4:00 - 4:05 p.m. - Announcements (5 minutes)
Next week, ITAC is in person at the TEC Co-Lab facility. This will be a working session. OIT will be asking for feedback from all faculty that participated in this process as well as ITAC faculty. OIT’s consolidated findings will be presented, and faculty will determine if OIT got things right and if anything needs to be added.
The first ITAC meeting of the year will be on September 1st. There will be a couple of outgoing members that we will thank and a couple of incoming members.
Both meetings will include food and adult beverages and Tracy is hoping for great in-person attendance.
Tracy Futhey introduces Yakut Gazi, Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Digital Education, who has been at Duke for just one week. Yakut comes to Duke from Georgia Tech where she helped Georgia Tech become more present in digital education. Digital Georgia Tech now has a computer science program that one can do fully online, fully in the classroom, or in between.
4:05 - 4:50 p.m. - Digital Representation & Digital Pedagogy (Humanities) Research and IT Support, Mark Goodacre, Mark Anthony Neal, Hannah Jacobs (30-minute presentation, 15-minute discussion)
What it is: Faculty representatives of the Humanities (Digital Representation & Digital Pedagogy) will be joining us to present upon their research/academic efforts, discuss the role IT currently plays in support of their work, and identify and review some of the areas for growth and additional opportunity between the Humanities and IT support.
Why it’s relevant: In an effort to learn about the overall character of research and research IT support throughout the University, as well as to explore commonalities between the needs of individual domains and Duke as a whole, ITAC will be hosting a series of presentations/discussions over the course of the summer semester with key researchers and their colleagues. These discussions will aim to distinguish the most prevalent services for which IT need to aim to provide institutional level support versus those that are surely essential for certain research but are not pervasively used, and so may be better supported from the school/institute/department/lab level. Ultimately, OIT is seeking to open better lines of dialogue with the major research efforts at Duke, to learn how to better support our researchers, overcome any gaps in the current system, and collaborate to identify new ways to assist in elevating Duke's Research Community as a whole.
Mark Goodacre, the Frances Hill Fox professor in the Department of Religious Studies, begins by saying that many humanities faculty are too reticent in seeking out what can be done better with technology. Furthermore, a vast majority wait for a crisis point to seek out help from OIT and other technical resources. Mark concludes that outreach initiatives are needed. The question needs to be asked: What ways are there of reaching out to humanities professors? Mark provides an example of a colleague who had no realization of how to use The Link Multimedia Studio and instead was working at home on a laptop which was produced less than ideal results. Mark says there needs to be an awareness of these excellent existing resources. Mark realizes that visits can put pressure on valuable resources, but Mark speaks to a very inspirational visit from Tracy Futhey and John Board where the faculty were able to isolate needs that Tracy and John didn’t know about. Mark would like to explore ways in which tech groups could reach out to humanities.
Hannah Jacobs is an IT Analyst with the Art History and Visual Studies department. She describes herself as the digital humanities specialist for the Digital Art History and Visual Culture Research Lab, which is part of the Art History and Visual Studies department. She divides her responsibilities into:
- Teaches an Introduction to Digital Humanities
- Assists with a core graduate digital humanities course
- Provides teaching support helping faculty think about how students can create artifacts and use digital methods as part of an assignment
- Research support
- Hannah is consulting with an art history grad student on how to get data out of a website that recently made the site’s data available.
- She also met with a professor about the data structure for one of his databases.
- Visualization – Hannah assists with work being done on mappings with ArcGIS.
- Hannah assists with 3D modeling using gaming engines where there is a lot of high GPU usage.
- Collaborating on research teams.
The biggest issue that Hannah sees is that she is the only person consulting with faculty in romance study-specific technology and helping with subject-specific classroom and co-curricular projects. The second issue is that more space is needed to be able to experiment. This is true for students working in the web or digital space who need web space to spin up applications. There is also a need to cater to students with a vast diversity of knowledge. Some students are from the engineering school who have had experience with technology and take the Intro to Digital Humanities and some are Digital Humanities majors who don’t have much technical experience. Hannah speaks to the need for some sort of hosting and gives examples of students using omeka and doing Word Press experiments. Hannah sees a need for helping students troubleshoot their issues especially when first getting started. Space and support for archiving projects are needed. These archives need to be made available long-term. Faculty also need archiving so that they can include their work in their dossiers.
Q. David MacAlpine – What is Omeka?
A. Hannah – Omeka.org is a content management system that is very popular among humanitiesscholars. Omeka.org was developed by George Mason and provides a platform for creating digital archives and exhibitions online. A number of humanities faculty are interested in being able to curate their own digital archives. This involves digitizing resources, cataloging the work as a scholarly exercise, and producing an exhibition with narrative storytelling.
Q. John Board – As far as hardware and software, is the need for commodity hardware with the addition of GPUs and a lot of specialized software and the expertise to use it? Am I understanding this correctly or is there more?
A. Hannah – Yes, you are right about the equipment. There are a few examples of specialized equipment and hardware that support GPUs. Also, laser scanning photograph symmetry is needed. I would say that the biggest need is for human infrastructure.
Q. Tracy Futhey - It seems as though the need for people to help provide support has come across in other meetings but hasn’t been quite as pronounced and specific as in conversations with the humanities and arts faculty. I wonder if the need being more pronounced in these humanities and arts conversations than in the engineering and sciences conversations relates to less opportunity or incidents of extramural funding through federal grants in the humanities and arts and then, connected to that the increased use of undergraduate students and other students to help support the research, the pedagogy, and other activities.
A. Mark Goodacre – Agrees with Tracy on the funding issue. Mark also adds that many in the humanities sit in isolation with their books and laptops. Mark speaks of spending this summer at Cambridge where he was alone in a museum with his laptop. The type of conversations that colleagues that work in teams and labs have is needed.
A. JoAnne Van Tuyl – Agrees with Mark. JoAnne does practically everything on her own. We are all very solitary and kind of reinventing wheels right and left.
A. Mark – Has been trying to push change in the culture by supporting team teaching which forces discussions around technology. Chairs and directors of Undergraduate studies can work on finding ways to encourage team teaching. The Religious Studies department team teaches with Classical Studies and has a joint major with Classical Studies. This is one way to get these conversations going. To promote this, Mark finds that giving full credit for a team-taught class incentivizes faculty.
A. Paul Jaskot – Agrees with Mark on the importance of collaborations and team teaching. Paul adds that the Digital Humanities at Duke doesn’t get high visibility. For example, the NSF and NIH grants were mentioned at graduation but not the NEH grants. Paul has been told that the NEH grants were just too small to make it to the news. Digital Humanities is not visible from the bottom up but also from the top down. This is a communications issue and could be helped by ITAC by mentioning your NEH colleagues.
A. Victoria Szabo – Yes, and because those grants are smaller, we often don’t have the money to hire people. There’s certainly the awareness of what’s available but then, as Hannah alluded to, there’s the next step of how to utilize the various tools and resources in a customized way that makes sense for your project. I have been talking to some in this room about the idea of having ways to be able to buy time for development – like slices of time for development for a project that is not too complex yet is outside the scope of what we are familiar with and to have some common strategies.
A. Shawn Miller – It seems like part of what Mark was suggesting is that getting faculty in the Digital Humanities together to share what they are learning and doing is helpful. Learning Innovation has the Faculty Learning Communities programs that will be offered in the Fall. This opportunity provides faculty small chunks of money and other resources to help them get together to talk about different issues mostly around teaching and learning and this could extend to team teaching. It has been a while since Duke has had any Digital Humanities-specific larger events or symposia. These seem to help create connections, too. It may be time to think along these lines.
Q. David MacAlpine – Are you working with the libraries?
A. Hannah – The library has a data repository. But when we use this, we have to deconstruct our projects, so the projects won’t be representative of the project the way it originally was.
Q. John Board – You mentioned some things that Stanford was doing. Are there other specific models at other institutions?
A. Hannah Jacobs – Yes, there’s an initiative at Michigan State University that is interesting, and this is based in the libraries. There are some labs at Emory University. Wake Forest has an embedded technology specialist.
A. Paul Jaskot – says it is very helpful to have a specialist.
A. Evan Levine – Specialized support is more difficult in a consolidated team. There are people like Dave Zielinski who came over from the Digital Humanities and he can do this. A key takeaway is that that level of specialized help is necessary.
A. Ed Gomes – Brian Norbery did something similar. He didn’t do exactly what Hannah did. He tried to create solutions that would work more broadly across the institution. We need to find out what technology suits the faculty first.
A. Hannah – Liz Milewicz and Will Shaw have provided some consulting. Also, the Center for Visualization and Data Science is a resource.
A. Victoria Szabo shows a slide showing strong interest in digital imaging, digital pedagogy, digital publishing, and outreach. Victoria says the survey did not get a lot of uptake probably because the term digital humanities is narrow in people’s minds. The Humanities have an ongoing need for support for public-facing “hot” storage of research data and also the development of bespoke research products such as websites, repositories, databases, digital projects, etc. Many of us are fulfilling these needs with external hosting solutions, prepackaged systems that minimize the need for local programming and support but can be very expensive. These create reliance on external providers and because they not under the Duke “umbrella” it creates sustainability challenges.
A. Shawn Miller – Yale also has a Digital Humanities Fellow model working with Ph.D. students to help them infuse digital humanities methods into the classroom. It also helps to promote and connect the digital humanities. https://dhlab.yale.edu/about/teaching_fellows.html
Q. Mark McCahill – It seems like there should be interest in NLP (natural language processing) flavors of Machine Learning.
A. Victoria Szabo – There is lots of interest but how do you get started? It can’t just be a 2-hour workshop.
4:50pm - 5:30 p.m. - Feedback session and general discussion with new Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Digital Education, Learning Innovation team, and OIT regarding upcoming projects and priorities
Michael Greene, Edward Gomes Jr., Evan Levine, Shawn Miller, Marty Soupcoff (40 -minute Discussion)