Wednesday, June 24, 2009

DH09: Panel discussion: The Digital Humanities Observatory(DHO): Building a National Collaboratory

'A Potted Pre-History of the DHO' by Jennifer Edmond, Trinity College, Ireland. Edmond gave a historical overview from the early 1990's. 2004 OECD Report on Higher Education, recommendation from this report: 'That greater collaboration between institutions be encouraged and incentivised through funding mechanisms in research....' HSIS--Humanities Serving Irish Society. This is a platform coordinating research.

'The DHO: a 21st Century Collaboratory' by Susan Schreibman. Part of the HSIS consortium to develop an all-island inter-institutional research infrastructure for the humanities. Defining best practices for digitisation--curation--discovery--presentation. The DHO is coordinated by the Royal Irish Academy. The DHO makes recommendations but cannot enforce them. Not an institution of higher learning so not eligible for funding through traditional routes. Three years of funding only. It provides data management, curation and discovering services. How do you empower a community scattered abroad and having nascent interest in DH AND with only three years of funding? Challenges: not enough institutional capacity in critical areas, not enough DHO staff to fill in gaps or work closely with each project; and ideally, the DHO would have had to begun a year before project partners to have infrastructure and policies in place. Worskhops work better than lectures, small group seminars on strategic issues, outreach events to build capacity at partner institutions. There is collaboration beyond HSIS partners (DHO Recommended Metadata Standards, first draft expected August, 2009), Text-Image Linking Environment(TILE), SEASR, Digital Narrative Discussion Group, and others.

'DHO Outreach Activities' by Shawn Day. Connect with many Irish educational institutions. An evolving mission from digitization to collecting, encoding, standards, tools, and moving in the third year to dissemination. The audience is humanists with digital potential as well as digital humanists, existing projects at partner institutions and cultural and heritage institutions. DHO events: partner clinics, workshops, symposia, consultations, and raising the DHO presence on the island.

'Metadata in support of a National Collaboratory' by Dot Porter. Metadata in support of outreach and IT initiatives (DRAPIer and Fedora Repository). In outreach activities, the metadata recommendations will depend on the specific needs of the individual project: MODS, CDWA, VRA Core. May provide recommendations for controlled vocabularies, taxonomies, ontologies. (e.g. CIDOC CRM). DRAPIer (Digital Research and Projects in Ireland) allows for digital humnaists to know who is working on what. Some scholars are unaware of who is working on something at their own institution!

The final speaker was Don Gourley. How do you build infrastructure to support collaboration? We are defining the IT deliverables: community portal(DHO news, evenets, etc. prifles, forums, wikis, access to projects, e-resources), DRAPIer (databases of projects and methods), and a demonstration repository(demonstrator project requirements, generalize useful servcies, create a laboratory for experimenting).

DHO Strategies
Strategy 1: build on open source software (Drupal, Fedora, Php, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Linux).
Strategy 2: use rapid application development.
Strategy 3: partner with Irish digital initiatives.
Strategy 4: employ object orientated design patterns
Strategy 5: integrate tools for multiple use cases and skill sets

Questions from audience: how do you monitor or measure your success? We measure by the number of deliverables (which we have exceeded). You are well funded, how did you get it? Quote of the day by Susan Schreibman: 'The Celtic Tiger has been shot and the kitten is dying somewhere in the room.' Funding continues to be a challenge and the Irish goverment funds only once (this results in many organizations mutating or evolving into other types of institutions to continue funding and consequently, survival).

Addendum: Susan Schreibman et al, have given a lecture on the crisis in the Digital Humanities back in January, 2009.

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