Then

A series of notes on what I’m up to right now.

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 Sat, 3 December 2022 

Telling the time. I developed most of my financial habits in grad school, on a very limited stipend. It’s probably for that reason that I’m constitutively unable to buy myself anything that costs more than like $50 without feeling at least a little bad about it. But recently, I bought a watch. I like that the color reminds me of my baby’s eyes, and I like knowing that its mechanical heart ticks without electricity: just from the movement of my body and a little maintenance.

Currently watching: NASA’s live feed from the Artemis 1 mission to the moon. Pairs nicely with this discussion of why, this time, the amount of money the US government is pouring into getting to the moon isn’t about a Cold War or humanity’s drive to explore, but access to strategic minerals.

Currently reading: Tamara Shopsin, LaserWriter II. Set in 1994 in a Mac repair shop that looks “as if Santa’s workshop had made love to a Rube Goldberg machine.” A portrait of growing up in NYC in the 90s, quirky punks, and devices whose inner cogs and wheels become animate and speak to each other.

PostScript was a wonder. It compressed images, shapes, and fonts into seeds that were sent to the LaserWriter, which then bloomed into razor-sharp type at any point size, perfect Bézier curves and halftones, all printed at blazing speed in an archival ink. The LaserWriter was the death of dot matrix and the birth of desktop publishing. It cost $6,995 and was worth every cent.

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 Tue, 15 November 2022 

Returning to the office for a couple months. I broke my very generous parental leave into two parts so that I can lead some winter projects on campus, and so that I can take care of A full time during S’s first semester back in the classroom. After the first two months of leave, I’m now trying to figure out how to wash everything in the house repeatedly, fight off daily tears of joy, and also present like a semi-professional human. A — that tiny little miracle — is thankfully beginning to sleep for longer stretches.

Organizing a humanities & data science institute. In January, my colleagues and I are hosting a weeklong institute for faculty and PhD students devoted to the relationship between data science and humanistic research. Most of my attention will be going toward prepping slides, lectures, Python notebooks, and food orders in the weeks to come. Check out the institute website — loads of readings, resources, and a glossary. We’re all gonna learn a LOT during that week.

Planning for a new graduate certificate in digital humanities. Right before I went on leave, we submitted a proposal for a new PhD certificate at the CDH. The goal is to bridge computational methods & data-driven humanities research with critical approaches to surveillance capitalism and automated decision-making. Hopefully, we’ll offer the first grad seminar toward the certificate next academic year.

Currently reading: John Dermot Woods’s Always Blue, a gorgeously printed speculative fiction chapbook. Part of the indie publisher Radix Media’s Futures: A Science Fiction Series. ¶ Douglas Rushkoff’s Survival of the Richest, whose opening anecdote I can’t stop thinking about: under pretense of giving an academic talk, Rushkoff is flown out to a desert bunker to instead answer questions from 5 billionaires about how to keep their guards from turning on them after “the event,” when money no longer has any value. ¶ The Philadelphia Inquirer, whose recent typographic overhaul by Pentagram has made my Sunday delivery even more of a treat.

Currently listening to: Mary Lou Williams, Zodiac Suite (1945). One track for each zodiac sign. Cool for being kind of a through-composed jazz album way before that was a thing.

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