Columbia's Group for Experimental Methods in the Humanities
about events impact projects lab-culture people

How does technology affect the ways in which we think of ourselves, talk to each other, and make decisions? Projects in this research cluster engage in the critical examination of ideas at the core of deliberative democracy: freedom of speech, participatory culture, and collective memory. These theoretical concerns manifest in the applied mechanisms of governance and citizenship, contesting, in practice, our commitment to the politics of privacy or surveillance, secrecy or transparency, preservation (as in the duty to remember) or entropy (as in, the right to be forgotten). Our (NYC-based) proximity to the worlds of journalism, library science, and publishing gives us an opportunity to affect meaningful change in redressing inequalities of access, to envision the future of books and literacy, and to experiment with new modes and new forums for discussion and communication.


» Securing Poetry: Umang OpSec

  • Manan Ahmed
  • Jonah Bossewitch
  • Alex Gil
  • Nosheen K. Ali


Umang is a digital humanities endeavor for poetic dialogue in South Asia. The platform showcases curated videos of contemporary poetic thought in more than seven South Asian languages with English translation. Alongside, it features a moderated forum where users can submit and share their own poetry, as well as a blog for exploring the connections between literature, history, and society. Apart from providing a meeting place for poets, writers, artists, translators, learners and lovers of the poetic word, Umang seeks to use new media to amplify traditions of poetic reflection and nurture our capacities for empathetic, cross-cultural connection.


In June 2014, unknown organizations hacked and wiped the servers in an attempt to repress critical thought and expression in Pakistan. We will brainstorm and devise a plan to secure Umang Poetry and protect it for online discourse.

» Rikers Bot digital storytelling

  • Manan Ahmed
  • Adam Ares
  • Zeinab Aina
  • Thomas Brown III
  • Marjana Chowdhury
  • Andi Dixon
  • Alex Gil
  • Janine Ko
  • Katarzyna Kaczowka
  • Durba Mitra
  • Desmond Patton
  • Cameron Rasmussen
  • Christopher Riederer
  • Morgan Sparkman
  • Elijah Strauss
  • Dennis Yi Tenen
  • Young People at Rikers

@rikersbot is a coding workshop and an algorithmic storytelling project set in and about Rikers Island correctional facility, New York City’s main prison complex.

In the spring of 2015, the Center for Justice approached the Group for Experimental Methods with an idea of running an “Intro to Python” workshop for the young people incarcerated at Rikers and for Columbia University students interested in digital literacy. Our goal was to set up the encounter in a way that moved past one-way conversation and had effects that would persist beyond event itself.

In teaching programming through digital storytelling, we hoped to encourage a dialog between the youth at Rikers, Columbia faculty and students, and the larger community of the...

» Architectures of Knowledge: Mumbai workshop

  • Manan Ahmed
  • Varsha Ayaar
  • Christie Davis
  • Alex Gil
  • Durba Mitra
  • Daniel Rojas
  • Ashley Sayed
  • Dennis Yi Tenen

Over the past two years, a number of key conversations, workshops and events at Columbia have delved into expanding and embedding digital humanities among faculty and students. In the History, English, Computer Science departments and the Library, workshops have introduced or trained participants and embarked on direct collaboration with faculty research projects. A key intellectual concern arising out of these meetings is to interrogate the territorial and conceptual space of the digital humanities vis-à-vis justice. How do fundamental concerns of humanistic scholarship—gender, race, inequality, law, ethics—intersect and inhabit the techniques, tools and methods of digital humanities? What means are present to integrate the global perspective—the inclusion of distinct and diverse voices and realities—with the universalism that often pervades the field of digital humanities.

Check the...

» #feminism action defense OpSec

  • Manan Ahmed
  • Jonah Bossewitch
  • Tara Conley
  • Sierra Eckert
  • Emily Fuhrman
  • Alex Gil
  • Anna Hiatt
  • Phillip R. Polefrone
  • Juan Francisco Saldarriaga
  • Dennis Yi Tenen
  • Zoe Wood

Following the turmoil of #gameragate our friends at are getting hacked. It is our duty as citizens of the internet to protect free speech online. Action Defense is first, an all-nighter code-fest to move #feminism to a secure, static, hacker-proof platform and second, the attempt to articulate online security basics for the wider activist community.

Online Security for Activists

During the initial meeting our group identified several potential vectors of attack. We’ve closed down vulnerabilities and took steps to harden the site’s publishing platform. These included: deleting default administrator accounts, restricting database user privileges, and limiting code execution. Most importantly, we found and eliminated a number of unauthorized users with administrator privileges.

To further minimize security risks we explored the possibility of moving #feminism to may first/people link, an internet service provider that specializes in hosting infrastructure for...