Sep 13

Finding Collaborators in Digital Humanities

In a recent whitepaper, “Divided and Conquered: How Multivarious Isolation Is Suppressing Digital Humanities Scholarship,” Quinn Dombrowski and I argued that isolation is a major challenge for the digital humanists, especially at the small liberal arts colleges that are members of the NITLE network, at primarily undergraduate institutions, or at other institutions without a digital humanities center.  Isolation is especially problematic since much digital humanities work is collaborative.  How can you effectively engage in digital humanities if you are the only digital humanist on your campus?  I would be interested in a session that discusses how to combat isolation in the digital humanities.

This session might include successful strategies and remaining challenges.  Regional THATCamps like this one help, as does social media.  Currently, we are also working on a project to combat that isolation by developing a project registry to link potential project collaborators.  DHCommons, short for Digital Humanities Commons, seeks to ameliorate the isolation that impacts digital humanists by developing an infrastructure that facilitates both collaboration and awareness of existing digital humanities projects. Although isolation from digital humanist colleagues and information about activities in the field is felt most acutely at smaller or non-research institutions that lack a digital humanities center, even scholars at institutions with well-supported centers may need reliable channels for connecting with potential collaborators beyond their institution, or discovering extramural projects without the resources for extensive outreach efforts. These disconnects between potential collaborators and existing projects result in duplicated effort. Rather than building on one another’s work or combining complimentary resource pools (e.g., skilled student labor on one side, and institutional funding on the other), scholars end up repeating or nearly repeating existing projects or redeveloping existing tools. To address these challenges, DHCommons will build an online project repository that provides faceted searching and browsing, where project leaders can post needs (e.g. technical assistance, beta testing, or content development), and potential collaborators can post their interests and availability. This tool will form the centerpiece of a larger effort to break down silos in the digital humanities community by changing practice.  What silos do you see and how can we break them down?



  1. Jamene Brooks-Kieffer

    This topic rings with something I’ve been thinking about and hoped would come up at the unconference next week – namely, how can STEM-focused personal archive/social network/research assistant sites such as Mendeley (www.mendeley.com/) and colwiz (www.colwiz.com/) inform or provide models for net/working within the humanities? Are these kinds of hybrid tools useful for humanities scholars or is this level of collaboration even desirable?

  2. Rebecca Davis

    Or what about the Science Exchange profiled in the Chronicle today.

  3. ehealey

    These are great questions, especially since many consumers of Digital Humanities resources are interested in tools/databases/protects that are subject-oriented, and thus span institutions.

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