Featured DH’er

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Each month the Digital Scholarship Lab highlights a campus colleague who is working on a digital humanities project. 
Hi Paul, Thanks for being our first feature interview! What degree are you pursuing and what are your research interests? 

I’m currently a Master’s student in the Department of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. My thesis work investigates the effects of Green Revolution agricultural technologies and policies on indigenous and campesino/a Mexican farmers and seeks to understand the relationship between development/aid programs devised and executed by Euroamerican institutions and neocolonialism, and considers technoscientific development initiatives as epistemic colonialism. My general research interests include alternatives in sustainable agriculture, their methodologies, and their pre-industrial or indigenous origins; digital humanities and data visualization; and the democratization of information production and consumption.

What is your position at OU Libraries? Give us a glimpse of what you do.  

I’m currently the graduate research assistant  in the Digital Scholarship Lab. I’m an incorrigible dabbler. I’ve given/continue to give workshops and consultations, both with classes and individuals, on introductory data management and visualization with Tableau, geospatial storytelling with ArcGIS Story Maps, network analytics with NodeXL and Gephi, web presence with WordPress, content management with Omeka, and data visualization with D3js. So a lot of the fluffy, (hopefully) pretty stuff.

My current project in the DSL is to build a socio-spatial map of the digital scholarship network at OU using the D3 javascript library. This project combines email metadata analysis, matrix algebra, html5/svg graphing packages, and D3js. I hope (re)model the university research library as a decentralized aggregation of knowledge producers/consumers/translators, rather than as a building with rooms with books.

What have you learned about digital scholarship through your studies and GA-ship? 

Ohmygodlots: All of the things listed above, I couldn’t do before Sarah Clayton and Tara Carlisle taught them to me/encouraged me to learn them/teach them. I’ve also been a student in Digital Humanities classes at OU for several years now. A common overly-intellectualized talking-point-quagmire for people doing/studying digital humanities/scholarship is “what is digital humanities/scholarship?” — yes we’re still at that point — I have learned that we don’t know, or we enjoy discussing it too much to attempt resolution. I have learned, like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart of what constitutes lewd imagery, that I know digital scholarship when I see it; and now, thanks to Tara and Sarah, I know it when I do it and help others do it too.