Welcoming the Building LLTDM Cohort!

Green and yellow Building LLTDM blog logo, transitioning from circle to plus sign

Our project team is thrilled to announce the cohort of participants for this summer’s “Building Legal Literacies for Text Data Mining” (Building LLTDM) Institute. Building LLTDM, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, will bring together 32 digital humanities (DH) researchers and professionals for an intensive training course on the UC Berkeley campus from 23-26 June 2020. The goal is for participants to be able to build, mine, and publish corpora with a solid approach for navigating the legal and ethical choices they will make along the way.

Announcing our participants

The application process was very competitive, and we received incredibly strong applications from DH researchers and professionals around the country. Please join us in warmly welcoming the following 15 DH researchers and 17 DH professionals (librarians and other staff):

  • Ilya Akdemir, University of California, Berkeley
  • Tara Baillargeon, Marquette University
  • Trevor Burrows, Purdue University
  • Matthew Cannon, University of California, Berkeley
  • Nathan Carpenter, Illinois State University
  • Ashleigh Cassemere-Stanfield, University of Chicago
  • James Clawson, Grambling State University
  • Mark Clemente, Case Western Reserve University
  • Quinn Dombrowski, Stanford University
  • Alyssa Fahringer, George Mason University
  • Heather Froehlich, Penn State University
  • Nicole Garlic, Temple University
  • Casey Hampsey, New York University
  • Devin Higgins, Michigan State University
  • Christian Howard, Bucknell University
  • Daniel Johnson, Notre Dame University
  • Spencer Keralis, University of Illinois
  • Sarah Ketchley, University of Washington
  • Melanie Kowalski, Emory University
  • Barbara Levergood, Bowdoin College
  • Jes Lopez, Michigan State University
  • Rochelle Lundy, Seattle University
  • Jon Marshall, UC Berkeley
  • Jens Pohlmann, Stanford University
  • Caitlin Pollock, University of Michigan
  • Sarah Potvin, Texas A & M University
  • Andrea Roberts, Texas A & M University
  • Daniel Royles, Florida International University
  • Hadassah St. Hubert, Florida International University
  • Todd Suomela, Bucknell University
  • Nicholas Wolf, New York University
  • Madiha Zahrah Choksi, Columbia University

Each participant will receive a stipend intended to cover all costs of attendance. The stipends will also be distributed in advance of the institute, to further promote equity and support social justice by minimizing the need for any personal financial investments.

This group will be traveling from 15 states, demonstrating the widespread interest in and need for TDM legal literacies training across the country:

When the project team set out to build this cohort, we looked for demonstrated commitments to diversity and equity but could hardly have imagined the breadth and depth of experiences that applicants were willing to share. The 32 participants have worked on wide-ranging and impactful DH TDM projects, such as understanding: “place” data from community histories of historic African American settlements; the development of AIDS activist networks in communities of color; portrayals of autism in literature; and more. Others expressed intentions to bring back the skills they learn to expand TDM opportunities for students and communities who have traditionally been marginalized or under-resourced. The participants are also representative of different institution types, research advising and support experience, professional roles, levels of experience with TDM, career stages, and disciplinary perspectives.

Curriculum preview

The participants all share at least one thing in common: They have wrestled with navigating law and policy issues related to copyright, contracts and licenses, privacy, or ethics inherent in DH TDM research. 

  • Many reported having shied away from using in-copyright texts as the raw materials for their data mining for fear of potential repercussions, especially if they hoped to publish a portion of their corpus for others to be able to replicate results, or from which others could make new queries. 
  • Often, applicants said they were unsure about the permissibility of conducting TDM on social media content from platforms like Twitter or Reddit due to unclear website terms of service, or confusion around what the platforms’ application programming interfaces (APIs) permit or prohibit. They also raised questions of ethics and authorial intent when mining this content: For instance, Twitter users may have intended their Tweets to be “public,” but what unintended harms might result from extracting trends across users, or aggregating public content and making certain messages more discoverable?
  • Some reported research roadblocks related to privacy considerations, including how to manage potentially sensitive information within special collections on communities and individuals who are still living. 

The four-day Institute will address all of these issues and more. Our robust faculty of legal experts, DH researchers, and librarians will rely on a design thinking structure incorporating experiential methodologies—including dialogue, case studies, and real-world skill-building exercises. We’ll also allocate time for the cohort to design implementation plans to maximize knowledge dissemination post-Institute. An institute moderator will be encouraging personal and group reflection to reinforce learning outcomes. 

We will publish a more detailed agenda for everyone, but here is a sneak peek:

Day 1 (23 June 2020)

After group introductions, the focus of Day 1 is on understanding how DH TDM researchers and professionals encounter laws and policies in their work, and the struggles participants have faced. Participants will have meaningful opportunities to share stories to build an understanding of the questions and problems that have arisen. We will begin to identify and discuss themes and shared terminologies to facilitate communication.

Day 2 (24 June 2020):

On Day 2, we will master the worlds of copyright and contracts through risk-informed skill building. We’ll cover the rights and limits of fair use, and how to navigate copyright in corpus creation, mining, and publishing. We’ll then transition into understanding how website terms of use, APIs, and license agreements can factor into TDM decision-making. Through engaging discussions and exercises, participants will practice applying these skills to their own experiences and other real-world research contexts.

Day 3 (25 June 2020): 

Utilizing the same discourse-based and risk-informed approaches, on Day 3 we’ll turn to a nuanced exploration of privacy, ethics, and free speech. We’ll also cover special use cases related to DH TDM research, like international laws and researcher collaborations, digital rights management protections, and more.  

Day 4 (26 June 2020): 

The focus of Day 4 is on prototyping plans for integrating Institute skills and literacies into participants’ own practices and institutions. The cohort will develop personal and community “Implementation Mapping” plans to identify actionable next steps. We will also debrief on learning outcomes and discuss opportunities to build communities of practice.

Public engagement

We know there is a large community of DH TDM researchers and professionals (and beyond) who may be interested in the Institute curriculum and related educational materials. As a reminder, following the Institute we will be publishing an open educational resource that includes all of our instructional materials, slides, lecture notes, discussion prompts, and guided activities. We will also include additional modular content and best practices so that these resources can serve readers in a variety of contexts.

We’re excited to work and learn together with this terrific cohort of Building LLTDM participants. And we sincerely thank everyone who took the time and effort to submit an application for the Institute. If you’d like to follow along with our public announcements, please check in with #BuildingLLTDM on Twitter. 

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