Oct 27

Digital scholarly communication within subfields

I’ll preface this by saying that, despite some (deep) background doing web stuff and working part-time on digitization projects as an undergrad and grad student, that I still feel like a novice when it comes to the digital humanities. So I’m really looking forward to listening, learning more, and meeting you all in person at THATCamp and at the BootCamp sessions in a few weeks.

Among the many things that fit under the digital humanities umbrella, I’m especially intrigued by the ways that digital tools and technologies can transform teaching and scholarly communication. I’ve been thinking particularly about the latter of late, as I’ve just taken on the role of web and online operations manager for the Committee on LGBT History, an affiliated society of the AHA. The Committee has a new, WordPress-based website, with BuddyPress social networking, and it’s aiming to foster greater online interaction among members. I’d be very interested in discussing how technology can encourage professional exchange, cooperation, and collaboration in this context. Some questions that I’ve been grappling with that might (I hope!) have broader applications and implications:

  • What sorts of useful content can and should scholars with similar interests in a subfield of their discipline produce collaboratively? (Bibliographies are, I think, one example.)
  • What sorts of tools might be most useful and attractive to less tech-savvy scholars who are more interested in technology as a means than as an end?
  • How should tools built specifically for members of a professional society or organization (blogs, social networks, discussion boards) interact with general-purpose tools and networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu? Where do older technologies, like H-Net lists, fit in?
  • What challenges, and what opportunities, accompany scholarly communication on the scale of a topical, methodological, or chronological subfield, as opposed to something of the magnitude of an entire field or profession? Put another way, how are the dynamics here similar to and different from those of, say, the AHA (which Dan Cohen and his readers have been discussing lately)?


1 ping

  1. Trip Kirkpatrick

    Great ideas! I’d add that there’s a parallel set of questions around mapping the methodologies of software project management, especially FOSS projects, onto management of an academic professional organization. I’m having to think about participation curves and means to keep members of a group energized and involved (and trusting of the project leadership) for one such org. To be more concrete, other questions to add to your list are, “How can people use technology to provide not only tools for work and subjects for study but also a means for (real) connectivity and collaboration? How can people use technology to bring fluid coherence and energy to a distributed membership? How can organizations that provide information and tools use technology to foster a relationship with their members beyond a producer-consumer model?”

  2. Lincoln Mullen

    Good session proposal, Brian. You might want to look at the American Association for History and Computing, which is also an affiliate of the AHA. Here is their website and their open-access journal.

  1. THATCamp New England » Blog Archive

    […] So let’s hear your ideas! If you need a model, see these early proposals by Konrad, Boone, Brian, and […]

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