WE1S Summer Camp Retrospective

This past summer, the WE1S project held its first summer research camp. From July 2nd to August 4th, the summer camps took place simultaneously at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and California State University, Northridge (CSUN) campuses for five hours per day, four days a week, culminating in a WE1S Advisory Board meeting on August 3rd and 4th at UCSB.

The CSUN and UCSB teams convened in the DAHC on the UCSB campus for orientation day on July 2nd. The first week of the camp was devoted to orientation activities, which included team introductions and an overview of the WE1S project, the WE1S corpus collection list and staging process, and the WE1S Workflow Management System (WMS), including the Manifest system.

Each day of the camp was divided into an “AM” and “PM” session, with different AM and PM teams meeting during each session. Both UCSB and CSUN RAs participated on the teams, coordinating work activities via Ryver and Zoom. The AM teams focused on identifying sources for collection for a particular region of the world, population group, or media type. AM Team 1 focused on the U.S. and Canada, Team 2 on the U.K., Team 3 on Asia, Team 4 of Australia and New Zealand, Team 5 on Mexico, Central America, and South America, Team 6 on Europe, Team 7 on the Middle East and Africa, Team 8 on Diverse Populations in the U.S., Team 9 on Alternative Politics and Media, and Team 10 on Broadcast and Internet Media. RAs volunteered for—and then formed into—teams, based on RA interest and familiarity with the media landscape of given regions. Due to lack of staffing, the WE1S team decided to temporarily hold off on collecting a corpus for Australia and New Zealand (Team 4), to be explored in the future with more specialized expertise. Team 9 (Alternative Politics and Media) was folded into Team 10, resulting in a composite Broadcast, Internet, and Political Media team. Each team kept track of research discoveries and challenges in a comprehensive lab notebook as they worked, which are available for each team, alongside their “starter kit” detailing work in the area conducted during the academic year. After identifying high-value publications of interest available in LexisNexus to be collected by the project, the AM teams were able to experiment with creating topic models in the Jupyter notebooks workspace and analyzing these collected materials and topic models.

The PM teams, by contrast, focused on a variety of research tasks that may include researching different research paradigms, investigation of different issues and contexts, planning and prototyping, and creating research reports or resources. PM Team 1 focused on the Global Humanities, PM Team 2 on the Historical Humanities, PM Team 3 on Imagining Outputs, PM Team 4 on Experimenting with Methods, PM Team 5 on Scholarly Deliverables, PM Team 6 on Philosophy of Methods, PM Team 7 on Cross-Disciplinary Methods Team, PM Team 8 on “Publicness” and Newsworthiness,” and Team 9 on Tools Development. These teams also kept lab notebooks of their findings. The Scholarly Deliverables team (PM Team 5) developed a WE1S research blog  to provide RAs and teams with a space where they could write blog posts to publish their findings, detail their methodological processes and challenges encountered during research, pursue individual research inquiries, and assess larger paradigms related to the project.

The capstone event of the WE1S summer camp was the Advisory Board Meeting, a two-day event where some members of the WE1S Advisory Board visited UCSB to advise on WE1S’s ongoing social and technical goals. The AM and PM teams consolidated to create larger summit teams that would present their summer research findings to the WE1S advisory board in the form of lightning talks. On the first day of the Advisory Board meeting, the WE1S PIs gave presentations on project progress and future plans, the WE1S corpus, and the WMS and Workspace, followed by RA lightning talks on four major project themes: Corpus and Collection, Diverse Populations, Methods and Platform, and Imagined Outputs. Each lightning talk provided an overview of summer work, key issues, and future goals, and ultimately posed a high-value key question on which the team was seeking advice from the board. The day ended with a discussion with the board members on these core questions. Day two of the Advisory Board meeting was dedicated to breakout group rotations, where each present Advisory Board member rotated to each of the four summit teams, providing advice, talking through setbacks, and discussing future directions. Day two culminated with a plenary “blue sky” wrap-up session thinking about the project and its future directions and a dinner for all summer camp participants and Advisory Board members in Mosher Alumni House.

Check out the slideshow below for highlights from the summer research camps and the Advisory Board meeting. The WE1S team—at UCSB, CSUN, and the University of Miami (UM)—is gearing up for project work for the 2018-2019 year. Stay tuned for project updates, research blog posts, and more outputs as WE1S enters its second Mellon-funded year!


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