Hey there! This is Amanda Visconti’s blog.
I’m a digital humanist hybrid:
a web designer/developer (CMS geek),
games researcher/designer, and
literature Ph.D. candidate with a master’s degree in information from the University of Michigan.
I blog regularly here at LiteratureGeek.com on my niches of the digital humanities (DH): my building-as-scholarship digital dissertation, game studies, web dev/design/info vis, and literature (digital Ulysses, e-lit, textual scholarship, book graphesis).
For me, the digital humanities is all about the public humanities: using digital means to advance our knowledge about our cultural history, present, and future while sharing the love of that knowledge with people outside the academy. DH “for the users” means harnessing pedagogy, games, interface design, and user studies to share our love for and experience with the stories forming our culture with a wider audience. My developing, non-traditional dissertation advances our understanding of complex texts weird editions, and visually rich pages through the building and testing of CMS plugins, interfaces, and sites that apply theories about games, editing, materiality, graphesis, participatory design, and learning to complex texts–mashing up the old form of “scholarly edition” with user-centered design, games, pedagogy, and online community architecture. Making scholarly tools is scholarly work in itself, but I’ll also be demonstrating how these tools can be used to produce new knowledge about the literary texts they support!
DH Experience. I’ve worked as an IMLS Model Digital Humanities intern, Webmaster, and currently as a research assistant at one of the world’s premiere digital humanities centers, MITH (the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities).
Game Studies, Research, and Design. In addition to teaching games to my undergraduate students as one of many rich forms of literary narrative, I build and research alternate reality games (ARGs) as a member of the University of Maryland iSchool ARGs Research Team, which studies ARGs in the service of design and education (read more about our research and game at ArcaneGalleryOfGadgetry.org). Our NSF-funded game, the Arcane Gallery of Gadgetry, is a “cabinet of curiosities” combining a rich and oftentimes mysteriously fragmented historical tapestry with what Rob MacDougall has called “playful historical thinking.” By incorporating counterfactuals and re-imagining the past, AGOG is designed to lead players into a newly enfranchised relationship with history, teach them STEM and information literacy skills, and help them discover the secret stories outside most history books. In addition to a number of publications on ARG design and deployment, our team has been known to surprise attendees at our conference presentations with stealth mini-ARGs to give them a true experience of what we’re discussing.
It was about time we had a serious meeting of people who wanted to mash up the humanities, game-playing, and game studies, so I co-organized the inaugural THATCamp Games digital humanities and games academic unconference with Anastasia Salter in January 2012. Using the popular, non-hierarchical, less-yack-more-hack approach of the THATCamp pattern, we spent 3.5 days with over 100 game industry professional, teachers, scholars, researchers, and government workers–and got to talk, play, and build meaningful games in an unusually productive manner.
In addition to digital and alternate reality games and closely related e-lit, another major literary interest is a digital Ulysses–projects aimed at helping everyone enjoy James Joyce’s infamously complex and difficult novel. In addition to being one of the most rewarding stories to read ever–after a time delay!–Ulysses is the perfect test case for developing digital projects and interfaces to push digital narrative design and coding to the limit.
As a web developer and designer, I’m a CMS geek with advanced experience in three powerful systems: WordPress, Drupal, and Omeka (I’ve also developed with Joomla! and Mediawiki, but I’m not as big a fan of those platforms). I’m beginning to use Gephi to create visualizations of literary data (e.g. my citation network visualization work for a Association for Computers in the Humanities Microgrant). I’ve worked as a developer on the Making Digital Humanities More Open project, which seeks to make CMS content (where much of digital humanities content–and really, much of all the content on the internet–resides) more accessible.