THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Digital scholarship blog

04 May 2018

What do deep learning, community archives, Livy and the politics of artefacts have in common?

They're all topics we've discussed in the British Library's Digital Scholarship Reading Group. Digital Curator Mia Ridge explains...

A few months after I submitted my PhD and joined the Library's Digital Scholarship team, I realised that it'd be hard to keep up with trends in digital scholarship unless I made a special effort. I also figured I couldn't be the only person in that situation. I've always loved a reading group, so a Digital Scholarship Reading Group seemed a good way to read and discuss at least one topical article a month and meet other people in the Library at the same time.

It'd be boring if it was just members of the Digital Scholarship team violently agreeing with each other, so after a few pilot sessions, I organised posters for staff notice boards to help make it clear that all were welcome, regardless of job title or seniority. After a year or so, we changed the time to allow for more people who work set shifts to attend.

There's a bit of admin each month  - whoever's coordinating the group for that month will update the standing calendar entry, post upcoming topics on our internal staff network, and sometimes ask the Internal Communications team to include them in newsletters.

We usually have eight to ten people turn up, but our last session had over 20 people! This may have been because we had a special guest speaker (thank you, Jane Winters!), because it was about digital humanities rather than digital scholarship, or the result of working with the Internal Comms team to send an all-staff email invitation to attend. The discussion is richest when we have people from a range of different departments and disciplines. A nice side-effect of encouraging attendance from across the Library is learning a little more about people's roles in other departments.

Reading group notice

I've experimented with different ways of selecting articles - an internal poll seemed to work well - and I love it when an attendee suggests a topic from their field, especially as quite a few Library staff are working towards formal degrees outside work. Other discussions are inspired by topics in the news or questions we've been asked as digital curators. I've experimented with length and tone, from academic, peer-reviewed articles to news or magazine articles and videos. Providing a few options for a particular topic seems to work well, as when we had a TED talk, scholarly article or peer-reviewed technical article on the same topic of bias in algorithms.

We usually meet on the first Tuesday of each month.Thanks to everyone who's added to the conversation, suggested a topic or article, or coordinated the discussion - I hope you've all enjoyed it as much as I have! Get in touch (@mia_out or via bl.uk/digital) if you'd like to know more or to suggest a topic or article.

Here's what we've met to discuss so far:

Allington, Daniel, Sarah Brouillette, and David Golumbia, ‘Neoliberal Tools (and Archives): A Political History of Digital Humanities’, Los Angeles Review of Books <https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/neoliberal-tools-archives-political-history-digital-humanities/>
Boyd, danah, and Kate Crawford, ‘Critical Questions for Big Data: Provocations for a Cultural, Technological, and Scholarly Phenomenon’, Information, Communication & Society, 15 (2012), 662–79 <https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2012.678878>
Brügger, Niels, ‘Digital Humanities in the 21st Century: Digital Material as a Driving Force’, Digital Humanities Quarterly, 010 (2016)
Buolamwini, Joy, ‘How I’m Fighting Bias in Algorithms’ <https://www.ted.com/talks/joy_buolamwini_how_i_m_fighting_bias_in_algorithms>
Buolamwini, Joy, and Timnit Gebru, ‘Gender Shades: Intersectional Accuracy Disparities in Commercial Gender Classification’, 15
Deloit, Corine, Neil Wilson, Luca Costabello, and Pierre-Yves Vandenbussche, ‘The British National Bibliography: Who Uses Our Linked Data?’ (presented at the International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2016) <http://dcevents.dublincore.org/IntConf/dc-2016/paper/viewFile/420/471>
Digital Humanities Research, Teaching and Practice in the UK Landscape Report, 2017
Dinsman, Melissa, ‘The Digital in the Humanities: An Interview with Bethany Nowviskie - Los Angeles Review of Books’, Los Angeles Review of Books <https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/digital-humanities-interview-bethany-nowviskie/>
Drucker, Johanna, ‘Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display’, 5 (2011) <http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/5/1/000091/000091.html>
Earhart, Amy E., and Toniesha L. Taylor, ‘Pedagogies of Race: Digital Humanities in the Age of Ferguson’, in Debates in the Digital Humanities <http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/72>
Elford, Jana Smith, ‘Recovering Women’s History with Network Analysis: A Case Study of the Fabian News’, The Journal of Modern Periodical Studies, 6 (2016), 191–213 <https://doi.org/10.5325/jmodeperistud.6.2.0191>
Evans, Meredith R., ‘Modern Special Collections: Embracing the Future While Taking Care of the Past’, New Review of Academic Librarianship, 21 (2015), 116–28 <https://doi.org/10.1080/13614533.2015.1040926>
Gilliland, Anne, and Andrew Flinn, ‘Community Archives: What Are We Really Talking About?’, in Keynote Speech Delivered at the CIRN Prato Community Informatics Conference, 2013 <http://ccnr.infotech.monash.edu/assets/docs/prato2013_papers/gilliland_flinn_keynote.pdf>
Graham, Shawn, Ian Milligan, and Scott Weingart, ‘Putting Big Data to Good Use: Historical Case Studies’, in The Historian’s Macroscope: Big Digital History, 2014 <http://www.themacroscope.org/?page_id=599>
Grimmelmann, James, ‘The Virtues of Moderation’, TECHNOLOGY Vol., 17 (2015), 68
Jardine, Lisa, and Anthony Grafton, ‘“Studied for Action”: How Gabriel Harvey Read His Livy’, Past & Present, 1990, 30–78 <http://www.jstor.org/stable/650933>
LeCun, Yann, Yoshua Bengio, and Geoffrey Hinton, ‘Deep Learning’, Nature, 521 (2015), 436–44 <https://doi.org/10.1038/nature14539>
Lohr, Steve, ‘Facial Recognition Is Accurate, If You’re a White Guy’, The New York Times, 14 February 2018, section Technology <https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/09/technology/facial-recognition-race-artificial-intelligence.html>
Moravec, Michelle, ‘Feminist Research Practices and Digital Archives’, Australian Feminist Studies, 32 (2017), 186–201 <https://doi.org/10.1080/08164649.2017.1357006>
Prescott, Andrew, ‘Searching for Dr. Johnson: The Digitisation of the Burney Newspaper Collection’, 2018, 49–71 <https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004362871_004>
Rawson, Katie, and Trevor Muñoz, ‘Against Cleaning’, 2016 <http://www.curatingmenus.org/articles/against-cleaning/>
 
Self, Will, and William Watkins, ‘There Will Be Blood’, Times Higher Education (THE), 14 July 2016 <https://www.timeshighereducation.com/digital-editions/14-july-2016-digital-edition>
 
Standing, Susan, and Craig Standing, ‘The Ethical Use of Crowdsourcing’, Business Ethics: A European Review, n/a-n/a <https://doi.org/10.1111/beer.12173>
Verwayen, Harry, Julia Fallon, Julia Schellenberg, and Panagiotis Kyrou, Impact Playbook for Museums, Libraries and Archives (Europeana Foundation, 2017)
Winner, Langdon, ‘Do Artifacts Have Politics?’, Daedalus, 1980, 121–136 <http://www.jstor.org/stable/20024652>
Witmore, Michael, ‘Latour, the Digital Humanities, and the Divided Kingdom of Knowledge’, New Literary History, 47 (2016), 353–75 <https://doi.org/10.1353/nlh.2016.0018>