I am currently the digital scholarship strategist in the University Libraries at Carnegie Mellon University. Among many other tasks, I gauge scholarly interest in digital research and publishing methods from the campus as a whole. At CMU, we define digital scholarship as the use and reuse of digital evidence, methods, and tools for research, pedagogy, and publication. Although this might be taken as a “kitchen-sink approach,” in practice this means web-facing, interactive research tools and multimodal environments. Digital tools enable dynamic research involving textual analysis, distant reading, text- and data-mining, qualitative data analysis, data visualization, and interactive, online annotations as varieties of dynamic research.
I work with colleagues within the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the University Libraries as a coalition of faculty and staff contributing to digital research and publishing. We are co-sponsored and financed by the Deans of the University Libraries and Dietrich College as a virtual center: dSHARP–the center for digital Science, Humanities, Arts: Research & Publishing. We strive to educate the CMU community about digital tools and research methods, and to be practicing researchers who use digital methods to ask original questions relevant to the humanities, arts, and sciences.
As the digital scholarship strategist a portion of my time is dedicated to consultations and collaborations with CMU scholars and researchers. I’m working to become a generalist as a consultant to better direct clients to the resources they need, including potential partners with more experience in specific methods and tools. My collaborations with faculty at CMU include work as a front-end designer, HTML and CSS coder, TEI-encoder, and customizing Omeka and WordPress sites.
My collaborations with faculty outside CMU are involved longer-term projects with more complex research questions and needs. The Frankenstein Variorum is both a digital scholarly edition of the five “editions” of the novel and an innovative interface to display the variances between these texts. This project currently include faculty from CMU, the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg, and the University of Maryland.
- ETHOS, The Carnegie Mellon Encyclopedia of Science History (CMU).
- Beta Testing and helping customize the Janeway digital publishing platform as the beginning of a Library Publishing service of the University Libraries (CMU).
- LACA, The Latin American Comics Archive
[Built on an Omeka platform, the site will not be made public until we finish gaining permissions from the creators or their estates.]
- The Frankenstein Variorum
- [The project team has completed the five digital witnesses of the 1818, 1823, 1831, manuscript notebooks, and the “Thomas” hand-annotated 1818 edition. We are in the process of completing our collation of these materials and deriving a set of XML files to be presented using our variorum interface.]
- GitHub page:
Growing with the Internet
After completing my undergraduate degree I first worked as a graphic designer and desktop publisher before transitioning into web design. Creating hand-coded websites meant analyzing a client’s content, defining a site’s information architecture and navigation, and then reworking print-based content for web presentation. Doing this required not just editing but recreating content for online consumption when download speed and scrolling content could drive the reader away. I improved my methods and workflows as web technologies evolved and I became a member of a team rather than a lone practitioner. Web design lead to user interface design, testing, and eventually usability and user experience. Writing for the web lead to creating style guides for online content including both graphics and copy. My earliest projects included creating web content and designing user interfaces at the Oracle Corporation for a variety of their browser-based database applications; this also meant collecting requirements and use cases from database developers and programmers to translate them into wireframes and HTML prototypes to test functionality, and then to report to nontechnical staff and clients. Working on these projects evolved into a modular practice, one that later helped me customize content management systems for corporate and government clients as a consultant. I also learned a great deal about working to make web content more accessible and usable for a greater audience because of the requirements of Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Yet no matter how financially rewarding, managing corporate or federal intranets grew stale. I was active in the science fiction fandom community and met graduate students who were just getting into Digital Humanities. They convinced me that I could take what I knew about writing for the web and accessible design and apply it to the two disciplines that I loved: literary studies and history. I began my graduate studies as a digital humanist as a graduate research assistant for George Mason’s Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. One of my professors was also a co-director of the center, Roy Rosenzweig. He knew that I wanted to apply a cultural studies approach to science fiction and comic books, so suggested that I consider the more interdisciplinary approach of American Studies. He not only wrote a letter of recommendation for me, but also contacted one of the co-directors of Michigan State University’s MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online to suggest that they consider me as a research assistant.
I was able to pursue my interests in popular culture and contribute to several digital humanities projects over five years of my graduate work (all of which look much different today).