RECOMMENDED: Commit to DH people, not DH projects

Miriam Posner (UCLA) has written a post calling for digital humanities centers and programs to focus on people rather than projects as a means of “investing in people’s long-term potential as scholars.” Posner outlines the benefits of investing in people and teams rather than projects, citing successful efforts at the Universities of Virginia and Maryland:

  • They establish a wider body of DH expertise across campus.
  • They establish a sense of camaraderie among participants.
  • They allow participants to develop shared affinities and find collaborators.
  • Choosing participants based on their potential, rather than their current knowledge, has the ability to introduce much-needed diversity to the DH community.
  • They remove the pressure to produce something immediately, which so often results in poorly conceived projects.
  • They allow non-developers to get to know and understand the way developers work and think, and vice versa.
  • They allow project participants to take ownership of their work.
  • They give people the confidence to keep trying.

Posner also suggests rethinking power dynamics among the people involved in DH projects:

Here’s the other thing: What if the group wasn’t (just) faculty? What if it was a mixed group of faculty, librarians, technologists, and students? How much healthier that would be than reinscribing academic hierarchies, which are just so exhausting.

Readers responded with comments about how to sustain collaboration among faculty, librarians, and technologists towards thoughtful incorporation of digital methods and technologies. For example, Ted Underwood (UIUC) points to a larger conversation digital scholarship needs to facilitate: “often, for digital methods to really make an impact, they need to be accompanied by a deeper rethinking of research agendas.”

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This post was produced through a cooperation between Julie Adamo, Laura Scott, Sveta Stoytcheva, Heather Tompkins, and Amy Wickner (Editors-at-large for the week), Caro Pinto (Editor for the week), Sarah Potvin (Site Editor), and Zach Coble and Roxanne Shirazi (dh+lib Review Editors).