“Humans in the Loop: Humanities Hermeneutics and Machine Learning.” Keynote for DHd2020 (7th Annual Conference of the German Society for Digital Humanities), University of Paderborn, 6 March 2020.
- Abstract: As indicated by the emergent research fields of computational “interpretability” and “explainability,” machine learning creates fundamental hermeneutical problems. One of the least understood aspects of machine learning is how humans learn from machine learning. How does an individual, team, organization, or society “read” computational “distant reading” when it is performed by complex algorithms on immense datasets? Can methods of interpretation familiar to the humanities (e.g., traditional or poststructuralist ways of relating the general and the specific, the abstract and the concrete, the structure and the event, or the same and the different) be applied to machine learning? Further, can such traditions be applied with the explicitness, standardization, and reproducibility needed to engage meaningfully with the different Spielräum – scope for “play” (as in the “play of a rope,” “wiggle room,” or machine-part “tolerance”) – of computation? If so, how might that change the hermeneutics of the humanities themselves?
In his keynote lecture, Alan Liu uses the example of the formalized “interpretation protocol” for topic models he is developing for the Mellon Foundation funded WhatEvery1Says project (which is text-analyzing millions of newspaper articles mentioning the humanities) to reflect on how humanistic traditions of interpretation can contribute to machine learning. But he also suggests how machine learning changes humanistic interpretation through fresh ideas about wholes and parts, mimetic representation and probabilistic modeling, and similarity and difference (or identity and culture).
“Open and Reproducible Workflows for the Digital Humanities–A 10,000 Meter Elevation View.” Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries Convention 2018. University of Helsinki, 7 March 2018.
- Abstract: Can digital humanities projects that collect, analyze, and interpret texts and other materials make their provenance and data workflows transparent to others for reproduction or adaptation? How can the digital humanities learn from the workflow management systems of the “in silico” sciences? And how should they be different from the sciences? Ultimately, what is the combined humanistic and scientific meaning of open research—epistemological, infrastructural, institutional, and sociocultural–to which DH contributes? Extrapolating from the example of the “WhatEvery1Says” (WE1S) project, which he directs, Alan Liu offers a general humanistic vision of open, reproducible workflows for the digital humanities.
- Video of this keynote talk (35 min.) taken from the audience by Timo Honkela (@THonkela).
“Digital Humanities and Critical Infrastructure Studies.” DHU2 (2017 Digital Humanities Symposium Utah. University of Utah. 10 February 2017.
“Remembering Networks: Agrippa, RoSE, and Network Archaeology.” Network Archaeology conference, Miami University, Ohio. 21 April 2012.
“Close, Distant, and Unexpected Reading: The Modern Paradigm of Literary Analysis.” Digital Humanities Australasia 2012 (inaugural conference of Australasian Association for Digital Humanities), Australian National University, Canberra. 28 March 2012.
- Videos of Keynote Presentations (3 hrs. 46 mins.)
- Julia Flanders, “Rethinking Collections” (0:0:0 to 0:47:00 | Q&A 0:47:01 to 1:14:39)
- Alan Liu, “Close, Distant, and Unexpected Reading” (1:14:40 to 2:12:00 | Q&A 2:12:01 to 2:29:35)
- Peter Robinson, Harold Short, John Unsworth — Panel on “Big Digital Humanities” (2:29:36 to 3:29:10 | Q&A 3:29:11 to 3:46:02)
- Conference Program
- Conference Photos
“The University in the Digital Age: The Big Questions.” Texas Institute of Literary and Textual Studies symposium on “Digital Humanities: Teaching and Learning.” University of Texas, Austin. 10 March 2011. (Talk presented via Skype.)
“From Reading to Social Computing.” Keynote address. Northeast Modern Language Association convention. Montreal. 9 April 2010.
“When Was Linearity? The Meaning of Graphics in the Age of Knowledge Work.” Keynote talk at the “Seeing Knowledge Work” Graduate Symposium. Department of Art and Architecture. University of California, Santa Barbara. 11 April 2008.
“Beyond ‘Good Enough’ Knowledge: The Humanities and Public Knowledge in the Age of Web 2.0.” Keynote for the Te Whāinga Aronui — The Council for the Humanities’ Transformations Congress. Victoria University, Wellington. 28 August 2007.
“Knowledge 2.0? — The University and Web 2.0.” “Renewals” Conference. English Subject Centre. Royal Holloway, University of London. 6 July 2007.
“Imagining the New Media Encounter.” Keynote lecture for “Interfaces and Visualizations: A State-of-the-Art Conference on the Humanities in Post-human Times” and Center for Advanced Study’s MillerComm Lecture Series. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. 20 April 2007.
* Publicity flyer for lecture.
* Video of talk (1 hr 22 min.; RealVideo) (no longer online)
* Audio only (1 hr 22 min.; RealAudio) (no longer online)
“Transcriptions Project & Other Digital Initiatives in the UCSB English Department.” Plenary session on “Centers of Innovation: The English Department’s Transcriptions Project, Early Modern Center, and American Cultures and Global Contexts Center at UCSB.” 2005 ADE Summer Seminar West. University of California, Santa Barbara. 21 June 2005.
“Managing History: The Downsizing of Knowledge.” Plenary address. Western Humanities Conference. University of California, Riverside. 17 October 1997.
“The Laws of Cool: Literature on the Line.” Plenary paper. National Graduate Student Conference in Romanticism. Emory University. 12 April 1996.
“Open and Reproducible Workflows for the Digital Humanities–A 35,000-foot Elevation View.” Keynote at the Digital Bridges Symposium (Digital Bridges for Humanistic Inquiry project), University of Iowa and Grinnell College, 10 August 2018.