johansson från Linköpings universitet berättade om förutsättningarna för så kallad ”Urban mining”. På grund av intensiv gruvdrift håller jorden nu på att passera gränsen då det finns lika mycket metaller ovan jord som det finns kvar nere i jorden. Mycket av den metall som finns ovan jord används inte aktivt, och det skulle kunna vara lönsamt att bedriva ”gruvdrift” för att få tag på dessa metaller. Nils Johansson tog ett exempel från en medelstor svensk stad, där gamla kablar har lämnats kvar i det underjordiska kabelsystemet när nya hade installerats. Man räknade med att 25 % av de kablar som var nedgrävda under staden därför inte var i bruk, och de innehöll en stor mängd värdefulla metaller. Dessa och andra liknande idéer visar att det går att hitta hållbara sätt att hantera e-avfall, säger Jennie Olofsson.


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Digital humanities reinforces its position

Johanna Drucker sees a future with a humanities that becomes increasingly digital

humlabJohanna Drucker is the Breslauer Professor of Bibliographical Studies in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Johanna Drucker is one of the leading researchers in the field of Digital humanities. During the course of her long career as a researcher, she has studied the history of the alphabet, typography, the history of graphical design and experimental poetry, among other things. She is also a well-known artist and works with books as art objects. She is currently planning for continued studies of visual knowledge theory, where one of the things she intends to investigate is what visualisations mean in humanistic research.

Johanna Drucker has visited HUMlab on several occasions, which has been very valuable as regards the development of creative environments at UCLA.
“I’m a great fan of HUMlab’s design. When we renovated our own premises, I showed pictures of HUMlab as inspiration. Scandinavian countries are generally very good at light design, something that we could be better at in the US,” she says. The collaboration between the two institutions is far-going and has involved postdoctoral fellows, small development projects and residencies.

Creative environments require effort
In her research, Johanna Drucker has studied the importance of aesthetics as regarding our understanding of a certain phenomenon; the design of the alphabet can, for example, influence our perception of a text. This has led to her also developing an interest in digital aesthetics, particularly in relation to humanistic research and visualisations of research findings. In connection with her interest in aesthetics and knowledge, she has also followed development where more and more creative pedagogical environments are being constructed at universities around the world.
“I don’t believe that we can build creativity by means of advanced architecture alone. Being cynical for a moment, it is naturally better to build beautiful workplaces where people are happy and can meet than to do nothing at all. I think that creative environments can promote creation and innovation, but it takes a great deal of effort to initiate creative processes. Creative work environments must have a well thought out design with a balance between openness and privacy. I also believe that it is important for the users to feel that they own the place, that they have the right to be there and that they understand what they are to do there. When an environment becomes too open, no one feels that they in particular have any right to be there.”

Will humanistic researchers need to know more about digital technology in the future?
“I think so. I recently discussed this particular question with the Dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture. We spoke about introducing a compulsory basic course in ‘Data Culture’ for all doctoral students. A basic knowledge of digital technology will in the future be fundamental for humanistic researchers. Knowing how data is structured and how to handle data is a necessity for a modern researcher,” Johanna Drucker continues.

Knowledge of digital technology opens up for new research questions
Johanna Drucker believes that an important part of the development of digital humanities will be finding new techniques and new roles between researchers and people with digital expertise.
“I believe that everyone involved in research in the digital humanities field, both researchers and experts like computer or systems scientists for example, must help each other find new research methodologies. We researchers need to learn a certain amount of basic knowledge of technology, partly to be able to understand the research that we are doing, but also because this knowledge broadens our understanding and our context, and enables us to ask new research questions. For example, moving data between different media, turning handwritten text into digital text, digitalisation of works of art, etc., mean that we can approach the material in new ways. This in itself enables us to see new research questions that should be asked,” says Johanna Drucker.

“However I remain convinced that technical expertise will be needed in the future. I also believe that humanistic research will need the help of new kinds of experts, for example people who handle information professionally, that is to say librarians, curators and others. They fill a culture gap that neither researchers nor technicians know very much about.”

Digital development affects all researchers
Digital humanities is still a young field of research and in the USA there are still only a few post-graduate programmes in the subject. The research is also characterised as being developed as a result of individual researchers at a university happening to have a strong interest in the subject, rather than as a result of digital humanities being established intentionally by that university. In the USA, Stanford, UCLA and the University of Virginia are examples of universities that have gone a step further and established DH as a field/subject, and are among the most successful.
“I believe that in the future, digital humanities will be one of many methods or directions that can be used by humanistic researchers, in the same way that phenomena can be studied from a gender or post-colonial perspective today. Some will specialise in digital humanities while others will use its methodology and theory as needed. I am still waiting for digital humanities to have a deep impact on the intellectual focus of humanistic researchers. As digital humanities matures more in fields of research, people will come to realise that it is more than a buzz-word that can be entered in applications to make it easier to get a grant. We will all be using digital technology in the future and it’s a development that’s impossible to stop. So humanistic researchers can choose to either acquire knowledge and study this development or merely accept it without understanding it,” Johanna Drucker says.

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Art installation in HUMlab-X: Field

During March 2015 HUMlab got the opportunity to work with artist Johannes Heldén and exhibit his installation Field, specifically built for the HUMlab-X.

The interactive installation Field investigated the role of humans in the ecosystem, and how animals and plants are struggling to adapt when their habitat is changing due to human impact on the environment.


Field consisted of an interactive landscape animation for the HUMlab-X floor screen, a 3D printed sculpture suite depicting how a species mutates (Jackdaw Corvus monedula), a text animation and an ambient-based, evolving soundscape.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Photos: Mattis Lindmark

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Why HUMlab? — A talk with Zephyr Frank and Fred Turner

Stanford professors Zephyr Frank and Fred Turner are both part of the Media Places research programme, and have visited HUMlab on several occasions. What are the challenges of working with international research projects? And how did the Umeå/Stanford collaboration start?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAZephyr Frank (ZF) (Top image)
is Associate Professor of History and Director of the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis, CESTA, Stanford University.

Fred Turner (FT) (Bottom image)
is Associate Professor of Communication and Director of Stanford’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Stanford University.

How did the Umeå-Stanford collaboration start?
Stanford Human Resources 2014FT: I had known Patrik Svensson for a few years through Matt Ratto, a former post doc at Umeå University. In 2008, Patrik approached me because he wanted one of my PhD students to apply for a post doc at Umeå University as well. The person he had in mind was Erica Robles-Anderson, the first PhD student I supervised, and I was of course very keen for her to succeed in her future career. I was very sceptical at first – should I really send Erica to a Swedish university in the far north? So I spent an afternoon with Patrik and quizzed him: how will this work? What is HUMlab? And the answers he gave were wonderful! So Erica Robles-Anderson went to Umeå for a year and came back so much smarter than when she left, and she got one of the very best jobs in our field, as a professor at NYU (New York University). After that, I wanted to work more with Patrik in particular and more with Umeå University generally.

ZF: So there was this pre-existing relationship, which I think was part of what inspired Patrik to then propose this Media Places initiative. My team, the Spatial History Project, came in at a time when Patrik was putting together the proposal for the research programme together with other people at Stanford. As we talked about how we could collaborate, we focused on two dimensions. One was direct support for research: Fred’s research, my research, and research done by post docs and graduate students. Second (and equally important), was collaborative work. This work could be both in terms of events where you have formal gatherings, share research and build networks of scholarship, and also actual collaborative work where scholars from Stanford and scholars from HUMlab would work together on projects. So that was the vision, and that is how it all came together. After that followed a process of matchmaking to find the right partners, and soon the Literary Lab at Stanford wanted to join the project. A cool thing about that is that bringing my Spatial History project and the Literary Lab together was one of the main reasons why the CESTA lab was created in the first place. The Wallenberg initiative brought us formally together!

How can one succeed with international research collaborations?
FT: The key thing to successful collaborations is people and relationships and time. A lot of folks want to collaborate with Stanford University in all kinds of different ways and we say no almost every time. The collaboration with HUMlab has been almost uniquely successful. I think that is very much due to Patrik’s persistent creative efforts to engage us, not only engage us in terms of resources, but also engage us in terms of ideas.

ZF: Absolutely. Another thing that distinguishes this project in a particularly fruitful way is that it is research-driven but still open-ended. I mean, obviously everyone is working hard and is concerned with delivering, but instead of saying “to get funding you need to do this exact thing”, this collaboration is more like “we are interested in each other’s research so let’s get together!” There is a kind of openness to the collaboration, which to me makes me feel like it is much more sustainable. As I sit here today, I have every expectation of this collaboration continuing as long as I am involved with CESTA.

FT: I think another thing that Zephyr pointed to is that unlike other universities that have come to us and basically said, “please bring Stanford to us!”, Umeå University came to us and said, “we have something really interesting going on, want to talk?”, and we said, “yes, absolutely!”. I think we both found that what is going on at Umeå University is interesting in its own right and very engaging for us, and that has been really important to our collaboration.

ZF: Another thing I would say is crucial to our collaboration is HUMlab and the space itself. In HUMlab, Umeå University has built something that is actually different from anything that we are familiar with. At least, that is certainly the case for me, I don’t know about you, Fred? There are several of us at Stanford who have been in HUMlab multiple times. We have experienced what it’s like in HUMlab and how people work there – that has been really influential and helpful! When our own lab in the Wallenberg Hall at Stanford was remodelled, it was built from ideas largely stemming from Umeå and HUMlab.

FT: Yes, there is a lot of mutual learning going on. We’re learning a lot from hanging out in HUMlab!

What are the biggest challenges in international collaborations?
FT: Distance is of course a big challenge. Another challenge is the different appointment systems at the different universities; as I am coming to understand Swedish academia, it is much more project-driven than the US system. In Sweden, you get funding for a particular project and you work within that project. The American context is much more structure and person-driven – we have graduate students, assistant professors, full professors and so on. Within those slots you are who you are and you are able to work within multiple projects. You are not funded by the project itself but by the position. That means that there are different modes of working and different expectations regarding deliverables in Sweden and the US.

ZF: I think that is a great point, I would second that. Figuring out the structure of the Swedish academic system is a challenge. But I still think it has been quite easy, because everyone at HUMlab has been really nice.

FT: Nice goes a long way!

ZF: I have felt comfortable talking with people in Umeå, even though I don’t fully understand their structural positions. I hope that it has been the same going in this direction!

FT: One challenge for us at Stanford is that a lot of people contact us because they want our name on their letterhead. That happens a lot – the people want the legitimacy of Stanford, but they don’t actually want to work with the people who work here. Patrik did not do that. He showed up, figured out who is who and was genuinely interested in working with us.

What have been the greatest benefits for Stanford from the collaboration with HUMlab?
FT: Personally, my research has taken a really strong turn towards thinking about space and media, in part because of this project. I have just finished a book that is partly funded by Media Places and the Wallenberg Foundation called The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties. The book is all about media’s integration into space, and that is a set of questions that I learned to ask by engaging with HUMlab, via Erica Robles-Anderson, via Patrik Svensson and by going to the lab itself. There is no greater kind of impact you can have than getting so far inside my head that you shape the books I write! The other thing that has been really nice is just seeing how work gets done in HUMlab and the diversity of intellectual questions that are asked there. Then I have gone back to my own world and asked, “OK, how can I encourage a wider range of questions here? How can we keep that tone of intellectual rigour and interpersonal niceness?” – which is a HUMlab thing and which I want here too.

ZF: From my perspective the greatest benefits have most clearly concerned people. We have been able to support four post docs, each of whom has brought incredible energy, talent and skill to our team. Bringing the resources to allow us to have these talented people as part of our community has been the most important thing. Second, personally I have been able to begin to collaborate with Thomas Nygren from HUMlab; he has really inspired me to think about pedagogics and how children learn about history. And last, the experience of going to Umeå: seeing the space and seeing how people work there has been really inspirational.

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