@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 @emacsen Great ideas, this is a topic I am really interested into as a daily user of free softwares in academia. May I join - whatever it would be ;-) ?

@teinturs @cwebber @fredmbarros @librelounge @emacsen

Absolutely, lets lay the foundations on the fediverse! Feel free to recruit anyone else you think would be interested.

@teinturs @cwebber @mlemweb @librelounge @emacsen consider yourself part of it already. I see you’re in the field of social sciences. Although I teach musicology/music history, my formal training has all been in history and sociology and actually I feel some colleagues in the field of music treat me as if I were not part of their group vc of that.

@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.

@emacsen, how can we all get this conversation going?

(Off topic: though probably deviating from its initial purpose, sometimes I feel it would be a great feature if Mastodon had something like lists or groups of users...)

cc: @teinturs @cwebber @mlemweb

@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

As most academics won’t be willing to learn version control, I started thinking: what if there was a text editor embedded in a website that acted like a fronted for Git?

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

“Save” would do git commit -a -m and prompt for a description of what had been done (the description would be important anyway, regardless of Git demanding it). Is there such an editor already?

(There must be a better way to keep everybody in the conversation)

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

@fredmbarros @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb @teinturs I'm not that keen on working/forcing people to work in a browser though, but it makes a sort of sense. Has anyone tried GitHub's Desktop (desktop.github.com/)? I wonder if the right sort of GUI could at least ease pain for some people.

@_emacsomancer the thing is that @mlemweb and I were discussing about how to make it possible for academics to do version control working on a project for a collaborative history book. Then I think it makes some sense to use a website, as people would find the “base text” online and be able to offer suggestions, alter what’s written etc.

@fredmbarros @mlemweb So the thing I'm (trying to) do is also a collaborative book project, but the book is written in LaTeX, so the website would need to be more complicated to work well. GitLab, I realised yesterday, does allow for editing files directly in the website, which might work as a stopgap.

@_emacsomancer @fredmbarros

The problem with all of this is getting the authors to understand the need for version control. So many academics see no problem with just emailing a document around or having a dropbox full of numbered versions of the same document

@mlemweb @fredmbarros Re: getting academics to understand use of vc: for a collaborative project, there are other reasons as well, because it means emailing around numbered versions of the same document, which is exponentially worse than numbered versions of your own single-authored doc. There are tools like Google Docs or Overleaf, but both of these have major drawbacks, particularly the former (the latter is costly).

@_emacsomancer @mlemweb The way regular academics do this is a total mess. I was talking to two colleagues that I disagreed with demanding paper submission in MS Word format and they asked me how wrote my papers. I had barely started the whole plain-text/markdown thing and their eyes got lost and they went like “oh, no, you want me to learn how to code to write my papers!” Asking them to leave Word/Gdocs is already too much. >>

@_emacsomancer @mlemweb That’s why I think a regular editor with Git under the hood would be the best option. Some themes in Atom, for instance, show formatted markdown on the editor itself. If there were those buttons for bold, italic etc. it would do it all. Every time a contributor started an edit or addition, the editor would create a branch for them. “Save” would be a commit and then, at the end, it’d ask “submit?” and “yes” would lead to a pull request.

@_emacsomancer @fredmbarros

Also, LaTeX is scary and has a steep learning curve that most people I know wouldn't be willing to learn

@mlemweb @fredmbarros Three of the five people involved already know & use LaTeX. It may be initially scary, but essentially all other alternatives are horrible. I consider learning LaTeX an essential skill for students who are training under me.

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

Among online LaTeX editors, I've heard Overleaf has git integration as well, but I wouldn't recommend it for two reasons: first it's proprietary, and second you're screwed if (when) their servers go down and that's your main tool (happened to a student in our group last term, an hour or so before a paper submission deadline).

I've been thinking about recommending Magit lately. It's hands down *the* best interface I've ever used for git. I've been thinking of putting together a fairly simple .emacs file that would automatically install latest version of Magit, and customize a few things to provide a more beginner-friendly Emacs experience for the novice user that may not necessarily be willing to learn to do things "the Emacs way" if all per want to use it for (at least in the beginning) is Magit.


@aminb @emacsen @librelounge @eylul @fredmbarros @teinturs @cwebber @mlemweb @wolftune
Overleaf: putting the proprietary issue aside, it's pretty bad now compared to v1, where the Git integration actually worked. It doesn't really work anymore - I filled a detailed complaint, but....
Emacs: I was going to suggest something similar - one can set up Emacs to automatically commit and push on every save, for instance. Maybe something like Portacle, but aimed at humanities/social sciences people?

@aminb @emacsen @librelounge @eylul @fredmbarros @teinturs @cwebber @mlemweb @wolftune More on the aesthetic-side, there is the Poet theme for Emacs github.com/kunalb/poet which might make it look more attractive to people who aren't used to text-editors.

@_emacsomancer @emacsen @librelounge @eylul @fredmbarros @teinturs @cwebber @mlemweb @wolftune Interesting! Didn't know that it doesn't work anymore

And yeah perhaps something along the lines of Portacle. Though, we shouldn't have to ship the entirety of Emacs: just a .emacs file that the user would drop in their home dir after installing Emacs on their OS however they wish. The .emacs file would download the required packages from (M)ELPA and set everything up the next time the user starts Emacs

@aminb @emacsen @librelounge @_emacsomancer @eylul @fredmbarros @teinturs @mlemweb @wolftune You may be interested in what Ricardo Wurmus is trying to do with "Guile Studio" git.elephly.net/?p=software/gu

The idea is to provide a preconfigured emacs that's easy to pick up for non-emacs Guile users in the way that DrRacket is for Racket users. (Or, how spacemacs is for emacs users coming from VIM, but generalized to modern IDE concepts.)

@cwebber @aminb @emacsen @librelounge @eylul @fredmbarros @teinturs @mlemweb @wolftune There are a number of Emacs starter kits listed here: github.com/emacs-tw/awesome-em Lots of them are likely programming-focussed, but there is Scimax mentioned, and some others which could serve as models.

@cwebber @aminb @emacsen @librelounge @eylul @fredmbarros @teinturs @mlemweb @wolftune Thanks; somehow I hadn't seen Guile Studio before. It sounds like it might be a bit like Portacle but for Guile rather than Common Lisp.

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

Yeah, DrRacket is one of the reasons we chose Racket for our DH programming workshops. Since it has its own text editor and interface, we could just jump right in without having to explain emacs or VIM first and half of the tutorial was focused on Scribble, because the markup language applies Racket in a way that's easy to understand and applicable to the humanities student's daily lives

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

It took me until last year to learn any markup language partially because my husband is such a die hard emacs user and every time he tried to show me emacs it was super intimidating.

@mlemweb @aminb @emacsen @librelounge @eylul @fredmbarros @teinturs @cwebber @wolftune I agree that Emacs is very intimidating in general, and most of the Emacs starter-packs seem to be aimed towards people used to some IDE or other and for the purpose of writing code rather than some other sort of text content. But I think all of the right pieces are there in Emacs; it's more of question of designing a starter-pack for more general academic purposes and making it more approachable.

@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

Lots of interesting stuff here. I’m almost ashamed of admitting I don’t use Emacs hehe, but there it is. Made me want to finally get to it.

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

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

No shame or judging here; and it's never too late to start! Feel free to ping me if you need help with anything 🙂

Oh and #emacs and #emacs-beginners on freenode are also good places to hang out and ask for help

@jboy @fredmbarros @wolftune @aminb @eylul @emacsen @librelounge @cwebber @mlemweb @teinturs Any sufficiently advanced text editor contains an ad-hoc, informally-specified, bug-ridden, slow implementation of half of Emacs.

@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.

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Welcome to the thread, @jboy! Though I my work is all musicological in a somewhat broad sense, I have a PhD in Sociology. In what field exactly do you work?

Mostly urban and media, but I dabble in other things too. And I work in an anthro department, though they let me keep my professional identify as a sociologist.

@mlemweb @cwebber I don’t have much time either, but I’ll see what I can do in terms of making this a joint effort with the Brazilian music history thing... I have to sort out the linguistic barrier thing, though, as this history would be written in Portuguese at first.

@fredmbarros You also might want to look into the Open Education community. They focus more on Free Culture than Free Software, but it might be an easier gap to bridge than Digital Humanities

@mlemweb probably it will be easier, yes, especially with students (some colleagues are indeed a lost cause, it seems)

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