Monthly Archives: April 2020

Home (sweet) Home: My “OpenMethods” desk

Cite as: Ulrike Wuttke, Home (sweet) Home: My “OpenMethods” desk, Blogpost, 01.04.2020, CC BY 4.0. Link:

This is a special blog post initiated by our brilliant OpenMethods Chief Editor Erzsébet Tóth-Czifra (@etothczifra) who asked all OpenMethods-Editors to write a brief comment about their (work) life during the current COVID-19 (Corona) crisis. So I made myself a cup of tea, put on my favourite singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen and thought about the impact this event. It became probably one of the most personal posts on this blog. If you want to read good stuff about online learning and collaborating try for example searching Twitter for  #twittercampus or #virtualcollaboration

Picture: OpenMethods: Show your desk

While spring is breaking, the world is in a lock-down. In the fierce hands of the dangerous COVID-19 virus and so far the only way we can try to stop its impact is staying away from others as far and much as possible. For some reasons unknown for me this strategy is called social distancing, while what we have to do is physical distancing. Social contacts are still possible, but reduced more or less to call, video calls, social media. Only after a few days at home and lock-down here at Berlin, I deeply miss my family, friends, and colleagues, my choir, my fellow-yogis, going out just for fun.

While musing about things I miss, I do not forget that I am very privileged. I have a nice home, my living room sports a desk and even a real office chair, I have a phone, a computer and wifi to stay connected and can do my work from home. When I go out, only for food, being grateful for all people out there, who keep things going. They definitely should earn much more than clapping. For the rest, I stay home, try to remember myself to do my yoga in my living room with my favourite YouTube-Yoga-Channels. And besides my couch I have “Invisible Women” by Caroline Criado Perez. I really hope to start reading more in it soon.

Leisure: Yoga and Scrabble

So here I am, in my “Home Office”. My employer, the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam (FHP), sent almost everyone to work from home as soon as possible, as a safety measure, and my boss allowed me to stay home for safety reasons even earlier. Since last week, the university is in “emergency mode”, officially closed. But, luckily, that doesn’t mean I am out of work.

Even under these unusual circumstances, of course, my research goes on. I work for the FHP in the project RDMO and as a distributed team we are used to online collaboration, so we are set up for this and nothing really changes. Actually, most of my collaborations are in virtual teams and also many research projects I have contributed before. But face to face meetings are important from time to time, to keep the glue together. Now, many of them have been and will be cancelled or replaced by virtual meetings.

What is harder ist that next week, the students were supposed to return to the university I teach at and new ones to arrive. I was very much looking forward to the courses I am to teach this term. At the moment being, the start of the term has been postponed until 20th of April and then the courses will start online. I am not sure if I will see my students this semester in person this year. This makes me sad and I wonder how this feels for the students.

I will do my best to teach my students online and prepared a Moodle-course for my master course “Research Data Management”, as are so many of us already or preparing to do so, often with a lot of support from our institutions. Where would we be without our eLearning-specialists to guide us? All the teaching staff who now deep-dive into digital tools they had only vaguely heard of? Without the librarians and IT-ers who work hard to give us access? The administrative staff who keeps everything on?

So, on my (virtual) desk is at the moment a lot of material about Research Data Management. Preparing online courses and working in a locked down city, also the importance of unrestricted access becomes more and more an pressing issue. I have been advocating Open Science for a while, now this demand is more urgent and obvious for so many reasons. While I cannot solve problems like people not having access to the internet or suitable devices, one of the basic requirements for more equality in digital research and teaching is more Open Access to articles and books and more OER (Open Educational Resources), Open Data, digital skills, and communication tools we can trust (and pay). I see progress and maybe even a fast-forward of the Open revolution coming, all hands are “on deck” now, and I fear that we go back to business once this crisis is over.

One of the great Open initiatives I am involved in as Deputy Chief Editor is the Digital Humanities metablog OpenMethods, a DARIAH-ERIC initiative. OpenMethods highlights curated Open Access content about Digital Humanities Methods and Tools in many languages. The curation is done by the OpenMethods Editorial Team, a very diverse group of Digital Humanities experts from around the globe. Mostly we meet online, either in a virtual meeting, or reacting to each other’s comments on the nominated posts. Last year, some of us had the chance to come together at DH Utrecht, where we promoted OpenMethods to the community. Some of us met there for the first time!

So, if you come across some great DH stuff, let us know. You can send a link, tweet to us or join us. Learn more about how to help OpenMethods grow by following this link. Spread the word about useful resources in your social networks, make your stuff Open, write a blogpost about what keeps you going, what makes you think, and new skills and perspectives you gained from this experience. I have some things coming to you too in the near future to spread the Open Revolution, like a short annotated list I dubbed “The medievalist essential guide to Open Science (Communication)”.

I truly sense the spirit that we are in this together. I am deeply grateful for my professional network and fellow tweeps (people on twitter) who share tips, ressources, and sometimes silliness. We even created a virtual space on discord for German speaking Digital Humanities. A place to “have a coffee” or an “evening beer”, hangout together and discuss eLearning or professional topics, but also to “gossip in the kitchen”! And I follow a virtual “Thursday night TEI evening class”, an initiative from great folks from the TEI who now live accompany the TEI MOOC. I joined the course especially to finally ask everything about XSLT, I didn’t dare to ask yet!

My kitchen company, I have wild ideas how to animate these cuties for a new episode of the Akademie der Wissensschafe @AKWissensschafe

Did someone just say kitchen? As an extreme coffee addict and collector of DH mugs, I created with Torsten Roeder (@torstenroeder) a little Twitter project dedicated to DH mugs. It’s called DH in a mug and you can find it under @dh_mug #DHinaMug and also #HomeOfficeDH.

Definition of a DH mug: “a DH mug” is a mug with an imprint related to Digital Humanities, a project, an institution, conference, or other nerdy stuff, but any other drinking devices are fine too, if they have a DH imprint. (Don’t get me started though on defining DH!)

So, check out the virtual collection and tweet your #mugshots to @dh_mug: the mug you use now in your HomeOfficeDH or once you are reunited with your favourite mug at your office. Tell a little story about you and your mug, where is it from? What makes it special to you? Like the little “mug story” below:

That’s so far for today. Take care, show care, and stay safe. It’s okay to be scared, it’s okay to be yourself. Be your best whatever that may be be now and be there for others if they need a you.

Maybe this is a chance to grow together virtually closer, but I am really looking forward to the real thing!

What are your thoughts? You are welcome to discuss with me on Twitter (@uwuttke) or leave a comment below.