Category: Blog

Become a DHNow Editor-at-Large!

As the new semester gets underway, we’re issuing the call for volunteers to help us choose the pieces that we feature on Digital Humanities Now. Editors-at-Large see all the work and announcements published each week on the more than 400 websites that Digital Humanities Now follows. Volunteering a few hours in a given week provides access to a snapshot of the field, as well as experience with the PressForward plugin. For graduate students training in digital humanities, this is an opportunity to see what’s happening in DH. For instructors advising or teaching courses in DH, assigning students to be editors-at-large can offer a dynamic way of including current and developing scholarship in course discussions.

Editors-at-Large sign up for weekly rotations to review the pieces produced or shared by the digital humanities community and nominate the most important scholarly work and news items the weekly DHNow Editor-in-Chief will feature on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Weekly rotations run from Saturday through Friday. At the end of your week’s rotation, we will invite you to give us feedback, both on the pieces that you found for the week and on the nominating process itself. For those interested in volunteering, please visit our Editors-at-Large Corner, and fill out the form to volunteer. Contact us with any questions, and we hope to see at DHNow!

DHNow: 2014 in Review

As the year draws to a close and as our staff begins its winter recess, this seems like an ideal time to take a brief look back at Digital Humanities Now in 2014. We’ve had a remarkable year thanks to the hard work of a dedicated staff, a motivated and generous community of volunteer editors, and an active base of students, writers, practitioners, and researchers who generously participate in the gift economy of open scholarly communication.

In November, we began our sixth consecutive year of publication.  What started as Dan Cohen’s Twitter feed in 2009, grew into a scholarly communication question funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 2011 that, in turn, allowed DHNow to expand into a community-curated publication. This year, PressForward, the project that supports DHNow, received second round funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to implement the technology first prototyped here among four scientific communities.

Though the methods of aggregation, curation, and publication and the people working on the project have changed and grown, what has remained consistent across five years of DHNow’s publication is our commitment to building a more robust, diverse, and manageable scholarly communication ecosystem imbued with the values of open scholarship, participation, and attribution.

Our Numbers

What this year’s statistics demonstrate is that our efforts at consistency through a tiered editorial model have been effective. In 2014, we featured 144 items as “Editors’ Choice” on the site.  After three years of experimenting with how many items to publish each week, we seem to have found a comfortable average of two to four Editors’ Choice items, selected twice each week, over the course of 40 weeks each year. Additionally, we circulate approximately ten “News” items per week.

Our consistency in publication has rendered an equally consistent readership.  In 2014, we garnered an average of just over 10,000 unique visitors to the DHNow site each month, and our Twitter account topped the 17,000 follower mark in December, up more than 5,000 followers from last year.

More impressive, however, is the community who supports DHNow through the donation of their time and energy. Since we began soliciting community participation in 2013, over 250 volunteers have signed up to help surface valuable digital humanities content.  An average of six to ten volunteers every week sift through about 1,000 items from a list of more than 450 current RSS/Atom feeds that have been nominated through a form on our site.

Our Staff

As with many long-standing projects, there have been changes to staffing on DHNow, and the close of the calendar year offers us an opportunity to thank the both past and current staff at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) for the dedicated effort, creativity, and problem solving that goes on behind the scenes each week to keep the publication running, growing, and improving.

In Spring 2013, Sasha Hoffman and Jeri Wieringa, the first graduate research assistants to work on DHNow, departed the project. Before they left, however, Sasha redesigned the current DHNow theme, and Jeri offered valuable guidance to incoming staff on managing our burgeoning list of Editors-at-Large. Amanda Morton, who had been working on the project as one of RRCHNM’s DH Fellows in 2013-2014 joined the project as a graduate research assistant in the summer, and she was joined by our incoming DH Fellow, Amanda Regan.  Amanda and Amanda play  critical roles in the behind-the-scenes administration of DHNow: regularly acting as Editors-in-Chief, maintaining and managing our compendium of RSS/Atom feeds, automating some of our Editor-at-Large correspondence, and testing the PressForward plugin that serves as the publication’s engine. Graduate students Lindsay Bestebreurtje and Benjamin Schneider also offered rotating support as Editors-in-Chief.

In recent months, Amanda and Amanda, with guidance from our lead developer Aram Zucker-Scharff, have begun contributing code to PressForward’s GitHub repository based on their on-going work with DHNow, and in the months to come, they will begin using their experience as editors of DHNow to create an out-of-the-box, open-source theme to be used with PressForward by anyone who wants to start a PressForward publication of their own. Stephanie Westcott, who has been serving as Managing Editor, will continue to do so while also directing the outreach efforts of PressForward 2.

In September, Joan Fragaszy-Troyano accepted a position as Public Outreach Manager of the Our American Journey project at the Smithsonian Institution. Joan’s work has been fundamental to the success of DHNow, which grew exponentially under her leadership, and we continue to reap the rewards of her generous contributions even in her absence. As PressForward moves into its second phase, Lisa Rhody in her role as technical director of PressForward 2, will assume responsibilities of general editorship for DHNow.

Join us again in 2015!

On behalf of the DHNow staff, thank you for an extraordinary 2014. We will be taking a break from publication until January 2015. Don’t forget to join us again in the new year by nominating RSS/Atom feeds with relevant digital humanities content and by volunteering to serve for a week as Editor-at-Large.

Prototyping a Curated Scholarly Publication: Digital Humanities Now

May 9th, 2014

This post is part of a series that reflects on three years of research on sourcing and circulating scholarly communication on the open web. In the coming weeks we will share our discoveries, processes, and code developed through rapid prototyping and iterative design: the PressForward plugin for WordPress; the collaboratively-edited weekly publication Digital Humanities Now; and the experimental overlay Journal of Digital Humanities. We hope these resources will encourage and assist others who wish to collect, select, and share content from the web with an engaged community of readers.

Is it possible for scholars to scan the rapidly growing corpus of scholarship available on the open web? How can communities identify relevant and timely materials and share these discoveries with peers? Anyone who tries to stay current with new research and conversations in their field — ourselves included — faces an overwhelming amount of material scattered across the web. For the past three years the PressForward team has been experimenting with methods for catching and highlighting web-based scholarly communication by concurrently developing our Digital Humanities Now (DHNow) publication and our PressForward plugin for WordPress.

It is important to note that nothing about this scholarly communication problem is specific to the digital humanities, and neither is our solution: we prototyped a generic model for any community who wishes to build a lightweight, collaboratively-edited publication both sourced from, and published on, the open web. In this post I provide a brief overview of the development of DHNow and the PressForward plugin, and introduce our approach to issues of scope, scale, and value. Through publishing DHNow I have concluded that surfacing scholarship from the open web is most manageable when done by an editorial group with committed volunteers.

Prototyping Digital Humanities Now

The digital humanities community — drawn from the overlapping worlds of humanities scholars and teachers, technologists, librarians and archivists, and cultural heritage professionals — has long actively created, shared, and discussed their work on the open web. As individual publishing becomes easier through blogs and microblogs, our community of practice monitors an increasingly overwhelming number of web feeds and Twitter accounts to see what our colleagues are producing and thinking. In an attempt to reduce duplicative efforts and increase the visibility of informally published materials, in 2009 Dan Cohen, then Director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, created Digital Humanities Now (DHNow) as a weekly publication to highlight relevant and timely work in this emerging field.

Since 2009, DHNow has maintained a constant niche in the scholarly communication ecosystem for digital humanities. Rather than focusing solely on one discipline, genre, medium, topic, or method, DHNow intentionally distributes gray literature, or works that lack venues for formal publication. Every week DHNow highlights salient content in any form as “Editors’ Choice,” by providing an excerpt and link to the original site of publication. Additional links are provided to news items such as jobsresources, funding and opportunities, CFPs and conferencesreports, and announcements.

Even though our mission remains consistent, we are rapidly adjusting the processes, technologies, and communities behind DHNow. From fewer than 300 feeds and Twitter profiles in 2011, we now aggregate content from nearly 700 feeds. We have moved from using Google products to read, nominate, and discuss content, to using our own PressForward plugin for editorial workflow. We have grown from an individual editor in 2009, to core group of three co-editors in 2011, to a staff of graduate student assistants and faculty who rotate as weekly editor-in-chief, responsible for selecting and preparing the featured works. Most importantly, we have welcomed over 200 volunteer “editors-at-large” who filter through the aggregated content and nominate pieces for broader distribution.

These adjustments to our sources and editorial pool in turn have influenced our development of the PressForward plugin. In order to facilitate collaborative editing, we designed an interface for editors to read and nominate the items from the feed they find valuable and relevant for broader distribution. In order to incorporate content from beyond our feeds, we created the Nominate This! bookmarklet feature to excerpt and attribute content from any web page. By rapidly iterating DHNow, we have built a publication and technology that reflects our priorities of community sourcing and collaborative editing.

Scope

While the scope of DHNow has remained constant — English-language materials related to digital humanities that are informally published on the open web and aggregated through web feeds — the feeds in our source base and the works distributed through DHNow have shifted over time.

The source base for DHNow has always been public and open to self-nominations. At several points we have intentionally researched new sources and actively sought input from our readership. The addition of volunteer editors-at-large in 2012 has greatly increased the range of genres, materials, and fields circulated by DHNow, beyond those included in our feed subscriptions. Moreover, we created the Nominate This! bookmarklet for the PressForward plugin to allow any editor to nominate content from anywhere on the open web for distribution through DHNow.

Responsibility for the final selection and preparation of materials for distribution remains with PressForward graduate research assistants and faculty. Frequent adjustments to workflows and our need to beta test the technologies we are developing requires regular communication among the editorial group. Publishing DHNow also provides an opportunity for graduate students to lead the development of various aspects of a web publication, such as redesigning the website (Sasha Hoffman) or the process and materials for managing the editors-at-large (Jeri Wieringa and Amanda Morton). Moreover, editing DHNow provides a learning experience for our graduate students as they develop their own research and skill portfolios.

Scale

As of May 2014, DHNow aggregates approximately 400 individual posts each week from nearly 700 feeds from websites in all areas of digital humanities practice into our WordPress installation using the PressForward plugin. Having the technical ability to collect potential content in one place through web feeds does not alleviate the need for critical eyes to identify salient material, however.

As the number of practitioners and students of digital humanities has increased, DHNow‘s source base and community readership have grown rapidly. After developing a manageable workflow and process, in Summer 2012 we invited volunteers to join us as “editors-at-large.” For the past two years approximately six volunteers per week scan our feeds and nominate content for distribution. The addition of volunteer editors-at-large had an immediate and positive impact on the publication:

  • expanded the interests and networks of editorial pool;
  • diversified the materials surfaced and highlighted by DHNow;
  • decreased the amount of time required by in-house editorial staff to select items for circulation; and
  • increased community investment in the publication.

Given our broad scope and large source base it would be nearly impossible for one or two volunteers to monitor, select, and share materials for DHNow on the same weekly schedule. For DHNow, the expanded editorial pool helps to accommodate an increasing number of sources and growing field at the same time it expands the participation by our scholarly community.

Value

Because DHNow is invested in raising the visibility of scholarship on the open web, we measure its value not only in terms of the quantifiable numbers of readers, but also community participation and role in the communication ecosystem. The inaugural winner of a digital humanities community award, in the past few years DHNow has greatly expanded our readership who access the publication via the website, Twitter, and our own feed. Given the digital humanities community’s active use of social media and the web, the wide reach of DHNow can be tracked through the engagement of our 14,000 Twitter followers (up from 2,000 in 2011), in addition to the hundreds of readers of the featured pieces each week, and over time, as recorded in our server statistics.

Truly a community publication, in both the material featured and volunteer participation, DHNow also has a growing pool of volunteer editors, many of whom are new to the field. In fact, many volunteers report that their desire to survey the large amount of diverse work occurring in the field is their reason for volunteering. For the graduate assistants at RRCHNM, reviewing and selecting content for DHNow is an important component of their training.

Because DHNow distributes scholarly works that lack formal venues for publication, we also measure its value in its consistency and long-term use. By regularly surfacing scholarship first informally published online, DHNow reveals the large amount of gray literature that reflects and inspires dynamic work and conversation in the digital humanities. As a feeder to the more selective Journal of Digital Humanities, DHNow also provides an opportunity for informally released works to circulate and receive feedback before developing into formal publications. We are proud that DHNow and Journal of Digital Humanities regularly appear on course syllabi. For our thousands of readers, DHNow clearly fills an unmet need in the communication ecosystem of this expanding community of practice. (Be on the lookout for future posts with more details about the readership and reach of DHNow and role of the Journal of Digital Humanities.)

Customizing Our Prototype

Scholarly communities can easily develop their own curated publication by customizing the scope and the scale of their content priorities, source base, and editorial group. My experience with DHNow suggests that communities will coalesce around intellectual work that is shared freely, no matter the medium, genre, or amount of polish. It is our hope that the success of DHNow will encourage other communities to value and disseminate scholarly work from the open web.

Check back next week for an introduction to the intellectual and practical considerations for initiating and sustaining your own publication in my five-part Guide to Curating Scholarship from the Open Web!

Prototyping a Curated Scholarly Publication: Digital Humanities Now | PressForward.

DHNow is Off for Finals!

Creative Commons Image by Hash Milhan via Flickr

DHNow is taking a two week break during the end of the academic semester. Good luck to those taking or grading exams! We will resume normal publishing the week of May 19.

DHFeedFest 2014!

February 24,2014

dhnow_logo

Join the Digital Humanities Now FeedFest, and help us keep our RSS feeds up to date!

Using the Pressforward plugin, DHNow pulls content from a collection of RSS feeds and allows Editors-at-Large to preview, sort, and nominate content for the editorial staff to review. In order to keep DHNow as current and as involved in conversations within the DH community as possible, we rely on readers to nominate RSS feeds to add to the plugin via a link on DHNow.

In the wake of the redesign and reorganization of digitalhumanitiesnow.org, however, we have the opportunity to more directly engage with DHNow’s community of readers and twitter followers. This week, beginning on February 24, we are calling for blog and resource submissions via twitter (@dhnow, #DHFeedfest), as well as through the submission form on the DHNow homepage. We’re all hands on deck to take your suggestions, put them into the plugin, and make DHNow more current and more reflective of our readership’s interests.

Digital Humanities Now works best when members of the community jump in as Editors-at-Large and as part of a twitter community that retweets and disseminates posts. We hope that this call for submissions will help us engage with our established readers and twitter followers, and that it will expand our awareness of and participation in the larger DH community. We also hope that this push will allow the content on DHNow to become more representative of on-going work and opportunities in the digital humanities. So what are your favorite sites for DH news, work, and debates? Let us know!

DHFeedFest 2014! | PressForward.

Highlights from a Year of DHNow

December 19, 2013

This is the season of holly and eggnog, the season of short days and finals and grading marathons. It is also a season of lists. Lists of gifts and “best ofs,” lists for reflection or amusement. We are not immune. While taking stock of the year in Digital Humanities Now statistics for last week’s PressForward post, I made a list of some of the individual pieces that were well-received, much-discussed, or frequently-visited on our site in 2013. Some of the most popular have gone on to become articles in the Journal of Digital Humanities, and you should visit them there. But I thought I might revisit the others, so that, in this season of leisure time (Go ahead. Laugh.), we could reread our favorites or finally read the ones that have stayed on our list of things to read all year long. I’ve divided them into categories and listed them in reverse chronological order, rather than rank them. It’s hard to define and determine what might qualify as most popular, whether via twitter or comments or page views, and they are all so engaging and interesting. Who wants to choose?

Reflections on the field of digital humanities and its tools:

From Portals to Platforms: Building New Frameworks for User Engagement” by Tim Sherrat

Historians and Digital History: Why Do Academics Shy Away from Digital History” by Paul W. Bennett

Start Calling it Digital Liberal Arts” by Rafael Alvarado

Building and (Not) Using Tools in Digital Humanities” by David Golumbia

Posts on Teaching and Learning:

Introduction to Omeka: A Lesson Plan” by Amanda French

Reflections on a Text Analysis Assignment” by Rebecca Frost Davis

Digital Editing with Undergradutes: Some Reflections” by Stephen Gregg

Decoding Digital Pedagogy, Part One” by Sean Michael Morris

Decoding Digital Pedagogy, Part Two” by Jesse Stommel

Reports on Research:

Warping the City: Joyce in a Mudbox” by Katie Tanigawa

Kindred Britain: A Sign of Our Times” by Elijah Meeks

The Future of the Civil War Through Gaming: Morgan’s Raid Video Game” by Trevor Owens

Diving into the Museum’s Social Media Stream” by Elena Villaespesa

Editors’ Roundups:

Roundup of posts about AHA and MLA in 2013

Roundup of posts about DH2013

Roundup of posts about the AHA recommendation to embargo history dissertations

 

Highlights from a Year of DHNow | PressForward.

The Year in Digital Humanities Now

December 6, 2013

As 2013 rolls to an end and magazines and newspapers begin to reflect on the past year, we thought we’d take a look at the last twelve months in Digital Humanities Now. As part of the PressForward project’s research into scholarly communication, these periodic status updates help us better understand where we’ve been and provoke questions we can work to answer in the future. The web stats alone are interesting and exciting, with our average number of unique visitors each month nearly tripling those in 2012. A year ago, those unique visitors averaged 3,400 per month, but at the end of November, this year’s number was 9, 192. Each visitor is averaging just over 3 visits each month, a number that has not changed significantly from 2012, but with the increase in visitors themselves, there’s been a whopping 952, 827 page views this year, up from 323, 913 in 2012.

These numbers don’t tell the whole tale, of course, but in combination with other statistics, they do paint a picture of a publication that is gaining readership and, hopefully, a valued place in the community. Our audience is broad, with long-term practitioners of digital humanities as well as those with a new interest in the field. We try to distribute works that appeal to those interested in academic research and teaching, as well as those engaged in cultural heritage practice and information sciences. And to help flesh out the web stats, we look to places like Twitter for a better sense of that community. We currently have more than 11,900 followers, an astounding number that underscores the reach of our news announcements and the pieces we highlight. We’ve seen how individual posts that appear as “Editors’ Choice” in DHNow provoke and extend discussions about digital humanities research and practice. There also is significant interest in the job postings and calls for participation that invite members of digital humanities communities to be further involved in the field.

We couldn’t do it, of course, without the volunteers that keep DHNow on its feet. This year alone, DHNow has had more than 100 Editors-at-Large, a job that entails reading the posts that come through our feed and their own networks, evaluating them, and nominating the best of the them to be highlighted as Editors’ Choice. An outstanding way to get a broad sense of what’s happening in digital humanities, volunteering as an Editor-at-Large also helps us invaluably. Everyone can sign up for a week of reading and nominating in the Editors-at-Large Corner, and we are currently seeking volunteers for the new year.

The Editors-in-Chief, all faculty and graduate students at the Roy Rosenzweig Center of History and New Media, have chosen 148 pieces as Editors’ Choice so far this year, and these are the posts that bring the most traffic to the site. Though the quality of those posts continues to be outstanding, we’re noticing a change in what comes to us via our feeds, as well. Two years ago, when we began keeping track of the blog posts that were scanned for DHNow content, there was an average of 4,000 new posts each month. Now we find the numbers are dropping significantly. We have refined our PressForward plugin so that we no longer receive duplicate posts from multiple feeds, and our metrics and ability to keep track of the numbers of posts are improving. This accounts for some difference, but we also believe this provokes questions about changes in blogging community: Are there fewer bloggers? Are those who blog waiting to publish more polished posts? Is the workload in the academy making it harder for academics to write for the open web? As we continue our research into scholarly publication into 2014, we will be considering these questions. (And welcoming the thoughts and ideas of our readers.) We’ll also be considering how we can continue to facilitate, aggregate, and highlight some of the most provocative and insightful work in digital humanities.

The Year in Digital Humanities Now | PressForward.

The New Editors-at-Large Corner on Digital Humanities Now

Of the many projects that are part of the PressForward Initiative, Digital Humanities Now holds the distinguished role of being our flagship publication. With a large and ever-growing readership, DHNow serves the digital humanities community by highlighting significant pieces of scholarship, drawing attention to projects and resources, and sharing information about job and presentation opportunities. To do so, DHNow relies on the tireless efforts of a rotating team of volunteers who read through curated RSS feeds and nominate items of interest for publication.

One of the ongoing challenges for managing DHNow has been coordinating the efforts of these volunteers. While the PressForward Plugin provides an excellent interface for nominating content, there is still a significant amount of administrative work involved in creating user accounts, explaining processes, and communicating selection criteria. With the expansion of our editorial team during this last year, it became necessary to rethink our system for organizing and communicating with our editors-at-large.

The largest update has been the creation of the “Editors-at-Large Corner,” linked to from the main page of DHNow. Where before information was made available to editors on an individual basis, all of our instructions are now easy to locate on the main site. Our goal is to make our process more transparent to our editors-at-large, to our readers, and to the community at large. Within the Editors-at-Large corner, editors and others can find instructions for using the PressForward plugin, along with detailed descriptions of the types of content we look to publish. We have also posted the schedule of Editors-at-Large, both to enable editors to easily confirm their weeks and to provide readers a more stable picture of who is nominating content on any given week.

In addition to opening up our editorial processes, these features support large structural changes to our use of Google Forms for managing the Editor-at-Large information. We have automated our confirmation emails and created Google Apps Scripts to streamline the process of sending reminder and follow-up emails, allowing us to reduce the amount of work required for weekly maintenance. Additionally, in order to make it easier to share our system with others interested in running a crowdsourced publication, we have made our forms and scripts available as templates.

If you are interested in seeing these changes in action or have questions about the types of content we publish on Digital Humanities Now, please visit our new Editors-at-Large corner. And while you’re there, help us continue to improve by signing up to nominate content and providing feedback on your experiences.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to improve this model of a community-run, aggregation-based publication.

The New Editors-at-Large Corner on Digital Humanities Now | PressForward.

Digital Humanities Now (and Then)

November 14, 2013

Over the past four years, Digital Humanities Now (DHNow) has used a variety of approaches to aggregating, reviewing, selecting, and disseminating scholarly content from the open web. Originally populated with content from Twitter chosen by an algorithm and automatically-published on the website, since 2011 the content for DHNow has been selected and prepared by an in-house editorial group. In the past year, we have developed our own PressForward plugin, to facilitate the aggregation, review, and dissemination process within the WordPress dashboard. At the same time that we have significantly increased the human labor involved, we have been seeking ways to reduce the editorial burden for running such a publication.

DHNow is a critical case study in methods for highlighting and distributing scholarly communication on the open web for the PressForward Project, funded by the Sloan Foundation. By experimenting with DHNow, we are developing methodologies and technologies to facilitate community-sourced publications beyond digital humanities. In this post we detail some of the methods and technologies we have used along the way and our wishlist and plans for the future.

DHNow 1.0: From Automated to Edited, 2009-2011

 

Digital Humanities Now 2009
Digital Humanities Now, 2009
  • Twitter list as source base
  • Twittertim.es identified most popular content
  • automatic publishing on DHNow website

The first iteration of DHNow, as explained by founder Dan Cohen in November 2009 was based on the content circulated by a collection of digital humanist on Twitter using the third-party service Twittertim.es (no longer in existence but similar to Tweeted Times) to identify the most popular content discussed on the list, which was then published on the corresponding DHNow website.

Sensing the value of a human eye in the selection and a human touch to the presentation, after a year Dan began to select and excerpt pieces in order to improve the content on DHNow itself. While this effort was difficult for one person to sustain, the increased number of readers — and the growth of scholarly materials informally published on the web by the very same readers — did suggest that the digital humanities community valued the surfacing and dissemination of their work.

In 2011, DHNow became a critical case study in methods for highlighting and distributing scholarly communication on the open web for the PressForward Project, funded by the Sloan Foundation. New staff resources enabled the expansion of our source base, additions to an in-house editorial group of research faculty and graduate students, and revised presentation for version 2.0, launched in November 2011.

DHNow 2.0: Aggregation and Curation, 2011-2013

Since DHNow became a part of PressForward and a testing ground to determine the human and technical requirements for a scholarly community to surface, aggregate, identify, and disseminate communication on the open web, we have gone through two unique phases of development:

Phase 1. July 2011-May 2012

 

DHNow Editorial Process, 2011-2012
DHNow Editorial Process, 2011-2012
*Graphic by Jeri Wieringa*
  • Expanding source base by intentional and focused searching
  • Offering an opt-in to the source base
  • Testing additional filtering, including Yahoo Pipes and Tweeted Times
  • Review of all content by all Editors to determine scope and selection criteria
  • Aggregation via Google Reader
  • Commenting and selection using Google Reader
  • Review of all content by all Editors-in-Chief
  • Final selections made in consultation with all Editors-in-Chief
  • ~25 hours/week across 3 Editors
  • Publication 5 days/week

First the new project staff — Director Joan Fragaszy Troyano and Graduate Research Assistants Sasha Hoffman and Jeri Wieringa — began to expand the source base to include RSS feeds. We explored off-the-shelf solutions for filtering out relevant content by comparing the content identified by Yahoo Pipes to that selected by the editors. Tweeted Times also filtered content shared via Twitter, which continued to be an important part of the source base aggregated and reviewed in Google Reader. At the same time that we developed editorial criteria, we also prepared publication and distribution methods for the relaunch of the website.

Once the site was relaunched in November 2011, we continued to establish editorial criteria and a sustainable workflow for a weekday publication with three staff. We enabled readers to add themselves to the source base. In addition, we began to scope out the requirements for a user-controlled technology to facilitate this aggregation process. As Google removed the ability to share and comment on RSS feeds in Google Reader in order to push Google Plus, we suspected that a user-controlled RSS aggregator within our WordPress installation soon would be critical. After testing out Tiny Tiny RSS and a few other RSS aggregators, we confirmed the need to develop our own and in a relatively short timeframe. We pulled Aram Zucker-ScharffBoone B. Gorges, and Jeremy Boggs in for the development and design work on the PressForward plugin, drawing on their expertise in journalism practices, WordPress development, and user interfaces.

Read our 6 month review from May 2012 here.

Phase 2: June 2012-June 2013

 

DHNow Editorial Flow 2012-present
DHNow Editorial Flow 2012-present
*Graphic by Spencer Roberts*
  • Aggregation via Google Reader
  • Additional filtering by Yahoo Pipes and Tweeted Times
  • Review of everything by volunteer Editors-at-Large
  • Nominations via Google Reader
  • Confirmation of Editor-at-Large survey and proficiency by rotating Editor-in-Chief
  • Editorial selections and commenting by Editors on Google Plus
  • Final selection and publication by rotating Editor-in-Chief
  • ~10 hours/week for Editor-in-Chief
  • Publication 2 days/week

During this period we reduced our publication schedule from five to two times a week, partly influenced by the smaller amount of relevant content, and partly in an effort to find a sustainable workload that balanced other project requirements.

Most importantly, we added another filtering method: additional human eyes. Volunteer editors-at-large added value through the gift of their labor, as well their additional perspectives and expertise. We hacked together a system for editors-at-large to nominate items from Google Reader, and Editors-in-Chief dipped into the full stream of content as needed to confirm that volunteers were nominating the most relevant content. We continued to hold editorial discussions in a closed Google Plus circle prior to drafting new items for each post on DHNow.

The combination of experienced editors plus additional editors-at-large reduced internal workload from about 20 hours/week to 10 hours. Given the increased input from the community, as well as a reduction in our review time, this time managing editor-at-large signups was well-spent.

During this period also we oversaw scope and basic development of the PressForward plugin leading to the beta release in June 2013.

Read our 16 month review from February 2013 here.

DHNow 3.0: Community-Sourcing and Filtering, 2013-present

 

Editor-at-Large Instructions
Editor-at-Large Instructions

By June 2013, the three experienced editors-in-chief who worked independently and in regular rotation began to mentor new Editors joining the project team in August 2013 (Amanda Morton, Benjamin Schneider, Lindsey Bestebreurjte, Lisa M. Rhody, and Stephanie Westcott). Because the plugin enables the surveying, nominating, and drafting of content to occur within WordPress, the process to review, select, and publish is much easier. Recent improvements to the editor-at-large management process also help reduce the workload to 6 hours/week for experienced editors who can review and publish content more quickly. The bulk of each editor-in-chief’s time is spent reviewing and selecting items for publication, but at least 2 hours/week are required to prepare the material for distribution on the DHNow website. There are additional opportunities for reducing editor-in-chief workload, but they would be at the expense of consistent formatting of published materials.

Looking Forward

As we begin our third full year of running DHNow as an edited publication, we have an established internal process. We are continuing to enhance the functionality of the PressForward plugin as well as develop documentation and materials for others who wish to create similar publications for their field of interest.

We have been gratified to find that even as the number of sources grew, our time required has not increased. The involvement of volunteer community has reduced internal effort substantially, as has growing familiarity with selection process. We believe that our consistent quality of selections and frequency of publication encourages volunteer participation, which in turn expands DHNow’s coverage of this diverse field.

Because DHNow is a critical case study for a larger PressForward project, it necessarily began as an in-house project. Given the amount of staff time required to select and publish content, in addition to managing community volunteers, we will continue to maintain full responsibility for editing and publishing DHNow for the foreseeable future.

 The challenges we face likely will not surprise any of our readers:

  • staggering amounts of potential content, with very small amount relevant
  • scarcity of time and attention from knowledgeable people
  • decreasing usability of RSS feeds for individual readers and increasing capabilities of machine-enabled flows of information

At the same time, we do sense some exciting opportunities. Not surprisingly, scholarly communities continue to desire ways to filter high quality content from a river of news. We plan to turn some of our attention back to improving the automated filtering of content coming through the river of news (you can read about our first attempt here). In addition, we will continue to develop documentation for our practices and plugin to help other communities create their own community-sourced and edited publications that highlight and disseminate work already available on the open web.

We anticipate that existing scholarly communities wanting to move beyond listserv or newsletter distribution methods will be likely adopters of this “now” publication model. In addition, emerging and topically-focused communities of interest may have the interest and commitment to beginning their own publications. If you are interested, please fill out our form, drop us a line at info at pressforward dot org, and we will be happy to speak with you.

DHNow 2011-203 Overview

Content

Editors

 Reach

  • from ~2, 000 Twitter followers in Spring 2011 to more than 11,500 in October 2013
  • from ~75,000 unique visits by 30,000 visitors in 2010 to over 340,000 visits by nearly 95,000 unique visitors so far in 2013

Workload

  • from 15-25 hours/week total shared among 3 editors
  • to 6 hours/week by single editor

Technology

  • from sharing and commenting via Google Reader and Google Plus
  • to PressForward plugin that enables input from volunteer Editors-at-Large

 

Crossposted on Digital Humanities Now.

Digital Humanities Now (and Then) | PressForward.

Digital Humanities Now wins inaugural DH Award

Digital Humanities Now wins inaugural DH Award

dhnow_logo

Digital Humanities Now, a PressForward publication experimenting with the aggregation and curation of scholarly communication on the open web, has won an inaugural DH Award. The award was determined by a public vote, and DHNow won in the “Best Blog, Article, or Short Publication” Category. Thanks to all our supporters!

Digital Humanities Now wins inaugural DH Award | PressForward.