To help a class get up and running next term, I created a set of interlinked google docs to walk students through the process of getting started with Omeka.net, adding items, managing their collections, and creating exhibits. Then I realized that a slightly redacted version of these docs might be more generally useful, so I started with copies of the course-specific documents and took out or edited the parts that were aimed specifically at that course. And here’s the result:
Getting Started with Omeka
If you’re helping a class or a researcher get started, feel free to copy these and edit them to suit your needs!
For the professor, I also created a basic guide on how to add and manage student accounts on her site, and gave her a list of the plugins and configurations I’d set up. She’ll probably make changes, but at least there’s some documentation for her this first time she uses Omeka.
Keep it simple, interesting, and brief. These are three key points on writing for the web, as delivered by Carleton’s own Doug Bratland last Thursday.
This talk was particularly applicable to our blog, as we are obviously writing for the web here. In this post I am trying to apply some of the key points from the talk, such as:
- Use lists to highlight key points
- Employ bolding to make posts scannable
- Keep writing clear and engaging
- Remember your audience
As students at Carleton, it is particularly difficult to transition out of academic writing into writing for the web. Looking back at some of my previous posts, I can see that I sometimes struggled to keep my posts concise and focused.
Writing for the web is particularly important for digital humanities. Oftentimes DH projects occupy a fine line presenting complex scholarship online and making that scholarship accessible and interesting for the web. This is one of the greatest challenges but also one of the most exciting areas of DH work.
Yesterday I attended a Learning Communities meeting focused on the rise of online journals and what they mean for digital scholarship. The meeting raised many interesting issues surrounding the scholarly record. One of the most important issues discussed was the idea of open access publishing. Previously I had very little knowledge of the idea of open access. I decided to do a bit of research. The idea behind open access publication is to give everyone equal access to scholarly work. Open access is a reaction to the increase in price of subscriptions to academic journals. If an author writes an article and wishes it to be open access, they must either deposit it into a digital repository or publish it with an open access journal. The first option is known as “green” open access and the second “gold.” Digital repositories can be associated with an academic institution (institutional repositories) or can be independent of an institution.
Another exciting concept discussed at the meeting was the use of digital object identifiers (DOIs). DOIs are kind of like ISBN numbers with tons of metadata attached to them. DOIs can be imbedded into online publications to make it incredibly easy to jump from an article to its cited material. They are an exciting new way of organizing information online and provide one extremely concrete benefit of online journals.
One important piece of the discussion surrounding digital publications is the very nature of the publications themselves. Are online journals to serve merely as web-based content, in essence simply putting the print journal into a new, online format? Or is it the role of online journals to transform traditional methods of scholarship, creating new formats for displaying research? With digital humanities projects, this question is particularly poignant. Most DH projects are not suitable for showcase in print or even online journals, as most DH research extends beyond the journal article (indeed, that is, some would argue, the point of DH work). However, DH projects still deserve to be highlighted and included in the discourse of scholarship. How can digital publications serve DH projects? One idea is the project gallery, an online collection of DH projects, such as we have created on our blog. However, this gallery serves only to present projects and really does not offer the opportunity for peer review or scholarly discussions.
As DH progressives, there are many new questions to answer about how scholarship will be preserved and presented. There are lots of new and excited things to think about, as well as some large challenges to tackle.
I shared this infographic last week in its full form (see my post) but I want to devote a little more attention to the interesting issue of digital humanities research around the world. In the above image (cropped from the original to focus on the map), it is easy to recognize the dominance of DH in English-speaking parts of the world. As Isabel Gallina Russell claims in her article in Literary and Linguistic Computing, recent debates surrounding DH have necessarily shifted the line of thought from “what do we do” and “why do we do it” to “who is we” (Russell 2014). Russell argues that, for all its rhetoric of openness and a desire to engage in cross-cultural dialogue, DH remains dominated by a handful of English-speaking countries. She also positively acknowledges that members of the DH community recognize this dominance and are seeking to broaden the scope of DH scholarship. Exactly how digital humanists will go about making DH more inclusive requires some thought.
Russell’s article raises the difficulty of quantifying digital humanities around the world. The above infographic was creating using voluntary submissions and thus may not accurately reflect the breadth of DH work occurring across the globe. As such, Russell first calls for greater attempts to quantify what DH work is being done around the world and to welcome new voices into the DH conversation. Here Russell points to the importance of international DH events and online forums such as Twitter. She also highlights the issue of privileging English scholarship in DH work and the need for native English speakers to recognize their privilege in engaging in academic conversations in their native language.
Why does any of this matter for the DH work we do at Carleton? First of all, we need to recognize that, as we engage in conversations about DH and the changes that are so rapidly occurring in the humanities, we are entering a worldwide discussion that takes place through a variety of platforms and uses a multitude of languages. Second, I think we need to use DH to do more to research across traditional boundaries of time, space, and language. After all, the excitement of DH lies in engaging with the humanities in new and different ways than we have before. Our projects should strive to look at issues in new ways and to harness the potential of DH to ask different questions. Finally, we should not assume that we are alone. While there is certainly a need to develop DH in other parts of the world, conversations about DH are occurring everywhere. The difficultly lies in hearing them. I am so excited to be part of these discussions and to seek out new voices for collaboration.
Note: My interest in this topic came about as the result of research into the development of DH in Russia as an extension of my interest in Russian language and culture. It may be of some interest that conversations about цифровые гуманитанрые науки (DH) are indeed occurring in Russia. A very interesting initiative for Innovative Educational Technologies in Russia and Abroad recently publishing an interesting article looking at the effects of DH on teaching literature at the university level. It is these kinds of discussions that make me so excited about the potential for DH to reach across traditional boundaries and engage in fascinating conversations.
Much discussion about the digital humanities takes place on Twitter. In fact, here is an info-graphic illustrating the Twitter network of digital humanists, as compiled by Martin Grand Jean. To read the full article in which the graphic appears, click here.
To get an idea of the discussion that takes place around DH on Twitter, check out this list of tweets (#digitalhumanities).
If you are so inclined, you can follow us
While searching for an image to use for our blog home page, I ran across this wonderful info graphic from the University College London that provides a great way to visualize the work being done in the Digital Humanities across the world. Take a look (or to give it the attention it really deserves, click here to access a PDF version.)