The Lab Model
When the Franklin Humanities Institute started to offer Labs as a way to organize interdisciplinary teaching/research activities I was an enthusiastic participant. A veteran of the Virtual Worlds Working group (with Clare Woods) and Wired! supported discussion groups, I was excited to affiliate with these emergent, experimental formations. While I am ambivalent about the term “digital humanities,” I have found that within my FHI Lab experiences I have been able to delve into critical DH practice in exciting and multidimensional ways. We also use the Lab model in Wired!, and courses in Information Science + Information Studies have typically included interdisicpilnary, collaborative elements, but these more extended interventions have proved extremely useful and interesting as well.
As one of the founders and co-directors, with Tim Lenoir and Kate Hayles, of the Franklin Humanities Institute GreaterThanGames: Transmedia Applications, Virtual Worlds, and Digital Storytelling Lab at Duke (2011-13), I am especially interested in how we can think about how transmedia applications, virtual worlds, and digital storytelling can be combined to create new authoring platforms for multimodal, experiential interventions into social problems and as artistic practices in their own right. I brought to the mix a strong interest in geospatial humanities, virtual world development, database driven narratives, and a project-focused approach to humanities scholarship. In addition to teaching courses affiliated with the lab, I offer independent study and workshop opportunities of related interest. Being in this position also allowed me to opine on games and culture, including this Top Five list for Duke News in May 2012.
PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge and Networks
Tim Lenoir, Kate Hayles, and I are joining the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge and Networks in Fall 2013. This lab is targeted at graduate students consider the tremendous impact digital technologies are having on all aspects of higher education. My focus will be on new forms of scholarly publishing, especially spatial media applications. In Spring 2014 I plan to revive the Virtual Worlds Working Group, expanded to consider other forms of spatial media as well.
I was especially active in the Haiti Lab in its first year of its existence (2010-11), before GTG ramped up. I co-taught a course called “Representing Haiti” with Deborah Jenson, and worked on the Caribbean Cholera Project while there. This class-based teaching/research project was ultimately published as part of an essay.
We also began a project called Slave Nations, which attempts mine runaway slave ads for information about the ethnic and geographic origins of the Haitian slave population. This project is ongoing in the Haiti Lab.
Near and dear to my heart has been the work of the Border/Works lab, which is historically oriented and strongly invested in the critical use of digital mapping. Phil Stern, Deborah Jenson, and I co-organized a symposium called Mapping a Common Platform: Digital Cartography in the FHI Humanities Labs in September 2012 that addressed some of these questions. I have advised individual students in the lab on digital mapping techniques and visualization strategies for historical analysis and anticipate deeper collaboration with them going forward in Spring 2014.