• Link to THATCamp evaluation


    Hope you guys had a good THATCamp. Whether you did or whether you didn’t, you can tell us more on the THATCamp evaluation form — only two fields required: which THATCamp you went to, and your rating of it on a scale of 1 to 5. There’s space for you to rate and comment on other aspects of the THATCamp, though, and we appreciate that input.

    Note that all evaluations are anonymous and are publicly posted.

  • Notes: Grantwriting strategies for the Digital Humanities

    Scattered & unedited, but nevertheless, notes from . . .
    Grantwriting Strategies
    Jen Serventi (Digital Humanities, NEH) & Josh Sternfeld (Preservation & Access, NEH)
    I. Josh/P&A
    Leverage projects to begin small
    Getting groundwork laid out, right people involved
    Move to larger and larger grants

    Collection of primary resources you want to describe
    Digitization for digital repository
    Focuses on collections (as does the entire division)
    Spend a lot of time talking about sig. of collection for grant
    What can your collections be used for?
    Reference resources: databases,
    Collections and resources cannot have overly interpretative angle
    Collections need to be neutral, used for different kinds of purposes
    Up to 350,000 for up to 3 years
    Come talk to NEH about partnerships with multiple institutions

    Larger questions and topics on pres and access
    Developing digital tools that can enhance access
    Preservation areas of specialization AV, born-digital, sustainability (conservation)
    Up to 350,000 for up to 3 years
    Most successful: best standards and practices
    Can look scientific by nature, or more tool development

    II. Jen/Office of DH

    More startup focused
    Bring people together to idenitify a challenge
    Brainstorm, meetings, moving toward next bigger stage
    Inkling of innovation solution

    Prototyping, with knowledge always more work to be done
    Use funds to discover whether or not project really should even continue
    Identify challenges and roadblocks
    Begin looking toward solutions
    “Successful failure” = white paper on what went wrong, or why this project is not worth continuing (all proj. must produce white papers)

    Inst. for Advance Topics in DH
    To position yourself as leader in topic of DH
    Seed grant program to bring people into DH
    Introduce methodologies and approaches
    Go one to apply for other grant programs at NEH
    Good for faculty and staff without robust DH programs on campus

    Tips & Strategies
    1. Consult one of us (they read drafts! up to 6 weeks prior to deadline)

    Review process
    – Interested? Come talk to us.
    – Submit app.
    – Bring in relevant peers for review
    – Grades tallied
    – Goes to Council (26 appointees)
    – Funneled up to Chairman for final choice
    (upwards of 8-9 months; startup 5-6 months)

    Interoperability big!
    Addressing project to your field and colleagues, not the NEH staff
    Write for general educated audience (but not bloated with tech. jargon)
    First time applicants, look at resources provided on NEH site
    Recommends applying to multiple programs (but not identical apps!)
    Will pass along results of panel comments from review process whether successful or un
    Sustainability = buzzword important to NEH
    Talk about mechanisms to promote sustainability
    Same with scalability
    Have multiple writers doing different sections of app. narrative
    Make friends with office of sponsored projects/whoever submits your grant apps
    Strategies for putting together a work plan (Ask Jen!)
    Key: use collection as test bed

  • Not There Yet: History Departments, Tenure, and Digital History Scholarship


    I am proposing a general discussion that might morph into a writing session on the topic of tenuring the new generation of digital historians. As we know, the humanities are currently experiencing the exciting changes proffered by the digital turn as some disciplines, like English, are out in front leading the charge, others, like history, are late adopters, pushing back hard at the attendant cultural changes. As a tenure-track Assistant Professor at a research university currently up for promotion and tenure, I have been experiencing the disconnect between progress (“let’s hire a digital historian!”) and tradition (“how can we possibly grant tenure to a file that is so different than what we had to do?”). This is not to say that history is bereft of digital visionaries, obviously as even a cursory glance at this year’s AHA program will attest, there have been several bright lights leading us down the primrose path by their scholarship, the tools they have developed, and the students they have trained. I for one have been the happy beneficiary of being in that light at both UVa and UNL. However, most all of the first (and probably second) generation were either tenured when they took up digital history or were granted tenure with files that included a monograph that represent the kind of traditional scholarship that P&T committees could recognize.

    In contrast, the files of those of us who are following their lead are much different. While not void of print, these files do not feature the monograph as the primary locus of the scholarly product created during the probationary period. We have digital history archives filled with research materials that are heavily marked-up and associated in sophisticated ways, we have visualizations of historical questions that we build with an ever-evolving set of tools, we have successful peer-reviewed grant applications from highly competitive agencies, and we have a real, not simply rhetorical, track record of true collaborative research that reaches across different departments on campus and into the library. It is my experience that our faculty peers in history—both those who support our digital work and those who do not—are not in a good position to evaluate the merits of our work when it comes time for promotion and tenure review. There are many factors that contribute to this situation, from individual scholars being unable or unwilling to address the digital scholarship on its own terms to the dearth of venues to publish born digital work or even have it reviewed (every academic journal reviews books but only the JAH reviews “web sites”?), to the very customs of the P&T process that are built around 19th-century notions of historical scholarship. But as Cathy Davidson said in her HASTAC keynote, the digital is transforming the humanities and that we must take hold of the technologies of this historical moment to create institutional change.

    Let’s discuss this topic and perhaps conclude by drawing up a brief statement of how we expect the discipline of history to change to adapt to value and reward the new model scholarship that they want us to engage in. This sort of “digital historians bill of rights” would be extremely valuable for those who will find themselves negotiating the terms of their hires into history departments and their annual and reappointment reviews. It’s time to bring our discipline in line with the 21st-century humanities world even if have to skip a century to get there…

  • Etiquette question


    Yikes – so very excited to attend my first THATCamp and airplane trouble will keep my boss/adviser from presenting at the Digging Into Data panel and I have been drafted in his stead (gulp). I know things are informal, but I don’t want to look like a dope heading out at 3:15 – can I still come for the earlier sessions?

  • Transport: Anyone want to split a cab from the Westin tomorrow?


    The AHA shuttles will not have started by the time THATcamp starts, so I’m crowdsourcing a ride 🙂

  • Session Proposal V 2.0 Revisiting How Do We Share Our Knowledge of Historic Places


    At the Columbus THATCamp in 2010, Eli Pousson asked the question, “How do we share our knowledge of historic places?” I would like to revisit that question at the Chicago 2011 THATCamp.    Below is Eli’s original argument which still holds true today.  Add to the resources Eli listed below a slew of commercial sites like OpenBuildings.com, a commercial, community-driven website that lists international historic, contemporary and conceptual architecture.  It functions as an openly editable encyclopedia of buildings from around the world. This and other sites with unproven accuracy abound including Archiplanet, a section of Wikipedia that catalogs more than 100,000 structures; all entries are user contributed with unproven vetting and uneven quality.  Is it possible or even desirable to aggregate all the various online sites about the built world into one megasite?  Are there new forms of online publishing that would better support documentation of architecture, landscapes and their context?  Will augmented reality, 3D models superimposed on Google Earth maps, and other technical innovations dramatically alter the way we present our knowledge of historic places?  Can we envision a solution for how to represent the built world in the online environment?  I would welcome a discussion.  Pauline Saliga, Director, Society of Architectural Historians


    Eli Pousson’s original statement:  How do scholars, activists, tourists, neighbors, city planners, and preservationists find and share information about historic places in their communities, in their cities, and in their regions? How do they identify relationships between places or understand the context within such places were constructed, occupied, or even destroyed? In most cases, anyone interested in these questions might rely on a wide range of tools and resources, such as calling a local historical society, finding a walking tour brochure at a local visitor center, visting the local history section of the neighborhood library, searching a web-based database provided by a State Historic Preservation Office, or simply searching online in the hope that someone might have already investigated the location. The latter is often productive but resources are currently fragmented both topically and geographically, as well as suffering from an absence of essential features such as mapping, sorting or filtering. If you are searching for information on historic theaters Cinema Treasures is indispensable, roadside architecture can be found at RoadsideArchitecture.com, the Labelscar retail history blog has documented hundreds of shopping malls but none of these sites allow the consideration of the unusual buildings within their local contexts. For example, what African-American neighborhood did the Comet Theater serve? What was located at the site of the Westland Mall prior to  its construction in 1969?

    In addition, while a few websites offer a rich user experience, the web services provided by State Historic Preservation Offices are often severely limited by accident or by design (as some local and state governments license their data on historic places to private contracts if they maintain an updated database at all). Take a look at the National Register database provided by the Maryland Historical Trust or the basic PDF list provided by Virignia to get a sense of the limited services provided by government institutions in this regard. Even more effective examples, such as the Pennsylvania Historical Markers website or the National Register NPS Focus database, are often closed and provide few opportunities to even make comments, let alone access the underlying database for mashups or analysis. Regrettably, few preservation organizations even at a state or municipal level, let alone small museums, nonprofit preservation advocacy organizations, neighborhood and city historical societies, have sufficient technical expertise or capacity within their organizations to build and maintain new and effective web applications.

    Even with the issues I’ve identified with both independent and publicly supported websites sharing data on historic places, the most serious issue is the great extent to which our knowledge of historic places is limited to the minds of a few individuals in our communities, in a box of documents sitting in a damp basement, or a drawer full of unlabeled photos at a neighborhood church. I’m curious to explore the potential of building websites that support sharing our knowledge of historic places, capturing new knowledge from those who hold it, and allowing scholars, activists, and interested citizens to explore this data at local, regional and national scales. Possible models for this approach may lie with smaller projects such as the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Database, the North Carolina Architects & Builders project, the University of Berkley’s California’s Living New Deal project, Teaching + Learning Cleveland, the Community Almanac from The Open Planning Project, the Open Plaques website, and dozens of others. I’d be very talking with anyone who has an interest in the intersection of place and new media to explore these questions further, but I’m especially curious how my questions relate to those presented by Elizabeth SchultzCandace Nast, Marjorie McLellan, Andrea Odiorne, Justin Hons, Stephen Titchenal, Doug Lambert, Jonathan Tarr, and Phil Sager. For a quick bit of background, I currently work for Baltimore Heritage, a preservation advocacy organization. My past experience includes work with the DC Historic Preservation Office and a number of small museums and historical societies.

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    This entry was posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2010 at 4:26 PM and is filed under Sessions and Ideas. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • Session Proposal: The Problem of Old Digital History Sites


    The graphical world wide web is closing in on 20 years of existence. Some of the earliest digital history sites are almost as old. While some of these sites are tied to people or organizations who update them in one form or another, many are not as funding ran out or creators moved on. As a result, I’m sure we can all think of sites that we’ve run across that are, at a minimum, up to today’s visual and user experience expectations, and at worst, are simple unusable by some or even all of today’s users.

    Since we know that old sites don’t fade away (though they might blink in and out), but linger on virtually forever (unless they were on GeoCities), what might we do with some of these abandoned or no longer funded projects going forward?

    I know that digital history is typically about new projects and new digitization, but how might we build on the work that has already been done, and do so in a way that is more than just an aesthetic facelift for these sites? Is it worth considering ways that we might make such previous work more accessible (both in terms of accommodations and in terms of something that more people would want to use) and usable?

    I’m particularly interested in those sites which preserve and present primary sources, but would like to talk about a broader set of historical websites as well.

    So, I’m proposing a session where we brainstorm the ways that we might individually or systematically work on updating older digital history sites, as well as the issues with doing so. [In the latter category, I know questions of copyright/permissions are a factor, as are technical aspects of how the material was stored and presented, and no doubt a host of other concerns I haven’t thought of yet.]

    Who’s with me?

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  • Thought on Sessions


    There is certainly some interesting proposals for discussion. I don’t have a specific item to discuss but I’m primarily interested in how best to incorporate technology into undergraduate history education. What level of technologically literatacy should an undergraduate history major achieve? What are the current technologies and techniques he or she should be familiar with? I’ve been teaching a class with the university archivist along these themes. The class combines some readings on technology with hands-on projects that require students to work with original archival materials but the final product is often a web page or something similar.

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