Workshop and Skills Needs

Specific Topics

  • HTML
  • Data Visualization
  • Web Scraping
  • Tools for online teaching (Common LMSs, Voicethread etc)
  • Setting up course sites and organizing digital work for courses
  • Pedagogical discussions
  • CBOX Administration
  • Mobile apps
  • Gaming

General Comments
Workshops can wane in usefulness; would like to have time to ask directed questions applicable to specific projects. Digital Fellows office hours might be good for that. Maybe start a working group (e.g. Python group)? Need avenues to support longer-term skill development.

Rethink structure of workshop requirements? Make more time for differentiated/self-organized play with tools through refresher.

Provide space to discuss pedagogical projects and show/share examples (projects, syllabi etc)

Share workshop materials for those who can’t attend or want to refresh

Look at CityTech L4 Living Lab submission tool for materials submission

To the extent possible, make workshops project-based

Provide materials in advance (tutorials) and use workshop time as a working session (flipped classroom style)

Coordinate between workshop leaders so that material is not redundant. Think of have prerequisites for some workshops (example: HTML as prereq for Bootstrap)

Lessig Reading

Quick clarification on the Lessig reading: you should read the article “Remix: How Creativity is Being Strangled by the Law.” You do not need to read the book length Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy.

Opportunities to respond (gone, but not forgotten)

Timeline (Manovich & Douglass, 2010)

Timeline (Manovich & Douglass, 2010)

It occurred to me that I had initially agreed to provide a provocation to Manovich’s last week, and I do apologize for not constructing a post in response to the readings and visualizations that were assigned.  While it doesn’t seem fair to detract from the current week’s readings, I would like to pose a very simple question. If one assumes that common knowledge is reproducible, yet creativity  and other forms of nontangible and cultural knowledge are unique sources of information, does the sum of all nontangible knowledge ever approach a mass store of common knowledge? In an era when we can quantify cultural knowledge through advanced data science, are we harming the generativity of knowledge? or are we simply pushing the boundaries of knowledge and creativity by reproducing and re-representing information in unique forms?

Lessig, Benenson, Mandiberg


In this talk, Lessig argues that copyright laws and policies are outdated in the context of digital culture, causing problems ultimately harming democracy. He proposes legal changes and cultural practices while refusing both copyright extremism and copyright abolitionism.

Writing is “an essentially democratic form of expression; the freedom to take and use freely is built into our assumptions about how we create what we write.” The observation that follows is that digital media has also been democratized, both in one’s access to diverse cultural content and in one’s ability to create content. It is the popular medium of the 21st century, even more so than writing.

But the traditional copyright model that tries to protect works from being copied fails to reflect the aspect of digital media which necessarily involves duplication; this over-restrains amateur freedom of use. Moreover, the war on piracy is not serving its original purpose of protecting the creator’s right, but is really just criminalizing more people.

In order to preserve the positive functions of copyright of providing incentives to the professional creator, while also pursuing the democratic value which is freedom of use, Lessig argues for a law not focusing on whether something has been copied but relying on context to determine whether something is a mere duplication or a creative remix; whether it is a professional act or an amateur act. The law should provide control over professional copies and encourage amateur remix, while there should be detailed negotiations with regards to professional remixes and amateur copying.

Piracy should not be dealt with through ineffective mass criminalization but instead through legal changes that will facilitate compensation in the current state of technology; proposals such as compulsory licenses (government-granted use without permission but involving a set fee) or the voluntary collective license (subscription-based file sharing network) should be incorporated.

Alongside these legal issues, the potential for an internet-driven hybrid economy—where economic value is created from sharing acts of people—should also be harnessed, and it should be done in a just way that minimizes exploitation; his proposal on this matter is the Creative Commons Licenses.

  • What are current challenges in your field that involve copyright and intellectual properties? One thing that comes to mind is the firewall of commercial databases that Micki mentioned.
  • With online stores for video, music and apps seemingly stabilizing as a platform, is piracy still an important issue? What are the things to think about?

On the Fungibility and Necessity of Cultural Freedom

Benenson discusses how non-copyright licensing should be approached with regards to cultural works. Some points:

  • One difference between Creative Commons and its precedents, notably the idea of Free Software and GPL, is that CCL offers more restrictive options of which the choice is up to the author; whereas Free Software puts more emphasis on keeping things open as a principle not only on the author’s side but also all along the distribution process.
  • There has been arguments for extended application of free-software principles to cultural works, which would enforce free use—something that CCL offers selectively.
  • Such “user-generated utopianism” assumes that cultural works, like tools, are fungible.
  • The fungibility of software like kernels and compilers has been crucial in the success of free software movement; this doesn’t necessarily applies to cultural works, where authorship must be valued.
  • While copyright laws must be adjusted into the contemporary context, we don’t need to completely throw them away as they do protect important values for the cultural creation.

As we are increasingly seeing works that exist across the boundaries of software/tool and cultural works, the question of articulating an appropriate mode of licensing becomes more relevant.

  • Benenson’s discussion is relying on the separate categories of software/tools and cultural/creative works. As we increasingly see works that exist across these boundaries, what would be the considerations that come into play when trying to articulate an appropriate mode of licensing these works?
  • While I can agree on Benenson’s argument that universal openness will not necessarily encourage the creation and sharing of works, the claim that “user-generated utopianism challenges us to believe that all cultural objects are effectively fungible” sounds like a hasty reduction of the logic behind Free Software advocates; I would like to hear your thoughts on this.

Giving Things Away Is Hard Work

Mandiberg examines the collaborative effect that open licensing can bring when applied to projects, especially physical designs. This approach to open licensing is summed up as the cycle where “participation breeds creative mutation, and creative mutation leads to better ideas through this collaborative process.” The insight here as I read it is that one should strategically consider both materiality and work process: the project’s functionality in its shared form, modes of collaboration, degree of access depending on skill levels, and methods of production.

The choice to go on Kickstarter for Bright Bikes was interesting, as crowdfunding platforms seem to have established an almost standardized practice of this type of approach.

As I was reading the texts, I also had the chance to get nostalgic about a project I did with some friends a couple years after the time of the articles. Our choice to go with a CC-BY license was partly logistic (putting the time and effort to deal with copyrights just didn’t make sense); but I also remember the optimistic vibe around free culture and the possibilities of internet which was very much a real thing at that time.

  • I am curious of what Benenson’s response would be to the quote relating to Lady Ada—”this is a success: the practice has become so pervasive that the origins are no longer important.” Do Fried’s contributions count as fungible tools, or do they fall into some middle grounds?


Fred Benenson, “On the Fungibility and Necessity of Cultural Freedom”; Lawrence Lessig, “REMIX: How Creativity Is Being Strangled by the Law”; and Michael Mandiberg, “Giving Things Away is Hard Work: Three Creative Commons Case Studies” in Mandiberg, The Social Media Reader, Part V: Law.


Wendy HK Chun @whkchun #digitalgc and Poetic Computation

Hey ITP-

I meant to post directly following the talk Wednesday, but I wanted to let those of you who weren’t there how interesting and exciting Wendy Chun’s talk was (MCK and Achim, don’t you agree?). I wanted draw everyone’s attention to Chun’s forthcoming book Updating to Remain the Same on (N)YOU Media, as she calls it, emphasizing that “you” again (Lisa Brundage and the archive). I found a talk she gave a couple years ago at Barnard which includes some of the ideas she presented Wednesday (the inherent leakiness of new media) for those of you interested. She referenced Lauren Klein among many others of the folks we’ve been reading. You can also check out the live tweets from Wednesday at #digitalgc.

Hope you’ve all had a nice week.

Also! I’m looking forward to Achim’s School for Poetic Computation showcase this afternoon! A small group of us are going down around 3:30 if anyone’s interested in joining, let me know.


Ben Fry, “On the Origin of Species: The Preservation of Favoured Traces”

Looking at information displayed in the digitized version of Charles Darwin’s  “On Origin of Species” I felt that Ben Fry  was in some way critiquing the evolution of the presentation of written text.  I felt a lot like  the character of Neo in the Matix, when in the film he looks at the code and is told that there is meaning embedded in the streaming numbers  and patterns on the screen.

No matter how many times I looked at the project, it was difficult for me to really accept it as a readable text. I realized that in order for me to truly accept it, I would have to create for myself a paradigm shift about reading. Digitizing texts opens a whole new world of presentation. There are an infinite amount of ways that people can think of to interact with on line text and we  are probably just touching the surface.

I paused the running text, then sped it up and slowed it down, stopping it to see what information was at hand. I felt that trying to read it in any linear fashion made no sense, and I tried to give myself over to the randomness of stopping in different places to take in the information. My provocations are around the uses of this type of archiving.

  1. Who is a project like this for?
  2. What are its uses?
  3. Will it fundamentally change how the average person looks for or reads information?
  4. Is this a format that lends itself to literature or just scientific text, and is that the point? ( The fact that the subject is scientific, does that make it more accessible to experimentation.

DH, Facebook, Critical Re-Production and The Paris Bombings

As I was reading the piece “Digital Humanities Not About Building But About Sharing” it made me think of Facebook. My thinking around media in general and social media in particular has evolved over time, from a determinist perspective on how technologies mediate and facilitate our thinking-being-interacting etc. to something a bit more complex and dynamic. I’ve come to appreciate that fact that a) all tools mediate the ways we do things, including a spoon and a paper cup (the technology of disposal cups have changed food culture in urban areas where it has become “normal” to eat/have a cup of coffee on the go, drastically changing our relationship to meal times, meal spaces and meal rituals). And b) it is more productive to think of the relationship between people and tools as  the co-construction of our social worlds through an evolving and fluid negotiation of use.

From this perspective, dismissing FB (and whatever other types of social media that people use) as mindless/meaningless/consumerist/indulgent is to reduce the ways that the medium is used in productive ways. If Mark Sample states that the “heart of the digital humanities is not the production of knowledge; it’s the reproduction of knowledge” then we should give the practice and concept of re-production value. Recalling Benjamin’s piece from the beginning of the semester, I draw on two inter-related elements of reproduction that can be applied to FB. First, that the holy is rightly profaned- the inaccessible is removed from the pedestal and re-situated within the reach and use of masses, essentially allowing a politicization of the event/object. Second, that it is democratic. Facebook (and other social media) have been able to re-shape what we do with knowledge. The medium has allowed knowledge to be re-situated from mass (broadcast) media that has characterized the way people receive and interact with news/information for a very long time, and placed it in a format that allows for a close/messy/intimate interfacing of various perspectives. It has opened up information to discussion, debate and criticism through a practice of critical reproduction.

One such example is the unfortunate terrorist attacks in Paris this past week. While the major news channels broke the details of the violence as they unfolded, the Facebook community began various discussions around the issue- ranging from debate around Islamaphobia, to dissent around what gets coverage/value. While Paris received news coverage after the horrific violence, the equally horrific bombing in Beirut a day earlier went largely under-reported. As news unfolded, the event was claimed and re-claimed through various political and ideological lenses. These lenses provided contexts through which to understand and navigate the information, as well as provide a forum for discussion

Furthermore, discussions came not only in the form of commentary, but in the sharing of news pieces that resist, enhance and complicate dominant narratives and understanding around information. As such, one can read the discussions on FB as counter-discourses generated through these various political and ideological lenses.

Critical reproduction of knowledge is privileged in this medium, resisting the hegemonic master-narratives that are often imposed by US/Western News media. This fits within the framework of the Digital Humanities, where sharing of knowledge in itself becomes a productive and critical activity. “The promise is in the way the digital reshapes the representation, sharing, and discussion of knowledge. We are no longer bound by the physical demands of printed books and paper journals, no longer constrained by production costs and distribution friction, no longer hampered by a top-down and unsustainable business model. And we should no longer be content to make our work public achingly slowly along ingrained routes, authors and readers alike delayed by innumerable gateways limiting knowledge production and sharing.”



Who will Own Our Information Now? Freedman and Hypertext

I never thought much about the transference of data from codex to the internet before now.  I guess I just thought that someone decided to put it there and wham, anyone with a computer would have access to it. The digitalization of books call into question quite a few issues that are on second glance much more critical than books over digital database.

Who decided what texts are important enough to be digitized is the first issue at hand. There are untold millions of books by millions of authors but the importance given to specific books makes them as important as they are. Digitizing books is another layer of preserving the canon that exists to raise some texts up while devaluing others.

Who owns the texts that are being digitized and is the access to them equal? I mentioned earlier that anyone that has access to a computer would have access to these texts, but the digital divide is still real, so those without computers and/or internet access will certainly have difficulty accessing digitized text. Freedman himself asks – in Latin no less, who it is that polices the databases?

As teachers increasingly look to the internet for ready made curriculum and on line access to text analysis,we are left to wonder whether the author’s original intent will be obscured, if if fact we ever knew it. Or, how much of the hypertext that is attached to digitized text is telling teacher how and what to think about a certain text?

Lastly, in an age when more education programs teacher teacher to follow curriculum as opposed to teaching them to create curriculum, where is the place for deep analysis and original thought regarding archived text?

I think that digitizing text is not so much a bad thing, but being wary of the questions that the process summons is imperative.

Provocations: 1)How can we as consumers of this medium have a voice in the process?

2) Each iteration of data has been it its way laden with issues, Have we learned for the issues of the past with regards to managing and sharing information/texts? (Think the printing press and forward)



Final Paper Topic

Final Paper, ITP Core One

Examine at least one specific technological practice, piece of software, program, or course website in your discipline that uses digital technology to help teach and/or do research and publication. In what specific ways is this tool(s), practice, program or website effective? In what ways is it (or are they) ineffective? How might it/they be strengthened, expanded, or built upon? How might those uses of academic technology be improved and/or reconceptualized? You are encouraged to expand the analysis you began in your midterm paper to build this work, using the specific examples you choose to explicate themes you worked with in the midterm.

In your examination, you must make reference to the conceptual and pedagogical models and approaches described in at least three of our readings this semester (e.g., Dewey, Bass, How People Learn, Visible Knowledge Project, McGann, Stein, Gee, Benkler, Bogost, Keramidas, etc.). You might supplement your analysis with references to the growing body of scholarship of teaching and learning and the digital humanities in order to assess the ways in which your field might benefit from new, imaginative uses of technology in research and/or inside and outside of the classroom. You might consider technological practices like peer production and other forms of intellectual and social organization, as well as the ways in which some forms of technology-enhanced scholarship can lend themselves to adaptation as pedagogical or research tools.*

You must also couch your analysis in a broader discussion of the state of technology usage in your academic field. How does the subject of your examination compare to broader trends of technology use in the field? Which scholars and teachers in your field are pushing the edge of the envelope in their use of academic technology to teach and/or do research, and what makes their work with technology cutting edge? Also, what insights might be drawn from the uses of technology in other disciplines to help reshape the use of technology in your field?

* Online and print journals that you might consider consulting include, but are not limited to: Computers and Composition, Computers and Education, Educause Quarterly, The Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy, The Journal of Scholarship on Teaching and Learning, Kairos, Pedagogy, and Radical Teacher, as well as numerous academic blogs and educational websites. The latter tend to be more current and useful than the formal journals (even the online ones), so feel free to mix and match what you use to help bolster your analysis.

Logistical Details

Due December 21 via email. Final papers should be approximately 15-20 pages, but you are not limited to “the paper” as a medium; please talk to Michael and Lisa if you plan to pursue a different format. Co-authored submissions are allowed with permission. Requests for alternate topics, formats, and co-authoring should be made no later than Dec 7.