There’s Not Much to Talk about When You’re Taking Pictures of Houses”: The Poetics of Vernacular Spaces

For those interested in my older work on material culture, I’ve finally scanned, OCRed, and uploaded my essay from Southern Folklore, entitled “There’s Not Much to Talk about When You’re Taking Pictures of Houses”: The Poetics of Vernacular Spaces. It’s up on Academia.edu, right now, and I will probably make a duplicate copy available here when I get the chance to get all that straightened out.

When Reviewers Clash

I’m still not entirely sure how the Chronicle’s Vitae site works and/or meshes with the rest of CHE, but I saw this post on “When the Reviewers Disagree” and I immediately thought not only of my own experiences — “all X has to go!” and “this essay needs more X!” — but what the experience of getting conflicting suggestions from faculty members must be like for graduate students writing theses and dissertations. This is filed under the tag graduate study

UL THATCamp 2015

Quick links:

  • I’ve created an Omeka instance with which THATCampers are free to play. Just drop me a note asking for a user id and I’ll set you up.
  • For comparison purposes, I have set up a MediaWiki instance, the software on which Wikipedia runs. This sandbox for the UL THATCamp is no longer available. Apparently there’s a way to use user accounts to spam people.
  • Finally, I put up a GitHub repo of TEI files to get a conversation started.
  • If you need to reach me during the conference, try @johnlaudun on Twitter.

Bath Spa University’s Creative Computing Centre

From a recent Humanist:

Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2015 13:52:01 +0000
Subject: digital humanities at Bath Spa

Recently I visited a small liberal arts university to the west of London, Bath Spa (http://www.bathspa.ac.uk), and was so impressed with what I found there that I invited my host, Professor Andrew Hugill, to write a brief description of his activities in digital humanities there. He sent the following.

Professor Andrew Hugill was appointed in April 2013 with a mission to develop the university’s digital portfolio. Hugill is a transdisciplinary academic, a composer who works in Music and Computer Science, as well as some of the wilder shores of French literature. He has a track record of creating cross-disciplinary entities, having established the Institute Of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University, which generated £7 million in external income under his direction.

In 2014, Hugill established the university-wide Centre for Creative Computing (CCC) at Bath Spa University, based at Corsham Court. This has already secured significant funding from NESTA (£125,000 for predictive analysis for museums) and an undisclosed industry partner, who is funding a postdoctoral research fellow. Working with his colleague Professor Hongji Yang, a software engineer, and Dr Jerry Fishenden, a new media researcher and developer, Hugill has established a network of 30 academics from all areas of the university, who are working on a range of projects. These include digital heritage, artistic creation, software development, and some secret projects, all of which aim to increase understanding of creative computing.

The CCC has already attracted 10 PhD students (all except one self-funding) and edits the International Journal of Creative Computing (Interscience). It has a programme of seminars and visiting lectures. Recent speakers include Prof Jim Hendler (lead scientist of the semantic web) and Prof Willard McCarty (Professor of Humanities Computing). It also runs a Masters course and in 2015 is launching an undergraduate programme that includes specialist pathways in Animation, Gaming and Software Development alongside a major/minor combination with a range of subjects from all the university Schools.

One of the challenges for Bath Spa University is to integrate computing more effectively into its teaching and research. To this end, the School of Humanities and Cultural Industries has been examining Digital Humanities as an area for development. There is a significant opportunity to embed digital humanities thinking and practices across a range of subject areas, from Music, Visual and Performing Arts to Creative Writing, Literature and History. The CCC is committed to trying to achieve a thoroughly developed digital humanities throughout the university.

Even if only by implication the term “creative computing” gives to digital humanities a push in the direction of synthesis to complement its long- standing analytic emphasis. This is happening via efforts in simulation, but as the turn to simulation develops the experience and wisdom of practitioners in the arts will, I’d think, be of great benefit. The discovery of a new teacher is a cause for celebration.

Politics Graphically Explained

Finally somebody explained politics to me
Right or left doesn’t matter. It is really up or down in politics.

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When top level people look down, they see only shit-heads;
When the bottom level people look up, they see only assholes.
You will Never see another Flow Chart that describes politics so clearly!

Why Learn Math

From at least one, if not many more, perspective, I’m an old man, a somewhat established scholar. What could be more bizarre than wanting to quit everything else and spend six months learning all the math you wish you already knew? Apparently, I am not alone. Warren Henning, a software engineer, is doing much the same, and he explains his motives as follows in an essay on Medium:

To me, math is raw, untapped power. Statistics is helpful in computer programming, period. My dream is to learn the statistics, probability, and linear algebra needed to really understand machine learning and computer vision, which has had a major spurt of activity in the past 5–7 years. To realize this goal, I need a solid foundation so that I can truly understand what’s going on: why something works, when it won’t work, and what to do differently if it doesn’t.