Sobre co-diseño para recursos digitales en el sector cultural – Rostros del tiempo, 2o Coloquio de Vida Cotidiana en México

Hoy martes 3 de septiembre del 2019 participaré en el Segundo Coloquio de Vida Cotidiana en México, “Rostros del tiempo” a las 13:30hrs, en el Museo de Arte de la SHCP, Moneda 4, Centro Histórico, Ciudad de México. Entrada libre.

Mi presentación sintetizará aproximaciones de las ciencias sociales, el diseño interactivo o diseño centrado en el usuario (HCID) y las humanidades digitales explorando qué métodos podemos utilizar para buscar integrar más sustentablemente la vida cotidiana en México y los recursos digitales abiertos en el sector cultural mexicano.

Las principales preguntas que guiarán mi presentación serán:


  • ¿De qué hablamos cuando hablamos de “recursos” digitales en el sector cultural?
  • ¿Qué tipo de contextos, y qué tipo de instituciones y recursos digitales tenemos?
  • ¿Cómo puede contribuir la disciplina del diseño interactivo, o diseño centrado en el usuario (HCI; UX) a ‘conectar’ los recursos digitales con el público en su vida cotidiana?
  • ¿Qué significaría diseñar para conectar con usuarios de un modo sustentable y específico al contexto local?



El programa completo abajo.

Rostros del tiempo. Programa. Talleres.

Rostros del tiempo. Coloquio. Programa

Es un honor estar de vuelta en México para participar en este evento.

Presenting at Open Access in the Humanities, University of Ljubljana

Open Access in the Humanities, : University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts

I will be presenting at the event Open Access in the Humanities event that will take place at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana on 22 May 2018.

I will be participating in a panel discussion titled “How to establish open access in Slovenian academic publishing and researching?”.

The information and programme in English is available at

Video streaming will also be available at the web page for the event (link above).

I would like to thank the Open Library of Humanities and the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana for making it possible for me to attend this event.

Open Library of Humanities logo


Mexican Comics at TORCH Oxford

Cover of an issue of Mexican comic Pepín ('a graphic novels journal'), 1936-1954
Cover of an issue of Mexican comic Pepín (‘a graphic novels journal’), 1936-1954

Comics and Graphic Novels: The Politics of Form is a new interdisciplinary network and seminar series promoting the academic study of comics at Oxford. It is hosted at TORCH, which stands for The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities.

On Thursday 16 February 2017 TORCH will host an event on Mexican Comics.

I will participate in this event along curator Marisol Rodríguez and comics artist, editor and publisher Francisco de la Mora. We will discuss the current state of Mexican comics in a panel chaired by Jessica Fernández de Lara, University of Cambridge.

This event is open to all.

Date and time: Thursday, February 16, 2017 – 5:15pm
Location: Seminar Room, Radcliffe Humanities Building,                                                  Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6GG

To join the seminar mailing list, please email network convener Dominic Davies at or

Click here to download the Comics and Graphic Novels termcard [PDF].

#OABooks and the Guide to Creative Commons for Humanities and Social Science Authors

The Guide to Creative Commons for Humanities and Social Science Monograph Authors

[Another belated post… trying to catch up…]

On the 1 and 2 July 2013, JISC Collections, and the OAPEN Foundation, held the Open Access Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences conference (#OAbooks). It was hosted at the British Library conference centre and was attended by over 250 international delegates from from all areas of scholarly communications.

If you click on the link you’ll find slides and videos from the main presentations.

The conference saw the launch of the Guide to Creative Commons for Humanities and Social Science Monograph Authors (2013) developed by the OAPEN-UK team: Ellen Collins, Caren Milloy and Graham Stone.

James Baker, Martin Paul Eve and I had the opportunity to work as editors of the guide. The editing process was a real joy as we followed open collaboration practices; we worked on a shared Google Document and held discussions in real time on the document itself, and as inserted comments and via email.

We worked with representatives of the publishing and legal sectors, and with experts from Creative Commons UK. Different opinions were considered and disagreements were solved in a professional manner, and in the end we showed online, open, horizontal, collaborative methods can have satisfactory results.

The Guide was distributed on print at the conferece in every delegate pack, and is also available to read online or to download as a PDF. Needless to say, the Guide is licensed with a Creative Commons- Attribution license.

I had the pleasure to give a brief introduction to the Guide on the second day of the conference, within the first strand, titled “How exactly do you get your monograph published in open access?”

For my presentation I showed the ISSUU version embedded on the JISC site for the Guide, here, contextualising the rationale for the Guide and its contents, giving the audience a personal ‘guided tour’ of the document, section by section.

I thoroughly enjoyed the conference, particularly the keynotes by Kathleen Fitzpatrick (view video) (view presentation) and Cameron Neylon  (view video) (view presentation).

At 4Humanities: Bringing Diversity of Experience Together: An Interview with Daniel O’Donnell


At 4Humanities, my interview with Daniel O’Donnell, Professor of English at the University of Lethbridge, on the Global Outlook :: Digital Humanities project.

At Altmetric: Fieldwork: Apples and Oranges? Online Mentions of Papers About the Humanities

Altmetric humanities

At Altmetric, my new Fieldwork post looks at online mentions of papers about the humanities… I also wonder if apple and oranges can be compared… take a look here.

At Altmetric: Kick-starting Fieldwork

Altmetric banner

Today the Altmetric blog published my first post in the “Fieldwork” series, an entry on online attention in the humanities and the REF.

In the “Fieldwork” series of blog posts, we will explore through journal and article-level stories whether alt-metrics can provide a holistic image of impact on diverse audiences.

At HASTAC: My Discipline is Bigger than Yours: Digital Humanities and the Conflict of the Faculties

HASTAC banner

I have posted a response to Stephen Marche’s LA Review of Books article “Against Digital Humanities” on my HASTAC blog.

Wrens operating the Colossus computer, 1943. Photo: Bletchley Park Trust/Science and Society Picture Library, via BBC
Wrens operating the Colossus computer, 1943. Bletchley Park Trust/Science and Society Picture Library, via BBC

“We do not wish to penalise the machine for its inability to shine in beauty competitions, nor to penalise a man for losing in a race against an aeroplane. The conditions of our game make these disabilities irrelevant.”

-Alan Turing, 1950

Stephen Marche was born a year before after me. I was unaware of his work until a couple of days ago when via Twitter and my Google Reader I came across his LA Review of Books essay “Literature is not Data: Against Digital Humanities” (28 October 2012).

Needless to say, with such a title, his article became very popular amongst digital humanities circles, and of course amongst those who feel excluded from such circles or who might have had no idea those circles existed in the first place. As far as I know Marche does not define himself as an academic (though “in 2005, he received a doctorate in early modern English drama from the University of Toronto”, his Wikipedia entry says) but as a novelist and regular contributor to Esquire magazine.

I do not mention this with any snobbish or elitist intention, as some kind of expression of academia’s well-known reputation to exclude and discriminate, but as a fact that might help us understand where his article and his clearly-defined position “against digital humanities” is coming from. His article wasn’t published on an academic journal either, appearing, indeed, in the Los Angeles Review of Books, and it was accessed by most of us I guess in its openly-available online version (I ignore if it appeared on print as well). It has to be said that had Marche’s article not been published online in such a way (and widely distributed by readers on Twitter and the like) it is very possible I would have never come across it, certainly not so quickly. In brief, noting the context in which the article appeared informs us as readers about what we can and cannot expect form it.

Unlike Marche, who presumably got paid to write his article, I am not getting paid to write this piece, something I find myself saying out loud more frequently. This is something that is often kept quiet out of politeness or pride, but the explicit declaration of this particular context, the situation in which one sets out to write something, defines in an important way what is produced. Needless to say this is what Marx would have called the material conditions of our existence, so often equated with the material conditions of production. This blog post is a blog post, and I am stealing time from other more productive endeavours (in this case, precious sleep, since I woke up at 4:00 am to write it) so I will not go into the detail I wish I could go into. This context, this setting, enables me to make this declaration of a particular positioning, and I have no doubts in my mind that the ability to declare this positioning is enhanced by the access to certain technologies, information and social networks.

Having said that what concerns me the most about Marche’s article is the malicious misrepresentation of what the digital humanities are about.  And indeed, I’m not the first one to suggest that one of the things missing from his rant (if Marche’s essay hadn’t been posted on the LA Review of Books web site, it would have been just another blog rant) is precisely context (see “A Quick Reply to Marche, 29 October). “Literature is not Data: Against Digital Humanities” is a title carefully chosen to create controversy and bring online traffic to the site. It’s called link-baiting. Journalistically speaking it comes very late to the academic debate but its appearance is timely because in late 2012 the mainstream digital humanities have received enough money to create resentment amongst those coming late to the party (those recently discovering a field that can be dated to 1949). So Marche’s article touches on a sensitive disciplinary and cultural spot, because he seems somewhat aware that “digital humanities” is “a phrase with a wide array of meanings”, as he puts it, even if the examples he gives are eminently parodic:

“It can mean nothing more than being vaguely in touch with technological reality — being an English professor who is aware of the existence of Twitter, for example — or understanding that there are better ways of disseminating academic studies than bound academic journals languishing on unvisited shelves.”

Other crass misrepresentations and false assumptions in the article (“Google… ends the relationship to the codex which began much earlier….”) can only be attributed to ignorance or an ill-intended political (disciplinary, financial) agenda. Marche equates the digital humanities with “the conversion of literature into data” (which is false) and fails at all times to explain what data is. He seems to assume that there is someone somewhere that takes data as a given (datumdare, to give), as an end in itself and not as a means to an end. Moreover, he takes for granted (as a given) that data is not always-already the result of interpretive processes and specific material and cultural conditions.

Indeed, Marche’s most obviously hilarious claim is that algorithms “are inherently fascistic, because they give the comforting illusion of an alterity to human affairs.” Alan Turing, who suffered himself the painful and irrevocable consequences of State intolerance and, it could be argued, developed technologies and methods that contributed to the defeat of Nazism, must be rolling in his grave. At best, as British Library curator Matthew Shaw pointed out, Marche’s laughable if not offensive hypothesis seems to only prove Goodwin’s Law.

What is most profoundly worrying about Marche’s article is his conservative agenda. He’s only one year younger than I but he seems to clearly and fondly remember those apparently idyllic days “[b]efore EEBO arrived”, when

“every English scholar of the Renaissance had to spend time at the Bodleian library in Oxford; that’s where one found one’s material. But actually finding the material was only a part of the process of attending the Bodleian, where connections were made at the mother university in the land of the mother tongue. Professors were relics; they had snuffboxes and passed them to the right after dinner, because port is passed left. EEBO ended all that, because the merely practical reason for attending the Bodleian was no longer justifiable when the texts were all available online.”

In a nutshell, what Marche is against is not digital humanities, but a false notion of what the digital humanities are as equated with some kind of fictional, unmediated (oh, the irony!), uninterpreted “conversion of literature into data”. The digital humanities do other things apart from the creation of digital tools that enable the physical and digital preservation and online access of texts, but Marche gives us digitisation and the rise of the online availability of texts as a prime example of this “conversion” he dreads. What Marche is against is not digital humanities, but more democratic, fluid forms of access, where people who can’t necessarily afford or have the physical ability to come to Oxford can still experience “the mystery of language […] the original literary sensation.”

Between paragraph tags, Marche finishes his essay with what he and the editors must have thought a master final blow: “Insight remains handmade.” The implication is that what is done through machines or algorithms is not “handmade”, and perpetuates the old opposition between the natural and the artificial, which his Lyotard epigraph anticipated. As someone from my generation, Marche must have heard that we have somewhat surpassed that “Postmodern Condition”.

Had I had to choose a postmodern thinker to kickstart things I would have rather quoted Derrida (I know he’s not as fashionable in the US as he once was) from his essay on Kant’s Conflict of the Faculties: “it is the publication of knowledge, rather than knowledge itself, which is submitted to authority” (1992). It is this authority of the publication format that Marche’s piece enjoys, and in a way it is that authority that some digital humanities work is gradually dismantling. What is missing from the article is any kind of self-awareness as a text that will be read online (apart from some hyperlinks, which I suppose were placed there by an editor and not by Marche himself), and, more importantly, about the material conditions of production of the article itself. I wonder if he would get a Borgesian sense of the uncanny (1972) if he looked at the source code of his own article on the online version of the LA Review of Books.

Marche’s article is a fine example of the anxieties of our age, but it is not what it purposes to be. It wants us to believe that literature and scholarly or interpretive activity is “mushy” (soft) and that its opposite is data (hard). For him literature is some kind of mystical, “mysterious” experience, but not in the way Walter Benjamin (1916) discussed it, which was always-already from a perspective that recognised the material and technical conditions of the production and transmission of information (literary or not). Marche draws a politically dangerous opposition between the study of literature and the scholarly work of the digital humanities, which seeks to develop and employ digital tools for the scholarly practice of the humanities and akin fields. Precisely, one of the positive consequences of digital humanities work is what seems to annoy Marche the most: the creation of greater awareness about the material conditions of texts, and of the structures of privilege that have allowed the access to knowledge to some but not others, in some forms and not others.

Marche denies the digital humanities (and self-defined digital humanists by extension) their legitimate belonging to the field of literary studies, building a tired, parodic straw man. His essay reads like a nerdy “my discipline is bigger than yours” rant. Like its title, its ill-founded critique of digitisation, data mining and algorithmic processes is intentionally sensationalistic and it responds consciously or unconsciously to a political agenda that seeks to create a renewed “conflict of the faculties”.

Marchen’s manichean opposition to his own fictional version of the digital humanities will resound in many who feel disenfranchised and threatened by what they perceive as a new fashionable discipline that might “replace” their own tasks and therefore endanger their positions. His article should be an alarm call for those of us engaged in digital humanities communities to work harder at communicating better and more widely what it is that the digital humanities do. We should also ask ourselves who exactly benefits from deligitimising the digital humanities and what kind of consequences such strategy could have.

To be fair, Marche’s article does have a redeeming passage where some self-awareness of his positioning is made clear. “In the popular imagination,” he writes,  “writers and professors are liberals, hedonists, bohemians. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are, in fact, profoundly, deeply, organically conservative.”