The digital humanities is not about building its about sharing

Coding Challenge Coding Live

I was riffing on these ideas yesterday on Twitter,asking, for example, whats to stop a handful of of scholars from starting their own academic press? It would publish epub books and, whenbackwards compatibility is required, print-on-demand books. Or what about, I wondered, using Amazon Kindle Singles as a model for academic publishing. Imagine stand-alone journal articles, without the clunky apparatus of the journal surrounding it. If youre insistent that any new publishing venture be backed by an imprimatur more substantial than my handful of scholars, then how about a digital humanities center creating its own publishing unit?

3. What about discoverability and sustainability? Parole (and multimedia) in liberta from traditional academic confines is a beautiful thing but how do I share and reproduce if I cant find?

I have no idea what to expect from the MLA, but I dont think high expectations are unwarranted. I can imagine greater support of peer-to-peer review as a replacement of blind review. I can imagine greater emphasis placed upon digital projects as tenurable scholarship. I can imagine the breadth of fields published by the MLA expanding. These are all fairly predictable outcomes, which might have eventually happened whether or not there was a new Office of Scholarly Communication at the MLA.

I have often wondered myself why a handful of scholars couldnt form a print-on-demand academic press. In fact, in Europe, thats largely what they do (for example It seems to me that we in North America are a little behind our peers elsewhere in the world when it comes to accepting what is and what isnt legitimate means of both validating and sharing our academic output. How many layers of review does a work have to go through before it is considered worthy? How are artists evaluated for tenure review? Can we learn something about their different standards?

[] Mark Sample: The promise of the digital is not in the way it allows us to ask new questions because of digital tools or because of new methodologies made possible by those tools. The promise is in the way the digital reshapes the representation, sharing, and discussion of knowledge. We are no longer bound by the physical demands of printed books and paper journals, no longer constrained by production costs and distribution friction, no longer hampered by a top-down and unsustainable business model. And we should no longer be content to make our work public achingly slowly along ingrained routes, authors and readers alike delayed by innumerable gateways limiting knowledge production and sharing. []

[] Mark Sample, The digital humanities is not about building, its about sharing []

From @samplereality : no matter where we fall on this false divide, we all need to share. Because we can.

[] humanities in the classroom. One of the most popular things Ive written in the past year is a blog post decrying the hack versus yack split that routinely crops in debates about the definition of digital []

Not a thing. Thats how we started Witan Publishing. In fact, although we started Witan Publishing to epub medieval scholarship only, weve had so much demand from other non-medieval academic journals that well soon launch an imprint just for academic journals from any field.

Re-sharing this classic 2009 @samplereality post, because its that time of the year @samplereality

Im going to step around Ramsays argument here (though I recommend reading thethoughtful discussionthat ensued on Ramsays blog). I mention Ramsay simply as an illustrative example of the various tensions within the digital humanities. There are others too:teaching vs. research, universities vs. liberal arts colleges,centers vs. networks, and so on. I see the presence of so many divideswhich are better labeled asperspectivesas a sign that there are many stakeholders in the digital humanities, which is a good thing. Were all in this together, evenwhen were not.

DH is about sharing Brian Sarnacki !– History Grad Student —

Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)

(Radiohead Crowdphotograph courtesy of Flickr user Samuel Stroube / Creative Commons Licensed]

[] Education on Building a Better University Press. She mentioned Mark Samples recent challenge for a group of scholars to create their own university press. She also quoted from my THATCamp []

Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)

But I can also imagine less predictable outcomes. More experimental, morepeculiar. Equally as valuable thougheven more sothan typical monographs or essays. I can imagine scholarly wikis produced as companion pieces to printed books. I can imagine digital-only MLA books taking advantage of the native capabilities of e-readers, incorporating videos, songs, dynamic maps. I can image MLA Singles, one-off pieces of downloadable scholarship following the Kindle Singles model. I can imagine mobile publishing, using smartphones and GPS. I can imagine a 5,000-tweet conference backchannel edited into the official proceedings of the conference backchannel.

I think that attitudes about the digital humanities may vary in different disciplines. Some thoughts on that here:Sharing, Truth, and Context a Reply to Mark Sample on Open Access.

Re-reading @samplerealitys The digital humanities is not about building, its about sharing: Brilliant.

[] Exploration of Research Teams in Digital Humanities Environments by Lynne Siemens, and (2) The Digital Humanities Is Not about Building, Its about Sharing by Mark []

The digital humanities is not about building, its about sharing @samplereality

You ask, whats to stop a handful of of scholars from starting their own academic press?

Its with all these possibilities swirling in my mind that Ive been thinking about the MLAs creation of anOffice of Scholarly Communication, led by Kathleen Fitzpatrick. I want to suggest that this move may in the future stand out as a pivotal moment in the history of the digital humanities. Its not simply that the MLA is embracing the digital humanities and seriously considering how to leverage technology to advance scholarship. Its that Kathleen Fitzpatrick is heading this office. One of the founders ofMediaCommonsand astrong advocatefor open review and experimental publishing, Fitzpatrick will bring vision, daring, and experience to the MLAs Office of Scholarly Communication.

[] Mark Samples recent blog post continues the conversation started back at the MLA convention in January. What do the digital humanities do? Are we digital humanists if we dont build anything? These questions were in the air this past weekend, too, at Computers and Writing. In fact, Saturdays town hall was devoted to the question of what defines a digital humanist. All these conversations are so interesting and important, especially since we HASTAC-ers are in the crux of it all. We come from different fields, different techie talents and interests, and we are arguably very in-tune with whats going on in conversations about the digital. In response to Samples post, we here at HASTAC are a group of sharerswe talk about, repost, link to, and make new connections. We dont, necessarily, build things. The recent Code forum delt with many of these issuescan we talk about software studies if we dont know (how to) code? What are the limitations of not knowing code if were trying to understand the usability of technologies? We need people to make digital spaces, just as much as we need people to think through these spaces and applications. So, who gets to be a digital humanist? Why are we so interested in naming who is and who isnt? Isnt one of the benefits of this field its cross-disciplinarity? Cant we be builders and sharers? from Uncategorized Interview with Daniel Reetz, founder of the DIY Bookscanningproject LikeBe the first to like this post. No comments yet []

[] had time to read much of his yet. Also, the digital humanist Mark Sample makes this case in a great blog post about the future of digital scholarship. The conviction shared by Creative Commons advocates is []

I strongly agree Mark, and I am excited about the possibilities. You ask whats to stop a handful of of scholars from starting their own academic press? Nothing. Check out Parlor Press, owned by Dave Blakesley of Clemson University, who published my book, The Two Virtuals and 100+ others in the last few years. Or the WAC Clearinghouse, which offers a number of books for free online. Or even the relatively new which is building composition textbooks from essays written by writing instructors. So those are the ones in my field.

Close Playing: Literary Methods and Videogame Studies (MLA 2012 Roundtable)

The digital humanities is not about building, its about sharing @samplereality

Whats stopping us? Nothing were already doing it.

[] Late last month, the Modern Language Association announced the creation of an Office of Scholarly Communication, to be run by Kathleen Fitzpatrick, a professor of media studies at Pomona College and one of the founders of MediaCommons. On his blog, Mark Sample, a digital humanist who teaches contemporary literature and new-media studies at George Mason University, considered what that office might do: []

@clark_ems thanks! if it hasnt been recommended already, i always refer the DH-curious to @samplereality

[] the role of DH in your project when you are still getting your own head around the debates over what being a digital humanist means. I pointed to the importance of being able to sell the []

[] The digital humanities is not about building, its about sharing by Mark Sample []

Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)

[] very hard about how digital approaches affect our relationship with sources, data, people, and the politics inherent to all academic []

[] gone on record as saying that the digital humanities is not about building. Its about sharing. I stand by that declaration. But Ive also been thinking about a complementary mode of learning []

[] As PM on the City and Region project (phase II website launching soon; formerly Historic Rents) I take it upon myself to engage with literature emerging from the DHums community. Quite unlike the particular corner of historical scholarship with which I have been accustomed, DHums is (with a few exceptions) an open-access, egalitarian, and blogospheric space. My surprise over this lack of boundaries and firewalls can be summarised by examples such as Brian Croxalls 389dh class page and an exchange I had on September 5th with Melissa Terras. What I find invigorating about DHums scholarship is the extent to which practitioners are taking liberal wishful thinking and making it seem thoroughly attainable and achievable. Take this post by Mark Sample from May 25th entitled The digital humanities is not about buil: []

[] Sample argues that The heart of the digital humanities is not the production of knowledge; its []

Witan Publishing hasnt had any outside funding or organization just our own money, and our own reputations. The response from scholars has been incredibly enthusiastic. It only takes a few minutes of musing about the possibilities before scholars begin to ask, why does my book or article have to be such-and-such a length? If it were priced at under $10 rather than over $100, wouldnt that mean my ideas would spread to wider influence? What if there were no print runs, and in the future anyone at any time could suddenly assign my book or article to their class?

@howet Weirdly, no! But I did remember @samplerealitys piece on building/sharing:

There are no limits. And to every person who objects,But, wait, what about legitimacy/tenure/cost/labor/& etc, I say, you are missing the point. Now is not the time to hem in our own possibilities. Now is not the time to base the future on the past. Now is not the time to be complacent, hesitant, or entrenched in the present.

Ive always believed that these various divides, which often arise from institutional contexts and professional demands generally beyond our control, are a distracting sideshow to the true power of the digital humanities, which has nothing to do withproductionof either tools or research. The heart of the digital humanities is not the production of knowledge; its thereproductionof knowledge. Ive stated this beliefmany ways, but perhaps most concisely on Twitter: [blackbirdpie url= promise of the digital is not in the way it allows us to ask new questions because of digital tools or because of new methodologies made possible by those tools. The promise is in the way the digital reshapes the representation, sharing, and discussion of knowledge. We are no longer bound by the physical demands of printed books and paper journals, no longer constrained by production costs and distribution friction, no longer hampered by a top-down and unsustainable business model. And we should no longer be content to make our work public achingly slowly along ingrained routes, authors and readers alike delayed by innumerable gateways limiting knowledge production and sharing.

Taggeddigital humanities,MLA,public scholarship,publishing

I love your push on the false divide of building/thinking in the service of scholarly communication (and I share your real excitement about Kathleen leading the new MLA office). The means of communication and what gets communicated are so closely tied togetherthe form limits and enables message just as the message determines and reshapes formthat to insist on either building or thinking misses the mark. I came out of the frustration with my last print collection determined never to go through a traditional press again. Thats a post that Ill be writing once I figure out how to build my website. But Ill look forward to seeing what other possibilities emerge from individuals and communities and institutions.

38 thoughts on The digital humanities is not about building, its about sharing

[] and Roy Rosenzweigs Digital History, Stephen Ramsays On Building, Mark Samples reflection on DH as sharing, and the Day of DH (2011, []

William Gibson has famously said that the future is already here, its just not very evenly distributed. With the digital humanities we have the opportunity to distribute that future more evenly. We have the opportunity to distribute knowledge more fairly, and in greater forms. The builders will build and the thinkers will think, but all of us, no matter where we fall on this false divide, we all need to share. Because we can.

The other question is how the shift in representation and sharing alters composition and the composition of knowledge. If I can share differently and represent differently, I can ask different questions and answer them in different ways. So its all mixed up.

1. Yes! But what about taking it one step further: what about claiming this role of sharing not just building, reproducing knowledge not just producing, for the humanities en bloc, whether digital or not? To me this is one of the signal achievements of DH: reinvigorating our perspectives on the humanities as a (dare I? I do) whole.

Every scholarly community has its disagreements, its tensions, its divides. One tension in the digital humanities that has received considerable attention is between those whodigital tools and media and those whotraditional humanities questions using digital tools and media. Variously framed as do vs. think, practice vs. theory, or hack vs. yack, this divide has been most strongly (and provocatively) formulated by Stephen Ramsay. At the 2011 annual Modern Language Association convention in Los Angeles,Ramsay declared, If you are not making anything, you are nota digital humanist.

2. Looking at the humanities in this way illuminates some of the other divides (or, um, stakeholder arguments) you mention. Eg, does this make teaching vs. research, center vs. network, look different?

[] to stand on its ownstuck in my mind. It echoed assertions Ive seen many times in the hack vs. yack DH permathread, that code speaks for itself. And the more I think about it the more I []

[email protected] builds on @samplerealitys The digital humanities is not about building, its about sharing

qepfdi digitalpedagogy To quote @samplereality, its about sharing, yall:

MLA13 s307 Ramsays follow up post to that talk: @samplereality riposte:

[] Mark Sample: The promise of the digital is not in the way it allows us to ask new questions because of digital tools or because of new methodologies made possible by those tools. The promise is in the way the digital reshapes the representation, sharing, and discussion of knowledge. We are no longer bound by the physical demands of printed books and paper journals, no longer constrained by production costs and distribution friction, no longer hampered by a top-down and unsustainable business model. And we should no longer be content to make our work public achingly slowly along ingrained routes, authors and readers alike delayed by innumerable gateways limiting knowledge production and sharing. []

[] out of nothing, an entirely new space for meand othersto experiment with publishing. I had previously wondered whats to stop someoneanyone!from launching an academic press, and Hacking the []

Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)

The digitalhumanities is not about building, its about sharing by @samplereality digitalcollections2016

But I do believe (and have written about previously) that higher education often limits ho we share our work. to me, that is where I consider myself a digital humanist figuring out new ways to share and collaborate.

[] the role of DH in your project when you are still getting your own head around the debates over what being a digital humanist means. I pointed to the importance being able to sell the digital []

Post-Print Fiction Reading List (the print stuff, at least)

Leave a Reply