November and December Open Office Hours

Each week during the academic year, the DSG hosts a “Digital Humanities Open Office Hours,” where beginning and experienced researchers share knowledge about how to use different tools, or discuss turning an idea into a solid project. We also share current and completed projects, as well as our experiences with many different facets of the DH world. December hosted some very exciting sessions. If you did not get the chance to attend, check out reflections on the sessions below.

November 6- Workshop your Personal Website

At this session attendees had an opportunity to share their website with fellow DHers and get some feedback or share their insight with others building their website. Attendees asked questions about site infrastructure, user experience, design, content and other aspects of websites they are working on. Attendees also learned tips for crafting their personal web presence.

Questions and Answers:

-Should you put an entire CV or Resume on your website?

Some people feel that an entire resume is not necessary to include on a personal website, but that a portfolio format is more useful to potential employers. Attendees suggested that rather than focusing a the form of a CV, a website is a good place to include a more qualitative description of the type of work you have done. This also helps visitors to your site to get a sense of who you are.

How important is it to have a personal website?

Just having a website is not helpful, but having one that shows another level of a job candidate is. Still, even in Digital Humanities, a personal website is not expected of everyone. Twitter is much more common and for some developer positions, a GitHub is expected. It is useful to have some sort of digital presence that reflects the kind of work you are doing or the type of jobs you are interested in. Some attendees also noted that it may depend on the organization or institution looking to hire and might be helpful to look at what format of digital presence they use themselves. Most of all, whatever personal online platform you use, it is important to populate it often so that it comes up closer to the top of the result lists if potential employers search your name. A personal website or other online platform provides a way of controlling the information people see about you online.

Design Tips:
Attendees agreed that minimalist personal websites are a strong choice and anything specific should be in line with your discipline. It is also useful to decide what “genre” of a personal website you want to create–one that contains information about the things you do, a strictly professional website or a project website.

Website blogs are a good place to talk about projects and publications that might not have a specific home or page location on your website. It is also a good opportunity to talk about your contributions to other projects or provide a self-reflection on your work and your thought process.

November 13- GIS DAY

November 13th was GIS Day, a national event celebrating Geographic Information Systems, mapping and geospatial research. This year participants helped to map public art installations on the Northeastern University campus and contributed to a Humanitarian OpenStreetMap project.
For the first event, participants used the Survey 1,2,3 application to submit information about the public art they saw on campus, including a location and its photo. The application also split the art into categories to create visualizations about the type of art present on campus. In just a couple of hours, eighteen different works of art were collected including a photograph of the art work, it’s location and a description.
Humanitarian OpenStreetMaps (or HOTOSM) projects are mapping projects meant to serve underprivileged areas. For our GIS Day HOTOSM event, participants contributed to a project in Tanzania, mapping missing buildings. This is part of a larger project by the Tanzania Development Trust working to reduce incidents of female genital mutilation in rural areas. By the end of the Map-a-thon, participants had mapped roughly 300 buildings.

November 20- Research Showcase, Briony Swire-Thompson

Briony Swire-Thompson, a postdoctoral researcher at the Network Science Institute shared her work entitled, The Prevalence of Backfire Effects after the Correction of Misinformation. Her research investigates “the prevalence of backfire effects in two datasets and 34 misconceptions”. Swire-Thompson defines a backfire effect as “when an individual reports believing even more in the misinformation after a correction has been presented.” Her project goal is to explore the differences in participants or qualities of an item that make it likely to result in backfire effects.

As a cognitive psychologist, Swire-Thompson is most interested in the best ways to correct misinformation. In 2014, she and her collaborators wrote a grant to study misinformation in the 2016 election, not anticipating how central ideas of misinformation would be in the election. While she is interested in all misinformation, she has found that politics are a good angle for studying it and is now looking further at the spread of misinformation through social media.
Swire-Thompson noted that backfire effect research usually looks at a singular item or topic which has led to problems when trying to replicate studies. The key question for her research is to determine how the backfire effect should really be measured. Especially because many of the theories related to backfire effects still need to be tested through reputable and converging studies.

To avoid the effect of studying a single topic or instance, her experiments included 20 myths and 20 facts that were shared with participants who were then asked about the information at varying time intervals after the correction. She found that most items were not in the backfire zone but can see how studying singular items that happen to be could lead to conclusions of a backfire effect.
Her second study looked at other factors such as the level of familiarity participants had with the information and its importance to their worldview. She found that more novel items tended to result in backfire effects but that participants worldviews did not seem to be a significant factor.
Swire-Thompson concluded that there are different influencing factors that can affect the rates of possible backfires such as novelty, importance and the retention interval. However, she feels that further research needs more controls, especially in participant knowledge and beliefs.

December 4- DH Hub “Un-Conference”-Work-in-Progress Project Presentations

In coordination with DH Hub, a collaborative community for graduate students and early-career researchers and practitioners, our last office hours session hosted an “Un-Conference.” This was an opportunity for DHers to informally present their research or projects and get feedback from others practicing or interested in the Digital Humanities.
Several attendees shared work, some came and offered feedback and lots of wonderful collaboration took place.

Summaries of Projects Shared:

Jessica Parr, History and Computer Science, Simmons University
Jessica is working on an API based project focused on collection 18th and 19th century slave court records. For now the project is prioritizing records that have already been transcribed. Jessica is helping to collect and standardize the metadata for the records. While there is still a great deal of records and data to be collected, the goals for the project are that a searchable, clean and efficient database can be launched. The project team is projecting that another 500 records can be added in the spring.

Anastasia Aizman, Library Innovation Lab- Caselaw Access Project, Harvard Law Library
Anastasia has been working with the case document list for the Caselaw projects. She has been searching for historical trends in records, specifically the terms that are related to immigration. As an outcome of her work, she produced a timeline of US immigration history and terminology.

Lexie Muse, English Language Arts Teacher
Lexie has been incorporating lessons using XML into her elementary language arts classes. She has recently introduced this to her course and sought feedback on her lessons.
She had students code parts of speech with grammar in Oxygen. Eventually she’d like for students to then create schema that could correct grammar mistakes. Thus far, she has received very positive feedback from her students, who say that they enjoyed the project. She feels that her students would be capable of writing schemas but is working on gathering more resources for implementing these kinds of lessons into the classroom.