A day of doing all the different DH things

It turned out that the actual Day of DH, although busy enough to delay my blog post until today, actually was pretty representative of most of my week days. I spent a bit of time working both independently and collaboratively on each and every aspect of the PressForward project that I direct: research, publishing, software development, and outreach.


Two and half years into the project, I am using my experience editing Digital Humanities Now and consultating with others running similar experiments to prepare guides for aggregating and curating scholarship from the open web. These guides will be released in the coming weeks  in advance of the widespread release of our PressForward WordPress plugin, which we developed specifically to facilitate the editorial curation process. Yesterday I made some revisions to the current drafts, as well as discussed the format and content with the Research Division team at RRCHNM: Sean Takats, Faolan Cheslack-Postava, Stephanie Westcott, and Lisa Rhody. Be on the look out for these to start appearing on the PressForward website soon!


For the publishing component, I nominated some content for Digital Humanities Now (DHNow), and scheduled some time later this week to review the content being prepared our next issue of the Journal of Digital Humanities (which also is coming out in the next few weeks!)

Software development

The iterative process through which we have published DHNow has greatly informed the development of our PressForward plugin, which offers a workflow for editorial groups to curate aggregated scholarship from the open web. We are very close to our public launch, and so I did some of the beta testing, bug reporting, and enhancement requesting in our GitHub repository that has been a major focus of mine for the past few months. I also submitted our official application for inclusion in the WordPress Plugin Directory, so we really are very close to launch! At the same time that I am preparing guides for the intellectual work of curating scholarship, I also need to make sure that the plugin is usable. Yesterday that involved reviewing the current documentation for the plugin, and making plans for the formats and locations of the various types of instructions, user guides, and forums that will be available at launch time. Again, the Research Division meeting helped provide some perspective and ideas based on the experiences launching Zotero, and we even pulled Patrick Murray-John from the Omeka team into the discussion.


As I do every day, I spent some time corresponding with some of the collaborators who are using the PressForward plugin in their own experimental publications. For the past two years I have been consulting directly with a few groups through email and video chats, and I hope that the written guides I’m preparing will broaden our reach. One fun part of my outreach yesterday was broadcasting the release of the Proceedings of THATCamp on the main RRCHNM website. The Proceedings of THATCamp  is a wholly automatic collection of and portal to blog posts from around the THATCamp website network, and features the most “Favorited” posts highlighted on the front page, and easy links to all the posts by date, topic, as well as Tweets and pictures. We also started working on a sticker design for the PressForward plugin, since we know how much DHers love swag!

The bigger picture of scholarly communication and other stuff

Aside from working on an internal project, I also did a big of catching up on other stuff happening in the world of scholarly communication. I read through some of the conversations that were sparked by the really fantastic Radcliffe Workshop on Technology and Archival Processing I went to last week (Shane Landrum did a great job producing a fabulous live Twitter feed  #radtech14). I also noted with interest that the Open Library of the Humanities announced the launch of overlay journals from their content base, which is another example of groups (even humanities folks!) making the move to editing and curating published works. I also spoke with several of our Graduate Research Assistants about their copyediting, testing, and other project assignments. Working with the very talented graduate students from George Mason’s history department really is one of the great parts of my job.

So for anyone interested in short details:

  • email correspondence and scheduling with collaborators
  • instructing and assigning Graduate Research Assistants
  • software testing, reporting, and documentation
  • strategic planning of materials, timing, and outreach supporting the imminent release of our software
  • editorial work for experimental publications
  • announcing the release of a finished project
  • catching up on the bigger picture

If this all sounds too boring and focused, never fear that throughout the day was a lot of discussion about all the fun things we talk about at CHNM — food (the best ways to brew coffee, how to avoid an oven fire when making kale chips, what makes a good sandwich); technology (comparisons of password manager systems, shiny vs. matte laptop screens); and nerdy stuff (eg, movie quotes). It was a beautiful day in DC, so I admired all the blooming cherry trees on my drive home. Then to cap it off, I had dinner with non-DHer friends and went to see the fantastic Carolina Chocolate Drops at the 9:30 Club. Nineteenth-century songs on period instruments like banjos and bones, and twenty-first century songs inspired by nineteenth-century history seems like a good DH combination!

Carolina Chocolate Drops
Carolina Chocolate Drops

Just another Day of DH 2014 site

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