As Christa noted in an earlier Session Idea, last year at THATCamp Philly there was a session on how one might set up a Digital Humanities Center for the Greater Delaware Valley. Among the possibilities that were discussed at that session was that digital humanists with particular skills might pool their talents as consultants to local public humanities sites that otherwise would not be able to do digital work, either from unfamiliarity with what is possible, lack of technical skills, or lack of time to undertake digital work.
That aspiration is admirable, but perhaps hard to achieve with the varied affiliations and responsibilities of campers at THATCamp. So I wish to propose a more modest aid to the small public humanities site community: a list of technical service vendors (soup-to-nuts website design firms, audio guide developers, database designers, digital photographers) with whom they might work to increase their familiarity with digital media and develop grant applications to support digital projects. The site would link to service providers and link to representative projects to illustrate their work. Ideally, such a list would make it easier for small sites to find technically skilled partners and also expand their imagination of what is possible in the digital realm.
I propose this as a separate session idea, but it could also be considered as part of the renewal of the Regional Digital Humanities Center idea that Christa proposed.
I’m familiar with lots of small historical societies–volunteer-run, mostly–who have photographs and historical documents they would like to share but are not sure how. Some scan the photos and put them on their own websites and some add them to Facebook, but their methods often don’t produce high-quality visual representations, have poor metadata, and don’t disseminate the content effectively. This is probably similarly the case for other sorts of non-profit, non-professional humanities groups or arts organizations.
How can the professional community help these small, non-professional groups? Can we help train them in the use of available tools, like Omeka or PastPerfect’s exhibit plug-in? Is it possible to effectively utilize social media like Facebook and Pinterest? When discussing the proposed Delaware Valley Digital Humanities Center, can we afford to provide services to the little guys? Could the DV DH Center look something like the Maine Memory Network or North Carolina’s DigitalNC? Could we have a Philly-based scannebago?
UPDATE: And if read this and you’re thinking “Count Me In,” you can help get the ball rolling by visiting PhillyDH.org and signing up for the Google Group.
Last year, one of our most popular sessions was prompted by this question, originally posed by Seth Bruggeman. One year later, let’s revisit this idea and make some plans. Among THATCamp organizers, there is definite interest in continuing DH-related learning and discussion opportunities throughout the calendar year.
For this session, I’ll suggest we:
- Find a date, time, and location for a winter Delaware Valley Digital Humanities meet-up/workshop/hackathon
- Set a tentative agenda for this event, settling upon a speaker or topic of wide interest to the THATCamp Philly community
- Come up with a list of other possible DH-related topics or activities worthy of meeting up to discuss/do
- Take names of people willing to help organize and run these events, deciding who could handle space coordination, catering, speaker coordination, publicity, etc.
If doing something like this in a session might interest you, let us know in a comment.