Digital Humanities and Collaboration

· by admin

Collaboration isn’t new for historians.  A piece of historical scholarship has always involved a range of people.  The prologue of most traditional monographs includes a list of those who helped make the book possible.  From the support and assistance of archivists and librarians, to review and support by fellow scholars and students, and often financial support from institutions and publishers publishing a work of traditional scholarship is by no means an individual endeavor.  However, traditional works of scholarship are not typically described as collaborative.  Digital Technology allows and requires collaboration in two, more visible, ways.

First, digital technology allows scholars to collaborate with others regardless of distance.  Things such as Skype, Google Docs, and platforms such as Comment Press allow drafts of documents, conversations, and ideas to be transmitted to groups of scholars easily.  Comment Press, a book-publishing theme for Wordpress, allows for drafts of a book to be published early in the review stage and for a community to comment on the work before publication.  This allows for a more fluid exchange of ideas both pre and post publication.  I think the use of comment press has the potential to produce works of scholarship that are not only open and accessible, but that are of better quality and allow for a two-way exchange of ideas rather than the closed, one-way, exchange that a traditional monograph offers.

Secondly, Digital Humanities requires collaboration in a much more obvious way that traditional scholarship does.   Most digital projects have a list of people that have contributed.  From programmers, to designers, to historians, and grad students the projects often involve a long list of participants who collaborated to make the project possible.