Full Project Name:Autonomously Adaptive Soundscapes for Reducing Stress in Critically-Ill Patients
Project Info:Machine learning applied to therapeutic soundscapes.
Granting Agencies:UofA Seed Grant, building on a KIAS cluster grant, Machine Learning for Sound Recognition
Principal investigator: Dr. Michael Frishkopf

AI for Society is a sub-cluster of Digital Synergies. It has a reading group and hosted a conference in May 2019, titled "AE, Ethics, and Society." Cluster leads: Dr. Geoffrey Rockwell and Dr. Jonathan Cohn

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Full Project Name: Putting Data-Driven Urbanism in its Place
Project Info: Data-driven urbanism refers to the use of 'big data' in urban policy and planning. The purpose of this project is to explore the complex assemblages of people, spaces, discourses and technologies that make urban 'big data' and, by extension, data-driven urbanism possible.
Granting Agencies: SSHRC (Insight Grant)
Principal investigator: Dr. Joshua Evans (Human Geography)

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Full Project Name: Digital Content Reuse Assessment Framework Toolkit
Granting agency: Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) (United States)
Program: National Leadership Grants for Libraries, National Digital Infrastructures Program
Co-investigator: Dr. Ali Shiri

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Project Info: The Digital Feminist Collective is a research commons gathering projects on digital feminisms that collectively ask after the future of feminism and feminist activism, the meaning and limits of global feminist solidarity, creativity, and transnational collaboration. The projects offer strategies for scholarly political work in the digital and non-digital world by opening up different ways of crafting connections, communities, and discourses.
Granting Agencies: SSHRC
Principal investigator: Carrie Smith

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Project Info:Canadian scholars working in the field of life writing (nonfiction) do not have a way to see each other and talk about research. Enter Digital Coffee, a once-per-month meeting on Zoom with researchers across the country, who bring a beverage and talk about their research.
Granting Agencies:  HM Tory Chair funds
Principal investigator: Julie Rak

Dyscorpia is an exhibition gathering artists and thinkers in visual art, design, contemporary dance, medical humanities, virtual reality, sound creation, computer science, and creative writing in order to question what it means not to know the limits of our bodies.

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Full Project Name: An Online Resource on Environment and Poetry in Latin America
Project info: will be a trilingual (Spanish, Portuguese, English) online resource mapping the relationships between contemporary Latin American poetry and the environment. General readers, students, and scholars will for the first time have access to an electronic archive of poetry from Latin America that engages ecological questions.
Granting Agencies: Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE), the University of Alberta’s Kule Institute for Advanced Studies, Mitacs
Principal investigator: Dr. Odile Cisneros

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Full Project Name: Hothousing Feminist Collections: Towards an Intersectional Feminist Digital Archive
Project Info: Hothousing Feminist Collections: Towards an Intersectional Feminist Digital Archive, will adopt an inclusive approach to data infrastructure to create an open-linked, open-data knowledge base of feminist content sourced from a wide range of Canadian cultural collections, with the goal of establishing an inclusive and pro-ethical approach to data infrastructure for the digital humanities.
Granting Agencies: SSHRC
Principal investigator: Deb Verhoeven

Full Project Name: Indigenous Women and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs): Supporting an Empowered and Resilient North-South Community
Project Info: The ongoing political, social, and economic marginalization of Indigenous women exposes them to poverty, social exclusion, and violence. But Indigenous women are not victims; they are actively involved in resistance efforts and have created civil society organizations (CSOs) to reclaim power and agency. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become an indispensable resource for civil society actors, but research suggests that numerous barriers limit the potential of technologies to support the empowerment of Indigenous women. These barriers include the fact that technology is not designed according to their perspectives, preferences and ways of knowing. This project will conduct research with Indigenous women's CSOs in Canada and Latin America to determine how ICTs can be gendered and indigenized to better serve as tools of resistance and reliance for Indigenous women.
Granting Agencies: SSHRC, Killam Research Fund
Principal investigator: Pascal Lupien, Campus Saint-Jean

Full Project Name: Inuvialuit Voices: Cultural Heritage Preservation and Access through Digital Storytelling in Digital Libraries
Granting agency: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grant (2019-2023)
Principal investigator: Dr. Ali Shiri

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Full Project Name: Levelling Up: Iterative Game Design for Sexual Violence Prevention
Project Info: Investigating the capacity of pro-social video games to serve as educational interventions in sexual violence prevention settings. Using a research-informed, iterative game design model, it will examine the efficacy of various game interactions and mechanics in driving value change amongst players on beliefs and myths pertaining to sexual violence.
Granting Agencies: SSHRC
Principal Investigator: Kenzie Gordon

Full Project Name: The Lost Garden: Exploring Sound in Interactive Game Environments
Project Info: The Lost Garden is a first-person audio puzzle game that features sonic exploration in an abandoned underground urban environment cut off from nature. Players are encouraged to speculate on the fragility of our natural world.
Granting agencies:  SSHRC, KIAS
Principal Investigator:  Scott Smallwood

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Full Project Name: Massive Auditory Lexical Decision
Project Info: The Massive Auditory Lexical Decision (MALD) database is an end-to-end, freely available auditory and production data set for speech and psycholinguistic research, providing time-aligned stimulus recordings for over 30,000 words and made-up words and response data from hundreds of listeners. In addition to the experimental data, we provide many precompiled listener- and item-level descriptor variables.
Granting Agencies: SSHRC
Principal investigator: Benjamin V. Tucker

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Full project name: Reimagining Literacy Education: Being Literate in the Twenty-First Century
Project info: This international case study partnership research initiative responds to the urgent need to help teachers and students develop the necessary knowledge and proficiencies for our digital age, by generating theory, curricula, and classroom strategies. We embrace a three dimensional digital literacy framework that bring together an operational dimension (facility with literacy tools), a cultural dimension (understanding of literacy contexts) and a critical dimension (interpreting and assessing information). The ultimate aim of this project is to be open-minded and inquisitive about literacy practices that move beyond the 20th century pedagogical models that currently guide curriculum and classroom practices.
Granting agencies: SSHRC Insight Grant
Principal investigator: Dr. Linda Laidlaw, Elementary Education

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Project Info: Farid al-Din ʿAttar's famous poem "Conference of the Birds" recounts the birds' spiritual quest through seven metaphorical valleys in search of the Simurgh. These valleys have been mapped onto the Aga Khan Garden at the University of Alberta's Botanic Garden, augmented with music, poetry, and birdsong, using a location-aware app, in order to deepen visitors' experiences of the Garden, to catalyze a richer, fuller, more harmonious understanding of Islamic spirituality, and to foster religious pluralism.
Granting Agencies: 2014 SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, part of a bigger project entitled “Evolving the Botanic Garden: Digital Environmental and Cultural Interpretation at the Edmonton Devonian Botanic Garden's new Islamic Garden”
Principal investigator: Dr. Michael Frishkopf

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SpokenWeb aims to develop new collaborative and coordinated approaches to literary historical study, digital development, and critical and pedagogical engagement with diverse collections of literary sound recordings from across Canada and beyond.
Granting Agencies: SSHRC Partnership Grant
Principal investigator: Michael O'Driscoll (Lead UAlberta Researcher); Jason Camlot (PI),Concordia University (Montreal)

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Full Project Name: The Interactive Project: Historical Continuities and Transcultural Intersections from Oral Storytelling to Videogames
Project Info: Interactivity is a widely misunderstood topic as a concept and as practices. The overall objective of “The Interactive Project” is to generate cross-disciplinary discussion, understanding, and creative work around the complex ways in which interactivity has been present throughout our human history, and how much its role is crucial today through both new technologies and older traditional arts and media for the entertainment world, and most importantly for our education system and democratic societies.
The 5-week event will take place from Sept. 28 to Oct. 30 2020 on UofA campus with 2 talks (academic and creative) and a seminar every week and a multiple-station scavenger hunt game.
Granting Agencies: SSHRC, KIAS, Faculty of Arts
Principal investigator: Chris Reyns-Chikuma

Full Project Name: Toxic Media Ecologies: Critical Responses to the Cultural Politics of Planetary Crisis
Project Info: Taking an intermedia-ecological approach, this research project refuses the modern colonial opposition between nature and culture, indeed the false sense of security offered by any binary opposition, by drawing on the old and new powers of poetry, research-creation, social and cultural theory and histories from below in order to construct new critical tools with which to respond to the cultural politics of crises. The project looks at urgent contemporary issues and topics such as whiteness as desire, rape culture, spectacular fashion, anthropocene discourse, high financial intermediation, suburban imaginaries, surveillance and sousveillance, Islamophobia, energy transition and climate change while searching for a new theoretical idiom of interrogation.
Granting Agencies: KIAS / SSHRC Principal Investigator: Dr. Sourayan Mookerjea

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Full Project Name: Trans-National English in Social Media Communities
Project Info: This project compares the use of English in different non-English-speaking countries (within otherwise local-language online conversations) by different social media communities, and uses the analysis of these practices not only as a comparison of online language practices, but also as a close look at how ‘international English’ as a reflection of globalization plays out in the practices of everyday life. Particularly, it will examine the influence of different countries' language ideologies over time, and also how young people negotiate, contest and re-evaluate these ideologies.
Principal Investigator: Jennifer Dailey-O'Cain

Full Project Name:Virtual Museum of Canadian Traditional Music
Project Info:Allows users to learn about the sounds of Canadian traditional music.
Granting Agencies:Virtual Museum Canada
Principal investigator: Dr. Michael Frishkopf

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Full Project Name: Virtual Sonic Architecture Project Info:The aim of Virtual Sonic Architecture is to enable collective immersive multisensory experience of architectural history, for aesthetic pleasure, intercultural understanding, and educational use. In this particular case, Hadim Ibrahim Pasha mosque, the objective is to experience Ottoman Turkish culture, creating a powerful visual-aural-social experience for a more humanistic appreciation of Islam, its civilization, and its rich history.
Granting Agencies: SSRC Insight Grant, Music, Ritual, and Architecture in Islam
Principal investigator: Dr. Michael Frishkopf

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Full project name: Writing New Bodies: Critical Co-design for 21st Century Digital-born Bibliotherapy
Granting Agency: Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Principal Investigator: Dr. Astrid Ensslin

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On March 5th 2020 Digital Synergies presented at the Faculty of Art's Celebration of Research - an event to showcase its various Signature Research Areas. With only seven minutes to show what we are all about, we spent our time collecting data, synthesizing it, and analyzing it all in front of the crowd at the Timms Centre for the Arts. 

Our own researchers Dr. Astrid Ensslin, Dr. Matthew Guzdial, Chelsea Miya - with help from Dr. Kyle Stooshnov and Morgan Cselinacz - presented on how even simple data sets could harbor bias, and the importance of keeping this in mind while working with data sets. Through "The Quest to Decode Human Bias in Computation", our researchers collected data on the audience about their favorite color and number. After some quick computing, we showed the audience their favorite color and their favorite number, and even using a simple machine learning algorithm to show what another audience may look like based on their inputs. 

Finally, we delved into some of the possible bias issues with the data - this included accessibility issues, political bias, choice bias, to just name a few. 

Below are a few photos of our lovely researchers at work. Overall, it was an insightful and successful event! Make sure to stay tuned for future Digital Synergies events in the future by joining our listserv by e-mailing



Please see below for the full video of our presentation!


On November 21 2019, Digital Synergies officially launched their new website as well as various Digital Synergy researcher projects in the Digital Scholarship Center at the University of Alberta. Dr. Astrid Ensslin opened the event, with Morgan Cselinacz explaining the new website and all of its features including: submitting news, viewing and adding Digital Synergies events, becoming a Digital Synergies collaborator, and signing up to the listserv to name a few.

Dr. Geoffrey Rockwell then presented, "A Dictionary of Words in the Wild" which captures a variety of words and phrases with distinct meaning when captured in photo form. From their website, "The Dictionary of Words in the Wild is a community collection of images of public textuality, specifically words outside of the usual print contexts. We are interested in words that are: in the public view, in an interesting context where the location adds texture, visually provocative in some way, and part of phrases that add another intersection of meaning. The idea for the Dictionary came from discussions at the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities when Geoffrey Rockwell was there in 2001-2, especially discussions around the deformance of textuality and transcoding."


Dr. Astrid Ensslin followed up with the release of her book Approaches to Videogame Discourse, discussing the various ways in which videogames create meaning and can be discussed. "The first significant collection of research in videogame linguistics, Approaches to Videogame Discourse features an international array of scholars in linguistics and communication studies exploring lexis, interaction and textuality in digital games."


Next, Dr. Scott Smallwood and Nicolás Arnaez presented Lost Garden, a game that tells a story through sound. Players are able to solve puzzles by listening to the sounds and music surrounding them. As described on the website, "The Lost Garden is a first-person audio puzzle game that features sonic exploration in an abandoned underground urban environment. As a stranger here, the player explores the soundscape of a world cut off from nature, perhaps a future us, by interacting with sonic puzzles that open doors to new areas, and, ultimately, the lost garden. Through listening and interacting with sounds, players are encouraged to consider the fragile nature of our natural soundscapes, and to speculate on what the story might be for the abandoned game world. As puzzles are solved, clues are revealed, and doors to new areas are opened, ultimately leading the perceptive player outdoors, to the lost (last?) garden." 


Dr. Michael Frishkopf and Yourui Guo presented the "Sounding the Garden" app for the multisensory Aga Khan Garden. From the website, "Sounding the Garden provides an additional aural dimension. Through your mobile computing device (phone or tablet) you can hear an augmented reality - a new soundscape, comprised of music, speech, and birdsong -- superimposed on the garden, through the frame of a famous mystical poem, Farid al-Din Attar’s “Language of the Birds” (Mantiq al-Tayr). As you stroll through the garden you will hear different sounds through your phone or tablet, varying with your current position, time of day, day of the week, and month of the year, whose sources are virtual. Such sound is known as “acousmatic” - it is not directly coupled with your physical environment, and its “sources” are hidden from view."


Dr. Rob McMahon and Amanda Almond also presented "We Are All Related AR" - "The We are All Related Augmented Reality (AR) project seeks to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods in post-secondary education, encouraging processes of critical, reflective, and reciprocal relationship-building though the co-creation of AR content. Augmented reality layers digital information over a view of the “real-world” on a mobile device, offering an innovative approach to engage faculty, students and Indigenous peoples to share insights and knowledge beyond what is first observed. Cree teachings in digital narrative form, created and presented in AR platforms, can share location-based knowledge, history, and language in engaging ways that reveal settler and Indigenous histories, present activities, and potential futures co-present in shared spaces."


Dr. Marilene Oliver finished off the Mega-Launch with her "Digital Corporealities" VR artworks. From her website, "Since September 2018, Marilène Oliver has been working with radiology and computer science researchers at the University of Alberta to create a series of high-resolution full body magnetic resonance (MR) scan datasets in order to create a series of sculptural installations that have virtual reality elements. Based on the premise that the way we see ourselves informs how we understand ourselves, creating material and immaterial visions of the body based on data captured by a digitally mechanised machine offers an opportunity to compare and contrast the affectiveness of virtual and real media. Each work has an especially created audio created by Gary James Joynes using recordings from the original MR scan." Participants were able to interact with the sculpture with a pair of VR goggles and handset. 


Additionally, Dr. Sourayan Mookerjea and Javier Fuentes showcased various Intermedia Research Studio projects, including "PerfectStorm!: a feminist renewable energy role playing game" and "Toxic Media Ecologies: Critical Responses to the Cultural Politics of Planetary Crises". 

The event had a wonderful turnout and is the first of many Digital Synergies researcher forwarded events. 






GENeration Analog: The Tabletop Games and Education Conference
Jul 29 2020
The Interactive Project: Historical Continuities and Transcultural Intersections from Oral Storytelling to Videogames
Sep 28 2020
Oct 30 2020