CFP: Minimal Computing Workshop (DH2016)

Scheduled for 12 July 2016, in Krakow, Poland, this Digital Humanities 2016 workshop will explore the practice and influence of minimal computing from both a practical and theoretical perspective. We use “minimal computing” to refer to computing done under some set of significant constraints, including constraints of hardware, software, education, network capacity, infrastructure, and power. Minimal computing is also used to capture the maintenance, refurbishing, and use of machines to do work out of necessity, along with the choice to use streamlined computing hardware, such as Raspberry Pi or Arduino.

In essence, it calls for the reduction of the technical infrastructure required to produce, disseminate, and preserve digital scholarship. Put this way, it can reduce external dependencies (such as reliance on proprietary software, network infrastructure, or complex technology stacks), help communities to assert some control over their content, and facilitate sharing and preservation. This dichotomy of choice versus necessity underscores technology that is arguably not the high-performance computing of high-income economies. By operating within this tension between choice and necessity, minimal computing brings important concepts and practices within digital humanities to the fore. In this way it is also an intellectual concept, akin to environmentalism, asking for balance between gains and costs in areas including social justice, manufacturing, waste, and labor.

Despite its fundamental concerns, minimal computing still lacks a cogent research agenda within digital humanities. As such, this workshop aims to bring like-minded researchers from a variety of disciplines to the same space to share work in progress and collectively articulate lines of future inquiry.


For the workshop, we invite short papers or thought pieces (500-2000 words) engaging questions such as:

Papers may be anchored in existing minimal computing projects, or they may be more theoretical or historical in character.

Submission (by 1 May 2016)

To respond to this call for papers, please submit a 250-word abstract to Jentery Sayers (University of Victoria) at jentery@uvic.ca. Together with the abstract, please include your name, email address, and affiliation. Please include the abstract in the body of your email. Do not include any attachments or links to Google Drive, Dropbox, GitHub, or the like. Abstracts are due by 1 May 2016.


Accepted papers will be published online at least two weeks prior to the workshop. This way, workshop participants may read the papers in advance and come prepared with questions and comments.

On 12 July 2016, the workshop will blend delivery of short papers (or thought pieces) with seminar discussion, demonstrations, and prototype testing.

9:30am-12:30pm: The first half of the workshop will consist of 8-10 presentations, together with focused discussion of the presenters’ minimal computing projects. Presentations and projects will be drawn from responses to this CFP.

12:30pm-1:30pm: Lunch (on our own; not provided)

1:30pm-4:00pm: Participants will collectively develop a research agenda for minimal computing, with all participants collaborating to identify projects, build ideas, share and test prototypes, and articulate collective interests. Where applicable, participants will demonstrate workflows and projects involving physical computing platforms such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino.


The organizing team for this workshop is Tiffany Chan (University of Victoria), Alex Gil (Columbia University), Kim Martin (University of Guelph), Brian Rosenblum (University of Kansas), and Jentery Sayers (University of Victoria).

Should you have any questions about the workshop, then please do not hesitate to contact Jentery Sayers at jentery@uvic.ca.