UW digital humanities + art symposium 2015

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DH+A! Another great event I was lucky enough to participate in this past spring. The Digital Humanities Research Network was a breath of fresh air for me in my first year at UW as I struggled to connect and find community. I’m excited to be a coordinator for the 2015-2016 academic year, which will allow me to engage in further conversation about libraries and DH.

Rather than embedding images of my slides as I’ve done for other talks, I’ll do a quick and dirty annotation of my main themes. After all, this was a brief 7-minute panel talk. I still want to orient you to the general flow, though, so I’ve added slide numbers corresponding with what I said.

First, hit my audience with some humor: big data is just a fad, isn’t it? [2]

But we’ve got to start talking about it. Good data management prioritizes data that is organized, understandable, and safe. [3-5]

Unfortunately, that’s all a little boring. [6]

As the formats and mediums and platforms and processes by which we create and store and access data change and adapt [7], we don’t always feel like we have the tools [8] at our disposal to deal with it. It’s hard to know where to go next.

Here are a few simple ideas.

We can’t make any more assumptions about young people, those digital natives – we can’t give them all our data and expect that they’ll know what to do with it. We don’t teach anyone in this country how to manage the onslaught of digital information we create, much less the potentially massive and/or otherwise complex data generated in labs. No more giving the grad students the data with no questions asked. No more assumptions. [9]

We have to start the discussion on every level, from the grad student recognizing that perhaps they don’t have the tools yet to the faculty members pressing their department heads for more support to the campus putting resources in this area before we lose ground. And of course the people in roles like mine, bringing energy to a discussion that is, as I mentioned before, not at the top of people’s minds until they’re past the point of no return – their data is lost, utterly without context, or any number of other sad data fates. We have to start the conversation. [10]

For the data creators out there, make a plan, any plan. Make changes and adapt as needed, of course, but don’t be held back by the fact that you feel like you don’t have all the right answers for what to do with your digital stuff. None of us do. You will probably never feel confident. Make a plan and stick with it. [11]

And then comes the fun part, because with effective data management you get to do some pretty cool stuff. You can explore it, open it up, and make it beautiful in any number of ways. [12-14]

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