Session idea: Small-Scale Digital Editions and Collections

I would be interested in discussing issues related to the creation, dissemination, preservation, and use of small-scale digital editions and collections. Last Spring, I attended ThatCamp South Jersey, which inspired me to begin creating a digital collection of Catharine Sedgwick’s previously uncollected tales and sketches, a project I developed further at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria, in June. I am still working on this project, and welcome the opportunity to discuss my progress, including the problems I’ve solved (a few) and the challenges I am currently facing (a lot), and to gain new ideas and insights from others who have worked on or are planning similar projects. I’d be glad to talk about both practical ideas and theoretical issues. I am both excited and intimidated by Peter Shillingsburg’s vision of the
“scholarly electronic edition of the future”:

— the one that will actually be used and therefore influence literary study and criticism — will be convenient: it will be as cheap as a paperback book, with a user-friendly interface (adaptable by the user to suit his or her condition, whether the user is a scholar, a student, or a tourist), and will be treated as the user’s own, with bookmarks, highlighting, space for marginal notes, and the ability to annotate or even change the materials that appear on the screen in what must truly feel like the user’s very own private copy. It will be convenient both for the editors that build them and the scholars who augment them. It will be maintainable, with component parts that are replaceable and amenable to being supplemented as new data and new uses for textual data develop. It will be convenient, moreover for technicians — both now and in the future — adhering to standards except where the standards impose intolerable limitations. (DHQ, Summer 2009, V3, N3

This leads to some questions:

  • What is the best platform/environment (right now) for a small-scale project?
  • What kinds of collaborations would enhance the project in terms of production, publication, dissemination, access?
  • How do we plan for the preservation of a small-scale project?
  • How do we plan for a user experience that is substantive and meaningful?

Digital Repositories: Best Practices for Small Scale Implementation

I am interested in discussing the process of implementing a small scale digital repository on a tight budget.  What are the initial steps?  What are the open source options?  Is it worth the time and effort for a small institution to consider a locally managed solution when a collaborative, virtually hosted solution may be more forward-thinking?

Session Idea: Online access and education

This idea is similar to the one in Siobhan’s previous post, although I’d like to focus on increasing access and use through education (elementary school through graduate research). Before instructors can build new assignments and rubrics around DH resources, they need to know that these resources exist. How can archivists and digital humanities people do a better job of interacting with various aspects of the education community? Should we skip the instructors and go straight to the students (Facebook ads? Subliminal messages on Jersey Shore?)? Or are there specific programs that archives and digital humanities projects are using to reach out to educators (Weekly educators’ newsletters? Special events for educators?)? And what kind of IT infrastructure has to be in place for these outreach projects to work?


Session idea: What would a Delaware Valley Digital Humanities Center look like?

Recent years have witnessed an explosion of digital humanities projects throughout the Delaware Valley. Whether sponsored by universities, cultural institutions such as museums and archives, or commercial service providers, it’s clear that a lot of folks in our region are thinking about how to use digital technologies to explore all facets of the human experience across time and place.

That being the case, and presuming that a successful THATCamp Philly points to some interest in pooling skills and interests, might it be useful to consider possibilities for a Center for Digital Humanities right here in our own backyard? Centers are usually designed to connect people and institutions with the communities that surround them, usually by providing some kind of service. So, what kind of service(s) could/should our hypothetical Delaware Valley Digital Humanities Center provide? Who would be involved and how would it be structured? Is it possible to conceive of a DVDHC that gets real work done for real people while modeling a DIY, open-access ethic unencumbered by institutional affiliations and the sordid demands of fundraising?

Session Proposal — Hackfest: HTML5

Know a little about HTML5, but want to learn more?  Know a lot about HTML5, but want to share?  Know nothing about HTML5, but want to dive in head first?  I’m just starting to look at HTML5 myself, so I figured the best way to learn it is to put heaps and heaps of pressure on myself to get knowledgeable enough to participate in/moderate a HTML5 Hackfest within a few weeks.  What could possibly go wrong?

Have an interesting idea on how to highlight a collection or project via a game, interactive story, or other digital method but don’t have the means to produce a prototype?  Stop by and share your idea with us, and if you’re lucky, we’ll turn your lifelong dream into a rickety, slapdash prototype.  How can you possibly turn that down?

The ultimate goal of this session would be to build a web app that demonstrates the capabilities of HTML5 (canvas, geolocation, video etc) and can be built upon by attendees after the session for future projects.

Helpathon: Reimagine the digital encyclopedia for the 21st Century

The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia is a fledgling project, but we are dreaming big and we need your help!  What should a digital encyclopedia be and do in the 21st century? Could this become a platform that provides access to our region’s many exemplary digital resources?  Could we meet some of the needs that are no longer fulfilled by the mainstream media?  Could we build a resource that helps Philadelphians visualize their place in time and space? How would this work?  What would it look like?  What are the technological challenges and how might we overcome them?

If you will bring your ideas, we will bring a designer who will help us develop the concept sketches to move this project forward.  To see where we are so far, visit the Encyclopedia project’s web site at  Looking forward to meeting up with you on the 24th!