“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.
“‘Humanities digital cultural tools . . . technology computing culture society’ — James Smithies’s The Digital Humanities and the Digital Modern.” Book Launch for James Smithies’s The Digital Humanities and the Digital Modern, King’s College, London, 29 March 2018.
“Scoping Critical Infrastructure Studies.” Critical Infrastructures Studies Seminar, King’s College, London, 29 March 2018.
“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).
“Introduction to Critical Infrastructure Studies.” Panel on Critical Infrastructure Studies, Modern Language Association convention, New York, 6 January 2018.
- Full-text of this introduction prepared in advance on Web site for the MLA session (minor additions at the event).
“Digital Humanities Diversity as Technical Problem.” Modern Language Association convention, New York, 5 January 2018.
- Excerpt: “Among other things, in other words, diversity is a technical problem. What’s next is for DH to help make advances in the technical platforms and methods for understanding–and also changing our understanding–of diversity née variety (two words with a common root but increasingly different meanings). That will require collaborating with the social sciences, information science, computer science, in silico STEM sciences, non-profits such as DataKind and ProPublica, and also Silicon Valley industry to foster a virtuous circle in which technical innovation drives the understanding of diversity, and the understanding of diversity drives technical innovation. Inasmuch as DH has a unique, as opposed to follow-on, contribution to make to cultural criticism (about which I asked some years ago), I think the techne of diversity may be it.”
“What Infrastructure Assumes.” The Futures of Literature, Science, and Media: A Symposium Honoring Professor N. Katherine Hayles. Duke University. 17 November 2017.
- Abstract: In this talk, Alan Liu sketches the context and current methods of “critical infrastructure studies,” then proposes a “verb first” way of discussing infrastructure that rethinks the nature of infrastructural agency and its mode of “being” in the world. Infrastructure is assumed, but it also assumes.
“WhatEvery1Says About the Humanities.” Panel on “What Crisis?: Mobilizing the Humanities Through Data.” National Humanities Conference, 3 November 2017, Boston.
“Overview: Open, Shareable, Reproducible Workflows for the Digital Humanities.” Panel on “Open, Shareable, Reproducible Workflows for the Digital Humanities: The Case of the 4Humanities.org ‘WhatEvery1Says’ Project.” Digital Humanities 2017 conference, 11 August 2017, Montreal.
“Critical Infrastructure Studies.” University of Wroclaw. 28 June 2017.
- Abstract: In an era when complexly “smart” and hybrid material-virtual infrastructures ranging from the micro to the macro scale seem to obviate older distinctions between material base and cultural superstructure, how can the digital humanities and new media studies join in an emergent “critical infrastructure studies”? What are the traditions of such studies? What is the topic’s scope? What are some especially high-value areas for intervention by digital humanists and new media scholars/artists? And how can digital scholars in the humanities and arts collaborate with digital social scientists taking up similar matters? In this seminar, Alan Liu will lead a seminar among participants that considers the question: is critical infrastructure studies today’s distinctive mode of “cultural criticism”? (Participants are asked to read a pre-circulated paper by Liu titled “Toward Critical infrastructure Studies: Digital Humanities, New Media Studies, and the Culture of Infrastructure.”)
“Key Trends in the Digital Humanities — How the Digital Humanities Challenge the Idea of the Humanities.” WRO Art Center, Wroclaw, Poland. 27 June 2017.
- Abstract: How do key methods in the digital humanities such as data mining, mapping, visualization, social network analysis, and topic modeling make an essential difference in the idea of the humanities, and vice versa? Using examples of digital humanities research, Alan Liu speculates on the large questions that confront the humanities in the face of computational media–most importantly, questions about the nature and function of interpretive “meaning.”
“Open, Shareable, Reproducible Workflows for the Digital Humanities: The Case of the 4Humanities.org ‘WhatEvery1Says’ Project.” University of Sussex. 29 March 2017.
- Abstract: Can digital humanities projects that collect, analyze, and interpret texts and other materials make their provenance and workflow transparent to others? Can such workflows be shared for reproduction or adaptation? How can the digital humanities learn from the workflow management systems of the “in silico” sciences? And how in this regard should they be different from the sciences? Using as example the in-progress “WhatEvery1Says” (WE1S) project he leads (which is topic modeling articles mentioning the humanities in newspapers), Alan Liu offers a general vision of open, shareable, and reproducible workflows for the digital humanities. He also speculates on what is at stake from the viewpoint of humanists more broadly.
“Toward Critical infrastructure Studies: Digital Humanities, New Media Studies, and the Culture of Infrastructure.” University of Connecticut, Storrs. 23 February 2017.
- Abstract: In an era when complexly “smart” and hybrid material-virtual infrastructures ranging from the micro to the macro scale seem to obviate older distinctions between material base and cultural superstructure, how can the digital humanities and new media studies join in an emergent “critical infrastructure studies”? What are the traditions of such studies? What is the topic’s scope? What are some especially high-value areas for intervention by digital humanists and new media scholars/artists? And how can digital scholars in the humanities and arts collaborate with digital social scientists taking up similar matters? In this keynote talk, Alan Liu considers the hypothesis that today’s “cultural studies” is a mode of critical infrastructure studies.
- Video of lecture with introductions and Q & A (slides not shown) (1hr, 32 min.)
“‘Wild Surmise’: How Humanists and Artists Discovered the Internet at UCSB, c. 1994 — An Origins Story.” University Library, UC Santa Barbara. 13 June 2017.
- Abstract: How did humanities and arts computing start at UCSB in the era of the beginning of the Web? How did our campus become one of the early leaders in scholarly use and study of the Internet by humanists? In this talk, Alan Liu provides a glimpse of the origin of his Voice of the Shuttle Web site for humanities research, the UCSB Many Wolves Authoring Collective, the Ultrabasic Guide to the Internet for Humanities Users at UCSB, the original Humanitas.ucsb.edu server, the first department-based server in the humanities, and other greatest hits of the very, very early online era at UCSB. What did the world look like in 1994 from the perspective of humanists browsing on a 2400-baud modem with Lynx and Mosaic?
“The Digital Humanities: A Window on Tomorrow’s Structures of Humanities Knowledge.” Mellon Foundation, New York City. 2 November 2016.
“Infrastructure.” Penn State Center for Humanities and Information, Pennsylvania State University. 28 October 2016.
“WhatEvery1Says About the Humanities — Digital Humanities Methods for Understanding and Making a Difference in Public Perception of the Humanities.” Dartmouth College. 20 September 2016.
- Abstract: Drawing on research and advocacy conducted by the 4humanities.org initiative that he founded, Alan Liu discusses the contemporary public perception of the humanities, methods of using digital research and communications to develop effective humanities advocacy, and the broader question of the future of humanities disciplines. Part of the talk focuses on the in-progress 4Humanities “WhatEvery1Says” project, which uses topic-modeling and other digital methods to study a large corpus of articles about the humanities in the media with the aim of assisting the humanities in reframing the debate. How does data mining newspapers, magazines, etc. help put in perspective the themes–some might call them “memes”—declared in headlines about the decline of the humanities, the crisis of the humanities, etc.?
“From Cultural Studies to Infrastructure Studies? (Digital Humanities and Critical Infrastructure Studies).” Dartmouth College. 20 September 2016.
- Pre-circulated reading: “Drafts for Against the Cultural Singularity” (book in progress)
“Digital Humanities: Overview and the Example of the 4Humanities.org WhatEvery1Says Project.” University of Mannheim. 31 August 2016.
“What Infrastructure Means to Me.” Interrogating Infrastructure Symposium, King’s College. 8 July 2016.
- Detailed agenda, speaker list, and notes on discussion at the symposium.
- Alan’s “Opening Remarks” to the symposium (full text). (These opening remarks were paired with James Smithies’s opening remarks.)
“The 4Humanities WhatEvery1Says Project: Initial Work and Future Plans.” SyncDH, University of California, Santa Barbara. 27 May 2016.
“Practice and Theory of ‘Distant Reading’ — An Introductory Workshop on Digital Humanities Methods.” University of San Francisco, 1 March 2016.
- Abstract: In this beginner’s hands-on workshop and discussion, Alan Liu will introduce the idea of “distant reading” and some of the commonly used digital humanities methods and tools used to pursue it in digital literary studies, digital history, sociology, and other humanities and social science disciplines. Methods covered include text analysis, topic modeling, and social network analysis. Workshop participants will try their hand at one or more tools used for these methods, aiming not for mastery or even competence but just to capture an interesting “souvenir,” e.g., a screenshot. (For the purposes of the workshop, even failed attempts can produce an interesting souvenir.) Liu will then lead a broader discussion based on the souvenirs about the opportunities and limitations of digital humanities methods. (A Web site for the workshop with detailed agenda and resources will be made available in advance to enrolled workshop participants.)
- Workshop Agenda
- Workshop “Souvenirs” (Examples and screenshots produced by workshop participants)
- Workshop Workstation Set-up (Software, data resources, and workspace for the workshop. This page is designed to aid U. San Francisco technical staff in setting up the machines in the lab. However, workshop participants can use the specs to set up a duplicate of the working environment for the workshop on their own computers if they wish.)
“The Future of the Humanities / The Future and the Humanities.” University of San Francisco. 29 February November 2016.
- Abstract: Drawing on research and advocacy conducted by the 4humanities.org initiative that he co-founded, Alan Liu discusses the contemporary public perception of the humanities, methods of using digital research and communications to develop effective humanities advocacy, and the broader question of the “future” of humanities disciplines, many of which consider history and the past to be their core. What is the relationship of the humanities to the future? And how can designing a stance on humanities and the future position the humanities disciplines to draw on, but also to help reform, today’s power discourses of “invention,” “innovation,” “disruption,” and “creativity”? The talk details in particular the 4Humanities “WhatEvery1Says” project, which uses digital methods to study a large corpus of media and other public speech about the humanities in order to assist the humanities in reframing the debate.