May 17th, 2010 | Dan Cohen
Some THATCamp attendees may know that last fall, with the help of Jeremy Boggs, I launched an experimental quasi-journal to highlight what digital humanists were reading and talking about: Digital Humanities Now. You can read my ideas behind DHNow here and see the (modest) technical infrastructure here. The basic idea was a crowdsourced journal of the community, by the community, for the community. No publisher or press needed, rolling and varied content (not just 8,000 word articles but pointers to new digital projects, debates, thoughtful blog posts, writing outside the academy as well as inside it), and room for interactivity.
I’ve now had six months to look at what DHNow‘s automated processes surfaced, and want to iterate DHNow forward so that it covers the digital humanities much better and functions more like a journal—that is, as a place for the best writing, projects, reviews, and commentary in our field. I would also like to see if the model behind it—taking a pool of content, applying a filter to show the “best of,” and publishing the results with the inclusion of comments from the community—might work beyond the digital humanities, or if we might find other models for journals to move past the same-old article/submission/editor/press model. There are other experiments in this vein, such as MediaCommons. Important to me in all of this is a recognition that we have to work as much on the demand side as the supply side.
Right now DHNow is strongly connected to links mentioned on Twitter by over 350 digital humanists, but I have been working to replace that system. On the “pool of content” piece, Sterling Fluharty and I have started to combine our large OPML files of digital humanities blogs; regardless of its use in DHNow it might be good to complete that project since a comprehensive listing would be broadly useful for the community. I’m thinking of replacing the filter mechanism (Twittertim.es) with a modified version ThinkTank and/or an RSS aggregator, and I’ve also come to the (perhaps wrong) conclusion that some light human editing is necessary (and so I’m on the lookout for a rotating group of editors). Finally, in addition to the daily stream, I’d like to fix the best of the best at intervals more like a traditional journal, likely using ePub.
I propose this topic sheepishly because I don’t feel that THATCamp should be for pet projects like DHNow. But if others have found DHNow helpful and would like to collaborate to make it into something more useful for the community, let me know.