Saturday, December 24, 2016

Digital Humanities in East Asia

As an area of scholarly activity at the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities, Digital humanities (DH) has evolved from simply digitizing historical texts to the philosophical, such as reflection on the nature of representation itself.  As an attendee of the Digital Humanities Summer Institute since 2008, I've seen the growth of DH as a niche study to become an emerging area of importance to the scholarship in the humanities.  I spoke to a number of librarians and scholars in the area of digital humanities and noted the various projects and stages of development across countries in Asia.  If anything, the growth of DH is Asia is far from a homogenous process.

Upon the return of my sabbatical, I presented on the state of Digital Humanities in East Asia to peers at UBC.   In examining the state of DH in Asia, my research reveals a dichotomy of what Tom Mullaney of Stanford University as a West and the Rest.   As Mullaney puts it:
The “Asia deficit” within Digital Humanities is in no small part the outcome of more entrenched divides within the platforms and digital tools that form the foundation of DH itself. Digital databases and text corpora – the “raw material” of text mining and computational text analysis – are far more abundant for English and other Latin alphabetic scripts than they are for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, and other Non-Latin orthographies.
So it's not surprise to see uneven development across Asian countries.  The following is a list of DH scholars that Mullaney has shared and is a group that represent that wonderful work that East Asian studies experts are using the technology to enhance their research in ways that could not have happened (or at least a less immersive way) in the pre-digital world.

  • Eunkyong Shin, Columbia University - Specialist in Network Analysis, Applied to Study of Resistance Movements in Colonial Korea

Friday, December 09, 2016

Inside the World's Major East Asian Collections

I'm really pleased that the book project with Patrick Lo (Tsukuba University) and Dickson Chiu (Hong Kong University) is completed and published. This book is intended to serve multiple purposes.  In particular, the project examines the rise of the "LAM," an acronym that stands for libraries, archives, and museums.  In doing so, we profile leading experts -- librarians, archivists, and museum curators -- who specialize in East Asian collections from across the world.  In analyzing the dynamically shifting role of the cultural institution in the context of managing information and collections, this book provides important themes offered by these cultural experts in understanding the necessary professional skills, knowledge, and personalities that are required for working in such environments of varying size, scope, and composition in LAMs.

As such, LAMs manage preservation and access of history and culture, their missions and goals as cultural institutions continue to converge.  Further, as collecting institutions, LAMs share the common mandate to preserve and make accessible primary resources valuable for researchers and professionals, as well as the public.   Certainly, as LAMs are mostly publicly funded, publicly accountable institutions collecting cultural heritage materials, the purpose of this book is ultimately to enhance the visibility while recognizing the efforts of the LAM professionals as cultural institution leaders, since much of their great contributions is preserving our cultural and documentary heritage often unnoticed outside their parent institutions.

European Collections
1. The East Asia Collections at the Vatican Apostolic Library in Rome
2. The Library of Venice and the East at the Giorgio Cini Foundation’s Centre Comparative Studies of Cultures and Spiritualties
3. The Chinese Collections from the Shang to Qing Dynasties at the British Library
4. The Chinese, Japanese and Korean Studies Collections at the British Library
5. The Chinese Collections at the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library
6. The Anthropology Collections of the Ewenki and Orochen Peoples at the University of Cambridge Museum’s Archaeology and Anthropology
7. The Dunhuang International Manuscripts Project at the British Museum
8. Asian Art Propaganda at the British Museum
9. The East-Asian Library at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium
10. The Chinese, Japanese and Korean Collections at the Royal Library of Denmark
11. The Asian Collections for the Nordic Asian Studies Community at University of Copenhagen’s Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Library and Information Centre
12. The Chinese and Japanese Porcelain and Ceramic Art at the Museums of the Far East & the Royal Museums of Art and History of Belgium
13. The East Asia Collections at the Berlin State Library
14. The Chinese Collections at the Bavarian State Library’s Oriental and Asia Department
15. The Chinese Collection that dates back to the 13th Century at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies Library
16. Documenting the Cultural Exchange of Czechoslovak-Chinese Relations at the Charles University in Prague’s Chiang Ching-kuo International Sinological Center (CCK-ISC) and Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS) Libraries
17. Collecting Asia at the Library at the Oriental Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
18. A Unique Chinese Collection for the Public at the Lyon Public Library in France
19. The Kingdom of Naxi Manuscript Collections at the French School of the Far East
20. The Collection of the History of French Interests In China and East Asia at the University Library of Languages and Civilisations
21. The most comprehensive collection of Asian art at the National Museum of Asian Art Guimet Museum
22. The Orient and Eastern collections at the National Library of France

East Asian Collections in Asia
1. The Digital Archives at the Japan Center for Asian Historical Records (JACAR)
2. The Siberian Ethnographic Collections at Peter the Great Museum of Ethnology and Anthropology in Russian
3. Imperial China’s collections at the National Palace Museum in Taiwan
4. International Exchange and Networks of Cooperation at Taiwan’s National Central Library (NCL)

1. Chronicle of Taiwan’s Collections at the National Central Library, Taiwan (ROC)
2. The History of "Asian Hollywood" at the Hong Kong Film Archive
3. The Traditional Chinese Medicine Library Collections at the Hong Kong Baptist University
4. The Kung Fu Museum in Hong Kong by the School of Creative Media and the International Guoshu Association
5. The School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong
6. Contemporary Asian Art at the Asia Art Archive (AAA)
7. The Sport collections at the Hong Kong Sports Institute Library

North America
1. The East Asian Collections at the Princeton University Library’s East Asian Library
2. The Japanese Collections at University of California, Berkeley’s C.V. Starr East Asian Library
3. The Japanese Collections at the University of Michigan’s Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library
4. Azusa Tanaka, Japanese Studies Librarian, East Asia Library, University of Washington Libraries
5. Exhibiting Bruce Lee Collections Around the World via the Bruce Lee Foundation (USA) and the Bruce Lee Exhibition at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Renewing the Digital Path in the Publishing Industry

I'm in the business of publishing, and like many in the industry, have faced the daunting challenges with print.  So when Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly iterated that cultural producers face both challenges and opportunities because of new digital publishing and broadcasting platforms, I naturally listened.  There are stark differences of opinion over how Canada's cultural industries should adapt to the future of digital content.  And there is increasing concern in the cultural industry that current government policies are stifling creation of content at a time when traditional media is being drowned out by the likes of Apple iTunes and Netflix.  It's assuring that the new federal government is at least listening.

The federal government released a discussion paper to coincide with the consultations which seems to indicate that while it doesn't want to place limits on foreign content, it does need to channel is efforts into supporting its own cultural industries.  In the world of magazines, I've witnessed the cruel decline of a once vibrant industry.   So the Department of Canadian Heritage wants to build a more dynamic system that better supports creation, discovery and export of Canadian content in the digital world

What should a cultural system that supports creators choice look like?

In 2016 the Department of Canadian Heritage launched consultations on Canadian Content in a Digital World.  An online survey questionnaire canvassed the opinions of stakeholders (creators and cultural organizations) and Canadian culture/media consumers (public) on issues about Canadian and local content and as well as tools for the creation, discovery and export of content.  The results are interesting because despite the diversification of entertainment and communications in the globalized environment that we're in, the need for Canadian content is still very important in the eyes of creators and consumers.  The grants and funding system needs to be support Canadians first and foremost.  So yes, while it's clear that our habits have clearly shifted online, the need for access to cultural content hasn't shifted away from Canada. 

How can we promote Canadian content in the digital world?
One that protects Canadian culture and reflects Canadian identities.  But I don't think the system currently embraces the diversity of Canada.   The initiative that I've been involved in, Ricepaper Magazine, has sought to explore the meaning of being Canadian of Asian descent, perhaps in ways that seeks to redefine the term "Asian Canadian" within Canada.   But over the past few years, funding has decreased and have further marginalized so-called "non-mainstream" media.  It's almost too late now for a reversal.  Canada's intercultural mosaic has evolved as it has every century, and will continually do so.  So the media that reflects the new faces of Canada need to be upheld.  Despite what the government may tell us about its role, it's clearly come short of where the country need it to be.

How do we support Canada’s artists, content creators and cultural entrepreneurs?
The division between of media between print and digital media into distinctive camps is no longer sufficient, and we can't expect the self-cannibalism to solve itself.  For a sustainable and vibrant publishing industry, we need to be "platform agnostic," blending both into emerging areas as transmedia transmedia narrative, multiplatform storytelling, or cross-media seriality that uses creative techniques of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using our current digital technologies.  We need to move beyond the convenient the future-is-digital stance and integrate efforts telling our stories.

So consultations are underway, but it's interesting and perhaps shortsighted that such energies have excluded the Canadian book publishing industry.  As a librarian, I worry about this omission.  Maybe there is a greater plan yet to emerge, but from what I've seen and heard, I don't sense it. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

When Is Research Data No Longer Useful?

I've been fortunate to be in an academic library considered by many to be one of the more advanced in research data management planning.  Certainly in confronting ever changing guidelines the  funding requirements around data sharing, data preservation and the submission of data management plans at universities across North America, academic library institutions clamouring to  understand the needs, in addition to attaining a fuller understanding of their users’ research data management practices and attitudes.  Certainly, much has been written about the work being done here and here.  My friend and colleague Eugene Barsky, for example, has researched and published much in the area of data management.   RDM is such a new area that it sometimes feels very much like the early days of the Wild West.  Where to begin?  It seems like everything we collect becomes data; sorting and organizing it all is an challenge unto itself.

On the surface, it's messy, but underneath it, it's even more complicated as not all of can or should be archived.   Since federal granting agencies in Canada are now advocating for "open science" whereby future researchers can access and reuse such research data, we often assume all data is important, all data is equal.  But just because it's data, doesn't mean it's useable, let alone preservable.  University of Alberta librarians Janice Kung and Sandy Campbell's What Not to Keep: Not All Data Have Future Research Value offers a remarkably cogent and sensible examination into what faculty, clinicians and graduate students from the health and medical sciences deem as research data and while what types of data should not be kept by libraries and archives for the purpose of reuse.  There are eight themes identified here:

Bad or Junk Data - Data that has missing values, malformed records, or stored in problematic file formats has no research value and are therefore unusable.

Cannot be used by others - When datasets become too specific to be combined with other datasets - or cannot be used by other researchers that require knowledge of that particular context or subject - it prevents researchers from manipulating them in a meaningful way and hence,

Easily Replicable - Cost effectiveness of regenerating data on demand - for example, citation analysis data - can make data preservation impractical.

Without good metadata - Since descriptive metadata must accompany research data to ensure future use and interpretation, the ability to reuse datasets can be hindered by suboptimal metadata.

Data without cultural or historical value - Since server space and administrative costs are finite, not all data are valued equally and it's necessary to evaluate the feasibility of archiving everything.  Data covering short periods of time, small samples, or have no cultural/historical content would have less value than longitudinal, large, and cultural based studies in such instances might need to be "weeded."

Pilot or test data - Data derived from instrument testing or trial runs have little future research value since they are used for testing the data collection methods to ensure quality control.  Sometimes there are many iterations of data generated in developing a method that such "raw data" is not required for validation

Proprietary data - Often researchers do not have ownership rights to data but work with such data released to them under contract by companies or organizations for a specific project only.

Confidential data - When research involving human subjects is being conducted, ethics agreements define when data must be destroyed and researchers must abide by these restrictions.

Of course, the study is not exhaustive by any means as it offers only a viewpoint of the health sciences.  But what about other subject domains?  For a more comprehensive contribution to the establishment of more detailed library and archival best practices, policies, and procedures, we need to further examine the digital humanities, for instance.   This is a good, early start.  But more is to come.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pokémon Go Drags Augmented Reality to Coolness (Finally)

Pokémon is back, and it's taken a flailing technology and made it relevant and even cool again, too. Augmented reality—the ability to witness an altered version of our world via a smartphone display -- was written off by most. It had gone the way of the QR codes. Faded and irrelevant. Pokémon Go has consumed the public’s consciousness and, in a single weekend, thrown augmented reality into the mainstream. It’s fun and so people actually use it, and that’s critical because augmented reality is suddenly something the whole world can experience in an accessible and interactive manner.

But times have changed (or returned, in this case) as the Nintendo-owned franchise, which exploded in popularity in the late 1990s, is again taking the world by storm — this time through Pokémon Go, its biggest entry into the mobile space, now available for a free download on Android and iOS. It’s so popular that it’s now overtaken Twitter based on daily active users on Android.  It's amazing to see how people are clamoring to download and use this app, even if it's before it's official release in their country.

What is exactly Pokémon Go?  It's an AR game that utilizes a phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when in the game Pokémon will "appear" (on the phone's screen) in order to "go" and catch it. By moving around, various types of Pokémon appears, but depending on when and where an individual is situated. The idea is to encourage people to travel around the real world to catch Pokémon in the game.

Augmented reality in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre Recognition Wall
In many ways, augmented reality has arrived, albeit much later than we have expected. Three years ago, I experimented with the technology and at that time it was Layar that was the most popular app. In the "Virtual Museum," augmented reality became a useful tool for highlighting the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre’s history as the Main Library using UBC Library’s digital collections. Patrons using their smartphones or iPads could view the current Wall of Recognition and see the wall "come alive" with archival images and videos of students and alumni talking about their experiences in the building - past and present.   Back then, the technology was still in its infancy.  It was a novelty.  Pokémon Go has really opened up the game.  What are the opportunities for AR in libraries and education?   There's great potential to use the technology now that people are looking up instead of down and will eventually grow to love the neat applications of AR.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Use of Smartphones by Art and Design Students for Accessing Library Services and Learning

In Use of smartphones by art and design students for accessing library services and learning in the journal Library Hi-Tech, a research study in which I co-published with Patrick Lo, Dickson Chiu, Man-hon Leung, and Kevin Ho, our study explored the use of smartphones for accessing library services and learning by art and design students at the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI).

In the design and research methodology, we employed the questionnaire survey to examine how students used apps and the Web on mobile devices in finding information for the purpose of academic learning, social networking, and collaborative learning.

Our survey results showed that while the HKDI students were all smartphone owners and active users of such mobile communication devices, only a minority of them “frequently” use these mobile devices for formal learning purposes.  Students demonstrated a keen preference to use search engines, social communications, and other diverse use of smartphones. Except for research and image/audio-visual needs, the majority of the needs and usage behaviour of these students is similar to mainstream university students.  Therefore, our results recommends greater opportunities for libraries to develop services and facilities that could better fulfill students’ information needs, and to improve the outreach outside the library.

So why is this research of value to the library and information science literature?  This is probably the first study of its kind to explore how art and design students use smartphones for learning needs. In particular, with recent capability of smartphones and mobile Internet speeds being comparable to desktops, it is vital to re-examine the rapidly changing environment and their effects on the needs of the library's users.  I encourage you to take a read and explore the discussion and data from our research and see if it corroborates with your particular library context.  Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any comments, feedback, or question to share with us.

Monday, May 09, 2016

From the Electronic to the Digital University: a Twenty-Five Year Redux

In 1988, the library thought leader David Lewis' "Inventing the Electronic University."  What's significant about Lewis' article is that it was the first to examine how technology would change the information practices of users and library patrons rather than the library itself.

This was a seminal piece: it marked a new beginning in the library literature.  Joan Lippincott responds with an interesting take on the state of the academic library twenty five years later.   Its topics are highly relevant to not only my research, but also to the volatile times we are in for academic libraries everywhere.  With that said, here are the salient points to discuss:

Teaching and Learning - Lippincott argues that of all the developments, teaching and learning programs have had the most mixed results in recent times in terms of development.  Although MOOCs and LMS's have emerged as tools that libraries have had to learn to support, but overall libraries have not been trendsetters in the area of learning technologies when once upon a time, patrons and users needed to rely on libraries more heavily on borrowing and using technology (remember catalogs?)

Scholarly Communications -   With new technologies has emerged e-science and digital humanities -- digital scholarship arrived without much fanfare but has become critically important areas that academic libraries have been asked to support. At the same time, open access, data curation, social media, among the among have become integral in our daily work and is needed to support students, faculty and researchers.

Access and Preservation - We've come a long way since Lewis' article predicted the potential of the digitization of print materials on the CD-ROM.  Libraries created strong digital collections, but the caveat is that they have seemingly lost ownership and authority of these collections.   Libraries are falling behind in integrating its open access collections with its discovery tools -- so now that we've built it, how do we use it?

Staffing - Changes in the roles of staff continue to come as new technologies emerge.   However, some of Lewis' predictions did not materialize as predicted.  While Lewis expected library services and university academic computing units to merge, this has simply not happened in the scale he imagined.  For the most part academic libraries have continued to lead its own initiatives in teaching, learning and research in the areas of technology.  Instead, libraries are working with faculty in both research and learning to expand the "liaison model."  We keep hearing about it, but what is it exactly?  Lippincott alludes that changes are to come, so we wait and see.

Certainly, this is a brief list and there could be quite a few more areas to include here.  Despite what universities say, research is often prioritized at universities and faculty research and publication is tied to tenure and promotion.  What are academic libraries doing right in supporting research?  What are the big areas that we need to get better at?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

From A Cabinet of Curiosities to the Re-Emergence of the LAM

Currently, I'm working on a research project with Dickson Chiu and Patrick Lo on Journey to the East.  We examine the rise of the “LAM,” an acronym that stands for libraries, archives, and museums and in doing so, we profile leading experts -- librarians, archivists, and museum curators -- who specialize in East Asian collections from across the world. In examining the dynamically shifting role of the cultural institution in the context of managing information and collections, this book provides important themes offered by these cultural experts in understanding the necessary professional skills, knowledge, and personalities that are required for working in such environments of varying size, scope, and composition in LAMs.

By interviewing practicing librarians, archivists, and museum curators across the world who specialize in East Asian collections, our research examines the shifting role of the cultural institution in the context of managing information, cultural and knowledge exchanges, and collaboration on a global scale and ultimately challenges the notion of what constitutes “Asia’s collections.”

These managers of East Asia collection not only refers to library, archive, and museum (LAM) professionals who are ethnically of East Asian descent, but also their North American and European colleagues, who have devoted their careers to safeguarding cultural heritage collections of immeasurable values that are housed in different world’ s leading LAMs, located all over the globe. So that is why we went on a journey to interview experts from Berlin State Library, Bavarian State Library, the British Library, the British Museum, the National Library of France, the Vatican Library, the National Library of Denmark, the National Archives of Japan, the National Taiwan Library – just to name a few.   We have three purposes for the project:

(1) Our research project ultimately serves as a reference guide for students, scholars, researchers, and LAM professionals, enabling them to gain a glimpse of the vast amount of treasures available for their research and other scholarly activities. To survive on their own for future generations, LAMS must be organized, researched, talked about, promoted, and taught to the young generations - otherwise they risk extinction, physically as an entity and institutionally relevant to their audiences and users. 

(2) We conducted our research using a mixed-methods approach using semi-structure surveys through face-to-face meetings, Skype, and also by email depending on preferred mode of access by our interviewees. Upon completion of transcribing our interviews, we followed up with our interviewees for clarification and approval for publication of the text. 

(3) We argue that the present convergence is actually a return to traditional unity. These three institutions share epistemological links dating from the “Museum” of Alexandria and continuing through the cabinets of curiosities gathered in early modern Europe. But over time, as these collections expanded, they became more specialized and their storage was separated according to the form of information and kinds of users and after the nineteenth and century, these institutions professionalized and intellectual societies and educational programs materialized that crystallized the formal separation. So in many ways, LAMs have come full circle.

I'd be more than happy to answer any questions and feedback you may have about our project.  I've written about LAMs in the past, and this is a really exciting project to continue my research in this area. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

The Rise of the Innovation Commons

On my research study, I took the opportunity to visit the City University of Hong Kong, which is globally recognized as a top institution of higher learning and research, currently ranked #57 in the world in the QS World University Rankings and ranked #2 in Asia by the U.S. News & World Report.  It's not a large space whatsoever, but how it creatively re-purposed existing library space into a collaborative learning environment is worth a closer examination.

As my research is now focusing on innovative academic library spaces across the world, I was really interested in learning more about the history of this rapidly growing institution during my stay in Hong Kong.  Founded in 1984 as the City Polytechnic of Hong Kong, it became a fully accredited university in 1994 and renamed the City University of Hong Kong and became public research university located in Kowloon, Hong Kong.  It's also uniquely situated in the vicinity of the beautiful Festival Walk Mall.

Established collaboratively between the university library, the School of Law, the Knowledge Transfer Office, and the Education Development and Gateway Education, the Innovation Commons serves as a one-stop resource center physically located inside the Run Run Shaw Library.  It is a draw for students and the campus community for quick and easy access to information about entrepreneurship and innovation. 

What I really wanted to learn more about was how the Innovation Commons situates community engagement in its academic mission.  One of the initiatives is holding competitions for business plans and government-funded venture programmes for students.  Its staff participates as jurors in these competitions. In addition, it organizes activities, inviting industry experts and speakers to hold talks and workshops related to innovation, intellectual property, and the entrepreneurial projects. The Commons also provides professional advice through its peer tutors from the School of Law to consult on patents and related legal issues.

As I'm conducting research on curriculum mapping, I was curious to see how the Innovation Commons has aligned its space and services to the City University of Hong Kong's curriculum called the Discovery-enriched Curriculum since 2012.  Under DEC,  students create new knowledge, communicate it, curate it and cultivate it to benefit society as a final project prior to graduation with the goal of giving students the opportunity to make an original discovery while at CityU.    The results of this research trip will be published in the upcoming issue of the Journal of East Asian Libraries.  Stay tuned.   

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Introducing the Horizon Report 2016

The latest NMC Horizon Report has just been released.  Like many of involved in higher education, I've always been curious as to what new tools and toys are out.  I remember the early days (five years ago?) when it was neat to see the latest trends of digital media.   Time have changed -- we've moved beyond just 3D printers and augmented reality.

This 2016 Higher Education Edition identifies six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology across three adoption horizons spanning over the next one to five years.  Useful as a guide for campus leaders, educational technologists, and faculty as a valuable guide for strategic technology planning, the report provides higher education leaders with in-depth insight into how trends and challenges are accelerating and impeding the adoption of educational technology, along with their implications for policy, leadership, and practice.  What is most interesting is the "Key Trends Accelerating Technology Adoption in Higher Education."

Long-Term Impact Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in higher education for five or more years 
Mid-Term Impact Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in higher education for three to five years 
Short-Term Impact Trends: Driving Ed Tech adoption in higher education for the next one to two years