Research

Introducing the Digital Humanities Café

The DH Café presents a series of short introductory workshops and informal discussion on topics relevant to the basic theories and methods behind digital research in the humanities. The courses cover a broad range of topics, from larger issues in digital research in the academy to specific tools and research techniques.
The DH Café is a partnership between the Digital Humanities Innovation Lab (DHIL) and SFU Library’s Research Commons. The DH Café is also affiliated with KEY, SFU’s Big Data Initiative.
Beginning March 1st and running until April 5th, the DH Café will meet Wednesday afternoons from 3pm – 4pm, alternating between SFU Burnaby and SFU Vancouver (see individual workshops to confirm location).  Workshops can be hosted at other locations by request.
Workshop schedule:
The workshops are free and open to to all, but registration is required.  Please register via the Research Commons Workshops page.
For further information or questions, contact the dhil@sfu.ca

Data Science Pre and Postdoctoral Fellowship opportunity — Scholarly Communication and Social Media

The Public Knowledge Project and the Canadian Institute for Studies in Publishing are soliciting applications for a data science fellowship (pre- or postdoctoral) to help build, and be an integral part of, an emerging research program on scholarly communication and social media.

Working under the direction of Dr. Juan Pablo Alperin, the position will offer the successful candidate the opportunity to explore a wide range of questions using a combination of computational techniques (including applied statistics, machine learning, network analysis, and natural language processing) and innovative methods (such as Twitter bot surveys) to investigate how knowledge is produced, disseminated, and used.

The position is ideally suited for (but not limited to) someone with an interest in scholarly communication and social media research, as it offers access to an unparalleled set of data and expertise to explore many facets of scholarly communication, particularly around issues of open access and the public’s use of scholarly work.

On top of having a proven record doing data-driven research, the ideal candidate will have the ability to lead multiple research projects, participate in external grant writing and publications efforts, as well as play a leadership role in small, but growing research team.

All candidates must possess the following qualifications:

  • Ability to conduct research independently.
  • Strong programming skills in either Python (Pandas) or R
  • Ability to wrangle, explore, and visualize data
  • Knowledge of at least one of the following: social network analysis, natural language processing, or machine learning
  • Strong communication skills

Outstanding candidates will also possess some of the following qualifications

  • A demonstrated interest in scholarly communication (interest in Open Access an extra plus)
  • Understanding and experience working with third party APIs
  • Publications in peer-reviewed journals
  • Experience with time series data
  • Experience with Tableau or other data visualization tools
  • Research design expertise

The fellow will have access to funding for travel to present at academic conferences and events, as well as to hire research assistants to support them in their work.

Target start date: flexible (as soon as possible)
Duration: one year, renewable
Salary: Commensurate with experience
Location: Simon Fraser University (Downtown Campus), Vancouver, BC
Deadline for applications: This posting is now closed.

Postdoctoral candidates from anywhere in the world are encouraged to apply, regardless of their eligibility to work in Canada; however, in accordance with Canadian Immigration requirements, pre-doctoral candidates can only be considered if they are eligible to work in Canada or if they meet the requirements for a visiting graduate researcher.

About Dr. Alperin:
Juan Pablo Alperin is an Assistant Professor at the Canadian Institute for Studies in Publishing and the Associate Faculty Director of Research with the Public Knowledge Project at Simon Fraser University. He believes that research, especially when it is made freely available (as so much of today’s work is), has the potential to make meaningful and direct contributions to society, and that it is our responsibility as the creators of this research to ensure we understand the mechanisms, networks, and mediums through which our work is discussed and used.

A list of his publications and presentations can be found at http://alperin.ca/cv, and he can be found on Twitter a @juancommander


Playful Generative Art: Computer-Mediated Creativity and Ephemeral Expressions

WEDNESDAY, February 8, 2017
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Room 1800 (SFU Harbour Centre)
Fee: Free (to reserve a seat, please email pubworks@sfu.ca)

“Generative art” is a blanket term for any creative work produced in part through programmatic or algorithmic means. “Playful generative art” makes use of highly technical disciplines—computer programming, statistics, graphic design, and artificial intelligence—to produce chat bots, digital poetry, visual art, and even computer-generated “novels.” These pieces may be motivated by serious social or political issues, but the expressions are decidedly unserious, often short-lived or quickly composed. Creators working in this medium are rarely artists first—as programmers, designers, game developers, and linguists, they use the tools of their trade in unexpected and delightful ways. Generative art also has much to teach us about issues at the intersection of ethics and technology: what is the role of the artist in a human/machine collaboration; what is our responsibility when we design programs that talk with real people; how do we curate and study ephemeral digital works? Digital artists, writers, technologists, and anyone interested in media studies are invited to attend.

Guest Speaker:


lizadalyLiza Daly
is a software engineer and occasional corporate executive who lives in Boston. She is currently focusing on providing technical assistance to non-profits that work to uphold civil rights and protect vulnerable populations. Her personal projects revolve around digital art, interactive narrative, and digital publishing. Formerly she was CTO at Safari and prior to that, founded a digital publishing company called Threepress, which Safari acquired. Her new company is World Writable. She has been quoted about “Digital Detox” and the effects of the iPad on reading (NYT, 2010), ebooks in the cloud (Wired, 2011), and on strategies to help introverts network (FastCompany, 2015). Liza has presented about great engineering teams and digital publishing. She wrote a short book on Next-Generation Web Frameworks in Python (O’Reilly, 2007), which, she says, is “out of date so please don’t read it”.


Digital Humanities Innovation Lab: Indigenous media and texts

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The SFU Digital Humanities Innovation Lab, in partnership with the Departments of English and First Nations Studies, is pleased to invite you to several upcoming events focused on Indigenous media and texts.  The events are free and open to all, but registration is required. Spaces are limited, so please register soon.  Please share this information with others who  may be interested in participating.
We hope you will be able to join us!
Indigenous Wikipedia Edit-a-thon (with a focus on Film and Media) – 6pm-9pm on November 23, SFU Surrey Campus (Galleria 5, Rm 5080)
Professor Deanna Reder (SFU English and First Nations), a leading scholar of Indigenous literature and culture, will lead SFU’s first Indigenous Wikipedia Edit-a-thon.  Students of Professor Reader’s MATE course (English 851, Introduction to Indigenous Media and Film) will be the central participants in this workshop, using their knowledge of indigenous film and digital media, including podcasts, online installations and video games, to enhance Wikipedia’s coverage of Indigenous media arts. For this workshop, Professor Reader will be supported by technical experts in Wikipedia editing, Sara Humphreys (St. Jerome University), Heather De Forest (SFU Research Commons Librarian), and Rebecca Dowson (SFU Digital Scholarship Librarian). This workshop will provide hands-on guidance that will allow everyone to edit and add to the world’s largest encyclopedia.
Digital Gaming and the Decolonization of Indigenous Texts – 12pm-2pm on November 24, SFU Burnaby Campus (Research Commons, 7th floor SFU Library)

Dr. Sara Humphreys is currently building a “gamified” academic edition of an Indigenous text that reconfigures the colonial practices endemic to academic publishing and editing. This scholarly game edition offers an alternative to often exclusionary academic publishing standards, by creating an interactive edition of Mourning Dove’s Cogewea (1927). This edition of Cogewea (1927) uses digital gaming affordances and protocols, which break from the Eurocentric forms of editing and publishing that stifle or even silence the Okanagan knowledge systems crucial to the novel. She is building this edition using Twine, a digital storytelling platform, which is open access and offers opportunities to tell stories (even archival stories) beyond traditional print and publishing conventions. This digital edition challenges the western educated reader to move beyond the conventions of academic texts and engage with Cogewea in ways that empower and privilege Indigenous knowledge.

Would you like to “play” this digital edition and help to develop this project? Dr. Humphreys will provide guidance on using Twine and give you the opportunity to build the edition and also develop your own sections of the edition. No previous experience with digital gaming, development, or scholarly editing is required.


Call for Doctoral Research Assistant

The Canadian Institute for Studies in Publishing at Simon Fraser University (Canada) is seeking a research assistant to conduct a literature review to assess current review, tenure, and promotion (RTP) practices at higher education institutions in the U.S. and Canada. The review will encompass topics in the higher education literature such as the application of traditional benchmarks of academic achievement (teaching, publication, and service) as promotion criteria, the effects the tenure decision-making process has on tenure-track and early career faculty, and how stated evaluation criteria differ from perceived criteria.

This work is motivated by the recognition of the problematic nature of public investments in research being captured in privately owned, toll-access journals that widely prevent public access to research. A strong and vocal community that promotes open access to research has emerged that has worked to study and educate researchers about the advantages of opening access to research (as well as data and educational materials). However, very little is known about current RTP practices as they relate to questions of openness and public engagement. This dearth of collectively organized information makes it difficult to propose concrete, evidence-based reforms to support openness and public engagement, which this literature review begins to address.

The literature review is part of a larger project supported by the Open Society Foundations under the leadership of Dr. Juan Pablo Alperin (SFU), Dr. Meredith Niles (UVM) and Dr. Erin McKiernan (UNAM). The project will examine the RPT process in the U.S. and Canada through the collection and analysis of RPT documents in ways that can directly inform actions likely to translate into behavioral change and to a greater opening of research.

The literature review is expected to be carried out in the Fall of 2016 at a rate of $25-35/hour CAD (commensurate with experience). The work can be carried out off-site, although an office, library access, and computer resources are available at the Vancouver Campus of Simon Fraser University.

Interested applicants should send a brief cover letter, CV, and sample literature review to Dr. Juan Pablo Alperin (jalperin@sfu.ca). Position will remain open until filled.


Research gets Social: Juan Alperin and the Social Impact of Academic Publications

Our Faculty’s FCAT blog has a new showcase of Dr Juan Alperin (@juancommander), who has just been awarded a three-year SSHRC Insight Grant for “Understanding the Societal Impact of Research Through Social Media.” The proposed project seeks to create an empirical and methodological basis for the systematic analysis of the societal impact of research through the engagement with scholarly documents on social media.

Read the full post from the FCAT Blog: Research gets Social: New study uses social media to explore public applications of academic knowledge.

 


Coach House Press in the ‘Early Digital’ Period: A Celebration

– from Devil’s Artisan: A Journal of the Printing Arts. 77, Fall/Winter 2015. p 9–20.

The Coach House is in the public eye this year, as publisher Stan Bevington and his colleagues celebrate the Gold anniversary of the press. Fifty years on, the Coach House is still pushing the edge of Canadian literature; this fall they have a Giller winner in Andre Alexis’ Fifteen Dogs; they will publish superstar poet Christian Bok’s Xenotext, spun out of a poem encoded into bacterial DNA; and they are a key part of a major celebration of Canadian type designers Carl Dair and Rod McDonald. The Coach House has for fifty years been known as a central crossroads of avant garde literature and the printing arts.

The Coach House is also known – by a much smaller number of people – as a crucible of digital technology innovation in publishing since the early 1970s. This story is a crucial part of Coach House’s history, but it is a story that largely lies outside the standard narratives of computerization – in industry or the arts. It is a story that, notably, does not begin with Steve Jobs, nor any other Silicon Valley celebrity. Rather, it binds together threads in technology, art, literature, and a very particular cultural milieu in the Toronto of the day. Read more


CISP to evaluate Mellon Foundation’s scholarly communications initiative

The Canadian Institute for Studies in Publishing (CISP) is excited to announce a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which will fund an evaluation of the Foundation’s scholarly communications initiative. The project will be led by John Maxwell, director of the CISP and head of the Publishing program at Simon Fraser University.

In 2014, the Mellon Foundation announced that it would award funding to support digital publishing in the humanities. The awards would encourage the widest possible dissemination of scholarship by making publications interactive, high quality, and financially sustainable. The Mellon Foundation asked grantees to envision how they could better connect to students and support the humanities. “These are not questions about a publishing ‘crisis’ or about ‘open access,’” Mellon Sr program officer Don Waters said in a 2014 talk. “They are about the opportunities to shape knowledge formation and interpretation and dissemination to emerging needs and media.”

Mellon has awarded close to ten million dollars in funding to fifteen institutions since 2014. The grants tackle different aspects of publishing, including editing, clearing rights, embedding datasets and multimedia, peer reviewing, and preserving. The proposals involve all three branches of institutions: presses, libraries, and faculty. They range from creating new workflows, to building new platforms for online publishing, to researching and implementing new business models. “The resulting proposals vary widely–in keeping with the broad aims of this initiative,” Maxwell said. “Given the scope of the challenge and opportunity at hand – nothing short of realigning scholarly communication in the humanities – this breadth is indeed appropriate and welcome.”

The Mellon initiative asks presses to partner with another organization, such as a library or another press, encouraging a culture of collaboration. “The Foundation has with this initiative effectively constituted a community of practice, and a network, around the advancement and realignment of scholarly communications,” Maxwell said. “The opportunity at hand, then, is to catalyze this community into something greater than the sum of its individual agendas.” Maxwell aims to help inform the grantees about each others’ initiatives and to better connect them with each other.

The CISP is part of the Publishing program at Simon Fraser University, the only graduate publishing program in Canada. The Institute, founded in the late 1980s, has been an interdisciplinary centre for research on the publishing industry and its practices. In recent years, the Institute has evolved scholarly communications through a series of initiatives aimed at establishing a social-science & humanities journal publishing infrastructure in Canada, through its involvement with the Public Knowledge Project (PKP; also based at SFU), and in its recent involvement in the Implementing New Knowledge Environments (INKE) research partnership in Canada.


Aldus at 500: Digitizing the Wosk-McDonald Aldine Collection at SFU

Simon Fraser University marks the five-hundredth anniversary of the death of pioneering printer-publisher Aldus Manutius with a groundbreaking online resource

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Printer’s device of Aldus Manutius

2015 is Simon Fraser University’s fiftieth anniversary; it is also the five-hundredth anniversary of the death of one of the leading figures in the history of bookmaking: the Venetian scholar, printer, and publisher Aldus Manutius. To mark these occasions, Publishing@SFU and SFU Library’s Special Collections and Rare Books are joining forces to create an online resource comprising a world-class selection of Aldines from the Wosk-McDonald Collection, acquired by the University in 1995.

Turning these precious volumes into a digitized collection available for perusal on the open Web makes the books “public” for the first time in five centuries. The online resource is intended for the benefit and pleasure of not only academics, students, librarians, and collectors, but also the wider community of bibliophiles.

We hope to publicly launch the online collection of SFU Aldines in August 2015 as part of the annual Public Knowledge Project conference.

Significance and Innovation

Our aim is to reveal the enormous and varied contributions of Aldus to the worlds of printing, publishing, education, and public knowledge by showcasing his beautiful, innovative editions – especially the libelli portatiles, the pocket books – in a simple and elegant manner on the Web.

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Portrait of Aldus Manutius, by Augustin de Saint-Aubin

The Wosk-McDonald Collection consists of more than 100 volumes from the Aldine Press, many of which were published after Aldus’ death in 1515. Our efforts involve the digitization of twenty Aldines produced between 1501 and 1514. This is the period during which Aldus, driven by his intellect, passion, and discipline, developed and perfected the innovations that would permanently transform the landscape of printing and publishing.

It is our hope that this remarkable collection will become the basis for a range of downstream projects and possibilities for subsequent scholarship: from close readings and textual analysis of the books to gathering layers of additional metadata, commentary, annotation, and criticism. Another goal is to provide a well-described online resource that can become part of a much larger and richer project going forward, enabling us to take advantage of the serious opportunity that the World Wide Web offers: interlinkage. Indeed, this online resource has the potential to link together digitized collections from other libraries around the world, to create a distributed, collaborative platform for Aldine scholarship in many keys. Imagine a networked set of digital Aldines worldwide…

Aldus Manutius: The Past and Future of the Book

Gutenberg may have developed mass production movable type for the Western printing press, but Aldus developed the movable book.

– Yosef Wosk, 1996

Aldus’ most famous contribution to publishing – the development and promotion of the portable edition – is remarkably apt today. Just as Aldus did, we in the early twenty-first century are facing the end of the “desktop paradigm.” In Aldus’ time, this marked the shift in books and literacy away from a set of practices centred on large, immovable objects. For us today, the same shift seems afoot with our computing devices and our relationship to digital media. Indeed, the notion of the “mobile app” owes Aldus an enormous debt. Making the digital Aldines available on portable networked devices is our way of paying tribute to him and his lasting legacy.

Our digital Aldines will be available online in August… watch this space for updates.


For more information about this project, please contact Alessandra Bordini at abordini@sfu.ca.


Building Publishing Workflows with Pandoc and Git

This fall, I subjected some MPub students to working out a book publishing workflow, using Pandoc, the amazing document processor tool created by Berkeley philosopher John MacFarlane.

Pandoc is a remarkably flexible document conversion tool. It takes text input in a variety of open input formats (most usefully markdown and HTML) and can convert to more than a dozen outputs, including a variety of web-based formats (HTML, EPUB, markdown, and other blogging markup), word processor formats (RTF and OpenOffice’s ODT), and to a couple of TeX-based typeset outputs (that is, to PDF). That’s useful, but what makes PanDoc really great is that it works bloody well. It’s solid as a rock, totally well organized and documented. In short, the attention to detail in it is really superior.

I say that I “subjected” the students to it, because you run Pandoc almost entirely from the Unix command line. That’s a bit of a stretch zone for people raised on the Adobe Creative Suite. But if you’re comfy working with the shell (and even moreso if you’re happy with shell scripts) it is stunningly efficient. Read more