What Is a Dissertation? New Models, Methods, Media


– Welcome, and before we start (mumbles)UP if you have your ring on your
cellphone please silence it, but don’t let that stop you from tweeting, because we’ve got a very, very energetic Twitter stream going here with I guess thousands of
people tweeting right now. My name is Cathy Davidson, and I’m a professor here
at The Graduate Center at the City University of New York. I’m co-founder of HASTAC and director of HASTAC at CUNY, and of the Futures Initiative. Today’s event is jointly being sponsored by the Futures Initiative
at The Graduate Center and the HASTAC clubs here and at Duke University’s
PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge. On behalf of all of us, I extend a hearty welcome
to those sitting here in the English Department
Lounge at The Graduate Center and those of you in virtual locations participating all over the world, from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, to CLAEH University in (mumbles), Uruguay, and also points east and west. Because we are on a very tight schedule, I cannot thank and name everyone who has supported today’s event, but I quickly wish to thank Executive Officer of the English
Department, Mario DiGangi, for hosting us physically, and everyone at the GC who
has made this possible. Kalle Westerling did the wonderful signage and is responsible for our livecast today, which is going to go just fine Kalle. (mumbles) produced our FI newsletter. Michael Dorsch and Danica, I feel like NPR, Savonick did technology, click and clack here we come, technology and project management. Lauren Melendez is our producer. And our new deputy
director, Katina Rogers, joined us on Monday and jumped
right into a leadership role. It’s an amazing collaborative effort, and thank you all. You can read biographies
of our five panelists on the various websites
for today’s events. They will each be talking
for about 10 minutes and highlighting what
they will be able to do or are in the process of doing in a dissertation that
goes far beyond text. We’ve also asked them to comment briefly on the institutional process by which their work was
approved or is being approved. Some of the people who
are currently dissertating may not address that issue. We have created an open public Google Doc to which they have contributed details of their own success stories, and to which anyone else in the world can contribute their own stories. The information is on the
podium in front of us. This is not just a panel
today, it’s a movement. Others can use these stories
as models to build on. After the event is over
we’ll be developing a website and we’ll be sharing our information with various graduate school
credentialing agencies, university administrators, heads of professional organizations, many of whom have already been pioneers in promoting the digital dissertation. We will also be collaborating with The Graduate Center’s digital fellows who have created a great
resource on this topic and with HASTAC’s Digital
Dissertation Group. Please let us know if
you know other programs we should be linking to. As with any peer to peer programming, the whole is always greater
than the sum of its parts. The point of focusing on
changing the dissertation in form, style, substance,
method, and media is that you cannot change a process unless you change the final product. Conversely, you cannot change a product unless you change the process. Institutional change must
be systemic and continuous and be sought all at once. That said, institutional
change is always uneven. So, to make institutional change you celebrate victories
where you find them. You celebrate the success of any and every institutional transformation and use those as models
for further transformation. We’re hoping all the
technology works today and that you are able to
follow along on the live stream if you’re not here in person. However, we are in Midtown Manhattan right across from the
Empire State Building and sometimes the Internet fails here. All our panelists know how to improvise if bandwidth fails us. We’ve reminded all of our virtual members and participants today that should the livecast fail they should use their human context to have a productive discussion and tweet that out and add
to the fruit of our labors to our various open public Google docs that will be accepting
questions and comments. We’ll be doing the same from here. We’re working mightily so that #remakesthedis doesn’t have to become #distheremakes. But even if there is an
epic technological fail, which is always possible, there does not have to
be an epic human fail. We’ll capture everything for use later, including anything that doesn’t transmit. In other words, the technology may fail, but our creative
imaginative activist network is not going to fail. We’ll be going alphabetically today, starting with Jade Davis, Communications, University
of North Carolina, Dwayne Dixon, Cultural
Anthropology, Duke University, Gregory Donovan, Communication
and Media Studies Fordham University with a
PhD from The Graduate Center, Amanda Licastro, English,
also from The Graduate Center, and Nick Sousanis, Teacher’s
College, Columbia University. You are in for a treat. These are five of of the boldest, most imaginative, most brilliant, most creative and courageous scholars you’ll find anywhere in any discipline. No pressure. (people laughing) They will share their work with you, and then instead of going
into a conventional Q&A, we’re going to be doing a collaborative, interactive exercise called (mumbles). You should’ve all, maybe not all, because
this is a bigger group than we were expecting, 50 of you will have pencils and paper. Anyone else should just
get out a pencil and pen because we’re gonna be doing
an interactive exercise called (mumbles) and go into the questions from that. If you have a laptop, you can use a Google to share your ideas with the larger world. Katina will be reading from the Google Doc in the Q&A period. But for now, we’re gonna get started with Jade Davis and then
everybody else in turn. Please join me in welcoming these very, very courageous
and wonderful people. (applause) – Well hopefully we’ll live up to Cathy’s introduction of us. So, I wanted to talk a little
bit about my dissertation. I’m one of the people that is in process, and I can talk a little bit about what I’ve done to get it approved and why it worked for me. I’m Jade Davis. I am a doctoral student. I’m a doctoral student
at the Department of … Oh, oh, okay. The first one always has
to make the adjustments. I’m used to this, it’s okay. I’m a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill, and I’m primarily a media studies scholar, but I also say that I’m a
performance studies scholar. One of the reasons I’m able to do this is because in my discipline there is a bunch of
different sub disciplines, and performance is the one that let’s me do the digital thing in a way that I find meaningful, because it’s about creating
organic experiences, looking at everyday life and trying to push narratives, and that’s sort of what
my dissertation is doing but more in a media sphere. The picture you see on the screen is a picture that was
posted to a Tumblr site that I’ve linked to, which is where my dissertation was born. That’s actually my grandmother
with her grandmother and a family friend on a
trip to Washington D.C. It’s a photograph that I found when I went to take her to the hospital when she was going through an illness in her bedroom. And I brought it to her in the hospital, and I took a picture of it with my phone, and I sent it to my aunt, and I posted it to my Tumblr site which I’ll go to in a little bit. And it was just one of those
moments where I finally like on a very personal level understood what was so different
about digital media for me versus analog media, which is one of the
questions that I’m asking. There’s a different level
of access and distribution that’s completely different than having a tangible thing that you have to go to places to see. And when you think about how we’re interacting with media now, more often than not we’re taking in information
through these devices, and we’re doing it in what I like to call low res knowledge production, meaning that when we look at
printed stuff there’s 300 DPI, meaning there’s 300 dots
per inch of an image, but for the screen
there’s 72 dots per inch, and it goes quickly. I use Tumblr because I love social media. Everything tends to have
its own metaphor in it. Tumblr is tumbling information. I tend to be a secondary adopter, meaning that I adopt it after it looks like it’s
going to be successful but usually before it’s bought, which is really important because I’m a media oncologist and I want to go through the
process with the platforms. And when I do that organically like a performance you tend to learn lots of things. One of the things that I
learned through doing this is that people are interested in consuming information in this method. The map that you see at the bottom is from Google Analytics, which is Google’s tool that they have on almost every website you go to that measures where
people are coming from, how long they’re staying. And what’s been really amazing about having a digital project for me is most of the time when
you’re in the process of writing a dissertation, you don’t know if anybody is going to be interested in
what you’re talking about, if anybody is going to see it and if anybody is going to read it. I have 2,000 people who organically followed
me on my Tumblr site. I’ve never advertised it. There’s been 31,000 visits from people from around the world from a total of 192 countries. In addition, it’s something that I was able to share
with my grandmother who is sort of my
bouncing ground for ideas. I know that I’m doing
something that makes sense if she understands it, because she’s really, really smart. She’s smarter than my grandfather, but she dislikes psychology. And the first time I showed her the site she totally got it. And she’s not the only one. So I don’t know how many of
you are familiar with Tumblr. (Jade speaking indistinctly off mic) Oh no. The problem with going first. So this is my Tumblr site at VintageBlackBeauty.com. And I call it an archive remixing project, meaning that I go to archives
with lots of photographs that people might not know about unless you’re going to archives
looking for photographs. I then post them to the Tumblr site and link back to the archive. I’ve done ebbs and flows of activity just to see what happens, because that’s one of
my points of information that I’m using to analyze my dissertation. And it’s been really fun and interesting, because again, there’s 2,000
people who follow this, so there’s 2,000 people for every picture that’s posted that are potentially going to see it. But I get data like this picture was seen by a bunch of people and there’s only three notes. And I think that these
are meaningful things to just know and think about when we think about what’s
happening with knowledge. I’ve gone on the record in the past saying that we continue to use the book as the prism for knowledge, just because that’s what we’ve had. Most of us are told that we
need to write a monograph. That’s the model that makes sense to us. Libraries are full of books. But when you think about
how we consume information and how often we’re learning new things, most of us learn things … I’m going to ask, how many people here are
on Twitter or Facebook? Tumblr (audio fades out)? Pinterest? Did anybody not raise
their hand for anything? One person, two people. So I’m sure that everybody
has had an experience on one of those sites where they saw something
that was insightful that sort of changed how they
were thinking about something, but that’s a very different model than learning something in a book. It requires a different type of analysis, a different type of critique. For me personally, I know
that I won’t understand that by just writing. I need to go out and do something, and that’s sort of what
this project has been. I said I would talk a little
bit about the approval process. So there are two very important things. I already said one of them. One is that I’m in performance studies, but the secondary thing is that my advisor (mumbles) is Canadian. This is important, because Canadians love McLuhan, and I do too now. So, I took a class with him, and at one point we were
reading the Essential McLuhan and we were reading The
Medium is the Message, the general canonical works that people tend to read from McLuhan, and he brought in a book,
and it was this book, The Medium is the Massage. How many of you have seen
The Medium is the Massage? Whenever I cite this book
people tell me it’s a typo, but it’s not, it’s not a typo. It is supposed to be the massage. And the reason this book is so important is because McLuhan is one of those people who we know as canonical in media studies. He has success. People have read him or
they’ve heard quotes from him. They love him or hate him. But, he was very much fighting against the idea of the book making man sort of a linear man that’s
goes straight across time. And he wrote these books
that are very graphical. They look like websites. There’s small phrases that
look like tweets in them. They actually fit as tweets. I tweet folks a lot like this. And it’s playing with
the format of a book. So when I saw this book, in addition to being like, “Okay, I’m in performance studies. “I can play and have fun,” I also asked my advisor if I could write something
that was like this. And I brought it to all
of my committee members and I asked, “Is it possible
to do something like this “that tried to (audio fades out?” And they said yes. And I think that’s really important, because in most disciplines
or most subject matters there are people out there who are doing things that
are different and innovative. It’s just an issue of going
out and asking people, “What are you doing? “How did you get to do that?” Which is why I’m really excited to hear everybody here who’s going to speak. And I’m excited to have so
many virtual participants. And in terms of closing, I think that for me one of the things that’s really interesting with all of this in (mumbles) traditional dissertations is how we conceptualize
the idea of archives. It’s one of those things that’s central to many disciplines, but it’s something that, again, it’s one of those things
that (mumbles) metaphors. And pictures are archival data, and they’re consumed
just like everything else through a screen. So what I’m hoping will happen with everybody that’s talking, and I think we’re going to see this, is that we think of different ways to conceptualize what you can
do with a screen presentation. Most of us create our
documents on a computer, so they start to a screen, they start on a screen
to a certain extent. But also, how can we
push the limits of paper, which is something else
we’re going to see? And with that, I’m gonna pass it over. (applause) (people speaking indistinctly off mic) Yeah, (mumbles). – So, I’m so happy to follow Jade, because (mumbles) lead the way (mumbles). (people laughing) So, I’m from up the road from Jade. My name is Dwayne Dixon and
I’m from Duke University. I just defended my dissertation in May in the Department of Cultural
Anthropology at Duke. So my project is one on the ethnography of young
people in contemporary Japan, specifically Tokyo. And I’m going to just start with a brief overview of the
project, my research project, because it’s critical
to understanding then the translation to form. So I studied three groups of young people, (mumbles), which are returning kids, so young people that have lived abroad, typically because their parents are middle class or upper class managers, professional people. The kids have lived in another country and typically gone to an English language international school but possibly a local school. They’re always bilingual, if not tri or quadlingual, and then they return back to Japan, which is when they get
the moniker (mumbles), which literally is return
to the country child, so kids that have come back. So their Japanese identity is suspect and it’s also excessive. So they have a lot of stuff
going on just linguistically but also culturally. The other group of young
people that I studied are Japanese skateboarders, which are almost exclusively
young boys and men and largely working class. And then finally cultural workers. So this is a pretty broad
category of contingent labor, primarily stylists,
photographers, web designers, translators, but none of them in some
sort of permanent position, sort of pulled to the core
of advertising agencies, large corporate projects, and then maybe work for a period of time and then spun off. And again, these are all young people from 18 into their 20s, early 30s. Some of them have studied abroad to get their technical training and then returned to Japan, to Tokyo. But again, they’re often in a kind of (mumbles) or unstable
position for various reasons, but economic is their
primary vulnerability. So this is, yeah, so this is an archival image just kind of reading us
into thinking about text, and Japan, and this
structuring of young people. This is an image from kids practicing their
kanji strokes in school. So this is a way for us
to also think about space, which is one of the other main focuses, or foci, of the project. So these young people show up in specific spatial locations, schools for the (mumbles),
the returning kids, the streets obviously for skaters, and then in a space that’s
kind of a non space, the kind of global imaginary that the cultural producers, workers are actively creating. So this is (mumbles). She’s one of the
(mumbles), returning kids. She lived in LA. So her orientation is very much away from Japan and outwards through media practice. Skaters are very interested in clearly in body practice, but also in their
relationship between media. As you can see (mumbles), who’s actually Costa Rican Japanese, filming (mumbles), who’s a high school dropout but one of Japan’s top skate pros, and they’re filming a pro video that then their company is gonna release. And this is a window display made by one of my cultural
worker subjects, (mumbles). And this is also a sample of her graphic design layout work. So this project is really trying to think about
space at the local level, also trying to think
Japan much more broadly as something that’s oriented and connected to the Pacific Rim and then to urban centers beyond. So sort of in a shorthand
it’s about Japan, it’s about challenging notions, structuring ideas of Japan, Japan’s history. It’s also trying to challenge
ideas of Japanese youth and youth at a particular time when they seem to be beset by both economic and social
shifts and instabilities. So the form. So I use a lot of written text. I took a lot of field notes in a very traditional ethnographic mode. I also used a video camera. So these are mostly all stills except for these two last
slides of (mumbles)’s work. I used an ethnographic
video approach, as well. So what you’ve seen prior
were all video stills pulled. So, my dissertation has two modes, right, a written one and then a visual one, one that I’ve produced. And then I also draw on archival footage to also think about Japanese kids, as well as popular film and written texts. So, I have all these media
forms that I’m trying to juggle, as well as multiple sites, right, where there’s lots of kids
showing up in different ways, and they also have a lot of
connections to one another. So, the form is already, I think it already needs to have a kind of a multivalent approach. And I want to show you very quickly. We’ll just have this
play in the background. This video … So this is just an ethnograph video that I
put together of (mumbles), who again, is one of Japan’s top pros, but supports himself by
working the night shift at a convenience store. So, he’s actually going to work. So, I needed a form that
could hold all this material, and also allow it to talk or
intersect with different parts, different components, and not be fragmented or laid out maybe in a kind of linear fashion. So I elected to use Scalar. Scalar is an open source digital humanities publishing platform. That’s its tagline. It’s developed out of USC. And Tara McPherson, who is sort of the lead PI on it was very generous in allowing me to use it when it was still in beta format. So, I began playing with Scalar. I created an account, It’s all online, and I began inserting text. So it’s a very fluid and flexible form. It was able to hold both my media files and my written text, and I was able to create
links that I didn’t actually, wasn’t able to actually to do so well when I was writing. So I was also thinking theoretically about (mumbles) mission of
the machinic assemblage, and also (mumbles) idea of the montage. So these were sort of theoretical terms that I was trying to incorporate as I was dealing with the lived accounts of these kids in Japan. So I’m thinking about the form enacting the diverse
connections of possibility that the young people are experiencing in contemporary Japan, and Scalar is allowing me to do lateral or horizontal connections between different stories, but it’s also allowing me to
connect different theories, different histories, and then to also incorporate analysis. So the way that I structured it is that a reader can play across the surfaces of the dissertation. If all they want to watch is videos they can actually pull all of those out. If they want to just read theory they can check out my bonafides and they can see all of my theory. Hopefully they’ll get
sidetracked or derailed by something that I’m alluding
to in one of those passages and then sort of (mumbles) or detour into an ethnographic set. That may be that want to
keep reading ethnography that then will hopefully
pull them back maybe into sort of a review of maybe
juvenile delinquency in 1930s Japan. So that hopefully the reader
is actually starting to build new connections in their mind, hopefully ones that I didn’t even intend or actually anticipate. But the way that the
Scalar project is set up it’s like able actually to permit a reader to move and navigate in ways
that are somewhat unexpected. This is just the front piece. This is only an excerpt of the larger navigational panel. You can actually change the views that a reader might encounter, a reader user player might encounter. So, there’s different ways to actually depict the information on the front piece. So this is the index as it were. And again, this is just a snippet, and I prefer to see it
laid out as a pathway, but you can do it as a
radial or other formats. And you can go to Scalar and play around and look at these yourself. So I want to talk now about production and getting this through the institution or the bureaucracy itself. So it’s cultural anthropology. We’re tricksters. We do really well at sort of sliding in and sliding out of different places, thinking about (mumbles) or in Japanese mythology the (mumbles), these kind of figures that
can inhabit other forms and then make them
materialize in new ways. So when I proposed doing my dissertation in
Scalar to my committee they were all for it, but they’re a bunch of anthropologists, so that wasn’t such a
hard sell I don’t think. I was also fortunate to have
a really open committee. But of course, I needed to get
past the gate keeping hurdle of the graduate school
administration itself. And this is actually when the dean of the grad school at the time suggested that I simply look
at the hard science model where hard scientists
do a written analysis, but they will lengthen their
appendix to videos say of cell crawling videos, which is the example
that the dean gave me. You can go google that. So the data itself is in a video or some other media form that lives in the appendix, and then the scientist, dissertator, will then just submit a PDF, and that’s what goes and passes
through the graduate school. So, I borrowed that form and I simply wrote a long, 30 page, extended abstract, essentially, with the video stills that you just saw. I put all those in a PDF form. I formatted it just like a dissertation with the bibliography and that’s what I submitted
to the graduate school. And in the appendix it pins and arrows towards the Scalar URL. So, the PDF then goes and
lives in a digital database, and then someone can access that and then through that would
find the Scalar video, or sorry, Scalar project, or they can simply google and
search The Endless Question, which is the name of my project, and it lives sort of in the
open ecology of the web. So, I think that Scalar allows me to generate
these new connections. It’s also because of the
way Scalar is configured, if you open the settings other users can link to your own work and then you can also link to others. So in fact, people can be
annotating your own work, or like for example the
video that I was showing you, someone might be able to actually use that in another project, say around young people in cities. So they could actually
link and harness that into their own Scalar project. So, I’m also trying to
think about collaboration and the way, much in the way
that Jade talked about Tumblr, trying to think about the way not open sourcing as it were as if it all comes back to
maybe a single location, but something that proliferates out in all of these different ways and finds new formulations
or new manifestations as people improvise with the knowledge that we’re encountering. And again, this comes
back to Jade’s point, too, that the book is not, of course, the monograph is not this way that we frequently encounter knowledge, and maybe, in fact, I would like to ask that maybe this isn’t the way that we’re going to create
new knowledge in the future. So yeah, Scalar and this
project in particular hopefully opens up to
future proliferations, but there are also concerns
that we need to think about, which are that digital is
mutable and it’s changeable, which are good things, but it can also be an unstable medium. So how, again, not to
fetishize the archive, but how do these things get preserved? So this is a question that we also need to hopefully consider. Hopefully we’ll talk about this when we move to the Q&A
and the larger discussion. But I think that Scalar as a whole for me it offered me a possibility to make all these
linkages and connections, and also just as an aside something that I’m
incorporating into my pedagogy. So, I use it with undergrads because of its possibility
of being opened up for multiple inputs, and for its capacity to hold
lots of hyperlinks and media that’s actually self created, so audio and video files. So I also find it a very
flexible and very user friendly. You can do a lot more to it, but at its base level
sort of out of the box it’s also extremely user friendly. So, it doesn’t require really much technical know how or sense to start using it. It’s very intuitive. So thanks, and I’m gonna hand this over. (applause) – Hello everyone. Alright, so what I’m
gonna present on today is a dissertation that I completed about a year and a half ago. So, I’m gonna go through both the process of constructing this dissertation here at The Graduate Center and some about the actual product that was produced through this process, and how digital media was integrated into both of those things. I did my PhD here in
environmental psychology. I now teach in communication
and media studies. So I’ll also note that part
of this project is possible because I operate in an
interdisciplinary area my committee was particularly receptive to the idea of doing something new since I was pulling
together their expertise from very different
disciplines in some cases. I’m gonna start with this visualization. The title of my dissertation
was MyDigitalFootprint.org. It’s still the title. And this is sort of what
triggered the idea for me is that back in about 2010 two researchers created an application called the iPhone Tracker. And what this application did is it recognized that there was a file on your iPhone stored locally
called consolidated.db that tracked all of your movements by triangulating your signals across telecommunication towers. So within a degree of accuracy, our movements throughout the day by having a cellphone
turned on and on our bodies was tracking our data and sending that data to
various third parties. The issue was that it was a mistake that this was stored locally on the phone. So, when these researchers
discovered this file and created a simple way to visualize your movements over time using open street maps, Apple quickly released a security update that erased this local file. So it in no way stopped the practice or changed the practice. It simply took the user, the person providing the
data and the information and further obscured their role in this rather complicated
research relationship. So this got me thinking that under this transnational
informational capitalism, this socioeconomic
paradigm in which we live, that the medium is the method, doing a play on Marshall McLuhan’s notion of the medium is the message, that the medium which we engage in, particularly social media,
is often proprietary. The process, the product, is owned and copyritten by someone, some corporation, or some
government in a few cases. And this means we’re
often enrolled in research without our consent. Even if we’re checking
a terms of use policy, this would never pass (mumbles) with an institutional review board as an appropriate consent form. Yet, we regularly check off these boxes that’s treated as consent, and we are enrolled in
processes of research that we may or may not agree with if we are even aware of it. And these research
relationships in particular are proprietary and hard to see. They’re designed as such. You might think that because you do not
pay a fee to Twitter and you provide your personal data that that is a fair trade,
and that may be the case, but the fact that all of these entities in which we interact with, from credit cards, debit cards, chain stores like Walgreens and Target, to Twitter and Gmail, these databases get sold, merged, or even illegally combined
at various places, in particular at data fusion centers that exist throughout the country. So proprietary research relationships is something that all of us, but in my concern
particularly young people, are embedded in was something that I was curious about, and how to change this, not only understand it,
but how to change it and challenge it in some way through my dissertation
research and project itself. So the first iteration
of MyDigitalFootprint.org was a recruitment site to try and find young people ages 14 to 19 living here in New York City that were interested in talking about their daily engagements
with proprietary research. I conducted 15 unstructured,
open ended interviews that were roughly two hours each simply to understand
what these young people’s everyday life was like and what their interests and concerns were as they engaged with things
like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and so forth. The primary thing that came out of this is that their main concern was that they had no
functional understanding of how this media worked. They were highly dependent on Facebook, highly dependent on Twitter. It was everywhere in their life. Yet, they had no idea
how it generated revenue, they had no idea how it
technically operated, and thus questions such as, “Do you care about privacy? “Are you concerned about your privacy?” They may have said no, but that was (mumbles) in
a lack of understanding of what kind of research
they were being enrolled in. So this became the focus of the project after this interview period, and I then reached out to
five of those interviewees and hired them as co-researchers
onto the research project. Now at this stage, this meant involving them
both as co-researchers but also as media producers, because we had agreed that
we were going to develop our own open source social network so as to take the typical
consumer of social networks and making them a producer to get some understanding of
the production that goes on and the research that they
are frequently entailed in. This also meant that in my institutional
review board application I had to actually add them
as research personnel, which was in and of
itself its own process. I had to put them through
qualitative research training, as well as media training, in order to get them on the application, approved by the
institutional review board, so that they could work with me to continue the research process, not only to build the social network, but to conduct new sets of interviews. As we began producing the social network we had no ultimate goal. This was not to create an
anti-Facebook or new Facebook. It was simply to see what happens when we engage
in the production of media that we are regular consumers of and how does this change our
understandings of privacy, property, security, and the politics of the research
that we are enrolled in? I’m just gonna quickly
highlight two points of this research and design process that allowed for reflexive analysis through digital media design. One was the .PO file that comes along with
BuddyPress and WordPress. So, we used a content management system, WordPress, that was open source, along with the BuddyPress plugin that adds social networking features. The .PO file is what allows for multiple languages to be possible when you use any kind of interface. So someone can select from a dropdown list French, German, Spanish, English, whatever they want. For us, we decided to look at the language embedded in this interface and create our own language
that met our own values and the words that we wanted to use. And this was important
in a number of ways, not only that we personalize the language and the terms that young
people prefer to use, but when we came across
things like private messaging, which was a term that
was part of the interface for a feature that allowed for one to one private messaging. At this stage the young people
were seeing on the back end at an administrative level the kind of data that
flows through their network and the fact that these
messages were not private, that they could see the
supposedly private messages. That users of this social network were sending to each other meant we probably shouldn’t call
this private messaging. It is misleading, and it lulls people into this idea that their messages are somehow secret and not public to a number of people, so we changed that to public messaging. There were many instances
of this reflexive analysis once we got into the nitty gritty of deciding what the interface should say and how it should look. Another thing was to comply with the institutional review board we had to create a consent form, because we were inviting young people to come, fill out social profiles about their experiences with the Internet, and thus this was essentially a survey or an interview that we were doing online. And the consent form had to
be about a page in length, readable by a 7th grader, and clearly articulate what
was being done with their data, why, what their rights
were as a participant. So what you see on the left is what we ended up with as an assent form or a terms of participation
for our social network and compared to Facebook’s
terms of service, which is a 50 page
legalese contract, right? Ours was roughly 450 words. Facebook is roughly 4,500 words. So this is a comparison in which you were designed to
not know or understand the kind of research
that you are enrolled in. This resulted in an actual social network, which is now archived. It only existed for the period of time that the IRB application was live. The dissertation itself
that came out of this was a printed physical copy, yet you’ll notice that the title itself is MyDigitalFootprint.org, which is notable because my database had, sorry, my dissertation had to go to databases like ProQuest, which would embargo my dissertation and force people to pay for it if they want to access it
within a period of time. Well if you look at the title and just plug the URL into your browser, you’ll get the free PDF
of the dissertation. So, it’s a way of further circulating the dissertation itself, and I also used with the help of The Graduate Center’s librarians a Creative Commons copyright. So I made it explicitly clear that anyone is able to share and recirculate the
dissertation as they see fit. And then the dissertation itself became archived at the final
version of this website, MyDigitalFootprint.org, which includes interactive
methodological timelines. The PDF of the dissertation itself, the defense was open to the public and livestreamed here
at The Graduate Center, as well as live tweeted
while it was happening. Amanda beautifully did
a Storify of gtddiss. So this now becomes sort
of a public media archive of the dissertation process itself and the various products
that came out of it. Thank you. (applause) – Hello, so we did not
get PowerPoint fatigue, I have a Prezi if I can find
it on Jade’s computer here. I’m in. Okay, hello. So first I would like to Cathy Davidson for inviting me to be
a part of this panel, as well as the organizing committee and our participating partners
for making this possible. My name is Amanda Licastro, and I am the only doctoral
candidate on the panel who’s a student here in this very room, which houses the English program here at The Graduate Center. This is a unique program, one with a history of innovative and interdisciplinary scholarship that continues to support
pioneering research at both the programmatic
and administrative levels. Today, I will share my
experience working in the system, including the roadblocks, failures, and triumphs I’ve
encountered along the way. So why here and why now? I came to The Graduate Center because an alumnus pointed me towards The Interactive Technology
and Pedagogy Program. When looking for a PhD program, I knew I wanted to study the intersection between educational
technology and pedagogy, especially the writing process. But in 2009, very few programs had invested in the digital humanities, and as many critics have noticed, the digital humanities weren’t particularly
concerned with pedagogy. So, at MLA that year, sorry, at MLA in 2009 I saw Matt Gold’s present
Looking for Whitman, his collaborative cross
campus teaching experiment run on WordPress. And after speaking with
Matt at that conference, I was pretty convinced that CUNY could support the kind of
work that I wanted to pursue. In my four years here
at The Graduate Center I have seen the Digital Humanities program grow from budding to burgeoning with several institutional initiatives in place to support digital work. But it is clear to me now that this trajectory has been built on years of innovative approaches
to humanities research, such as those collected
in our (mumbles) campaign, which we’ve had over the past month. And please go to this Google
Doc and add your dissertation if you’re doing non traditional work. Some of these examples are even here from The Graduate Center, such as Katherine Harris
and Jeff (mumbles). In my coursework here
at The Graduate Center, I’ve been encouraged to
experiment with digital methods. I have TEI encoded (mumbles), I have done a distant reading of prefaces in 18th century novels, and I developed an online academic genealogy project
with my classmates, which evolved into a full
scale digital project, the Writing Studies Tree. Through the work of Ben
Miller, Jill Belli, myself, and our faculty and student consultants, this just won its third
Digital Innovation Grant from the provost here
at The Graduate Center. Meanwhile, my coursework and my oral exams exposed me to new media
and composition theory that I needed to argue for
the relevance of this work. The combination of theory and practice not only gave me the tools to formulate my dissertation project, it also helped me secure an instructional technology fellowship, which is a key turning
point in my academic career. So now for the details. Here is the what, why, and how
of my dissertation project. As a fellow, I work to help professors across the disciplines integrate technology in
pedagogically sound ways. For over a decade this program, we’ll call it honors program, has maintained a multi-user
WordPress install, similar to the one that
Greg was just talking about, and it’s also similar to
the CUNY Academic Commons or the MLA Commons you
might be familiar with. However, the primary purpose is to support the creation
of (mumbles) sites and student run blogs. I am using the archive of over 3,000 Macaulay ePortfolio sites as
the data for my dissertation in order to investigate student writing in online open spaces. My goal is to challenge
the assertions we make about both the benefits and
the drawbacks of public writing by providing evidence from this case study through a mixed method approach, including surveys and
interviews with the students, as well as a distant
reading of all 3,000 sites and a close of reading
of six student run sites. And this was Greg’s point, Greg will like this one. In order to deal with
this large data project, I had to first strip out any of the sites or posts that were marked private from the data, and I had to create a simple consent form, like the one Greg described, which is very different than the complicated user
agreements like Facebook’s that we’re used to. Since this is not a typical
dissertation project, especially in the humanities, my IRB process was extremely complicated and took over four months to complete. Although the sites are public, it is important to remember
that the data I’m using does reveal identifying
information about the students. This process led me to grapple with many of the difficult
ethical questions about using public online materials. But fortunately, The Graduate Center established the Internet Research Team filled with faculty and students who are dealing with these
same issues in their research, and they were a wonderful resource for me as I was dealing with these questions. So here’s where I get technical. So thank you, Greg, for getting a little technical before me. The first phase of my dissertation
research was the surveys. In fact, it was the Internet Research Team that lead me to use Opinio, which is a secure (audio
cuts out) incoming freshmen. This is one of the many ways in which collaborating and (audio cuts out). In fact, it was the Internet Research Team that led Opinio, which is many ways in which consulting with
researchers outside my discipline has strengthened my scholarship, and it is also why it is important for institutions to provide us access to these kinds of tools. Through these surveys I found that 30% of (mumbles) freshmen had composed on a blog
before entering college, and if they did it was
through an English course or school newspaper, not a personal site. However, almost all of the students are on more than one
social networking site, and therefore are actively
writing in online open spaces. The second phase of my dissertation is a distant reading of (mumbles), and this is the stage
I’m currently engaged in. This process of dealing
with the data is new to me, but my ability to deal with
these challenging tasks comes from both my experience on my other digital projects and through the help and
collaboration with my peers, especially Micki Kaufman
in the History Department. The data from the ePortfolio
sites is in MySQL, which you can see on the far left there. It’s a database system
that runs on my server, and I process it through selecting segments as test cases. So yes, this means I’m learning to code, or more specifically to write scripts. And for example, the raw data, which you can see in that first slide, is from one Arts in New York City course. It’s actually from Sondra Perl’s Arts in New York City course at Macaulay, and it is very, very messy. So the first step is to extract
the relevant information and get rid of anything that
will distort my results. So after I pair that down I create these relationship tables and begin to play with my data. So, an example you see here I’m using topic modeling to
see what words students use in proximity to the
word art in their posts. I use this same data to
look at other metrics, such as how often the students posted, the average length of their posts, and compared the relationship between the length and frequency of posts. These experiments usually start
with a sketchpad and paper to work through the data itself. It is both fun when I’m
playing with my data, and frustrating, because I end up with dozens
of these spreadsheets. But, the results can be pretty beautiful. I have taken this
grammatically incorrect caption from a popular sub Reddit of
people who play with data, but the visualization you see is the result of my topic modeling. And I can explain a little
bit more about that, but I am running out of time. This is all a learning process, which takes trial and learning, and I never know what the results will be when I start working on a new data set. But so far, the journey
has been as fruitful as the preliminary results. The next phase of my dissertation will be to interview the winners of Macaulay’s Eportfolio Expo and to post read their winning submissions in order to identify the
areas of learning transfer between the faculty led sites and the student directed sites. All three stages of my research include various types of media, as everyone was saying. I’ve got videos, data visualizations, infographics, screenshots, and live links, so it’s hard to represent on paper, and I’m constantly reimagining what the final product will look like. From the beginning, I have been blogging my way through this process in order to provide a
model for other scholars who want to engage in these methods, but also to promote an open, transparent approach to academic work. My philosophy is to, as Kathleen Fitzpatrick famously wrote, “Do the risky thing.” Actually, when one of my
prospectus reviewers wrote that he had never seen a
dissertation like this before. But thanks to the endless
support of my committee, Matt Gold, Sondra Perl,
and David Greetham, and now Cathy Davidson, I’m pursuing the project
I dreamed of back in 2009. And I see this ethos of risk taking catching on here at the GC. As is evident by the amazing work of my fellow grant winners, and especially with the
dissertations of English students like Jessie Morandi, who’s working on a Walt
Whitman video game, Ben Miller, who’s doing a
distant reading of dissertations, and Jeff Binder’s project,
The Distance Machine. All of this is happening in humanities departments worldwide and I believe, as Jesse Stommel suggests in the online journal Hybrid Pedagogy, we can view the dissertation
as a learning opportunity and it will make more room for these experimental approaches, and hopefully create useful products rather than just the
dusty bound manuscripts that sit on shelves, or worse, behind pay walls. Thank you. (applause) – While we’re warming up here, I’m gonna thank Professor
Davidson and the whole team for putting on a really, it’s been a really great event, and all of you for coming, especially thank you Cathy for supporting this project
for the past several years. It’s meant a lot. Still while we’re getting
this set, I see it. My name is Nick Sousanis. I just finished my doctorate
at Teachers College at Columbia University in education, and as you’ll see I did it in comics form, and I’ll talk about that. So the question I started with was not why do it in comics, but why not do it in comics? I was already doing complex accessible work in comics form, and we’ve already seen examples from (mumbles) Understanding Comics, so I figured the argument was done. I didn’t need to come to school to prove I could do it. I could just start doing it. But as you guys know,
academia tends to move slow and it can be narrow. So the project saw the political side of this project and realized that it had to both be directly about itself and be metaphorically about the
context that it was done in. So I’m not gonna talk so much about the specifics about comics work, which really tie into
these first two projects. I was really excited about that. But, I will tell about the
general idea of unflattening. And so by flatness I mean
a narrowing of our sight, a contraction of possibilities. I covered Mark Hues’s phrasing of it, conforming to a pattern of one dimensional thought and behavior. And I connect that to Flatland, Edwin Abbott’s 1880s critique
of Victorian society, which is about the geometric inhabitants of a two dimensional world. And they’re able to move east and west and south and north, but they have no concept of upwards. And you can see, I picture that here, that no concept of what it
means to come off the plane. And you can say, “Well,
that’s kind of silly, “and obviously there’s an upwards,” but what is upwards for you and me? That’s a lot harder to see
how to step off our plane. And I think the boxes that
learning is being put into, boxes of space, boxes of time, boxes of subject, boxes of discipline, I think those are boxes we
tend to put on ourselves, and as a result it makes
it hard to see things. It limits the way we see because we’re in narrow spaces that prevent us from
seeing things around us. So, part of the big question here is what can we see when we
bring in more things, which brings me to my dog. And I’ll say if you have a chance to put your dog in your
dissertation, I highly recommend it. (people laughing) And so you think about
a dog’s sense of smell, it’s not simply stronger
than yours and mine, but it’s more nuanced. It’s able to sense more layers and really sort of layers of time. So the dog enters this room, it knows who was here yesterday, and the day before. It has this whole time capsule. So it’s accessing, accessing dimensions of experience that you and I don’t have access to. It’s got upwards that we don’t know. So, when we think about moving beyond this
(mumbles) (audio cuts out) have sides. We know that we can turn them over and we can move around them. But I think this makes it
possible for us to step out, to sort of step out of
the situations we’re in and maybe get some perspective on what it is we’ve been
sort of confined by. And … And sort of see the
artificiality of the boundaries that we construct ourselves. And speaking of artificial boundaries, the dissertation was about 130 some drawn pages long. I have one page that looks like this, that looks like what dissertations are supposed to look like. I’ve got my fonts right,
I’ve got my spacing right, and this page very specifically this page talks about Plato and Descartes and their dismissal of the senses, and Plato calling images
shadows of shadows. So it’s the one place in the dissertation where I turn to the reader and say, “This is what I’m doing.” I break the fourth wall and I’m like, “This is what I’m doing, hah!” And so we asked about what things get when you turn things into
the office of doctoral study. So like I said, there’s
130 some pages of comics. I got feedback on precisely one page. Yes, precisely one page. The only thing they cared about was that I hit the margins, 1 1/2 by, which I hit the margins, wasn’t that hard to do. But on this page, as you’ll notice, I tried to make it look like … So there’s Figure 1. I got feedback that says, “On Page 47 you have a figure. “You don’t have a list of
figures at the beginning. “So, you need to have a list of figures “and put Figure 1 on that.” Which I’d like to think
that they were joking, but they weren’t. I know that they’re not joking. And I wish I’d thought of it,
because it’s so brilliant, because here I am trying to sort of needle what’s going on, and I didn’t think to
put a list of figures. It would’ve been beyond me. So there is a list of figures. It does include that image. (people laughing) Fortunately, it doesn’t include all the other pages, because I’d still be doing it. So, sort of to wrap this, it’s a long wrap with this, I want to talk a little
bit about how the process led me to things that I might not otherwise have gone to. And I think the general
idea of this is that to reverse the split of mind and body that Descartes put on us. For all it’s benefits, to pushback against its disadvantages, and to say that we’re not
really thinking machines. Thinking isn’t something
that happens static. And for instance when you
draw, which is what I do, when I make a mark or
anyone drawing makes a mark, that mark is now visible
outside of our heads, which means your visual system, which does an amazing amount
of things all the time, it’s doing all sorts of things, is now part of the system, which means you’re having
a collaboration between your ideas in your head
and the marks on the paper, and those two are
starting to talk together. And so for me I feel like as I start to sketch, and I have words, and I have pictures, and I’m thinking in space, and a lot of the nonlinear both of you guys spoke a lot about, ideas start to come that
I had no anticipation. I’ll often say my comics
are smarter than I am, and I totally believe it, because I had this fantastic
partner to work with, which was my sketches. So I’m gonna give you
one very specific example and take you through that. In the chapter on imagination I wanted to do a page on stories, and specifically how stories
can be a transformative thing. And I started, and this is my notes from like
2011, some scribbles I made. And I wanted to think about (mumbles), because that seemed like (mumbles) stories within
stories really worked here. And I started playing with it. So I had the idea that, if you’re familiar with the book Zoom or the film Powers of Ten, that I was gonna have each of my images linked to another image
linked to another image. But in the midst of this, and I got half the idea
kind of figured out. And also, I want to have it sort of snake in a reverse S or a Z to sort of (mumbles) the page. That in by stories I don’t just
want to talk about fanciful, but I want to talk about
things like science. So if I’m writing this, I’m done. By stories, I don’t just mean fanciful, I mean things like science. Okay, but here I am trying to … The pictures can’t just be illustration. They have to be part of it. They have to show what I’m doing. They have to embody what I’m doing. So now I’m starting to sort of just think like, “What can I do?” So I’m doing a lot of searching and thinking of the time
the (mumbles) were collected and the area that they were collected for, and I come across astronomers working in the Arab world who did some calculations that Copernicus later
used, without any credit, to do his big move. And so now I’m really excited, because earlier on I’d had
a page about Copernicus in which I’d basically, the short version of it is that I said, “Even though nothing changed, “he changed our perspective,
which changed everything.” So now all of a sudden I had this thing, and it tagged back to this
thing I’d done already. And so I spent three weeks reading about this thing
called the Tusi couple, and I’m learning the mathematics
and the astronomy of it, and then at the same time I’m trying to figure out how
do these images play together, you know, how do they all
resonate with each other? And so I’m going back and forth and back and forth between that, and it continues and continues, and at some point what I end up with is essentially these it’s probably three square
inches or something like that. I had to teach myself astronomy, the mathematics of that
particular astronomy to condense it, and make sense of it, and make sense of it to
a reader in a tiny space. Which you’d say, “That’s kind of crazy. “Why would you spend that
much time on anything?” But, it was awesome, because I got to learn all this stuff because my art forced me
to learn and to research. And so I think that’s the exciting part about bringing in these other
molds and encouraging that is that instead of research is sort of filling in
that little last pieces, sort of puzzling and sort of
finding a piece to a puzzle, it’s a generative that thing
that opened spaces for me. My advisor, Ruth (mumbles),
really encouraged me to think about research as a journey. And I was fortunate enough
to work with (mumbles), who some of you would know as professor of (mumbles). He passed away a few
weeks after my defense. He really encourages
the idea of imagination and arts is part of it. And I think by me sort of accepting that and making that my work
from the beginning, the dissertation was a blast. I don’t know that people
can say that a lot, but I had the best time. I think my research and my specifically dissertation, I don’t want to say vacation, that’s the wrong word,
but it’s a lot of fun because I get to follow my thinking and see where it takes me, not be stuck into any box but find out what it
is I’m thinking about. So it was really a wonderful experience and something I really hope I can help with conversations like this other people figure out
what molds do we work in? How do we think best? And let’s encourage that to
be part of the conversation. So thank you. (applause) – I don’t think I was being hyperbolic when I said these are five of the most creative, interesting minds, and hands, and sounds, and (mumbles), all of that together that I’ve encountered anywhere. But before we go onto our regular Q&A, please take those little
cards and pencils. We’re gonna do a little interactive experiment. If you’re watching the livestream at home find a partner and do this. The first part of this is just 90 seconds, literally 90 seconds. Just think about what
you’ve heard and seen here for the last hour and 15 minutes and jot down, there’s gonna be several parts to this, but jot down three questions you have that you would like answered. We’re gonna record these later and we’ll make a dialogue out of it. But right now just 90
seconds, really quickly, the three things most on your mind, most urgently on the mind, on your mind. (quiet chattering) – I’m gonna get back on the mic. – I don’t how you do livestream silence. I feel like I should be moon
walking or doing something. – Tap dance.
– Yeah. – Testing.
– Tap dance. – Tap dancing? I can do that. (laughing) I have this vision of the whole Internet
being utterly silent. (people laughing) (Dwayne speaks indistinctly) So mischievous. Right, it’s like the zen Internet. So now take another 90 seconds. Turn to someone next to you, and take turns and read out loud the three things on your card and then come up with one thing. You might have to compromise,
you might have to edit, one thing between you that we’re gonna put on a Google Doc that we’ll then let go out
there in the world among people. So one thing that you want
to ask these questioners but that you also want to
discuss in a larger world and I’ll turn it into the
website in the dialogue. So please, just take 90 seconds to talk to somebody near you, and just read what you’ve
written on your cards and talk it through
and think up one thing. (chattering) Have you seen the– – The Twitter feed is insane right now. I have 54 new (mumbles). – It’s unbelievable. (Cathy speaking indistinctly) I had not seen this before. – I have, I’ve seen it. (panelists speaking indistinctly) – Yeah, it actually captures
(speaking indistinctly). – So, I don’t know if everyone has a laptop or a shared laptop, but if you do, if you could write that question down on the shared document. The document is going crazy. People all over are
adding to this document. It’s kind of amazing. So this little pedagogical
thing we’ve just done, and some of you now have been on it, have been with me doing this like twice or three times this week alone, because we’ve been doing a lot of events. This method is called Think, Pair, Share. I highly recommend it. I learned it from a second grade teacher, but it’s also done in medical school. And what’s so great about it is it means that normally
when there’s a Q&A period like three people dominate, and often ask follow up questions that are really, really long, and lots of people go home
frustrated from the Q&A. One of the things, the great things, and you can use this in any class. I tend to use it in every class period in every class I teach, sometimes at the beginning to recap what people learned from their readings the night before, sometimes when the class goes
dull in the middle of class, sometimes at the end as a recap. It’s great, because
whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you can commit something
very quickly to a card. It’s not life or death. It’s just quickly what’s on
your mind at that moment, and then you get to talk
about it with somebody else. You actually get to think through … It’s very dialogic, it’s very platonic, but it also, I don’t quite
understand how it works, it’s kind of magical. I’ve done it with 6,000 people in the Philadelphia 76ers Auditorium, I mean basketball arena. Something about committing
something to paper first, even just so quickly, and it only works if you
do it for 90 seconds. So you don’t make it be an object of fear, but something about doing that and then talking about it really evens out the
introvert extrovert thing. I highly recommend it as
an interactive pedagogy that uses that. It’s extremely sophisticated technology of machine made paper and machine pencils. It also works far better
when you write it out then when you do it on the Internet, because it displaces that idea of access and who does or doesn’t have an Internet, a laptop, etc., etc. Now a couple of other things before we get to some of those questions that I hope you will
share on the Google Doc, Nick Sousanis has some free comics that he’s willing to give out if anyone would like comics. I would take him up on
that, they’re beautiful. Questions, maybe in the pairs read some of the questions. Yes. (female audience member
speaking indistinctly) – Sousanis, but it doesn’t matter. (people laughing) – [Female Audience
Member] I was interested in the project and whether it looks at comics as a media as such on the mental level, because (speaks indistinctly), or it takes it as a departure point for the inspiration of the themes that it actually looks at. – Yeah, it does both. And it was, I mean, I wish I’d talked a little bit more about the medium, because it overlapped with the
first two presenters a lot. So there’s a whole chapter devoted to talking about comics and how our syncing works in comics. So it looks a lot at how it works. But it’s also because the sort of general
metaphor about flatness comics sort of interact with that, because comics are using
multiple modes at the same time, both visual and verbal, but also linear textual things but all at once visual things, which I think your Scalar
thing sort of spoke to. So I examined that quite a bit, and I expand a lot about how drawing works and perception works. I just didn’t talk about it yet. Does that answer it? – Yes, yes, thank you.
– Okay. – The second question we’ll take will come from our virtual audience. Maybe Katina, can you read that? – [Katina] Sure. So how do you talk about your projects with less sympathetic listeners, which means anyone from advisors to more traditional
scholars in your field, or ProQuest enforcers, or anybody? How do you gloss that for
other types of scholars? – Do we need to repeat it? – [Katina] Anybody, how do you gloss that for other
(audio cutting in and out)? – I’ll just say in my case I didn’t actually face a tremendous amount of opposition. I faced a lot of questions, people who didn’t understand what I might’ve been proposing
the first time around or wanted more information, and I just learned to go
into all of these situations with an arsenal of information ready to answer any
question, overly prepared, which helped me for the eventual defense. But that was what I had to learn to do to deal with all these obstacles, and it was annoying and
it took a lot of time, but it actually made the
project much stronger and my understanding of it much deeper. So sort of being armed with as much facts and information as possible, when you encounter an
obstacle you might realize it’s often just questions
that they’re asking as opposed to really trying
to stop you from doing it. Whether it was ProQuest, the library, IRB, my advisor, the committee, all that would be included I’d say. – I guess from my perspective early on I was told a
lot that what I was doing wasn’t a form of knowledge production and wasn’t scholarship, so to combat that what I do
have is I have a written portion that’s sort of like writing
up a science dissertation that talks about the theory that’s important for my project. It talks about what I think it’s doing, but then I said, “If I’m doing that “I have to do another digital component “to balance it out so I
feel better about it.” But basically just showing that you’re capable of doing that thing that people expect you to do
tends to get you really far just so they don’t think that you’re just doing this
because it’s fun and it’s easy, but I am actually having deep thoughts. And look, here’s your wonderful paper that I can give you. – Just, and this kind of ties back to the question I was just asked is that part of my work I explained, not explained, but sort
of showed how I was doing while I was in the act of doing. So for the reader that
doesn’t know anything about how comics work or whatever, as they were reading along they started to get
ensconced in that world. And they could say, “Oh, well this is how he’s been doing it.” You could go backwards
and forwards and say, “That’s how it did its thing, “and oh yeah, that’s why it’s smart,” if you didn’t already believe that. – One thing I can say is that early on at The Graduate Center someone told me to find
people who support your work and then just do what you want, right? Well the problem with that is that now that I’m
looking at the job market, everyone wants writing samples and almost all of my writing is on digital online journals and things where it’s like, “Here’s a link,” right, but it doesn’t really
translate to paper very much. So I do worry about that is that when people want
to see a writing sample my dissertation is all digital. What do I give them? So that’s something we can
continue to think about I think. – Can I just bump in here? Because this has happened
with my students, and we actually, my students always publish some kind of a thing online in my classes, but we’ve started … On Amazon you can do
a self published book, so you can get a reprint
that you can put with people. All it is a reprint of
what is appearing online, but for those people it
makes a huge difference. And I think you said it was sometimes fear
or lack of knowledge. If they can read the
same thing that’s online sometimes they find it
much more plausible. I’m shocked at how often
people will be very skeptical, and I’ll literally give them
a self published offprint of something that’s on
the blog and they’re fine. Then they’re like, “Wow,
this is really smart. “This is hard. “This is a real disciplinary thing.” So I would encourage in
this transitional period make the translation. If somebody wants something physical it’s not that hard to do
a self published work, and you do it like breathing. And it just, it calms … You’re not doing it for you. You’re doing it to make a
point of translation and entry. I promise you it works. One thing I worry about a lot is people defeating themselves and being afraid to be risky, to go Kathleen Fitzpatrick,
being afraid to be risky and ending up doing something they hate or they’re board with because they think it’s safe. And we know from all the research that nothing defeats you faster than doing something you hate
and are board with, right? All the success and business
literature, for example, is all about passion and success and taking risks. If you’re comfortable, taking
risks is a good bargain. It actually works. – I just want to say too that I think that actually, it’s true in my case and I would theorize or suspect
it’s true for all of us, we end up doing more work than
a traditional dissertation. One of the questions that was showing up on
the Google Docs was, “What about all the extra technical skills “you have to teach yourself?” I mean you’re learning
technical skills certainly, but also you’re trying to
think about formal issues. It’s happening in multiple layers, and all of us bring different literatures and different ideas to handle that. For me, I anchored mine, this was also about legitimation, I anchored my project in surrealist ethnography
from the French basically. So I built my project on the ancestors as it were, and that was part of
my legitimation, right, that I validated myself by working at a particular
school or discipline, and maybe one that has
fallen out of favor, but trying to reimagine
it and reinvigorate it with new tools and new possibilities thinking that those ideas back then had all of these virtual potentials but didn’t have the context
or the other conditions, the environment, that was necessary to actually allow those
things to manifest. So hopefully I’m doing that, but then also using those
tools to open up new ways for other people to connect to them. But of course we do have
to deal with gate keeping, and that was another question was how, specifically in my case but
this was true for all of us, how do we deal with those who are in the US system with ProQuest? So again, this is where
we end up doing more work. So I did that 30 page extended abstract that looks like a dissertation, right? That’s the page. Or your whole thing where they’re reading
yours to look at the form. So we’re actually mimicking. I mean, we’re living inside those forms and we’re hedging them
and manipulating them. And then for my committee I actually gave them
a long form print out, I mean a rough hewn
PDF of my dissertation. So, it was 375 pages of text. And I was like, “Here it is,” and then they could go see the Scalar site as a supplemental, because that was the way that
they were more comfortable, and it was easier for them to evaluate I would say, right? They could read through it in a much more straightforward way while also recognizing I had
done all this other labor that I had really put my heart into. Nonetheless, they wanted
or needed this PDF, right, which I also understand. So in effect, there were three forms that I used to get through the process. – Do you regret it? – No, I mean each one of those– – The reason I’m saying that
is because it is harder work, but my sense is– – It was the best. I mean that’s what you want. I mean it should be an
experiment, too, right? So you know how to do the other things, and so doing them is part of the task, but it allows you to get somewhere else. – Okay, so a face to face one, okay. – [Male Audience Member]
I have a question. Do you guys have any advice for people who are looking to enter experimental programs like this, like programs that allow
that type of experimentation? How important is a portfolio or something, especially if these tools
don’t exist yet necessarily for what you’re trying to do. You’ll eventually (speaks indistinctly) journey that’s gonna unfold. Can’t see what that’s gonna
look like (speaks indistinctly). – One of the things that I
think is really important, or at least that was important for me, was looking at the work that undergraduate students were doing when I was entering graduate school. My department has something
called bridge classes, because most of our undergraduates
are production students. That allowed me to take
experimental film classes and learn these skills. And lots of departments
have things like this where you get to the graduate level and suddenly we’re just writing, but undergraduates get
to do lots of fun things. And usually when that happens there are ways to do the fun
things with the undergraduates, even if it’s just as an elective. Additionally, I know for
communication studies there are lots of media studies that are sort of breaking off
and just doing media stuff. And they’re starting
to add production to it and web stuff to it, just because that’s what people are doing. So, it’s out there, and you generally don’t
need a big portfolio, but there’s lots of
wonderful resources out there to teach you how to do things like code, or how to read analytics, or how to write SQL, and those are always just
fun to learn how to do, because you can make cool
things happen on the screen. – And I swear at the GC there’s something happening every day. I mean the calendar … Matt Gold yesterday showed us the calendar just for this month. I don’t think there was a
blank day on the calendar. It’s kind of crazy how many
different things are available for you to learn, and
dabble in, and experience, and build, and build your own portfolio from these resources that are available. Not every place, by any means,
has this many opportunities, but many places do. And often they’re in libraries. Often people in libraries have had to deal with these
issues in advance of scholars, and have had to learn things that they’re very happy
to teach to scholars. That’s certainly the case here, as well. – And I joke that I got into
graduate school via Twitter, but in a way that’s serious, because if you follow the different universities
that you’re interested in and look to see if they
have a maker’s lab, look to see if they have
digital initiatives environment, look to see what kinds of
programs they are founding, what kind of work is coming out of that. You saw on my slides all the different grant winners, and then also the different interactive technology
and pedagogy projects. Like if you follow
these schools on Twitter and you follow students and the programs they’re interested in, you’ll find the people who are doing the work
that you’re interested in. And by going to conferences. I went to MLA the year that I was looking for PhD programs to find out who is doing this work. And I also went to the
Digital Humanities Conference for the same purpose. So while it seems crazy
to go to a conference before you’re ever in graduate school, it led me here, which was
really important for me. – And make sure you put that
question on the Google Doc, because one thing we’re going to do is make this a resource that we can share to help other … So, your question will help other and the way we answer it will help other people then
to answer that question. – I think Sondra has … – Do we have another virtual question, and then we’ll do another face to face. – [Katina] So a few
people are asking about preservation and access. What kinds of thinking have you had to do about how people will
access your materials now and in the future? – I have a puny really good answer. – I have a couple– – Go ahead. – So one of the reasons really early on people said that my project
couldn’t count as scholarship was because of the
inability to archive it. It was on Tumblr. At the time, Tumblr
was not owned by Yahoo. There were lots of API tools that existed that could pull a Tumblr, but once they got taken over
by Yahoo in a very loving way they got rid of the API tool. And once I got to the
point where I’m like, “Okay, I’m mostly done
playing on this site. “I’m not playing on it as often. “I need to archive it somehow. “I need to go download it,” I learned that the tool is gone and I actually had to
write Yahoo a note saying, “Hey, I need this for my dissertation. “Can you give this to me?” And I got a big, giant zip file sent to me that I backed up on a
bunch of different places. But I know that like for me understanding the platform
is extremely important. It’s not just about the media, so I need to have the risk
of losing everything there to understand what it means to work with proprietary
tools to create knowledge. So that’s why the McLuhan
was really interesting to me, because photographs, they’re really great. We’ve changed how we look at
photographs with digital tools. We all use digital photographs. We look at them on the screen. We share them in different ways. But, they can be printed
into something like a book. We’re used to reading
them in that way, too. We’re literate in photographs
in many different forms. So I purposefully chose something that I would be able to
easily reproduce and archive as long as they let me do
it in the right formats. And yeah, hopefully
Tumblr doesn’t disappear, but I think that most digital things, even the open source ones, are designed to work with libraries, still have the question of what happens when the
machine has its accident? Really everything has its
own accident built into it, and I don’t know that we necessarily have an answer for that for anything yet. – So I was also very interested in Scalar. When I heard Tara McPherson make her pitch about Scalar at Duke, she talked about Scalar being designed so that you could extract
the data and preserve it. So it would map all of the connections. You wouldn’t be able to activate it if it was outside of Scalar obviously, because the software isn’t there, but the data would be there. So, that could be preserved. And also that Scalar’s software is housed in servers
across the world actually. All those servers are
updating all the time, so USC is the primary server cluster. If there’s went offline the information could still live in these other sort of swarm or disaggregated server houses. So, that was also something critical, but again, the machines are not permanent. And everything is destabilized
and constantly in process, so it’s an ongoing issue. I mean for me, I’m a hoarder,
I’m a digital hoarder, so I have many, many
versions of my project, and all of the raw materials, you know, all the video
files are all preserved. But the video I just showed
you that lives in Scalar is actually housed on Vimeo, which is another beauty in Scalar is that Scalar doesn’t hold most of the media data,
it lives elsewhere. So, you’re linking from online archives or from other platforms. But of course, those are mutable and unstable, as well, as Jade just talked about. So there is no resolution. No archivists have a golden bullet answer, silver bullet answer. – I would just add that in my case in using open source software what’s very important about that is everything goes into like CSS, or PHP, or HTML, or XML, formats that can always be reproduced or I would imagine will always
be able to be reproduced. So, it makes archiving exceptionally easy, at least it did for me. And then our library also
here at The Graduate Center recently set up open– – An open access repository. – Exactly, and so they
just sent me the proofs for my kind of website that sort of archives
everything as it is now within their database. So even if my website is
taken down or changed, the interactive version of that gets maintained and archived by the library here at
The Graduate Center. So even if I used proprietary
tools without open standards that would allow me to export it, that would still exist. So, I think things like that
are also being developed that help in these situations. – And I’d like to add that
really The Graduate Center … I wish Polly Thistlethwaite
was still here. I think she just left. But here at The Graduate Center, it was because students
like Greg and myself and other people working this way, we simply asked the librarians like, “Can we have an open access alternative “to a ProQuest or a different
kind of embargoed database?” And also, I had to ask some things like, “How do I encrypt my data?” and, “Can I have a backup for that database? “Where do these things go?” You have to work with your librarians. Make friends with them. They’re really great resources, and they’ll help you
figure out the answers to some of these questions. – If I could add one
more really quick thing. This is another, this is also one of my sticking points just as thinking of the book
as a prism for knowledge, books deteriorate over time, too. Like I don’t know how many of
you look at really old books, but they’re very fragile things, but we assume that they
have more permanence than the digital thing just because it’s the
thing that we’ve inherited. But there’s so many books
that were small prints that have been lost in history just because they weren’t
preserved properly. So it’s not something new. It’s just something that we
have to think about differently than we think about how do
we preserve digital things. – Now I often say I couldn’t
be a historian of the Internet if I hadn’t been a historian of the book. So I wrote a book about the last information age, machine made printing
and machine made paper, machine made ink at the time of the American Revolution. None of the books I was
working with at that time, thank you, none of the books I was
working with at that time were in any Library of Congress catalog or in the Early American
Imprints catalogs. They were one offs, pirated books, that were completely obscure. And I was also interested in handwriting, so that was not … One last question, and then I think it’s time for reception and you get to talk first hand to these really remarkable people So I think … Yes, in the– – [Female Audience Member]
It’s not a question so much as a comment. But I loved your papers. I think it’s really exciting to see the culture of
the scholarship changing, and it’s an embrace of that, but I want to say it’s not only about how knowledge is disrupted and created, which is the dissertation piece of it, amazing shape and forms, but I want to talk about the defense, and so how knowledge is disseminated (speaks indistinctly) shared. So for me, and it’s occasionally
(speaks indistinctly), and I think (speaks indistinctly). But to have it livestreamed. – That is great. – [Female Audience Member]
So, I wanted to compare it to you’ve done this dissertation for two, or three, or four years, you’ve worked for how
many hours have you worked to complete your dissertation? And the defense is the pinnacle. And we have possibly two or three thousand in
the room sitting with you in the room with a closed door. And it feels to me … It comes from a culture where we’re kind of reading a book and talking about within
school (speaks indistinctly) the universe made sense, but to me it should be that fact that you can livestream and
tweet during your defense, it shares the knowledge,
it makes it accessible, and what is more, what is more honoring of all of the hours of work than to share it with a public audience right when you’re doing it? So I hope that this sets a
standard for the defenses, that we’re not just changing
how we can do the dissertations that we can look at, but also how we can (audio fades out). – Anyone want to? – I’ll just add that personally having, not only by livestreaming it I actually got some people
involved in the discussion that were outside of the room. There were maybe 40
people in the room itself, but there was about another
50 people I would say that were live tweeting
and watching the stream. And it’s since been archived
and put on my website, which for me as a researcher
is really helpful, because I had six people on my committee. They were all brilliant. It was like a 90 minute defense, which was fun and thrilling, and to go back and actually
hear their feedback has helped me rewrite and
develop my dissertation more, which is a period of
time that a lot of people almost just black out the moment it ends and you lose all of
that excellent feedback from brilliant people that are never gonna give you that much time again in your
career in that kind of setting where six people read your book and then just sit for an hour
and a half and talk about it. It doesn’t happen too often. – So this as I said is not an event. It really is a movement. We had an astonishing amount of activity. I don’t know (mumbles) if you have any kind of
numbers to share there, but we certainly have
an image or a graphic that you can take a look
at, and we’re tweeting it, of how much interaction there was. – [Man] 2,000 tweets. – 2,000 tweets, that’s pretty funny. That’s great. We’re now gonna have a virtual, I mean an actual reception. I don’t quite know how
to do a virtual toast to the people who are not here, but go for it. Everybody out there, have fun, and a huge, huge thanks to these amazing, amazing colleagues. (applause) Let’s eat.

Tags:, ,
One Comment

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *