Talk: ‘Sustaining Collaboration from Afar’

Presentation on CHNM’s One Week One Tool project, Serendip-o-matic, at ‘Sustainable History: Ensuring today’s digital history survives’, Senate House, London, 28 November 2013.

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Workshop: Data Visualizations as an Introduction to Computational Thinking

I gave a half-day pre-conference workshop on ‘Data Visualizations as an Introduction to Computational Thinking’ for the University of Manchester.

From the event blurb:

Digital Humanities (DH) has grown rapidly in importance in recent years, as interest turns away from technology as an instrumental tool simply for resource discovery and access and towards the need to identify and solve new research challenges for the humanities. As one of the largest concentrations of humanities scholars in the UK, surrounded in turn by the enviable breadth of expertise provided by the University’s technologists and librarians, the University could be a fertile ground for Digital Humanities research.

On 7 November 2013, the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures will be hosting an afternoon workshop for University academics and post-graduates; the event is aimed at exploring the skills and literacies researchers might need as potential digital humanists. This informal, hands on event will provide an opportunity for academics, post-grads to start to ‘think like a programmer’ and learn some computational thinking. Participants will be introduced to new methodologies and tools, including those for manipulating and analysing data using visualization tools. No technological expertise in these areas, only a laptop, curiosity and a willingness to experiment.

Goals of session

  • Provide opportunity for academics, post-grads to start to ‘think like a programmer’ and learn some computational thinking
  • Learn and put into practice some skills for accessing, manipulating and analysing data using visualisation tools
  • Introduce new methodologies and tools
  • Demystify tools, think critically about what’s happening ‘under the hood’, understand the impact of tool choice and data structures
  • Enable dialogue with technologists about project design and tool choice
  • Think about the skills, literacies Digital Humanists need
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Seminar paper: ‘Messy understandings in code’

I was invited to present at Speaking in Code, an NEH-funded symposium and summit to ‘give voice to what is almost always tacitly expressed in our work: expert knowledge about the intellectual and interpretive dimensions of DH code-craft, and unspoken understandings about the relation of that work to ethics, scholarly method, and humanities theory’. I’ve been writing about this for a while, so this event was both personally and professional important.

From my opening slide:

‘There’s a fundamental tension between available tools and cultural heritage data: we’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Do you craft the tools to the data or the data to the tool?

So what do you do with square pegs and round holes? You can chop off the interesting edges to fit something into a round hole, you can reduce the size of the entire peg so it’ll slip through, or you can make a new bespoke hole that’ll fit your peg. But then how do we make the choices we’ve made obvious to people who encounter the data we’ve squeezed through various holes? It’s particularly important if people are using these collections in scholarly work to make the flattenings, exclusions that shape a dataset visible.

The choices you make will depend on your resources and skills, the audience for and the purpose of the final product… Will look at some examples of visualisations for exploring collections where I had to tidy the mess to make them work, and an example of designing software to cope with the messy reality it was trying to reflect.

I want to set the scene with my own experiences with cultural heritage data, but am curious to hear about your own experiences with messy data in your respective fields, and the solutions you’ve explored for dealing with it and conveying your decisions.’

Messy Understandings Speaking in Code (PDF)

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Article ‘Creating Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives through Design’

Creating Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives through Design with Don Lafreniere and Scott Nesbit for the International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing, based on our work at the Summer 2012 NEH Advanced Institute on Spatial Narrative and Deep Maps: Explorations in the Spatial Humanities.

Ridge, Mia; Lafreniere, Don and Nesbit, Scott (2013). Creating deep maps and spatial narratives through design. International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing, 7(1-2) pp. 176–189.

Abstract: An interdisciplinary team of researchers were challenged to create a model of a deep map during a three-day charette at the NEH Institute on Spatial Narratives and Deep Maps. Through a reflexive process of ingesting data, probing for fruitful research questions, and considering how a deep map might be used by different audiences, we created a wireframe model of a deep map and explored how it related to spatial narratives. We explored the tension between interfaces for exploratory and structured views of data and sources, and devised a model for the intersections between spatial narratives and deep maps. The process of creating wireframes and prototype screens—and more importantly, the discussions and debates they initiated—helped us understand the complex requirements for deep maps and showed how a deep map can support a humanistic interpretation of the role of space in historical processes.

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Article: ‘From tagging to theorizing: deepening engagement with cultural heritage through crowdsourcing’

Peer-reviewed article ‘From tagging to theorizing: deepening engagement with cultural heritage through crowdsourcing’ published in Curator journal

Ridge, Mia (2013). From tagging to theorizing: deepening engagement with cultural heritage through crowdsourcing. Curator: The Museum Journal, 56(4) pp. 435–450.

Proof copy available at http://oro.open.ac.uk/39117/.

Abstract: Crowdsourcing, or “obtaining information or services by soliciting input from a large number of people,” is becoming known for the impressive productivity of projects that ask the public to help transcribe, describe, locate, or categorize cultural heritage resources. This essay argues that crowdsourcing projects can also be a powerful platform for audience engagement with museums, offering truly deep and valuable connection with cultural heritage through online collaboration around shared goals or resources. It includes examples of well-designed crowdsourcing projects that provide platforms for deepening involvement with citizen history and citizen science; useful definitions of “engagement”; and evidence for why some activities help audiences interact with heritage and scientific material. It discusses projects with committed participants and considers the role of communities of participants in engaging participants more deeply.

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Guest post ‘Tips for digital participation, engagement and crowdsourcing in museums’ for London Museums Group

I was asked to share some of the lessons I’ve learnt from building digital participation projects in museums and from my research on crowdsourcing in cultural heritage for the London Museums Group blog following my talk at their “Museums and Social Media” event on 24 May at Tate Britain.

They’ve now been published at ‘Tips for digital participation, engagement and crowdsourcing in museums | by Mia Ridge‘.

To pinch from my headings, I discuss the advantages of digital engagement; challenges for museums | new relationships, new authorities, dissolving boundaries; 6 tips for designing digital participation experiences in museums; 2 bonus tips for designing crowdsourcing projects in museums.

There are other event reports at A round up of the LMG Museums and Social Media Event.

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Workshop: ‘Designing successful digital humanities crowdsourcing projects’

I ran a half-day workshop on ‘Designing successful digital humanities crowdsourcing projects’ at the Digital Humanities 2013 conference in sunny Lincoln, Nebraska.

Workshop attendees: download the slides (2mb PDF) DH2013 Crowdsourcing workshop slides and exercises handout (Word doc): DH2013 Crowdsourcing workshop exercises.

I’ve started a braindump of ‘emerging best practice’ tips and questions from the workshop below…

Tips for designing humanities crowdsourcing projects Continue reading

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Keynote: Participatory Practices: Inclusion, Dialogue and Trust

Pavillion 0 at the Sigma Foundation's palazzo on Campo San Paolo, VeniceI was invited to present with Helen Weinstein at the We Curate kick-off seminar at the Pavillion 0 at the Sigma Foundation’s palazzo on the opening weekend of the Venice Biennale. Our slides for Participatory practices: inclusion, dialogue and trust in museums and academia are online, and I blogged about our talk and the event for Historyworkstv: Participatory Practice Presentation at the Venice Biennale.

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Talk: ‘Digital challenges, digital opportunities’ at MCG Play

MCG Play logoAs Chair of the Museums Computer Group, it was a pleasure to attend the MCG’s Spring meeting, ‘Engaging Visitors Through Play‘, at the University of Ulster’s Centre for Media Research in Belfast on May 30.

I spoke on ‘Digital challenges, digital opportunities’, and my aim was to introduce the Museums Computer Group, discuss some of the challenges museums and their staff are facing and think about how to create opportunities from those challenges.  I’ve posted my notes at ‘Digital challenges, digital opportunities’ at MCGPlay, Belfast.

I blogged about the event at ‘Engaging Visitors Through Play’ – the Museums Computer Group in Belfast and my post was picked up and re-posted as a guest post, ‘Game on’, for the Museums Association blog.

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Paper: ‘Digital participation and public engagement’

I gave a short paper on ‘Digital participation and public engagement’ at the London Museums Group‘s ‘Museums and Social Media’ at Tate Britain on May 24. A version of my notes is now posted online at ‘Tips for digital participation, engagement and crowdsourcing in museums | by Mia Ridge‘, see Guest post ‘Tips for digital participation, engagement and crowdsourcing in museums’ for London Museums Group for details.

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