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Beyond Analogue

On Friday, February 13th, we held a full day conference on Beyond Analogue: Current Graduate Research in Humanities Computing here at the University of Alberta. The conference was organized by Khyati Nagar, conference designer and program chair; Alicia Hibbert, conference publicity and catering; Cristina Arias, catering in-charge, publicity and tech support; Peter Organisciak, venue tech support; and Carlos Retamoza, venue tech support. I was the faculty contact.

Daniel O'Donnell gave an excellent opening keynote on "Mind the Gap: Editing the spaces between objects in a post print world". He described the collection of connected artifacts and texts that he and colleagues were trying to edit. They have settled on developing an ontology to represent the objects and their relationships even if there isn't a browser available for this ontology. The advantage is that an ontology is the best way to represent the web of knowledge of a contemporary Anglo-Saxon who, while they wouldn't have been able to see all three crosses and the text, would still recognize them and connected. In effect they are trying to model the context of knowledge of that time using semantic web technology even if there isn't yet an implementation.

Peter Organisciak presented on "Invasion of the And-Ors: The Development of a Flash-based Boolean Search Tutorial and Game." He showed a game designed to teach boolean searching. We had the beginning of an interesting conversation about why no one ever remembers how to use boolean searching and how Google bypassed the problem.

Cristina Arias presented on "Web Based Collaborative Writing: Motivational Issues of Wiki Users." This is work she is doing with people in Computing Science around how to represent wiki contributions back to participants. There would seem to be a feedback loop - if you show people visualizations of their participation then they change their participation.

Martina King presented on "Standardization of Icons for Library Websites: What are the Issues?" She is trying to develop guidelines for common icons for library web sites.

Matthew Bouchard and Alejandro Giacometti presented advice about "Managing Management: Interdisciplinary Project Management for Graduate Students." In short, their advice is to choose what you want to do, be explicit about what you will do or not, and avoid trying to do too much. Most of the advice would be usefully turned around to warn supervisors not to exploit talented graduate students. My memory of graduate school, however, is different. No one wanted to exploit me - I think most graduate students in the humanities see too little of their supervisors and don't feel what they are doing is desired.

Dan S. Manolescu presented on "Regulation of Cybercrime in a Global Village" comparing Romanian and Canadian approaches to cybercrime.

Andrew Keenan presented on the "Central Institute for Exploration." Alas I missed this having to go to teach.

Alicia Hibbert presented on "Streetlines: Connecting Homeless and At-Risk People with Community Resources." This project is trying to create mashups to help street people in Vancouver.

Khyati Nagar presented on "Reading Heidegger to Understand Textual Media Technologies in Early 19th Century India." She showed how a particular press changed over time.

Erika Smith and Lauren de Bruin presented on "Blending Theory and Practice: Success with Systems of Information, Education and Technology." They talked about a project they are working on to develop a system to manage course objectives for the University of Alberta medical program. The project involves negotiated common vocabulary and

Camilo Arango showed a cool "Course Browser" that lets you see prerequisites and requisites for courses so students can understand their curricular choices.

Chris Lepine presented on "Error and the Technologization of Psychology." He asked about how the computer came to be a model for the mind.

The final keynote speech was by Paul A. Youngman from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte on "We are the Machine: The Case of Heinrich Hauser." He talked about Hauser's prescient story "The Brain" (published under the name Alexander Blade in Amazing Stories in 1948.) Youngman looked at how this early story about a networked AI captures our anxieties about technology.



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