I started blogging with Typepad in 2003. Later I moved to WordPress and maintained the habit until 2011. I decided recently to return to it, this time with a static site and plain text. The entries below share work in progress. Clicking or tapping a title gives you a permalink. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like more context or exposition.
17 April 2021
The BC Studies journal recently published a four-episode podcast (HTML) about . . . making scholarly podcasts! Many thanks to producer, Isabelle Ava-Pointon, for interviewing Brenna Clarke Gray, David Gaertner, Michael Faris, Kyle Stedman, Charles Woods, and me as part of it all. These four epsidoes are a wonderful resource for faculty, students, and staff who are curious about podcasting but unsure where to begin.
26 March 2021
Yesterday I gave a talk (via Zoom) as part of Lawrence Technology University’s “Humanity + Technology” (HTML) series. I spoke about how “prototyping the past” might apply to the practice of worldbuilding. The talk was recorded (YouTube), and I published my slides (HTML). Thanks to Paul Jaussen, Franco Delogu, Emily Kutil, and LTU’s College of Architecture and Design for inviting me, and for archiving “Humanity + Tech” events, including wonderful talks by Alenda Chang (HTML; video) and Katherine Hayles (HTML; video).
12 June 2020
Thanks to Jason Camlot, Yuliya Kondratenko, and everyone at SpokenWeb for inviting me to conduct a virtual listening session (HTML) on the topic of Delia Derbyshire’s compositions for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. I produced some rough and still unfinished notes (HTML) for the session that guided us through multiple (if not contradictory) ways of listening to Derbyshire’s work as, at least in this case, an entanglement of sound and science fiction. This event was tremendous fun. I enjoyed witnessing people’s responses to what they heard and learning from them.
22 May 2019
This week, I gave a Connect U 2019 (HTML) talk at UVic on the pedagogy of “Paper Computers,” (HTML) a graduate seminar on tabletop game design I taught last fall. Here are my slides (HTML). They include a rationale for the course as well as some photographs of games that students prototyped. During the talk, I explained how and why “Paper Computers” encouraged students to develop procedural literacy, experiment with low-tech methods, engage histories and cultures of media, understand contexts of play and use, design critically, and connect with communities of practice. I then articulated these six areas with the notion of prototyping the past: in this case, making games informed by literary and political movements from the 19th and 20th centuries. Thanks to UVic for inviting me to speak at this event, and to David Leach for joining me. It was a pleasure.
26 February 2019
Today I gave a talk during an NEH ODH Institute on “Textual Data and Digital Texts in the Undergraduate Classroom,” directed by Lauren Coats and Emily McGinn. I titled it, “Low-Tech Approaches to Digital Research” (HTML), with a focus on two questions: how to approach digital research in the classroom without assuming technical competencies in computing, and how to teach core techniques often automated or masked by tools and software. I responded to both by providing instances of low-tech prototyping as inquiry. Examples included the use of Markdown for web development, graphical overlays for data visualization, paper manuals for game design, cardboard models for media history, wireframes for conjectural criticism, remediations for archival work, and zines for science and technology studies. Here are my slides (HTML). Thanks to Lauren and Emily for inviting me to participate in this important institute, which resulted in a compelling collection of open access materials, Digital Texts and Textual Data: A Pedagogical Anthology (HTML; PDF).
5 December 2018
I wrote a reflection on my “Paper Computers” (HTML) seminar. It’s intended for graduate students in the course; however, I hope it’s of use to other people, including those interested in game and media studies. It’s titled “Tabletop Inquiry” (HTML) and consists of three point-form lists. The first (HTML) is a series of observations made while studying and prototyping paper computers this semester; it’s meant to document and distill some of our seminar conversations. The second list (HTML) outlines some questions prompted by tabletop prototyping for project design in the humanities; it’s meant to highlight how tabletop prototyping may apply to a broader set of research practices (not just to games). The third list (HTML) itemizes types of prototypes for engaging history; it’s meant to provide a working vocabulary for prototyping as a form of criticism. Thanks again to Avery Alder, Nina Belojevic, Whitney “Strix” Beltrán, Anne Burdick, Emily Care Boss, Alexander Galloway, Amy Hildreth Chen, Isaac Childres, Derek Hansen, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Kari Kraus, Michael Lines, Shaun Macpherson, Renee M. Shelby, Nikki Valens, and Lara Wilson for contributing to the seminar as guest speakers. It was a thrill to teach.
4 December 2018
I developed a resource titled “Types of Prototypes” (HTML) for people who are curious about how prototyping or “remaking” source materials intersects with the praxis of literary and textual criticism. It lists seven types of prototypes and explains what exactly they help us to better understand. Then it describes how prototyping is, or may be, a form of criticism. It concludes by explaining how prototypes “address us.” Inspired especially by Kari Kraus’s research, I’m using this framework for a few ongoing projects.
15 November 2018
To help undergraduate students in “Prototyping Pasts and Futures” (HTML) apply science and technology studies to prototyping and project design, I created a resource titled, “Before You Make a Thing” (HTML; also in PDF). It consists of three point-form lists. The first (HTML) is a series of theories and concepts drawn from assigned readings, the second (HTML) is a rundown of practices corresponding with projects we studied, and the third (HTML) itemizes prototyping techniques conducted in the course. Although the document is grounded in the humanities, I wrote it for students across the disciplines, partly because most students in this particular course are not humanities majors.
21 June 2018
I just returned from Olin College of Engineering, where I was a summer fellow in the Mellon-funded Sketch Model program. Echoing Olin’s website (HTML), Sketch Model is “a set of experimental approaches that embody the exploratory spirit of ideas-under-construction inherent in sketch models for prototyping: imagining the creative contours and operations for an expanded practice of engineering that includes the robust expressive criticality of the arts, history, and culture.” Many thanks to Sara Hendren (PI), Ben Linder (PI), Debbie Chachra, and Jonathan Adler for hosting me. I gained an incredible amount of knowledge about prototyping both in and across the disciplines (from industry and engineering to design and the humanities), and Sara and Ben did an absolutely brilliant job of bringing together a group of invested practitioners.
11 May 2018
Yesterday I gave a talk at the University of Puget Sound titled, “Starting in the Middle,” where I outlined eight learning areas that I stress when teaching media and facilitating media practice: 1) negotiating “We”/”I”/”Them”/”It” with “Text”/”Context,” 2) the participatory observer (who is not “detached”), 3) boundary-making in design (contrasted with appeals to abstract functions and ideal features), 4) matters of contingency and interface (as distinct from evidence or proof), 5) the entanglements of language with materials, 6) iteration and/as inquiry (as part of working with machines, but not delegated to them), 7) multimodal composition (rather than digitization as re-presentation), and 8) accounting for shadow pasts and futures (not only certainties). Thanks to Jane Carlin and Collins Memorial Library for inviting me, and to Jamie L. Spaine for coordinating my visit. It was exciting to see what Puget Sound is doing with media and their new makerspace.
26 April 2018
The University of Washington’s Department of English invited me to speak at the Simpson Center for the Humanities on the topic of designing digital studies courses for graduate students. I outlined several possible three-course sequences for UW English, and I also created a resource based on the talk. It’s titled, “Locating Praxis in Digital Studies” (HTML). There you’ll find a presentation of my own background and biases (HTML) with respect to digital studies, my working definition of “praxis” (HTML), an articulation of my aims (HTML) when teaching media, and—likely most important—sketches of three-course sequences (HTML) in stewardship, computational analysis, design and communication, social justice and transformative media, digital methods, and prototyping. If you’re creating digital studies courses at your university, then I hope you’ll find this resource to be useful. Thanks to UW English, including Carolyn Allen, Anis Bawarshi, Brian Reed, and Kathy Woodward, for welcoming me back to Seattle for this talk. It was lovely to be at the Simpson Center again.
25 March 2018
Since early 2017, I’ve been developing approaches to literary and media studies that experiment with not only Daniela Rosner’s notion of “design as inquiry” and Kari Kraus’s “family of subjunctive practices” but also what Les Back and Nirmal Puwar call “live methods.” I shared some draft material at the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) meeting at USC in June and, more recently, during a discussion with Florida State University’s Digital Scholars group. Here are my slides for those two talks: AIGA (HTML) and FSU (HTML). Thanks to Tarez Graban for inviting me to speak with folks at FSU, to graduate students at FSU for responding publicly (HTML) to my talk, and to Kate Sweetapple and Jacquie Lorber-Kasunic for presenting with me at AIGA. I’m rather excited about where this work is going.
15 May 2016
Arizona State University hosted HASTAC 2016 (HTML). There, Kim Knight, Padmini Ray Murray, Jacqueline Wernimont, and I discussed the relationship between design and critique–or “critical design and deviant critique” (HTML)–in a humanities context. I engaged six particular angles on design during my portion of the discussion: design 1) as an attribution practice, 2) as inquiry, 3) for experience, 4) for responsibility, 5) in-use, and 6) for diffraction. With material from the talk, I produced a resource titled, “Critical Design” (HTML), which briefly describes each of this angles and their motivations. Many thanks to Kim, Padmini, and Jacque for presenting with me. It was a lively panel with an engaging Q&A session.
22 April 2016
Thanks to Rich Rath and David Golberg for inviting me to give a couple of talks at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa this month as part of the Dai Ho Chun Distinguished Lecturer series. It was an incredible honor. One of my talks was on early magnetic recording (HTML), and while I was in Honolulu I appeared on KHPR 88.1 FM Hawaiʻi public radio with Burt Lum and Ryan Ozawa (Bytemarks Cafe), Ken DeHoff and Burl Burlingame (Pacific Aviation Museum), and Richard Wainscoat, Eugene Magnier, and Larry Denneau (Institute for Astronomy) to talk about restoring and remaking old tech. You can listen to a recording of our conversation (about 60 minutes) over at Bytemark Cafe’s website (HTML with MP3). I also archived the slides (HTML) for my magnetic recording talk.
6 April 2016
I visited the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation (CDSC) at Washington State University this week. Many thanks to Kim Christen, Michael Wynne, and Trevor Bond for hosting me. While I was there I gave a talk titled, “Remaking Old Media across the Disciplines” (video). Given the importance of historical particulars to this research, not to mention my proclivity for tangents, I decided to read a paper with slides for this one. The video includes my slides as well as the Q&A session. I enjoyed returning to WSU, which I first visited in 2009 to attend a THATCamp. Thanks again, Kim, Michael, and Trevor. The CDSC is doing brilliant work at the intersection of technologies, ethics, and social empowerment.
7 March 2016
After my talk at Cornell (HTML), I traveled to Syracuse University to speak about the overlaps of prototyping with writing studies (HTML) and then conduct a Scalar workshop for students. I also had a chance to visit the awe-inspiring Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive (HTML). Many thanks to Patrick Berry, Collin Brooke, Patrick Williams, and Jason Markins for hosting me, and to Jenny Doctor for giving me a tour of the Belfer Lab and Archive. Here’s my abstract for the “Prototyping as Composition” talk:
“Across the humanities, art, design, engineering, as well as numerous memory institutions, researchers are giving digital fabrication techniques such as 3-D printing significant attention. In response, this talk examines the affordances of fabrication for scholarly communication, with particular attention to rapid prototyping, or the iterative production of abstract models in tactile form, as a compositional strategy. Against the grain of the techno-evangelism and hype often witnessed in maker cultures, I outline the relationships between writing academic essays and producing tactile objects with computer numerical control (CNC) machines such as laser cutters, millers, spindles, and printers. Instead of suggesting that writing is somehow secondary to the primary experience of making things, I underscore how prototyping is intricately entangled with archival research and the writing emerging through that research.”
6 March 2016
Last week I had the honor of giving a talk on “Prototyping Absence” (HTML) at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University. Many thanks to Tim Murray for inviting and hosting me. It was beyond humbling to be in the A.D. White House (HTML) and to discuss my research with scholars there. Here’s my abstract for the talk:
“When conducting archival research, historians of media and technology frequently encounter devices that no longer work or existed only as illustrations, fictions, or one-offs. Rather than studying such uncertainty at a remove, this talk outlines ways to prototype absences in the historical record. It draws from examples of remaking old media to demonstrate how prototyping the past affords unique approaches to examining the contingent relations between matter and meaning, without fetishizing exact reproductions of historical artifacts.”
29 June 2015
The British Columbia Library Association held its 2015 conference (HTML) in May, and I had the privilege of giving a talk on the design, development, and maintenance of UVic’s Digital Fabrication Lab. The title was “Between English and Visual Arts” (HTML), and I wrote a related MLab piece on the infrastructural disposition (HTML) of lab work across the humanities and fine arts. Thanks to Anne Olsen and Erin Fields for the invitation, and to Springer for sponsoring the session.
8 June 2015
Union College in Schenectady hosted the eighth symposium on Engineering and Liberal Education (HTML) on June 5th and 6th. I had the honor of giving a plenary at the event on the topic of prototyping as inquiry (HTML), and Hod Lipson gave the keynote. Many thanks to Christine Henseler for inviting me to Union’s scenic campus. I enjoyed speaking with faculty, staff, and students there and at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute about the potential of prototyping in liberal education. I also spent a few days in the Adirondacks, on beautiful Lake Saranac, while visiting.
25 April 2015
Thanks to Michael Widner and Amir Eshel for inviting me to speak at Stanford (HTML) to the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages’ Digital Humanities Focal Group. The title of my talk was “Prototyping and Pedagogy in the Humanities” (HTML). It featured an array of undergraduate and graduate research here at UVic, with some remarks about digital studies courses I’ve designed and taught since 2009. This was my first visit to Stanford, and while there I did some archival work in the Ampex collection (HTML).
12 April 2015
I was fortunate to give the keynote at Waterloo’s Experimental Digital Media (XDM) annual exhibition and symposium this year, the theme for which was “Feedback, Fedback, Feedforward” (JPG). My talk was about “Executable Culture and Arguments with Objects” (HTML). After it I spoke with Adam Cilevitz, Paisley Cozzarin, Shawn DeSouza-Coelho, Rob Parker, Sophia Pelka, Matthew Schwager, and Stephen Trothen about their fantastic XDM research. Thanks a bunch to Beth Coleman, Marcel O’Gorman, and everyone at the Critical Media Lab (HTML) for inviting and hosting me. The CML is doing some of the most exciting work I’ve seen in Canadian media studies.
15 March 2015
Last week, I had the incredible privilege of being a guest instructor at the University of Minnesota, as part of their annual “Architecture as Catalyst” (HTML) series. This year’s Catalyst theme was “Façade,” and I was joined by several other guest instructors: Leah Beuchley, Doris Kim Sung, Hideyuki Nakayama, Omar Gandhi, and Ian Harris. Each of us also gave a talk while we were there, and the College of Design recorded them all and made a playlist (YouTube). The title of my talk was “Human-Machine Vision: A Post-Cinematic Approach.” It surveyed the various roles computer vision plays in arts and humanities research, including some work done in the MLab. Many thanks to Andrea Johnson for not only inviting me to Minnesota but also teaching the Catalyst course (HTML) with me.
10 January 2015
My talk at this year’s Modern Language Association (MLA) convention in Vancouver was part of the “Making Writing in Third Spaces” (HTML) session. I drew upon work by Nina Belojevic, Matthew Fuller, Virginia Kuhn, David Rieder, Cynthia Selfe, Jody Shipka, Annette Vee, and Victor Vitanza to unpack the notion of “transduction literacies” (HTML) premised on tacit knowledge, the experiences of trial and error, an awareness of procedure (how this becomes that), and attention to mediation over media. Thanks to Bonnie Lenore Kyburz for organizing the session, and to Laurie Gries, Brian Harmon, and Byron Hawk for presenting with me.
6 October 2014
On Friday, I presented during the “Data, Social Justice, and the Humanities” (HTML) event at the University of Michigan. This one-day conference explored the implications of gathering and analyzing digital data for humanities scholarship in light of social justice imperatives. Activism, archiving, and representation served as interpretive lenses to focus discussion. Corresponding with some physical computing work we’re doing in the MLab, my talk addressed the Internet of Things (IoT) through a digital culture studies perspective. Here are my slides (HTML). You can use your up, down, left, and right arrow keys to navigate them.
Many thanks to Moya Bailey, Jessie Daniels, Jacqueline Wernimont, Michelle Habell-Pallán, Sonnet Retman, Alexandra Minna Stern, Maria Cotera, Michelle Caswell, and Simone Browne for their talks, and to Sidonie Smith, Doretha Coval, Patrick Tonks, Lisa Nakamura, David A. Wallace, Paul Conway, the Institute for the Humanities, and the School of Information at the University of Michigan for their collective role in making the conference happen. “Data, Social Justice, and the Humanities” (#DSJandH on Twitter) was a fantastic event, one of the best conferences I’ve attended in recent years. Here’s to many more like it in the near future.
16 September 2013
I had the pleasure this weekend of giving a keynote at the University of Kansas’s “Return to the Material” (HTML) symposium. The title of my talk was “Fabrications, or How to Lie with Computer Vision” (HTML; video, too). Whitney Trettien and Colin Allen gave keynotes as well, and all three of us offered workshops. Thanks to the inimitable Arienne Dwyer and Brian Rosenblum for inviting me. “Return to the Material” was a brilliant, timely, and engaging event.
3 August 2013
This weekend I was a plenary speaker at the “Editing Modernism On and Off the Page” (HTML) institute on UBC’s beautiful Okanagan campus. My talk was about “Editing, Annotating, and Discovering Historical Audio” (HTML). I drew heavily from material in my dissertation, and after the talk I was fortunate to hear George Bowering, Frank Davey, Daphne Marlatt, Fred Wah, and Sharon Thesen each read their work. Many thanks to Karis Shearer for inviting me to UBCO.
22 July 2013
The annual Digital Humanities conference was at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this summer. Jeremy Boggs, Devon Elliot, and I conducted a workshop (HTML; XML) on desktop fabrication and then gave a talk (HTML; XML) on the same topic, both around the theme of moving from 2D to 3D in humanities research. We published our slides (HTML), and our notes (HTML) contain what we hope will be a useful bibliography for anyone with interests in fabrication, physical computing, and the humanities. Thank you, Jeremy and Devon, for collaborating with me on this work.
6 September 2012
I received a small internal research grant ($6,965) from UVic to start the “Allied Audio Archives” project. The aim of the project is to collocate audio from institutions and communities across the Pacific Northwest (U.S. and Canada) and produce online exhibits that showcase and historicize regional audio cultures. I’m using the internal funding to support a graduate research assistant (Shaun Macpherson) in designing and developing our first exhibit (HTML), which will contextualize the University of Washington’s Crocodile Café Collection (HTML) with interviews, ephemera, local history, and cultural criticism. Many thanks to John Vallier at UW for helping to facilitate this project, which began in 2010-11 when I was teaching Media and Communication Studies (HTML) at UW Bothell.
26 July 2012
I’ve been thinking through the theme of “Writing with Sound” for about a year now, and this month I gave a talk (HTML) on the topic at the University of Hamburg during the 2012 Digital Humanities conference. It was recorded (video). The talk drew heavily from my work on the Scalar platform as well as a piece (HTML) I published over at The New Everyday as part of Kari Kraus’s wonderful collection, “Rough Cuts: Media and Design in Process” (HTML), which features work by Katharine Beutner, Elizabeth Bonsignore, Nicholas Chen, Christy Dena, Rachel Donahue, Ken Eklund, Jason Farman, Ann Fraistat, Oliver Gaycken, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Henry Lowood, Nick Montfort, Rick Prelinger, Ernesto Priego, Rita Raley, Gabriela Redwine, Marc Ruppel, Mark Sample, Rita Shewbridge, Amanda Visconti, Greg Walsh, and Joshua Weiner. Check it out! And many thanks to Kari for her unparalleled editorial work.
20 June 2012
Congratulations to my colleague, Stephen Ross, who is the principal investigator of the Modernist Versions Project (HTML), which received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) partnership development grant in the amount of $200,000 over a period of three years. I’m excited to be a collaborator on this project. The MVP aims to advance the potential for comparative interpretations of modernist texts that exist in multiple forms by digitizing, collating, versioning, and visualizing them individually and in combination. Its primary mission is to enable new critical insights that are difficult without digital or computational approaches. More over at UVic News (HTML).
10 April 2012
The University of Pittsburgh recently celebrated the launch of Debates in the Digital Humanities, published by the University of Minnesota Press. Thanks to Matt Gold (editor of Debates) and Jamie “Skye” Bianco (at Pitt) for inviting me to the book launch (HTML), where I gave a talk about “Dropping the Digital” on a panel with Jamie, Matt, Doug Armato, Elizabeth Losh, and Stephen Ramsay. It was an honor to visit Pitt’s 42-story Cathedral of Learning and to chat with faculty, staff, and students there.
25 October 2011
I’m thrilled to say the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln invited me to be one of three early career scholars to present at this year’s Nebraska Digital Workshop (HTML). While there earlier this month, I spoke about my experiences composing a multimodal dissertation and was joined by Kirsten C. Uszkalo and Colin F. Wilder as well as senior scholars, Susan Brown and William G. Thomas, III, who also gave talks. Many thanks to Kay Walters and everyone at the Center for hosting me during my first visit to UNL’s campus. The Digital Workshop is such an exciting space for critical discussion and experimentation right now. Thanks as well to Trevor Muñoz at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities for writing (HTML) about the Workshop.
Sketch (PNG) by Beckett. Used with permission. Content on this page dates back to 15 June 2011. The page was last updated on 29 July 2021.