Matthew G. Kirschenbaum

University of Maryland

Archive for News

Spring Talks

February 6 I’m running an introduction to MLA Commons for the UMD English department. We’re doing a BitCurator panel on ethics and digital forensics at the Personal Digital Archiving conference February 21-22. I’ll be giving a talk with Wendy Chun at NYU on March 1, both of us speaking under the general rubric of Media Archaeology. I’ll also be doing a workshop the afternoon before the event called “8-Bit DH: Locating the Literary History of Word Processing.” On March 21, I’ll be at McGill University to share current work from Track Changes for their annual Digital Humanities Lecture; something is also shaping up at Concordia the day beforehand, will add details when I have them. On April 5 I’ll be at Library of Congress for their Electronic Literature Showcase. On April 6 I’m one of the plenary speakers for the UMD Graduate English Organization’s conference on “(Dis)Realities and the Literary and Cultural Imagination” (my talk: “What Was Digital Humanities?” On April 25, I’ll be at Yale for the History of the Book Program, and will stay on to speak at the Beinecke’s conference on Beyond the Text: Literary Archives in the 21st Century that weekend.

Track Changes is on Tumblr

I’ve created a Tumblr blog for Track Changes to collect some of the media coverage and other developments related to the project. I will also continue to post periodic updates here.

Digital Humanities Archive Fever

My plenary lecture at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria, June 2011. The talk, which runs about 50 minutes with questions, attempts to present a framework and rationale for more closely integrating the activities of the digital humanities with the work of those archivists now beginning the formidable task of processing born-digital cultural heritage collections.

DHSI Plenary Lecture: “Digital Humanities Archive Fever” from MITH in MD on Vimeo.

During My Fellowship

I will be on leave with a Guggenheim fellowship from August 2011 to August 2012, working on my new book project. During this period I will be adopting the following policies to protect the research time with which I have been entrusted.

For students and colleagues here at Maryland:

  • My commitment to current and former students or employees for whom I am or have been their primary adviser or supervisor continues, and I will be available to them for job-related letters of recommendation, reading work in progress, research consultations, and thesis defenses or exams. I will not, however, be able to take on new students during my fellowship year, neither graduate nor undergraduate. Nor will I be able to write letters of recommendation or offer consultations for students with whom I have not had a previous advising relationship.
  • I will be keeping my time on campus to a minimum. Generally Tuesdays will be the best days to make an appointment.
  • I will not be available for class visits or for hosting groups or classes at MITH.
  • I will not be accepting new committee assignments.
  • As of May 2011 I have concluded my term as director of the Digital Cultures and Creativity honors program. Hasan Elahi is the new director. Inquiries may be sent to dcc-honors at umd dot edu.

For the rest of the world:

  • I will be keeping new travel and speaking commitments to a minimum. Please feel free to contact me with your invitation—I am always genuinely appreciative—but please understand if I ask you to keep me in mind for the future instead. The same goes for invitations to contribute chapters and essays. I will, of course, be honoring previously arranged commitments.
  • I will not be taking on manuscript reviews or reports for presses and journals. (If you truly think I would have exceptional interest in a particular item you can try me.)
  • I will not be available to write letters of support for grant applications and the like.
  • I will not be taking on external project evaluations.
  • I will not be taking on external tenure evaluations.
  • I do anticipate teaching at Rare Book School in summer 2012, pending, of course, the needs of the RBS curriculum.

In short, for the next twelve months,

Give me, kind Heaven, a private [work]station,
A mind serene for contemplation!

Thank you in advance for your attention and understanding. (With apologies to John Gay.)

 

Track Changes

UPDATE: NYT readers, you may wish to have a look at a more recent post in which I’m specifically requesting research assistance on documenting the early history of literary word processing. Thanks.

 

So, yeah, I’m thrilled, chuffed, and floored to be announcing that I was selected as a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow.

In its eighty-seventh annual competition for the United States and Canada the Foundation has awarded 180 Fellowships to artists, scientists, and scholars. The successful candidates were chosen from a group of some 3,000 applicants.

Congratulations have been coming in from all over. Thank you once again to everyone who has written. The highlight was receiving a text message from my ten-year old niece who saw my name in the New York Times.

The project I will be working on is entitled “Track Changes: Authorship, Archives, and Literary Culture After Word Processing.” Unlike my first book, Mechanisms (2008), where I was primarily interested in experimental instances of electronic literature, here I will be looking at the impact of digital media throughout all sectors of contemporary literary composition, publishing, reception, and archival preservation. I intend to argue that the full parameters of computers as what electronic publishing pioneer Ted Nelson three decades ago called “literary machines” have not yet been fully delineated, and that as a consequence we conceive of print and the digital as rival or successive forms rather than as elements of a process wherein relations between the two media (at the level of both individual and collective practice) are considerably more dynamic and contingent. Ted Striphas’s work in the already-indispensable The Late Age of Print (2009) probably comes closest to the kind of study I am looking to accomplish, but whereas he focuses primarily on the commerce and commodity status of books in the present day, my interests lie in the material conditions of authorship and today’s technologies of the literary. (The “Track Changes” of my title was first introduced as the “Mark Revisions” feature in Word 95, where it was derivative of the Redline functionality in WordPerfect, then Word’s major industry competitor.) The methodology will be a hybrid of software studies and book history. The writing I do will build on the work I’ve done in the projects I’ve taken on since finishing Mechanisms, including “Approaches to Managing and Collecting Born-Digital Literary Materials for Scholarly Use,” Preserving Virtual Worlds, and Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections.

I will, of course, use this space to share occasional work in progress and otherwise offer updates on progress. In the meantime, I will be at TILTS at UT Austin at the end of May, the Digital Humanities Summer Institute and Digital Humanities 2011 conference in June, SHARP in DC in July, and then teaching once again at Rare Book School in Charlottesville. The fellowship period begins in August.

Labyrinths

My latest piece of game-related writing over at Play the Past examines Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001-?, a controversial board game that attempts to create a playable model of the post-9/11 world. What are the responsibilities of designer, player, and publisher with a game timely and topical enough to encompass rapidly unfolding events in Egypt and the Middle East? Can a game, any game, do justice to the complexities and sensitivities of our contemporary world? Can board games tackle material mass market computer games can’t or won’t? Join the discussion!

Digital Forensics Report Now Out

Forensics ReportI’m very happy to announce the availability of Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections, a new CLIR report emerging from the Mellon-sponsored workshop on the same topic held last spring here at the University of Maryland. The report (written by myself, Richard Ovenden, and Gabriela Redwine, with research assistance from Rachel Donahue) introduces the field of digital forensics in the cultural heritage sector and explores some points of convergence between the interests of those charged with collecting and maintaining born-digital cultural heritage materials and those charged with collecting and maintaining legal evidence.

Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections is available electronically at http://www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/pub149abst.html. Print copies will be available in January for ordering through CLIR’s Web site, for $25 per copy plus shipping and handling.

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