About Michael Piotrowski

Computational linguist, computer scientist, professor for digital humanities at the Université de Lausanne.

Touch-Typing, the Underrated Superpower

I recently came across the article 10-Finger-Schreiben: Die völlig unterschätzte Superkraft (“Touch-typing: the totally underrated superpower”; if you don’t read German, you can go directly to the piece that inspired it, The best life hack for 2018 that isn’t on any life hack list). I fully agree with the author when he notes that, given the comparatively small effort you have to put into learning it and the huge positive effect on your productivity, it is probably one of the best investments into personal development you can make since the beginning of the Information Age.

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Forward to the Dark Ages of Document Processing!

I recently finished and submitted an article for a journal. Apart from submissions in “*.doc / *.docx, *.rtf or *.odt,” as it says on the journal’s Web site, the agreement I signed actually also permits submissions in “XML according to TEI as per [the journal’s] schema.” As the article is ultimately published in TEI—the HTML is generated from TEI, and you can even download the TEI—this would only seem logical, but see my earlier rant on publishing in digital humanities (I still have to say a few more words on this topic, but this’ll have to wait for some other time). I certainly don’t subject myself to writing an article in Word, so it was clear that I would submit it in TEI.

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The Digital Age (English remix)

Last year, Wolfgang Schmale wondered in a blog post (in German) whether the expression the digital age has established itself as designation of a new historical period, noting that it is “doing quite well in the competition with other labels such as ‘postmodernity’ or ‘postmodern era’.” The following is a free English translation of my German-language comment on this post.

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Digital Humanities Publishing

I have a long-standing interest in electronic digital publishing. In fact, my first job after getting my master’s degree was with a large scientific publisher, so besides having the experience of an author and editor, I also know a thing or two about the role of scientific publishers. It is from this time that I still have a rubber stamp saying “SGML,” which I keep because it says a lot about scholarly publishing.

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Some Thoughts on Inform 7 for Teaching about Formal Modeling

The last two days I’ve been teaching a course on formal modeling in the context of our new doctoral program in Digital Studies (Programme doctoral en études numériques); in fact, it was the first ever course taught in this program. It would certainly have been easier to give a course on the basis of material that you already have, but I wanted to teach something new rather than just warming up old material. In accordance with my ideas for developing the digital humanities at UNIL, I decided on the topic of formal modeling. This meant, however, a lot of work over the summer and, with the date of the course coming closer, nagging doubts about the—newly developed and thus untested—content. Would I have enough material? Would the participants be able to relate to it, or would it be too hard? And so on.

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DH-MAX

In his recent blog post Die Digital Humanities brauchen ein Ziel: DH-MAX, Wolfgang Schmale wondered whether the digital humanities need a goal and suggested one potential goal, which he calls “DH-MAX.” At the core of DH-MAX is, as I understand it, a new publication infrastructure made up of “megaportals,” i.e., repositories of all the research results that do not really warrant a long-form, narrative publication, organized by interdisciplinary topics such as memory, remembrance, border, migration, othering, nationalism, etc.

This post is a response to Wolfgang Schmale’s post. As his post is in German, my response is also in German. In summary, I disagree that the digital humanities need an explicit goal, because there is no such thing as the digital humanities. I do agree, however, that new forms of publication are needed, and I argue that nanopublications could form the technical infrastructures for the megaportals he envisions.

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