@mlemweb hi! Sorry for messaging you out of nowhere. I was listening to LibreLounge and looked the hosts up on the fediverse and on birdsite, which suggested me your profile. I'm an academic in the field of music history and musicology and a free software enthusiast, so I got interested in the "digital humanities" and even more the "free software in academia" mentioned in your profile, as I've been trying to bridge these interests of mine. Do you have any resources to point me to, please?


A lot of the digital humanities work that really engages with free software is done by librarians or IT people rather than the principal investigators.

I was on a panel at last year's Libre Planet on Free Software in Academia that you might find interesting: I led a panel at LP2018 you may be interested in: media.libreplanet.org/u/librep

@mlemweb with regards to the panel, I got greatly interested in taking part in whichever discussion group, mailing list or any other form of being in contact with people who are working in this field. By the way, I think DebConf this year will be here in Brazil. Is there anything planned related to these fields we’re talking about?


I've met several individuals at various conferences, but I haven't found a central location yet. I think what we need is more Free Software dialogue at Digital Humanities conferences.

I've never attended DebConf (I use Debian, but I'm not a Debian Developer), so I'm not sure what's planned. I attended LibrePlanet in 2017 and asked around for people working in FS & DH, and the response I frequently got was, 'why don't you do a talk on it', and I did, maybe you could do the same?

@mlemweb don’t you think we could try to create some form of “online gathering point” (I’m sure there’s a better word for this in English, but it’s not coming to me now) for people who are interested in this? I don’t know, a discourse forum, a website, a podcast... I’m really interested in working towards improving this. Most people simply don’t realize the implications...

@fredmbarros I think this would be a great idea. I'd be interested, but I don't know that I have the time right now to set it up myself. I do however know someone with a free software podcast ... @cwebber ?

@mlemweb @fredmbarros I think bridging free software / culture and digital humanities / academia is a great topic for a future @librelounge. What do you think @emacsen ?

@cwebber @mlemweb @fredmbarros @librelounge I think it's worth discussing. We're also discussing other issues around academia that people brought up.

I'd like to hear more specifics about what we'd discuss. Email me and let's talk more.

@aminb and @eylul, welcome!

(People, please tell me if I left someone out, as it’s kind of hard to keep everybody in the loop)

@emacsen @librelounge @_emacsomancer @cwebber @mlemweb

I don’t know whom among you followed the earlier conversation about a platform for the creation of collaborative text.

And there’s @wolftune joining in too
@aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @_emacsomancer @cwebber @mlemweb @teinturs

@fredmbarros @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb @teinturs I didn't see the previous conversation, but appropriately enough I have a meeting today with people I've tried/am trying to introduce git to for a collaborative project.

There's a good guide from somebody in my niche of the academic world (#socialscience or more specifically #sociology) at plain-text.co -- it's opinionated (promoting R, emacs and pandoc) and not that much focused on using SCM for collaboration, but still a good reference to point people towards.
@fredmbarros @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb @teinturs

@jboy @_emacsomancer @fredmbarros @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb @teinturs

The idea is to have an accessible way for people to collaboratively collate information about a topic, right? The wiki format seems a lot more approachable for that purpose, plus has media integration and change tracking already

@jboy @_emacsomancer @fredmbarros @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb @teinturs
That's not to say eg: mediawiki is perfect, bc it is still slower and more onerous than ideal, but imagine an enhancement to the basic format that is to mediawiki what slack or discord are to IRC. (Minus the walled garden and proprietaryness)

@rubah @jboy @fredmbarros @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb @teinturs That doesn't seem like ideal solution for a number of reasons. It seems to require internet access in order to work, whereas say a git-based solution allows for offline work (internet only required for syncing changes). And it limits the format of the interactions. I need to collaborate using LaTeX, for instance, not some other format.


@_emacsomancer @rubah @jboy @fredmbarros @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb

Really great ! thanks for sharing, I didn't knew it whereas I am fond of any LaTeX-for-poor-and-lost-humanists...
There is also a very useful LaTeX-for-SHS-users website and free book there... mainly in French ;-). I wrote my PhD with LaTeX thanks to / because of it. geekographie.maieul.net/LaTeX

I like #LaTeX— I even wrote my diss using it & released a diss template here: github.com/jboynyc/cuny-disser

But it wouldn't be the first (or second, or third) tool I'd direct social science or humanities colleagues towards.

@_emacsomancer @rubah @fredmbarros @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb

@teinturs @_emacsomancer @rubah @fredmbarros @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb

I can't think of a single colleague who wouldn't be turned off by #LaTeX source or resources talking about "noobs" etc.

The good news is that with #pandoc, it's also not necessary to take on LaTeX.

@teinturs @_emacsomancer @rubah @fredmbarros @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb

And maybe the #Racket ecosystem is also a good alternative. In both cases we still need better tooling/interfaces though.

@_emacsomancer , indeed great resource. Thanks!

@jboy, and what would be the tools you’d think people in the social sciences should learn first and foremost?

@teinturs@mstdn.io@rubah@weirder.earth @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb

Good question – I think that's a great discussion to have! For most I think reference management & version control are most important, followed by something for document preparation, & finally tools for various kinds of data analysis and dataviz.
@_emacsomancer @teinturs @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb

@fredmbarros @_emacsomancer @teinturs @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb

I think Kieran Healey's plain text guide goes in the right direction, but falsely assumes that regression analysis using #R is a central part of people's workflow. Not true for most social scientists.

@jboy agreed. It’s funny that version control (the only one I use is Git and it is the friendlier of the ones I know) is the one thing people turn that lost gaze into the horizon the most when I talk about.
@_emacsomancer @teinturs @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb


There's worse things than Git, sure, but that's not an argument for it being friendly. Git's jargon and way of working are not that approachable, full of pitfalls and confusion for newcomers.

I've heard Mercurial is friendlier, but the mere fact that it's less popular and less-known is a detraction in practice.

@jboy @_emacsomancer @teinturs @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb

@wolftune, ok, the less unfriendly :-). I’ve talked earlier in this thread about the idea of creating a text editor that used Git under the hood and someone suggested smth that was similar, iirc, but I haven’t dug it yet.

@jboy @_emacsomancer @teinturs @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb


Git-backed wikis exist…

Gitit: github.com/jgm/gitit




As long as the markup (markdown usually) includes support for advanced text stuff like footnotes and so on (Gitit uses Pandoc which has all that for example)

@jboy @_emacsomancer @teinturs @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb


Emacs has an addon Magit which could be set up to auto-commit and push to a git repo etc.


Unless the wiki allows for full LaTeX integration, that would only work for certain projects (e.g. I need more than markdown+footnotes for my projects, including the collaborative ones).

@jboy @teinturs @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb

The funny part is that maybe it’d be easier to make people learn gig itself than Emacs. My impression is that they don’t see the point in doing “all that commit stuff” when “google docs just auto saves and auto backups” (people actually believe >>
@wolftune @jboy @teinturs @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb

@_emacsomancer >> it functions as a backup, the poor souls... They don’t understand the palimpsest nature of the thing. So I think an editor with syntax highlight for WYSIWYG, staging as autosave, save as commits and an auto push when closing would work best.

@wolftune @jboy @teinturs @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb

Apart from a very few, everybody else in the social sciences seem to think that it’s MS Word or Google Docs to do our work. Some, who tend to be seen as hardcore quantativists, praise some (proprietary) software they use to treat data. The end.

@jboy @_emacsomancer @teinturs @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb

@fredmbarros Do you know of any place where people are having this discussion? As far as I can see, I find it is usually driven by concerns about replicability or by fans of a certain ecosystem like R or emacs. These discussions rarely refer to free software ideals or how to do scholarship with an ethical stack, and they rarely expand our imagination of what scholarly collaboration might look like.

Is that your impression as well? If not, happy to get some pointers!

@jboy totally my impression and actually, more towards the beginning of this thread, I have raised the idea of creating some sort of group, mailing list, podcast or anything like that around this very theme of FOSS in Academia. Do you have an idea of what we could do? Want to try something?

Yes, it would be nice to create a space for this.

(My university IT dept is threatening to shut down our mailman server in favor of proprietary alternatives, else I'd offer to set up a list...)

I guess there are at least two conversations here: Free Software and Academia in general & Free Software and Humanities and Social Science Scholarship. They're related, but I think the latter may be worth a dedicated space because it's frequently neglected.

@jboy you’re right about there being two themes, but I don’t know (I really don’t know, it’s not a meandering way to disagree) if we can afford to divide them, as the space for this discussion is already so small. Anyway, in my case I’m always talking about the latter, as this is the field where I’m in, even if I try to generalize from there.
Talking practicalities: any other ideas? We could maybe set up a Discourse instance, though I think it may not get much traction.

@fredmbarros How about we just stick to here for now. I propose hashtag #faiaf -- Free as in Academic Freedom.

@fredmbarros I just realized I dropped @mlemweb from this thread, even though your initial exchange got all this rolling.

@jboy I hadn’t noticed either. Sorry, @mlemweb!
As for sticking to Masto, ok, but it’s a bit cumbersome to keep everybody in the loop (groups is something that it could offer, btw), esp since people’s handles count as characters and bc you’ve to remember everybody in the conversation and sometimes actively insert them. #faiaf will certainly help, but then people have to look it up - not so different from looking what’s been posted in a group though, I admit

@jboy @mlemweb you know, what’s really great about this hashtag is that it is a palindrome :-D

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