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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Plato and the Dormouse

During my summer vacation I read John Markoff’s book “What the
Dormouse Said.” 1 I assume it was the publisher that insisted on
adding the subtitle “How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the
Personal Computer Industry”; it does give you an idea what the book is
about, but actually it’s somewhat misleading.

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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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Document Engineering and Digital Humanities

Documents of all types have always played a central role in the humanities, both of an object of inquiry and for documenting research results. The digital humanities are thus also concerned with documents and with digital documents in particular. Apart from “traditional” scholarly questions, this raises many new questions, for example, on encoding, markup, and processing of texts, where technical and scholarly aspects interact.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It’s already some time now since I’m back from the digital humanities conference double pack, which involved about 3,000 km of rail travel: first DHd 2015 in Graz, then the DH Summit in Berlin. In Berlin several people, who couldn’t make it to Graz, asked me about how it was; here’s basically what I told them.

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A Live Publication List For My Web Site

The main problem with Twitter is that everything you post there is publicly visible. Oh, wait—are you saying that’s intentional? Well, then. Anne Baillot recently mentioned on Twitter she’s numbering her publication list by hand. With Word.

This is, of course, wrong, and at some point I may actually blog about better ways. However, her post also reminded me that I’m not quite perfect myself, as don’t have a list of publications on my Web site—only a link to my list of publications on CiteULike. In principle, that would do the job, but it’s not quite optimal, because it requires readers to follow a link to get at the information. It would be much nicer to have the list of publications right on my own Web site—but of course without requiring any additional work to keep it current.

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