discussions

Intro to DH Reading/Exploratory Group

March 4 – April 24

This group provides an overview of what DH is and how it can enhance your research and teaching. Each week we will read several articles or book chapters, explore digital projects, and get our hands dirty as we learn how to use digital tools. Our discussions will interrogate the underlying epistemologies of the practices and theories we’re investigating that week, as well as how those tools and approaches support our scholarship and pedagogy, specifically.

Objectives:

  • Understand what DH is
  • Develop interest in a specific area that enhances your own work
    • Determine the next steps to explore that area further
  • Prepare you to lead your own discovery group within your college or in your broader discipline across the 7Cs

This reading group will also prepare you to submit applications for the Mellon-funded

  • Course Development Grants
  • Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the Claremont Colleges

This introductory reading group will be offered again in Fall 2015. Stay tuned for more details!

3D Printing: Funding, Legal Issues, and Medical Technology

AJ Strout

In the ongoing quest to familiarize myself with unique uses of technology at the Claremont Colleges I joined Steven Casper, Dean at the School of Applied Life Sciences, for a 3D print demonstration at Keck Graduate Institute. Leading the casual event was Anna Hickerson, Professor and Program Director, who offered a presentation and discussion on 3D printing. Among the discussed topics were an abridged history of 3D printers, the types of 3D printers currently on and off the market, and their uses and legal complications. Whether for capitalistic enterprise, medical use, or the growing DIY printing community, the 3D printer is a versatile and rapidly evolving machine that’s gaining a lot of attention. Our discussion got me thinking about the humanist qualities of the machine and the roadblocks it faces.

The device now referred to as the “3D Printer” has had a rather short history relative to other manufacturing technologies. In the 30 years that 3D printing technology has existed, it has shifted from producing rapid prototyping plastic parts usually intended for engineering, to nearly every type of object imaginable—parts for hip replacement surgery, game board pieces, figurines, etc.

The first additive manufacturing technique was a process called stereolithography which was developed by 3D Systems Corp. in 1987.[1] Stereolithography is an expensive process because the plastic it requires must be malleable for mixing and has a bonding process. The complexity of using this kind of plastic leads to intense wear and tear on the machines, making maintenance costly.[2] Many other 3D technologists have tried their hand at building a simpler, more cost effective machine but the one that has had the most success uses a process called extrusion printing. It was first developed by Stratasys in 1996.[3]

Building upward from the Stratasys design, Zachary Smith created the first RepRap 3D extrusion printer in 2007 and named it Darwin.[4] RepRap can print a portion of it’s own parts. Additional parts are generic and can be purchased at retail stores–screws, metal rods, and micro-controller boards, for example. Darwin was released as an open-source project under the GNU license which allowed anyone to expand on Darwin. A variety of improvements and purpose-built printers were developed as a result. Whether driven by hobby or small business needs, an entire community has grown up around RepRap. Improvements made to Zachary Smith’s original design were eventually folded into commercial offerings for those without the time or knowledge to build their own. Chief among these are the high-end offerings of the company MakerBot and PrintrBot. The former manufactures sleek, attractive, and reliable printers for around $2,000. PrintrBot produces $600 printers which are fully functional, easily built, and can be serviced by their customers—a hybrid DIY product.

As far as manufacturers go, three disparate groups dominate the 3D printing landscape. Open-source groups value open access, offering interested parties the ability to build their own or tinker with existing designs without the hefty price tag that comes with patented materials. Open hardware groups sell products that are manufactured to high quality standards, but still contribute the designs they’ve developed to the open source community. Capital driven groups, like 3D systems, produce technology which is proprietary. This allows them to raise the funding needed to potentially test officially printed products for medical and scientific uses. Regulations in the US, after all, are an intense obstacle for the implementation of creative, cutting edge medical technology. The flip side of this, of course, is that consumer products like The Cube, are developed. The Cube requires the use of branded 3D plastic delivered by proprietary cartridges much like printers on the Laser Printer market. This kind of disposable cartridge is not only wasteful, but costly. The need for profit is passed on to consumers, rendering the product exclusionary based on its price.

The distinct groups within the realm of 3D printing are not at peace. Profit-driven corporations are currently in litigation with open source groups because their 3D printers make use of certain types of 3D printing, like stereo-lithography, a process which 3D Systems patented.[5] Despite this, open-source and open-hardware groups are determined to keep the DIY community alive and growing. Access, affordability, and non-profit uses seem to be the main goals for open-source, regardless of legal trouble.

The unstable nature of 3D printing leads to a set of complicated questions. Does open-sourcing 3D printers cut into the profit-making abilities of major corporations who market to largely wealthy consumers? If so, are the profit-driven companies concerned only with profits and share holders? Or are they protecting their ability to produce capital meant for funding the production, testing, and legal implementation of important (and possibly life-saving) devices and parts—medical parts for Arthoplasty, hip surgery, or jaw surgery? And if corporations are, in fact, protecting their ability to progress necessary medical science, then why are so many refusing to look into 3D printing, leaving us to run on the fumes of hope? In an interview with US News on the possibilities of 3D printing prosthetics, Thomas Most says, “The biggest hurdle is getting major orthotics companies to get on board.”

Even as many projects are currently taking place in the scientific communities funded by major corporations, the most effective and affordable work seems to be taking place at the grassroots, indie level. Plastic jaws, prosthetic hands, and parts for new limbs are being printed and put to use immediately wherever grassroot 3D operations are determined to assist those in need.

It seems to me that something larger than protecting potential business is at play in this situation. This is the same kind of systematic malady that medicine in the US has seen. Issues of access, cost, and effectiveness are caused by profit-seeking manufacturers and insurance carriers, the high price of equipment due to patenting, and stringent regulations which protect consumers but raise the cost of production and slow down efficiency with bureaucracy. It’s not difficult to stumble onto news about how broken US medical research and regulation practices are. US News is hopeful that other modes of medical technology will offer cost-cutting advances. Meanwhile, there are people in need today.

Additionally, government-funded medical research has been cut to such a level that the development of new medical technologies has come to a halt. Believe it or not, DARPA, our defense research project, is conducting more prosthetic research than our medical industry is.

One solution being discussed is the possibility of directing the NIH and FDA to identify and fund open-source products or technologies which would benefit society. This would allow innovations to proceed with the full force of large community cooperation while ensuring full safety testing of potential medical technologies. The current model of relying on large profit-driven corporations to fund, test, and select which technologies are used in medicine inevitably results in only the most profitable technologies being developed. This could leave special needs patients without new technologies since they are a minority compared to the number of people looking for elective cosmetic surgery. Open-source groups, on the other hand, historically focus on need, efficiency, and affordability of the technologies they develop. If the RepRap project has taught us anything, it’s that large open-source groups are far more effective at developing necessary, cost-effective technologies in cutting edge areas than for-profit organizations are. In the end, however, the NIH itself has seen major cuts in its budget, leaving us to wonder where open source funding for 3D printing will come from at all.

Citations

[1] http://www.redorbit.com/education/reference_library/general-2/history-of/1112953506/the-history-of-3d-printing/

[2] http://honeybuild.com/guides/stereolithography/

[3] http://plasticsengineeringblog.com/2014/10/27/micro-extrusion-for-the-masses/

[4] http://freetinkers.com/blog/2014/05/28/open-source-and-3d-printers/

[5] http://www.insidecounsel.com/2014/01/07/ip-3d-printing-patent-litigation-now-the-shape-of

Articles on defunded medical research

Huffington Post

Pacific Standard

Boston Globe

Elsevier Connect

Washington Post

Articles on independent 3D operations producing Prosthetics and medical materials

Forbes

3Ders Org

ARS Technica

Enabling The Future Org

Metro

NEWSELA

3D Printing Industry

Articles highlighting 3D printing issues

CNBC

Architectural Review

Science Direct

“Simulcasting at HMC”

“Simulcasting” at HMC

by

AJ Strout

AVJamesSadler

In my quest to become acquainted with unique technology use at each of the 5C’s, I attended HMC’s Bite of Learning Speaker Series presentation on Simulcasting. Simulcasting, as Instructional Media Specialist James Sadler calls it, is made possible by a Full Duplex audio and video communication system. It works by connecting the projection, video and sound system in Shanahan Center with satellite auditoriums and nearby classrooms so that presentations can be made beyond Shanahan’s capacity of 300 seats. James says of the system, “Our simulcasting system is very effective in connecting multiple rooms together. With it, the audience can feel as though they are in the same room as the presenter by interacting in real time.”

The Simulcasting system’s most impressive feature is how dynamic it is. Any media that the presenter displays on the boards, projector screens, or through the speakers, is not excluded from any viewer’s experience. High definition, directional cameras in Shanahan Center and Projectors in satellite rooms are managed by AV technicians in the control booth through easy-to-use software. Somewhat like the multi-cam capabilities of a digital editing platform, the technician switches the projection system in outlying rooms back and forth between video of the speaker and the media they are presenting, in real time.

AVSimulcastSystem

The Simulcast replaces a 48 point video switch—a potentially messy and difficult to maintain system that would have required hard wiring through the infrastructure of the building. Unlike a hardwired system, the Duplex has independent components which James can replace or upgrade at any time, enabling efficient expansion. Additionally, James says that it’s cost effective. “Because the majority of the equipment is already used for HMC’s Lecture Capture System, the costs were relatively low.” To install a similar system from scratch might have cost the college tens of thousands in hardware alone.

AVSimulcast1

Though a system like this can be costly and requires at least two technicians to run the equipment and software, a more modest version has the potential to connect classrooms on a smaller scale. I’m imagining hybrid or intersected courses taught by multiple faculty members who collaborate across disciplines; courses that intermittently converge separate but related fields presented by specialized faculty on a dynamic schedule. While individual culture and science courses take place simultaneously in separate rooms, for example, they could potentially tune in to each other’s lectures on pertinent topic days. As I’m certain that something like this is already taking place somewhere at the 5 Cs, I’m all ears to anyone who’d love to share this work with the DH community.

The Mellon DH Grant: Improving DH at the Claremont Colleges

by AJ Strout

Because my background in academic digital media production is focused on social responsibility, my experience in project management is related to the digital humanities, but has never been steeped in it. Until now. As you may already know, I’ve been tasked with the great responsibility of managing the Mellon DH grant that the Claremont Colleges was awarded. Having met with the library staff, a brilliant and vivacious group of dedicated individuals, I’ve learned a lot about the scope of the grant, what will be addressed as far as improving the DH at the CC, and how we can get it all done at a sustainable pace. Solidifying the wisdom that the library shared with me was my recent experience at THATCamp, a humanities and technology meeting that hosts improvisatory sessions. The article below, which serves as my introduction to the DH community at the CC, is the result of everything I’ve learned thus far. I hope it proves useful to those who are curious about how the Mellon grant will work and provides an update to the ongoing process.

As we all know, DH are often a college’s most broad, inter-disciplinary group of fields. Though these fields rely on one another to produce useful, meaningful DH projects, they don’t always interact with one another because of the separation between departments and lack of a DH “center.” Ultimately, some kind of DH mecca is necessary to provide tools, resources, administrative support, and act as the networking hub between the departments. Since a college’s library usually takes on this role, the Claremont Colleges are definitely on track. Honnold Mudd Library is a rich repository of resources for anyone in the DH looking to collaborate, learn new skills, or network. And it’s about to become an even better reserve for these things as the Mellon grant we’ve just received gets its foothold. Easy, right?

Because DH includes so many departments in the wide field of humanities, this is particularly problematic for liberal arts colleges. Nearly every field within a liberal arts institution is humanist in nature. Additionally, small liberal arts colleges like the Claremont Consortium tend to conduct business in relatively democratic ways while larger universities work through bureaucracy. Though bureaucracy slows down the micro processes of building a DH program, it enables the program to be developed in a clear, concise, and organized manner. This is immediately clear when faculty from UCLA, SDU or UCSD speak about the DH programs at their universities. They admittedly have some of the same complications that we at the Claremont Colleges are facing, like encouraging participation and staffing administrative positions, but there is a lot of structure and organization to speak of in their DH programs.

What can we take from the big universities who use far more regimented guidelines and implementation processes than small liberal arts colleges who, though they are quite effective and well structured, still take a more relaxed approach to developing programs? Perhaps what we can learn is to slowly build a cite-specific DH center to guide DH at the Claremont Colleges through initially small projects while honoring the democratic nature of the consortium. A center which, rather than providing perfunctory infrastructure and gate-keeping, focuses on process. A center that offers an intra-active space for collaboration and which provides tools, resources, and administrative assistance. Where do we begin? We already know that lack of sustainability and access, messiness, disorganized data, and failed events are risks for building a DH center. THATCamp confirmed what key personnel at Honnold library and DH faculty have already been discussing and offered insight in many DH areas, point by point.

Sustainability

Many attendees at THATCamp expressed that their experiences in DH work have been dissatisfying because the projects are often unsustainable. The scope of the work is too large, especially when DH is a college’s most broad, interdisciplinary area of research which encompasses so many fields of scholarship. Additionally, many of these fields don’t interact with one another because of the separation between departments and lack of a DH “center.” Here are the THATCamp suggestions:

  • Slowly build a small DH center, with or without infrastructure, which can grow over a sustained period of time.
  • Form working groups which brainstorm to develop small DH projects that can stand alone as they are, or be expanded on by interested parties.

Democratic Humanist Work

Ethics were another DH issue that came up. DH goals have, at times, been focused on less than meaningful activities like fundraising and marketing, both of which drain resources and undermine the humanist perspective of the work. Parallel to this are the expectations that are often pushed onto DH projects. While a number of faculty value decentralized humanist work which is messy and experimental in nature, overseers often require DH projects to produce a substantial product that will garner acclaim. Some DH’ers also reported that they’ve abandoned projects because many are personalized enterprises meant to promote one scholar’s ideas with supporting faculty and students doing the majority of the work. Here’s what THATCamp’ers had to say:

  • Help overseers understand that failed projects often produces skill building and that the focus should be on process, not on product.
  • Working groups should brainstorm to develop a common goal within the growth process that is interesting and useful to both students and faculty.
  • Keep in mind when developing working groups that design and media arts are the most popular amongst undergrad students—these are the areas that are most likely to help them develop working skills for future paid work.

Metadata

Organizing meta-data and resources that are central to the library is of paramount concern because it is an issue on both sides of the coin: Data must be categorized and organized so that it can be further mined, and it needs to be readily available for participants to find and use.

  • Determine the major areas of data and share these with all grant participants.
  • Data Visualization: Mapping and other visual representations of organized data and their subcategories have been quite successful.
  • Holding small working group events with DH faculty can facilitate skill building and data sharing

Administrative Work

DH’ers know there are people in the library who are interested in providing assistance, but report a lack of clearly defined staff to handle the administrative work that often accompanies DH work. Complications also arise when faculty develop courses without seeking assistance from the DH center to discuss resources and available tools. Even more important is the complications that come with the heavy workload that library staff are responsible for when having to imagine service models for each project.

  • Starting the DH program in the library and hiring during the process where support is needed has provided more success than examining roles and tasks to create positions from at the start of the project.
  • Curricular Planning and engagement is successful when the library is involved to inform faculty of available resources.

DH Events

Events were of particular interest to a lot of DH’ers because the workshops and summits they held often failed to produce interest. Faculty already commit a substantial amount of their time to teaching and DH events cut into personal time. Events like workshopping and symposiums where they are expected to sit and listen are not appealing. Food has been a relatively successful incentive for some, but others indicated its inability to sustain interest in whatever projects or work following the events.

  • Small scale working projects usually produce great results
  • Workshopping should be replaced with small working groups of faculty and students get together to work on an actual project that can be grown later.
  • Symposiums should be replaced with conversations and, perhaps something that emulates the “Eat, Talk, Teach, Run” program developed by Brian Croxall and Howard Chiou.
  • A DH center would be very useful, so long as it is widely announced and its rubrics are established, discussed throughly, and implemented on a small scale to build outward.
  • Establish working group events that utilize the most popular subject in the DH: Design and Media Arts.
  • Clubs are quite popular: Media making club, Digital Arts club, Open Source club, Coding club, etc.

As DH efforts move forward at the Claremont Colleges, it’s clear that the library staff’s desire to build a DH center focused on process and sustainability is crucial to growth in the Digital Humanities. Their plans to grow through practice and involvement fosters endless possibilities for skill building, successful projects, and lasting relationships amongst faculty throughout the departments. As the newest member of this dedicated group, I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.

Claremont Colleges receive 1.5 million to develop DH teaching & scholarship

DHmapThe five undergraduate colleges of the Claremont University Consortium—Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Scripps, Harvey Mudd and Pitzer College—have received a $1.5 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to strengthen and expand digital humanities (DH) teaching and scholarship across The Claremont Colleges and beyond.

Please contact Professor Alex Juhasz for more information.

Interview With Alexandra Juhasz on the Library of Congress Digital Preservation Blog

The following is a guest post from Julia Fernandez, this year’s NDIIPP Junior Fellow. Julia has a background in American studies and working with folklife institutions and worked on a range of projects leading up to CurateCamp Digital Culture in July. This is part of a series of interviews Julia conducted to better understand the kinds of born-digital primary sources folklorists, and others interested in studying digital culture, are making use of for their scholarship.

Studying, Teaching and Publishing on YouTube: An Interview With Alexandra Juhasz 

Open Access and DH goodness from Michelle Dalmau at Indiana University

In honor of Open Access Week, and motivated by a recent mock keynote debate, “A Matter of Scale,” presented by Matt Jockers and Julia Flanders as part of the Boston Area Days of Digital Humanities Conference, I present for exploration, re-use and re-mixing outside of their native interfaces TEI (P4 & P5) and plain text files of the following e-text collections published by the Indiana University (IU) Libraries:

These files are made available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0) license and can be downloaded or forked from githib, https://github.com/iulibdcs/tei_text, which includes a detailed readme file that you should, um, read, about this initiative.

I encourage you to share your uses (intended, past, and future) of this data on our repository’s wiki space: <https://github.com/iulibdcs/tei_text/wiki> so we can track your magic.

Have fun!

–Michelle

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Michelle Dalmau, Interim Head

Digital Collections Services

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Indiana University

Herman B Wells Library

1320 East 10th Street, Rm W501

Bloomington, Indiana 47405

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Web:  http://michelledalmau.com

Twitter:  @mdalmau