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MLA Executive Council #3: Statement on Matters of Professional Concern

Continuing with the idea of using this blog to expand, even slightly, the process of my running for MLA Executive Council, I’ve posted some materials below. The first round of information requested by MLA was a biographical statement, a sort of highly compressed CV that I tried to expand upon in my last post. The second chunk of information was this–a Statement on Matters of Professional Concern. I found this to be an odd genre, as it is basically your only space as a nominee to

  1. Situate yourself politically
  2. Give a personal history of yourself divorced from byte sized, academically parseable accomplishments
  3. Zero in on any specific accomplishments in any detail
  4. Lay out a plan for your time at the MLA Exec, if elected

That’s a lot of weight for 250 words to pull!

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MLA Executive Council #2: Expanded Biographical Summary

As part of running for a spot on the MLA Executive Council, I was asked to furnish a Biographical Summary:

*Daniel Powell. Grad. student English, Univ. of Victoria. MA, Univ. of Victoria. Current appointment: Early Stage Researcher and Marie Skłowdowska-Curie Fellow, Digital Scholarly Editions Initial Training Network, King’s Coll. London. Institutional service: grad. student conference planning comm., 2010; ch., Academic and Professional Comm., English Grad. Students’ Soc. (EGSS), 2011–12; pres., EGSS, 2013–14; PhD representative, Dept. of English, 2013–14; Grad. Representative Council, Grad. Students’ Soc., 2013–14. Mellon fellowship, THATCamp, 2011; NEH travel grant, 2012; Digital Humanities Winter Inst. scholarship (Maryland Inst. for Technology in the Humanities), 2013; NEH stipend, Folger Shakespeare Library, 2013. Mairi Riddel Memorial Book Prize (for best seminar essay), Dept. of English, Univ. of Victoria, 2012. Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory scholar, 2011– ; steering comm., Advanced Research Consortium, Texas A&M Univ., 2013– ; steering comm., Renaissance Knowledge Network, Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance, 2014– . Renaissance Soc. of America, Assn. for Computers and the Humanities, Canadian Soc. for Digital Humanities, Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO). MLA activities: Comm. on Information Technology, 2014–17. Coed.,Graduate Training in the 21st Century, 2014– ; ed. asst. (for digital publication), Early Theatre, 2012–15. Invited lectures: Univ. of Western Sydney, Mar. 2014; Natl. Univ. of Ireland, Galway, Nov. 2014. Conference presentations: Canadian Soc. for Digital Humanities, 2012; Digital Humanities Summer Inst. Colloquium (Univ. of Victoria), 2012; Pacific Northwest Renaissance Soc., 2012; Rocky Mountain MLA, 2013; MLA, 2014; ADHO, 2015. Publications include coed., A Social Edition of the Devonshire MS (BL Add 17,492) (2015); contrib., Literary Studies in the Digital Age: A Methodological Primer (2012), Teaching and Learning Multimodal Communications: A Collaborative Handbook (2013); articles in Scholarly and Research Communication, Digital Studies / Le champ numérique, Religion and Literature.

As is probably obvious, this is not how I usually write about my achievements, nor how things are usually abbreviated in literary studies, the digital humanities, or many other academic fields. In fact, it is pretty obvious that these biographies are designed for print, for appearance in a media with sever constraints on the length of print included. So I’d like to take advantage of this digital space to expand those abbreviations, drawing in part on the full CV on this site.

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MLA Executive Council

As some of you might have seen, I’ve been nominated to stand for election to the Modern Language Association’s Executive Council.

The Executive Council “has fiduciary and administrative responsibility for the association,” according to the official description. Basically, as I understand things, the Executive Council advises the Executive Director (Rosemary Feal) on a variety of topics, and is designed to provide a breadth of viewpoints and to reflect a variety of constituencies within the MLA at the level of executive decision making and action.

My own nomination has come about because I tick some of those boxes quite well, namely, that I’m a graduate student at a non-US, non-R1 institution. This year, of the seven individuals nominated for the Executive Committee, the membership must elect one regular member of MLA and two graduate students. I am one of five students standing; two of us will be joining the council, however things work out. Of the folks standing, I am the only one not at a US institution and, I believe, the only one currently living outside of the US. All hail the Canadian incursion. 

I’ve pasted my official, MLA-produced profile here for folks to take a look at. As it’s a bit dense and full of abbreviations, I’ll be elaborating on a few different things over the coming weeks that I feel aren’t quite captured by this listing.

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Social Knowledge Creation and the Retransmission of Cultural Materials

[I recently presented at an Implementing New Knowledge Environments gathering in Sydney, NSW. The distances between London and Australia being what they are, I made a video rather than attending in person. I’ve embedded it below.]


Navigating Culture in an Age of Digital Abundance – Presentation

[updated 19 November 2014]

Today I am giving an Ignite! talk at the Being Human Festival, based today at Senate House at the University of London. The overall theme of today is “Too Much Information,” and I am excited to be taking part! As an Ignite! presenter, I will have five minutes and twenty slides to present on my topic–Navigating Culture in an Age of Digital Abundance.” Each slide will be on screen for 15 seconds.

I’ve done similar things before, but usually as Pecha Kuchas, where you get 20 slides at 20 seconds per slide, for a total of six minutes 20 seconds. Ignite is quite a bit shorter, necessitating some difficult choices with regards to images, talking points, and how best to get my point across.

In brief, my presentation argues that the best way to think about information overload in a digital age is to better think about how we can develop systems and networks to make information more usable. This information could be catalogue holdings, youtube videos, scanned books, music files, whatever. The important thing is that for this mass of content to be discoverable, usable, and enjoyable, it has to be organised and accessible. Trusting in crowdsourced networks to assess goods and media, to organise and catalogue, and to recommend content is perhaps the only effective way to grapple with the sheer numbers. As Clay Shirky says, “It’s not information overload–it’s filter failure.” And the best way to make filters is to join together in networks and do so as a community, a radical change from how culture and knowledge have been put forward in the past.

Given the time constraints, I’ve pasted my slides below in PNG format; those in the room might find it easier to revisit and/or follow along here than in real time!

[Edit: Since presenting, I have gone through and added text to these slides, giving a more accurate, though not word for word, account of the presentation and significance of each slide.]

 

ignite_talk_djpowell2.001

 

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