(Talk) Session Proposal: Digital History and Collaboration

In his introduction to the workshop on digital history Thursday morning, Seth Denbo stated that collaboration was central to the ethos of digital history. Ethos struck me as not quite the right word, because it suggests to me that collaboration is first and foremost an ideal or belief. In my experience, collaboration is an unavoidable reality for digital history and one which historians, like most humanists, both welcome and abhor. On the one hand, collaboration enables us to take on more ambitious questions and explore them in more complex ways. On the other hand, it requires abandoning the traditional ideas about where control and credit over a scholarly product are assigned.

So what works and what doesn’t? I propose to lead a conversation about the different kinds of collaborations that are possible in the digital humanities. My starting point is my own experience as part of two very different digital projects, ranging from a generously funded grant with multiple full time and part time staff to an experiment powered almost exclusively by the enthusiasm of four dozen medievalists and the ad hoc resources that brings. What I would like to generate is a typology of the kinds of collaborations digital history projects can or must involve, the most common challenges such collaborations present, and (perhaps the most useful part) strategies to negotiate these challenges succesfully. If you aren’t sure where to start thinking, Sharon Leon’s resources on project management are an excellent starting point, but I see this conversation as not just useful to aspiring (or current) project managers, but for anyone interested in the range of ways one can participate in a digital project.

While y’all are free to discuss this at whatever point in the day you please, I am only available to facilitate for the morning sessions (1 & 2).

Categories: Collaboration, Crowdsourcing, Session Proposals, Session: Talk |
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About Julian Hendrix

I am a medieval historian and digital humanist. My current historical research focuses on Carolingian history, medieval monasticism, and the history of the book. As a digital humanist, I am especially interested in questions about curation, interoperability, and the culture of collaboration. My formal training in programming ended at age 9 when my brother and I learned enough BASIC to destroy the data on the Apple IIc floppy disk which was teaching us how to program.