My involvement with the digital humanities—and now the HASTAC community—started with what I saw as a generative overlap between digital scholarship and the field sound studies. My research focuses on the cultural history of the LP in jazz, specifically in the way that the long-playing record made it possible to record extended improvisations in the studio and in live performance. I’m interested in the multifaceted relationship between musical performance and technologies of reproduction and how such sonic technologies influenced artistic/musical production.
Since much of my work emphasizes the (sometimes hidden) role of record production, I found resonance with the questions and provocations of digital humanists about the means and forms of scholarly production. So I worked with my colleagues and former HASTAC scholars Mary Caton Lingold and Whitney Trettien to obtain support for the soundBox project from Duke’s PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge. I’m sure to be writing about my involvement with soundBox in the coming months, but for my introductory post I want to focus on how I’ve started using digital tools for my personal organization and to improve my workflow. I should take a brief moment to shout out to Annette Joseph-Gabriel’s recent HASTAC post on workflow and Mary Caton Lingold’s post on study habits that got me thinking.
I’ll admit that I’m a workflow junkie. I’ve tried iPads, netbooks, desktops, and laptops. I’ve attempted to integrate Evernote, iAnnotate, Goodreader, Simplenote, Plaintext, Instapaper, and Zotero in to my everyday activities only to realize that I prefer Endnote, Pocket, Dropbox, and all things Google. I’ve been a Scrivener user for 4+ years now, which I’ve used to organize my dissertation research and writing (it’s hard to imagine my life without Scrivener’s scratch pad). When I was recently asked to give a short presentation at Duke’s PhD Lap Skills Session about HASTAC, Twitter, and Google Drive I decided to share with the HASTAC community how I use Google Sites to organize my professional self.
Do you, like me, ever have the problem where you can’t find (or remember where you put) that updated conference bio, CV, syllabus, grant application you wrote at the end of 2009/10/11? Searched in endless word documents for your most recent bibliography, discography, or 150-word summary of your dissertation? Through the 2011 grant-writing season, I had become increasingly frustrated by my how much time I felt like I was wasting while searching for my own work already accomplished. I decided to try and build and personal (but private) google site and have been happier ever since.
I found the interface intuitive and since it doesn’t require any programming skills, it only took a week to build my site and put up my content. I like that I can update and access it from anywhere with an internet connection and quickly reference (and edit) the different aspects of my academic life. I use it as an organizational hub. I have discographies, bibliographies, old grant applications, my CV master list, my formatted CV (a google doc with built in integration), class syllabi in progress, former syllabi, class grades, and quick notes from events, classes, and lectures I attend. It takes some maintenance, but I no longer have to search through versions of CVs, project descriptions, and conference abstracts. It integrates great with google drive, youtube, and other internet gadgets. At the very least, it gives me the feeling of efficiency since I can access all my information from one location.
Sure, it’s on the web. Yes, I’m sure some mid-level hacker could probably find their way into my information though it doesn’t come up in searches. Frankly, they are welcome to browse my unsuccessful grant applications and my barely readable course syllabus. Have at it. It’s a tool for organization that has solved at least one of my workflow problems. Someday I’d like to make it a public document of my work, but for the moment it just helps me stay organized.
Here are some screen shots to give an idea of what it looks like: