Blog Post

Hacking at the Library with Mark Sample

Duke Digital Scholarship Services, in conjunction with the Duke PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge hosted a two-day event with Dr. Mark Sample Feb 10-11, 2015. We began with a private PhD Lab gathering with Dr. Sample on Tuesday evening and our dinner topic was hacking. Our conversation began with a brainstorming session on synonyms for 'hacking' - we came up with more than 40! - and ended with discussions on hacking as an artistic tool, hacking as a humanities research method, hacking as a gendered, (un)ethical, and political act, and hacking as a performative deformance.

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Peruse our list of 1-40 #samplehack 'hacking' synonyms and feel free to add to it!

We also spoke about 'hacking' as an exploratory literary classroom assignment (see Sample's syllabi on his website) and the abiding question of how to assess such assignments.

Screenshot 2015-02-12 11.32.41

On Wednesday our schedule was packed with provocative knowledge-building events. We began with a workshop on 'Deep Textual Hacks' led by Mark Sample. We 'hacked' Nick Montfort's Taroko Gorge, Moby Dick, and poetry by William Carlos Williams. Dr. Sample was kind enough to share his workshop notes so that all may try a Deep Textual Hack. Go there. Hack something with us!

You can see my 'hack' and watch it self-generate on CodePen:

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After our Deep Textual Hacking workshop, Dr. Sample gave his opening keynote "Salvage Operations: Deformance, Breakdown, and Repair in the Humanities." You can listen to the keynote in full here


After the 'Salvage Operations' presentation, Mark Sample was joined by Mark Olson, Libi Striegl and Aaron Kutnick (bios here) for a roundtable on 'Hacking the Humanities'. Panelists were asked to speak on the ethics of hacking, the consequences of hacking, and the nature of hacking as a research tool. We branched off into stirring conversations about hacking as a survival tool and hacking as an environmental and ecological intervention. The roundtable was an intellectual treat! Screenshot 2015-02-12 11.39.00

We live-tweeted all events and those tweets can be found in full storified here: Deep Textual Hacks and Salvage Operations: Mark Sample comes to the Edge!

Many thanks to Mark Sample for sharing such knowledge and energy with the Duke digital scholarship community!


Next Up at the Digital Studio: Text Analysis with Voyant! 2/18 4:00 Murthy Digital Studio.

On the radar: Keynote Event with Alex Gil! 3/18


See our full calendar of events at

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-Amanda Starling Gould


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