Matt Younglove

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  • Matt Younglove

    Hey guys, I know I’m late to the party in this discussion, but I want to start by addressing this question raised by Daniel’s discussion with a colleague: “And, most importantly, how can we use DH to interrogate issues of race, class, and gender in modern academic work?” Is this really most important? It seems like these are today’s buzzwords, but I’m not sure “most important” is accurate in humanities work. There are lots of questions that can be answered, and to limit what DH is capable of to issues of race, class, and gender as being the most important seems rather reductive. Additionally, what better place to find the answers to these questions, than in the digital sphere, where the vast majority of our communication as a species is currently happening? All we need are the right data mining algorithms and we can answer the gamut of questions regarding race, class, and gender in regards to how we as a nation of English-speaking internet-users see fit (I make this specification because text based algorithms are language specific).

    In reaction to McPherson’s question about the Digital Humanities being so white, I state that the digital humanities started in the most logical place, the digital world. This lends itself to programmers video gamers, of which McPherson stated was the subject of some of the first research. This means the scholarship was started by people affluent enough to gain a high level of education while simultaneously having enough time to play a large number of video games. I don’t have the statistics, but this points to suburban, white America. I’m not saying this is where the scholarship should be, but it is evidently where it is rooted. As the field grows, it is important to think about bigger, more important questions than video games, but we shouldn’t shun the video game researchers for not being ethnic enough. Hopefully the field will become more inclusive, and maybe this should be the new challenge for the field. The more diverse the players of the game are, the more diverse the wide array of research interests will become. Issues of demographic and race aren’t quite the same as issues of sports fandom, but they stem from issues related to identity, which can be observed via the digital realm in facebook. Take this map of baseball fandom in the US by county, as evidenced by people’s ‘likes’ on facebook ( I do think McPherson’s concluding suggestions about the direction that digital humanities can go is particularly spot on, and I find the potential in studying how computational systems developed and operate through various lenses like new media theory and linguistic theories could be potentially enlightening. I especially like her call for needing hybrid practitioners, as I see myself as an ‘artist-scholar.’

    On another, perhaps more comical note, Pannapacker’s justification of existence that the Digital Humanities is a real thing by citing it’s Wikipedia article isn’t very convincing. The reason I say this is because those who are familiar with DH are already using Wikipedia daily and already know its value, and those that don’t know what DH is or argue against it as a means of scholarship are the same people who would argue against using Wikipedia for any academic function. I do agree with his point however, that soon DH will just be, ‘the humanities,’ which will happen when the generation of digital natives becomes the generation of researchers in academia.

    in reply to: Project Evaluations #216
    Matt Younglove

    In evaluating a Digital Humanities tool, I found it first useful to create a carefully clear line between a Digital Humanities tool and a Digital Humanities project. Often a DH project comes in the form of an advanced tool to aid researchers. As Alex mentioned, we are using DH tools the moment we open our web browser. Google Chrome is as much a tool as the interface Google Scholar is when opened within Google Chrome. This can create some confusion. Rather than give the perfect definition of DH tool, I figured I’d compare and discuss three different strata of DH tools.

    The free-market has provided the DH scholar with a number of tools that can be used for DH scholarship. The first and most important is a search engine (Personally, I think a web browser is too broad of a program to call ad DH tool, as it essentially does nothing on its own). Google’s algorithms can be used to compile and scrape data for usage. Additionally, Google has already cleared through the brush for many researchers with it’s Google Books project and its Google Scholar search engine. Although discussing a search engine seems rather obvious, it can’t be understated that a good DH researcher be well-versed in how a search engine operates to optimally utilize this tool for research.

    A more specific tool would be WordPress, which we are very familiar with in this class. It is an open source site designing program and blogging tool. It is an all encompassing CMS and runs its own hosting services. As a DH scholar, the need to utilize the web for your projects requires a platform, and the all-encompassing nature of WordPress makes it ideal for embedding and installing various patches and programs.

    An even more specific tool would be Omeka – which can be downloaded to various CMS for inclusion on a website. It has a number of add-ons that can be used depending upon the needs of your specific project. The primary strength of Omeka is in building online collections for projects. It is a way to organize and store massive amounts of data while simultaneously tagging your data based on project-specific parameters. For projects like mine involving tracing the lineage of the saxophone repertoire via the presentation of new works at the World Saxophone Congresses, this tool is very useful.

    Going one level deeper, within Omeka are a variety of plug-ins. One that is particularly interesting and useful for me is the BeamMeUp to SoundCloud plug-in. It allows sound files to be posted to SoundCloud as they are saved. This could enrich any music-based project, allowing for the connected of audio files of the performances of pieces that are being databased. This is very useful, but it’s downside is that SoundCloud then has control over your data, which creates potential copyright issues.

    My tool evaluation method has been level-based, inspired by the biological analogy that Alex provided in his post above. A Kingdom-Phylum-Class-Order-Family-Genus-Species based approached of classification.

    in reply to: Evaluation Criteria #215
    Matt Younglove

    How to Evaluate a DH project

    Similar to Daniel’s approach, I found myself questioning whether these DH projects I was evaluating were really DH projects or glorified humanities projects that were aided by fancy tech. This made me redefine my idea of a DH project as just that: “A Humanities Project Aided by Technology.” This then gives us a set of parameters that we can then delve into further.
    1) How does the tech aid the research?
    2) How feasible would the research be without the tech?
    3) Does the DH project provide opportunity for more in-depth scholarship?
    4) What is the scope of possibilities provided by this project?
    5) What insights (thus far) has the project given? (This will change with time with a good project)
    Alex’s comment about how much responsibility is on the audience touches another interesting and valuable point. Evaluating a DH project on how easily it is used by the public is like evaluating music on how many people like it. Its subjective based on a lack of knowledge rather than a plethora of it. I think it’s more worthy to evaluate the project based on the results it can produce by those trained in using the tool at it’s highest level as opposed to the lowest. It shouldn’t be compared to the ease of google or facebook.

    This brings me to a question I’ve been dealing with quite a bit. I know we are in academia and evaluation is so critical for tenure and promotion, and that that is the current situation in which we are placed, but why is evaluation so important at this stage of the field? Why not let projects exist just see what we can accomplish with them? Maybe the easiest way to evaluate each project is to say “What does it want to accomplish?” and “Does it accomplish that goal?”

    in reply to: Project Evaluations #214
    Matt Younglove

    Evaluating a DH Project

    Project for Evaluation:
    Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM)

    Projects used for comparison:
    Vincent van Gogh – The Letters

    The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World (ORBIS)

    One of my primary reasons for taking this class is that frequently the arts are on the cutting edge of rethinking the usage of technology, yet the scholarship pertaining to the arts is often sadly behind the times. I’m curious to find ways to use modern technology to aid artistic scholarship. For this reason I’m evaluating the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM) in comparison to one arts based projects and one non-arts based project (listed above)
    The DIAMM project’s primary function in creation was preservation of centuries old documents – specifically music from the Medieval time period. Images are taken at 144 megapixels (high resolution is necessary for digital restoration). The DIAMM was conceived as a DH project, but it inherently answers no questions. It serves as a hybrid DH project-tool. As a database, it enables easier access to the metadata of thousands of musical scores for scholarship. The search feature for this database allows scholars to search for musical works based on their languages, number of voices, clef, composer, text-source, musical function, and a number of other parameters, which makes comparing a large body of work that is disseminated across numerous libraries much easier.
    But similar to what Daniel observed about the DH project he evaluated, this project is more of a tool than a project. Albeit conceived as a project as the creation of this tool, the end result is a tool. This leads me to speculate that DH projects often end with the creation of tools rather than the conclusion of answers. This may contrast what we have discussed in class, and makes the means of evaluation even more difficult in this field.
    This project is similar to another DH project in the arts – the Vincent van Gogh – The Letters project. This project, operated by the Van Gogh Museum, assembled and scanned all of the known and existing letters that Van Gogh wrote as correspondences. It gives art scholars a context with which his art was created, an autobiography of sorts. Many of the letters contain sketches, which have artistic value and merit in and of themselves. It allows people to sort them by period, correspondent, place, and those with sketches. Again, it is another art-based DH project that is more of a tool than a project, but a very specific tool. This very similar to the idea I have for my project relating to the World Saxophone Congress programs.
    To contrast, I decided to look at a DH project not associated with the arts. I looked at the Orbis project, a pseudonym for The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World, which is basically Google Maps for the Ancient Roman Empire. It traces routes from this time and calculates both their time and cost depending on method of travel and season. It allows for fact checking and dot connecting from various stories and testaments from that time. It’s a frame through which we can better understand Ancient Roman travel and it can aid in the expeditious answering of questions where travel was a factor.
    Upon evaluating these three tools, it seems like most of these projects evolved out of numerous questions seeking a tool to aid/assist in the time consumption aspect of the research. Compared to the text analysis of British Novels project we evaluated earlier in the semester, it doesn’t seem that most of these projects are about answering specific questions. They seem to be about using the tools of DH to develop even more specific tools that facilitate faster research when one approaches these projects with specific questions.

    in reply to: Getting Started #168
    Matt Younglove

    So after much thought, mostly triggered from listening to the many blogs from, I think I have an idea for my project proposal.

    Being a DMA in the music school, I want this project to be music related. The saxophone, my primary instrument is very young, so information on it might not be appropriate for my first DH project. However, my musical passion is contemporary music. This can be divided into two categories: the music of living composers (present) and the music of the later half of the 20th Century (past/historical).

    My idea is to compile a database of concert programs, not just the images but the pieces and composers, from 1945 (post World War II) to the year 2000. A well constructed database could answer innumerable questions, such as:

    1) Were there any spikes in prominence of a particular composer’s music during certain time periods? Why might this be the case?
    2) How many world premieres were given by major orchestras in each year? Is new music increasing or decreasing on the orchestral stage? (There is constant debate about this, but no numerical statistics to back it up)
    3) How often after a world premiere does a piece either a) die out or b) become the next hip phenomenon that many orchestras are programming? What is the time line for such events?

    I have numerous other questions, but a database that could be added to by every orchestra in the country with current information for each concert season would be fascinating. Additionally, monetary success from season to season could be tracked and traced and orchestras could use this information to build upon their future programming choices.



    in reply to: Theorizing the Digital Humanities #125
    Matt Younglove

    This thought is interesting to me. The traditional definitions and ideas of scholarship are rather limiting, from a time when they limitations were created by the constructs of the society in which they were created. In our highly specialized and digitally-connected world, new ideas for scholarship are critical. The idea from Ramsay/Rockwell that building things (stemming from the idea of creation/creating) can be scholarship is necessary in a world where the digital can accomplish so much, yet so little has been done (little in regards to its potential). Before the “traditional” scholarship can be done, we need the tools to do this advanced study, and it requires the best minds of today to create these theory-based tools. For this reason, academia should open up to these new forms of scholarship.

    Additionally, Dr. Schocket, you mention in the post above about whether or not hosting a conference is scholarship. I think it certainly is, for two reasons.

    1) By hosting a conference, you are bringing together the best in a field to share their scholarship – which breeds new ideas and triggers more investigation – a necessary step for future scholarship. The amount of time required to host such an event is all-consuming, and limits one’s own abilities to do “traditional” scholarship.

    2)In hosting a conference, you have a say in what shape/direction the theme of that conference goes. A successful conference requires a scholarly visionary.

    Just some thoughts to get the dialog rolling.


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