Recent Comments

October 7, 2016 - 18:15

Since I was name-checked, I certainly I have to respond. And my response, put into a few words, is this: emulation is both savior and curse of much of what you are discussing, Kris. As both a developer of Flash projects and as part of projects to archive game experience around them, I cannot stress enough how vital your work and that of groups like The Strong are. We must archive games, experiences, para-texts, and associated narratives before they are lost to us. As I personally stressed at a conference just this past weekend, many early game developers are dying off and I know, as part of discussions colleagues and I have had around trying to preserve the history of board games specifically, this is often a hard, grueling task of trying to figure out where influences started and who invented which part of what.

Added into the confluence of an already complex task of archiving is the exact issue you raise: emulation. The larger issues of digital preservation come into effect at this point as common concerns other media face around access and presentation play a role. How can people get to the object once it becomes part of the archive? And, fast on those heels, and sometimes just as important, should people get access? At the same time, does the way an object is preserved help in working toward these existing issues? Emulation, on the surface, then, would seem to serve many of these: it certainly allows for access and presentation of a game once archived. However, and you have covered this in detail across this essay and in other places, is an emulation game still the “game?” Is it the same experience?

On this, I am unsure. If I play Asteroids in a browser, is it the same as playing the game on the Atari 2600? If I play it on a MAME suite or machine, is that the same game? Part of these problems, I think, can connect into the conversations that happened as much of our collective literature became digital: is reading a copy of a copy of The Iliad the same as one of any number of copies, translations, and physical performances of it made over hundreds of years? On the one hand, I’d say, yes, they are not the same but, on the same point, it does not matter. You can still read it. Others can still experience it. But, to move back to video games, is this the same conversation? If a screen does not have the same latency, the same internal configuration, is it the same? Which part takes priority in the archive process: the hardware or the software? Or is it some combination of both?

In looking at these concerns and even the future of several of these coming problems, I’m also reminded of the number of “retro” games that have been re-packaged, upgraded, and “made HD” over the last few years. If there is a conversation to be had on how emulation influences the gaming process, the additional concerns of marketing factors have to become a part of it. If major companies are willing to put a game + integrated emulator as part of a “now in HD!” marketing push, we have to consider the product in the same archiving process.

October 7, 2016 - 14:53

You mention "the appropriate literacies involved in citing images, navigating creative commons databases, and ethical digital manipulation," to which I say ABSOLUTELY YES. 

What makes this so interesting and tricky is the way all these different assumptions and literacies are jamming into each other: you've got people at large just finding images and audio files and videos and taking them for their own remixes…

…and then you've people saying, "Well that was illegal but if you use this other asset instead it's not illegal but this stuff here it's legal and fine but you have to give credit in this particular sort of way"…

…and then you've got people in the academy with their own varying methods for citing the stuff you found and used, whether or not it was legal or not (and whether or not your remix was actually anything anyone would ever want to experience, but that's a different issue I think but is it??)…

So yeah. It's a mess. I think our challenge is to see it as playful, productive mess, where everyone can teach everyone else, and where we can adjust legal structures to allow playful amateur creation of stuff to continue. This is why I love Lawrence Lessig's models on remix so much: he tries really hard both to honor content creators' rights AND the exciting remixes of amateurs. But to do that, we've got to honor everyone in the room and be friendly when we talk to each other.

Dr. Dan Richards, thanks for being smart and helping me think through this stuff.

October 4, 2016 - 15:37

Thanks, Daniel, for the very cogent response. The parts of the Google EULA you highlighted are precisely on point. In fact, they reminded me of a couple of things I should have included (or will include if I take this further). First, is the fact that it's not just the content we upload, distribute, communicate, send, share, etc. that is being gleaned and parsed. Facebook, for instance, tracks messages people delete without sending. Sophos, the anti-virus guys, suggest that it's pretty easy to do, argue it's pretty innocuous and then point us to an article that says Facebook also tracks the movement of the mouse pointer. In other words, they want to know what we're thinking so they can copy that and sell it, too.

October 4, 2016 - 12:06

Your post raises a number of interesting questions about what we mean by “identity” and “self,” and how these terms relate to the concept of intellectual property. Your mention of Google sent me wandering into Google’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I was particularly interested in the way Google defines “me” as a user of its products and services. Here’s a brief excerpt from Google’s Terms of Service related to my content and my ownership of that content (emphasis mine):

Some of our Services allow you to upload, submit, store, send or receive content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.

Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.

As you can see in the emphasized text above, Google appears to define “intellectual property rights” as my right and ownership of the original IP, defined most clearly as content. However, Google has the right to do an awful lot of things to my original IP “for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.” Not much in there about developing myself as my own property using Google Services. While I’m not willing to go so far as to suggest that my identity is my content, I struggle to differentiate who I am from what I post on Facebook. Not that I’m entirely transparent and forthcoming in Facebook, but a version of me is nonetheless visible and available on that platform; assuming Facebook terms are similar to Google terms, I have a feeling that my identity as content belongs less to me and more to Facebook.

From Google’s Privacy Policy comes this interesting information about the construction of my identity in its Services and systems (emphasis mine):

We may combine personal information from one service with information, including personal information, from other Google services – for example to make it easier to share things with people you know. Depending on your account settings, your activity on other sites and apps may be associated with your personal information in order to improve Google’s services and the ads delivered by Google.

Google creates my profile from various details that I’ve shared across its vast array of services. I’m a Web Manager, which means I’m logged into Google Services every waking (and many sleeping) minutes of every day. I use Google Analytics, Google Chrome, Google Search, Google Drive, Gmail, and I like to look at YouTube videos of cute doggies and kitties. I have a Google+ account that is tied to a Google Business account, and I have scores of services tied to my Google Account for login credentials. As I read the bold text above, Google is generating its version of me from its various interactions with me across its services. From Gmail it identifies my subscriptions, my deleted messages, and my friends and colleagues. From Google Drive it recognizes the data I collect and analyze and the texts I write (and I write a decent number of texts) for scholarship and business. From each of its services Google collates my profile, my identity, and then uses that information to customize my search results and ads.

I think your conclusion is right on target, Marc. We are being copied (and pasted) by them.

September 30, 2016 - 08:08

In the first cluster of the 2016-2017 year, we have asked scholars to contribute their vision for the coming decade: to consider how their fields of study must prepare for—or address—the shifting landscapes of intellectual property.

As we have moved forward in the digital humanities, the concepts and applications of ownership have become more complicated by virtue of new technologies, new platforms, new social and political movements and realities, and new questions regarding the nature of Intellectual Property (IP) itself.  In considering IP, it is often easy to revert to defining it purely according to legal standards and terminology; however, several responses for this cluster will also strive to contextualize IP through rhetorical, ethical, social, and personal lenses.

We invite all our visitors to join the conversation on this topic through commenting and sharing this survey question via social media and academic networks.  Our hope is that these Field Guide surveys might engender broader discussions and connect scholars to like-minded or interested individuals to help expand the scope and knowledge of the field – with your help.  To keep up with our daily postings, beginning October 3rd, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

August 6, 2016 - 00:53

Thanks, Deb

The core question occupying my mind at the moment is this:

If the universities are keen to get as much funding as possible, then why aren't more universities doing crowdfunding? My data indicates that about a third of the universities in Australia haven't done any crowdfunding at all. Of those that have, only four or five have had five projects or more. The rest have had one or two projects. I assume (but I don't know) that these are people who are doing it off their own bat, without support from their university. Only two universities in Australia seem to have taken a structured approach - Deakin and University of Western Australia.

My working hypothesis is that the rarefied upper echelons of the university (anyone on the executive pay scale) want any legal research funding that the organisation can get, but there is a disjunction between them and the people who run Centres and Labs and shape the agenda of the research as it is actually done. They don't like crowdfunding because it doesn't bring them any prestige. As one said to two (young, female) PhD students who had set up a crowdfunding campaign, "You are bringing the lab into disrepute".

You see this greed for prestige in the way that Australian academics talk about 'Category 1 grants'. What they really mean is ARC and NHMRC grants. There are over seventy funding bodies on the Category 1 list - most academics can only name two. When the Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) listed their grants on the Category 1 list it was fun to say, "You mean like OLT", when people talked about 'Category 1'. It turned out that wasn't what they meant at all.

The problem with this myopia is that it restricts people's world view. Grant funding is an ecosystem (red of tooth and claw), with a range of different types of funding for different activities. Arts funding; philanthropic funding; international funding; industry funding; internal funding - they all do different things.

I like the idea of the 'long tail of research'. Crowdfunding provides several different ways to fund long tail research:


  • It funds small projects.
    The smallest request you can put to the ARC is $50,000. Lots of projects don't need that much, so they aren't eligible.
  • It funds Honours and Masters projects.
    It can be enormously hard to get scholarships for Honours and Masters students - crowdfunding does that really well.
  • It can fund a shortfall.
    Sometimes other funding agencies don't give you quite enough. Crowdfunding can fill the gap.
  • It can fund activities that other agencies won't fund.
    Want to make a 'coffee table' book of your beautiful data? Want to make an artwork with a chemist's glowing algae? Crowdfunding.
  • It can fund projects that cut across the academic mainstream.
    Peer-reviewed research is somewhat conservative. If you are working at right-angles to the mainstream, crowdfunding might help.
  • It can fund replication and negative results (but it can't get them published).
    Replication is vital for good science. Negative results can be as important as positive results (in a positivist paradigm). You can convince the public to fund such work, but may not be able to convince your scientific peers.
  • It can fund exploratory work.
    Crowdfunding is great for seed funding particular where it is promising but exploratory. That is, high risk of failure, but great rewards if successful.
  • It can fund extension work.
    Sometimes you get to the end of your funding before you get to the end of your research - crowdfunding can fill that gap.
  • It can fund people who don't have a track record.
    Because the value of the work is judged differently, a track record of prior work isn't as important for crowdfunding.
  • It can fund straight data collection and other baseline activities that most funding agencies won't touch.
    The Australian Research Council won't fund data collection, in and of itself. It doesn't fund taxonomy work (on this basis) even though these activities are fundamental to research. If you are putting in place the building blocks for research, crowdfunding might help.
  • It can fund on-going activities, like journals.
    Most funding schemes are predicated on the idea that you do one project, and then you come back and do another one. If you build a loyal following, crowdfunding can work like an annual subscriber drive. Or, as with Patreon, as a small, steady income.


You mentioned '…tightening academic funding environment…'. Crowdfunding does work extraordinarily well as a 'Fuck You, Government' funding mechanism. That is, one way to galvanise the public to fund a project is to invite them to kick against the withdrawal of government funding. This is essentially what #TeamMopra did on Kickstarter. $93,374 pledged of $65,000 goal when the government cut their funding.

Another way that crowdfunding works is that it acts as a public voting system for projects. Some of the film and creative funding agencies have offered matching funding for crowdfunded projects. This is a great way to give the public more voice in government funding policy. By offering to match funds for some projects, the funding agency is providing a baseline quality assurance program for those projects. In theory, there is no reason that the ratio needs to be 1:1.

Crowdfunding projects are also providing matching funds for other projects. The 'Kicking it Forward' program on Kickstarter is a clever example of this. Any project that promises to 'Kick it Forward' is saying that they will put 5% of their finished product profits back into other projects. Simple. Effective. Generous.

That's enough for now.


May 4, 2016 - 09:38

I think my perspective has continued to evolve as I now use blogging as an integral component  in all my courses- both as substitute for weekly quizzes that keep students accountable to read, but also as an idea generator that we can continue to discuss in the classroom. On average in the same class of 35 students I commented on in the original blog, there is now maybe 1 or 2 per section that requires a little help in setting things up- otherwise students seem very at ease with the technology-  though I am amazed that many seem to compose their assignments on their phones as opposed to their computers!  This trend bothered me at first, but overall it does not seem to effect the quality of their work, and actually makes the platforms more accessible. I also love how the digital archive the students create throughout the semester facilitates their ability to reflect on the semester at the end of the course, as they now have a record of their thinking to return to and can see for themselves how the course has challenged and changed them.

March 22, 2016 - 16:47

Sherie. Its interesting to think about why so many of us don't consider reaching out more to community partners. I wonder too how such outreach would even be received when it comes to activist organizations. I also wonder about the complications in doing so, especially in working with groups in cultures different than our own. One of my former colleagues at UF, Maria Rogul, does really interesting work in which she works with local organizations to design graphics for their homemade artisan goods and advertisements. She works really hard to draw on their own cosmologies, histories, rituals, and aesthetic traditions to co-design graphics that are representative and meaning to them while simultaneously appealing to tourists and others. If digital humanists are going to partner up with local communities abroad, I think we have to follow this lead, especially in postcolonial cultures. It would be fascinating, and as you note, transformative to do such work. Any one have any project ideas?

March 19, 2016 - 18:22

0in">Dr. Gries, 

I think your work on iconographic tracking is fantastic. I am especially intrigued by the notion of how using this method helps us in the academy better understand digital social movements. I am also struck by your insistence that scholars do not have to become something else in order to become involved, but that we should unabashedly offer skills we have developed because of our experience in the academy. As you suggest, one such skill is creating methodologies that explore the tangible ways digital social movements affect change. I agree with your suggestion that such work is a vital contribution to such causes as it could help activists replicate success and eliminate blind spots. Furthermore, I think that such work is activist in and of itself. I also believe that embracing the tactile nature of methodologies like research-creation can help digital humanists become direct agents in activist movements. Like you, I think we have much to contribute, if we are committed to being collaborators with our community partner who are doing some very transformative work. 



March 19, 2016 - 11:35

thanks for your comments, Jess and Sherie. Our discussion of eudemonia, social justice, and blacklivesmatter circles around big questions: how do we live the good life? How can we serve others, ethically? These questions matter all through our lives, especially when we are choosing careers. We'll spend the majority of our adults lives working, so we should think carefully about how our work aligns with our values.

I teach classes about rhetoric, power, and citizenship, and I have been thinking in the past few years about the language of movements for a "living wage." I appreciate the living wage movement, and I also wonder, what if we raised the bar, and said what we really want for everyone who works hard is a thriving wage? Politically, it's probably more practical to stick with "living wage," because it draws attention to the fact that our lowest wage earners in the U.S. do not make enough to live, and "living wage" already has a history as a term. But a thriving wage, that's the better a goal. We should want each other to thrive.