IMLS Digital Humanities Internship Opportunity

Digital Humanities Internship Program for MLS Students: Call for Applicants

For the past two years Maryland’s iSchool has been providing a select number of MLS students with an internship opportunity at the Maryland Institute for Technology (MITH) or one of two other prestigious Digital Humanities Centers: Nebraska’s Center for Digital Research in the Humanities and Michigan State’s MATRIX.  Funded by a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the internships support students through a combination of Graduate Student Assistantships and summer stipends.  After reviewing our budget, we have determined that the University of Maryland is able to support one final UMD iSchool student in Summer 2011 at one of the following digital humanities centers:

•    University of Maryland, College Park. Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH).
•    Michigan State University, Lansing. MATRIX
•    University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Center for Digital Research in the Humanities (CDRH)

To apply for an 8-week internship for summer 2011, please download and complete the application form attached to this message and return it via email–along with a copy of your CV–to Dr. Kari Kraus at by Friday, 6 May 2011.

Depending on circumstances, students may be offered either a residential (on-site) or distance internship.   In your email message submitting the application, please rank your preferences for internship location.

Application deadline is Friday, 6 May 2011 at 5:00 pm.

To learn more about the internships and the hosting sites, I invite you to attend an informal informational session on Thursday, April 28 from 10:00-11:00 am in Hornbake room 2116. If you have any questions, please contact me at or 301.529.0977. I’d encourage you to drop me a note if you plan on applying.

Creative Futures

[Now updated with learning outcomes]

A while back, I tweeted that I’d love to teach a course based on Long Now principles.  Inspired by people like Stewart Brand, Jane McGonigal, and Stuart Candy, I decided to do it.  Below is a draft of a proposal for an undergraduate Honors course, some version of which I’ll teach next fall.  I’m particularly interested in bringing archival science and digital preservation–disciplines of the cultural record with notoriously long time horizons–to bear on the content and method of the class.

The idea of creating a start-up manual for civilization comes from Stewart Brand’s The Clock of the Long Now.  Other suggestions for readings and projects much appreciated!


Creative Futures

The most important question we must ask ourselves is, “Are we being good ancestors?”

~ Jonas Salk


We need to start playing with the future.

~Jane McGonigal


In 1960, the city of Detroit was an international symbol of American prosperity and ingenuity, a bustling metropolis whose automobile industry was known the world over.  Fast forward to 2010: many of the Motor City’s once opulent skyscrapers have been razed, the doors of its grand hotels shuttered, its stores and residential areas vacated, and its assembly lines shut down.  For researcher Stuart Candy, Detroit represents a particularly dramatic example of the consequences of “failed foresight”: the failure to adopt future-aware thinking and to act in a way that benefits not only ourselves, but also those who come after us.

This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of long-term thinking in the service of art, design, preservation, communication, and civic engagement. Our aim is to learn how to use the present as a space in which to incubate the future—the future as imagined, represented, created, and invoked by poets, artists, scholars, gamers, scientists, the media, the public, and (of course) ourselves.  Over the course of the semester, we will incrementally expand our time horizons, drawing inspiration in part from the Long Now Foundation, which seeks to furnish tools and methods for reckoning with “deep time,” time measured in intervals of hundreds or even thousands of years. The Rosetta Disk—a latter day Rosetta Stone three inches in diameter containing a microscopically etched archive of over 1500 languages—is intended as a proof of concept for the Foundation’s 10,000-Year Library.

The course has been developed with a range of applications and industries in mind, from the formulation of better public policy to the design of next-generation products and services to the creation of immersive worlds for science fiction and film (consider, for example, the constructed language of the Na’Vi and the flora and fauna of Pandora in James Cameron’s Avatar). Students will have the opportunity to stage their own prospective scenarios, drawing on the techniques of speculative design (or “design fiction”), which involve the mocking up or prototyping of artifacts that embody our ideas about the future.  The syllabus also includes examples of Massively Multiplayer Foresight Games–notably World Without Oil and Superstruct–which function as platforms for developing what Jane McGonigal calls “future world-making skills.”  Other class projects may include a time capsule, a message to posterity, and a start-up manual for civilization.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the semester, students should be able to:

• recognize the ethical, political, and societal stakes of long-term thinking
• understand how science, technology, and the arts are increasing humanity’s communicational range across time
• apply time theory in the areas of art, design, communication, preservation, and civic engagement
• demonstrate and evaluate the methods of speculative design
• provide examples of projects, initiatives, and institutions that practice and promote future-aware thinking
• appreciate the potential of games as spaces in which to collectively imagine and create the future
• implement future world-making skills
• offer historical and cross-cultural perspectives on social constructions of time
• identify potential techniques for extending and transforming the temporal frameworks of institutions and organizations
• discuss the principal challenges of and approaches to digital preservation

Possible Readings and Topics:

Theory and Method

  • Stewart Brand, Clock Of The Long Now: Time And Responsibility
  • Gregory Benford, Deep Time: How Humanity Communicates Across Millennia
  • Stuart Candy on Experiential Scenarios, Found Futures, and Design Fiction
  • Jim Dator’s Laws of the Future and the Four Generic Futures
  • Richard Grusin, Premediation
  • Colin Martindale, The Clockwork Muse: The Predictability of Artistic Change
  • Bruce Mau, Massive Change
  • Barbara Adam, Timewatch: The Social Analysis of Time
  • Alfred Gell, The Anthropology of Time: Cultural Constructions of Temporal Maps and Images

Art & Culture

  • Massively Multiplayer Foresight Games and Alternate Reality Games
  • World Without Oil
  • Superstruct
  • Evoke
  • Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
  • Constructed and Imaginary Languages (e.g., Future English)
  • Capturing Avatar”: feature-length documentary of the making of James Cameron’s 2009 science fiction film, Avatar
  • Wired Magazine’s Artifacts from the Future (series)
  • Bruce Sterling on Design Fiction
  • Andrew Bennett on the culture of posterity

Science and Technology

  • Peter Ward, Future Evolution: An Illuminated History of Life to Come
  • Alan Weisman, The World Without Us
  • 10,000 Year Warning: Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), U. S. Department of Energy

Preservation and Provenance

  • Jeremy John, Digital Lives / Personal Digital Archives for the 21st Century: An Initial Synthesis
  • David Lowenthal, “Material Preservation and its Alternatives”
  • Linked Data and the Semantic Web
  • Preserving Virtual Worlds Final Report. Jerome McDonough, Robert Oldendorf (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign); Matthew Kirschenbaum, Kari Kraus, Doug Reside, Rachel Donahue (University of Maryland); Andrew Phelps and Christopher Egert (Rochester Institute of Technology); Henry Lowood and Susan Rojo (Stanford University)
  • The EU Provenance Project
  • W3C Provenance Report
  • Bruce Sterling on “spimes”
  • The 50,000 Year View: The KEO Project

More on AGOG

A couple of quick links:

LRS-V panel presentation

Documentation from our recent LRS-V conference presentation
“Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) and 21st-Century Literacies”

Derek Hansen, Assistant Professor; Kari Kraus, Assistant Professor; and Elizabeth Bonsignore, Doctoral student, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland

Margeaux Johnson, Science and Technology Librarian and Instruction Coordinator, University of Florida

Georgina B. Goodlander, Interpretive Programs Manager, Smithsonian American Art Museum

  • Slides
  • Instruction sheet for hands-on activity (reconstructing the Arcane Gallery of Gadgetry); see below
  • YouTube video with examples of artifacts produced for the Gallery
  • cryptic blog posts published in advance of the conference here and here

LRS-V Conference October 2010
Beth Bonsignore, Georgina Goodlander, Derek Hansen,
Margeaux Johnson, and Kari Kraus

Arcane Gallery of Gadgetry: Reconstructing Cabinet No. 1171706
Instruction Sheet

“Creativity always builds on the past.  And you’re creating the past now.”

~Lawrence Lessig

In 1844, Samuel Morse, a one-time professor of arts and design at New York University, sent a sequence of electromagnetic pulses over wire from Washington D.C. to Baltimore, Maryland.  Those pulses transmitted the first message sent via telegraph, the parent technology of our current telecommunications infrastructure.  The content of that first coded message–“What hath God wrought!”–was chosen by Annie Ellsworth, the daughter of a friend of Morse’s.  If there was a current of divinity barreling through that wire, as Ellsworth’s choice implies, then there was also one of common humanity: Morse’s telegraph was cobbled together from odds and ends lying about his artist’s studio and his brother’s print shop.  Type slugs, an artist’s canvas stretcher, wire from a paper mould, a compositor’s stick, and an old clock-work were salvaged from the jetsam to create a device that would chart a new communications course for civilization.  The telegraph was assemblage art, hacked together from found objects. Or call it remixing: think of Duchamp sampling da Vinci; or Picasso, Velazquez; or Keats, Boccacio; or Reubens, Titian. It is the very banality of this tale that makes it what it is: a parable of invention.

PART I.  In the spirit of Morse’s invention, we’re soliciting your help in reconstructing the Arcane Gallery of Gadgetry out of the fragments of patent models that survived the mysterious fire of 1877. To help prepare you for working with fragments and other mechanical remains, we’ve created a search and retrieval exercise intended to immerse you in the nineteenth-century culture of invention.  One of the striking aspects of patented designs during this era is their partial nature: inventors often modified or improved on parts of objects rather than creating wholes (e.g., skirt borders, drawer pulls, clock fronts, coffin handles, frying pan bottoms, watch chains, watch guards, lock case nosing).  The exercise should thus prime you for thinking creatively about found objects.

  • To begin, point your browser to the Historical Patent and Trademark Databases at
  • Click on “Design Patents to 1873” to download the patent spreadsheet and open it on your desktop.
  • Try to find a 19th-century design patent that corresponds generically to at least one of the objects assigned to you.  (Hint: you may need to coarsen or refine your grain of analysis when searching for and selecting a patent record.  Because the object on your card is part of a larger whole–a watch gear, for example, as opposed to a watch–you should generally think at the “part” level).  Note that for some objects, while there may be more than one relevant patent record, you only need to choose one.
  • If you get stuck, turn your card over, where you’ll find a relevant patent number encrypted in Morse code.  Feel free to use an online Morse code translator to decipher it:
  • Once you’ve successfully located a relevant patent record, you should complete each of the information fields on the patent label attached to your object (patent number, name of the inventor, name or description of the object, and year of invention)

PART II (can be undertaken concurrently with PART I). What sorts of wondrous, retro-futuristic inventions might have populated the Arcane Gallery of Gadgetry?  Help us curate a reconstructed version of Cabinet No. 1171706 by repurposing the objects of your search and retrieval exercise, as well as those in your assemblage kits.  Possible categories of inventions include but are not limited to communications devices, weapons and ammunition (think secret Civil War technologies), cryptographic devices, and medical equipment.  Once you’ve finished your model, fill out a patent tag with the name or description of your object, today’s date, and your team members’ names.  Then bring your invention up to the display area at the front of the room.

Meaningful Play 2010 panel session

Meaningful Play Conference October 21-23 2010

Interdisciplinary Designers, Designing Interactions

Beth Bonsignore, iSchool, University of Maryland
Rachel Donahue, iSchool, University of Maryland
Georgina Goodlander, Luce Foundation Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Kari Kraus, iSchool and Department of English, University of Maryland
Marc Ruppel, Department of English, University of Maryland

This panel will examine Alternate Reality Games as multi-disciplinary design spaces that support creative, choreographed exchanges among diverse design practitioners. Panelists will survey design principles across four disciplines and sectors, with the ultimate goal of abstracting away from the details to see what is most relevant to games, specifically ARGs, and how these principles might coordinate with one another. The design approaches surveyed include Human Computer Interaction (HCI) design; Narrative Design; Graphic Design; and Outreach, Marketing, and Strategic Design. A secondary objective is to position educational and cultural institutions (universities, museums, libraries) as Designer-Players beyond industry and entertainment. Because universities are frequently incubators for the design methods under consideration (which are then transferred to memory institutions via what Marcia Bates terms “disciplines of the cultural record“), they function as zones of experimentation and methodological cross-pollination. Adopting a case set approach, the panel will anchor specific design concepts in concrete examples drawn from the cultural, academic, and commercial sectors, including Ghosts of a Chance, the first ARG played out in a museum environment.

The design approaches surveyed are as follows:

Human Computer Interaction (HCI) design: Because they are designed across multiple media, and require players to collaborate across multiple media as they make sense of the story, ARGs offer possibilities for HCI designers to develop methods and tools to encourage collaboration and facilitate players’ creative expression during game play. Further, ARGs as a platform may offer HCI designers the opportunity to test emergent collaborative technologies with players who are highly invested in their use. The HCI design portion of the roundtable will address the ways in which ARGs pose considerations for the design of collaborative sensemaking tools, as well as the ways in which the collaborative activities of the players themselves can become a means for enhancing collaborative sensemaking and extending participatory design methods.

Narrative design: In order for an ARG to function successfully, it must have a malleable narrative that allows not only for the creation of a consistent (non)fictional world, but also as a structure that supports the various collaborative and problem solving components. In the case of Personal Effects, for example, the book’s main strategy is not only to provide the audience with the ARG’s primary narrative thrust, but also to instruct them,through various methods such as scaffolding and prompting, in the means with which to understand and navigate the ARG itself. This portion of the panel will discuss the narrative design principles that allow for successful ARG implementation, arguing that fictional worlds created in ARGs act as a fundamental interface for the other elements of design.

Graphic design: The panel will focus on forms of visual communication that are frequently used to reinforce core themes and participatory mechanisms in transmedia storytelling. The visual puns interspersed throughout Cathy’s Key, for example, amplify the central role of double meanings within the Cathy’s Book franchise and draw attention to their significance within ARG culture more broadly—a culture that relies extensively on multimodal representations that denote two or more things simultaneously (e.g., puns, doppelgangers, and encrypted messages). The panel will cross-reference these visual devices with relevant concepts drawn from HCI, such as the design of hidden and false affordances.

Outreach, Marketing, and Strategic Design: This component of the presentation will describe traditional outreach and public programming at memory institutions, shifting into a discussion of how the Smithsonian has begun to design games that fit into these existing strategies. For example, a primary goal with outreach is to build communities around/within the museum. The Smithsonian wants to create programs that make people feel a part of the museum by providing opportunities to interact with “real life” staff members and to contribute something of value. In Ghosts of a Chance, players were tasked to create artifacts for a museum exhibition, an activity that gave players a real sense of ownership and belonging. They responded to the fact that “the Smithsonian” valued their work, thereby initiating an ongoing collaborative relationship founded on museum/visitor trust.

Works Cited

Ghosts of a Chance, Smithsonian American Art Museum and City Mystery (2008)
● Hutchins, J.C. and Jordan Weisman, Personal Effects: Dark Art, Har/Pap. (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009).
● Stewart, Sean and Jordan Weisman, Cathy’s Key: If Found 650-266-8202 (RunningPress Kids, 2008).

Stanislas Dehaene’s Reading in the Brain

In spring 2010, I assigned Stanislas Dehaene’s Reading in the Brain in my undergraduate Honors seminar on the History of the Book and the Future of Reading.  Here are two short writing prompts I developed in conjunction with that assignment:

Topic #1: Write a paper about a poem of your choosing that integrates knowledge about the brain’s reading circuits into your analysis of the literary text.  The idea is to enrich traditional close reading techniques by incorporating information about written word recognition.  You might, for example, discuss Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem “Jabberwocky” not only within the context of well-known literary devices (e.g. alliteration, rhyme, and meter), but also from the point of view of the cognitive science of reading: how is Carroll manipulating phonological and lexical processing of words through his use of neologisms?  How might we better understand his poetic experiments through recourse to what Dehaene calls “priming effects” and the organization of the mental lexicon?  In short, how can the discipline of neuroscience help us unlock the “meaning” of the poem or reveal its compositional patterns and devices?

Topic #2: Select a traditional or concrete poem and discuss how its visual appearance on the page contributes to its meaning and comprehension (think about how metered poetry is organized into sequential lines and stanzas, for example, or how shaped verse, such as George Herbert’s “Easter Wings,” adopts a form that mimics its content).  Now imagine what would happen if that same poem were delivered to the reader using RSVP (Rapid Sequential Visual Presentation): the eyes would no longer need to move from left to right, text would no longer be organized in linear fashion, and words would be recognized and processed by the brain at a vastly accelerated rate (Dehaene 17-18).  What are the implications for experiencing and interpreting the poem under such conditions?  How are the affordances of reading changed?  What is at stake in such a conversion process? (Tip: you might want to experiment with Spreeder, the “speed reading trainer,” posted to the blog to help you think through these ideas).

Upcoming Talk

Thursday, April 15, 10:00-11:00 am
University of Maryland, College Park, Hornbake Bldg, room 2116

“iSchools and Digital Humanities Centers: A Creative Partnership”
by PAUL CONWAY (University of Michigan), PAT GALLOWAY (University of Texas), and KARI KRAUS (University of Maryland)

With generous funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, three graduate iSchools have developed a model internship program for placing Library and Information Science Masters students as interns in working digital humanities centers. The participants–which include the Information Schools at the University of Maryland, the University of Michigan, and the University of Texas, as well as Maryland’s MITH, Nebraska’s Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, and Michigan State’s MATRIX—are also working to develop a collaborative research program that draws on complementary areas of expertise and interest in the digital humanities and information studies.  In this talk, Conway, Galloway, and Kraus take stock of the program a year and a half into the grant cycle and make the case that the progress of the digital humanities and digital librarianship requires new models of collaboration among the information sciences and the humanities disciplines. The talk will contextualize the internship program within the broader academic framework of the mission and activities of iSchools, including the humanities-oriented profiles of many of the students, a curriculum that meaningfully combines–in holistic fashion–computational, legal, informational, cultural, and social content; and faculty research that crosses the two cultures of the humanities and sciences. The talk will also look at how the first round of internships from the model program is establishing rich connections between iSchools and DH Centers.

For more information, please contact Kari Kraus at

Syllabi for Spring 2010

This semester’s syllabi now available online: