Pen and paper by Brady Withers via Flickr

Six Month Review of Digital Humanities Now

It has been six months since Digital Humanities Now relaunched in version 2.0 through the support of the PressForward Project, funded by the Sloan Foundation. The first version, run between 2009 and 2010, was an automated survey of Twitter. Version 1.5 was a one-man operation by Dan Cohen to vet the material using traditional methods of editorial section.

Now four editors spend a total of 15-20 hours a week to survey approximately 1,000 items per week produced or shared by digital humanists in all corners of the field.

In the past six months, we have winnowed down more than 20,000 items to highlight 175 pieces as Editors’ Choice, along with 7 “round-ups” that grouped together related posts. We have shared 586 news items, including 218 new resources, 144 job announcements, 111 calls for papers or participation, 65 reports, and 30 funding opportunities.

In addition, we selected 22 Editors’ Choice pieces from the last quarter of 2011 and solicited five new works for the inaugural Journal of Digital Humanities. These pieces were guided to publication by more than 30 additional comments during open peer review and by the careful work of our editors and guest editor Natalia Cecire.

What did we learn?

  • Digital humanists are very active. At the moment our aggregation and curation process would be difficult (though perhaps not impossible) to sustain solely through volunteer efforts. And there is enough work happening to necessitate a sister publication, Global Perspectives on Digital History, which highlights digital history work from around the world, complete with multilingual editors. We hope to expand that publication in the coming year.
  • Digital humanists use blogs to talk about the field as a community and a practice more than to report their scholarship. There are fewer pieces of original research (i.e., new results of work done) shared than we had expected, and many of those research-oriented pieces focus on individual text- and data-mining projects, with fewer reports from other areas of DH or from collaborative projects.
  • Digital humanities has a gender gap and most of the content is created by individuals. Like other fields, many more males have brought their research blogs to our attention. (Indeed, the gap in DH may be smaller than other fields, but still conspicuous.) The individuals who identify as part of the DH community in our registry are split 40% female and 60% male (see “DH Registry”). But among those who provided an RSS feed to monitor their work (see “Compendium”), the ratio goes down to 33% female, 67% male. Although organizations make up about 10% of our feeds, we do not see a lot of these groups reporting on the process or results of their work, except for project launches.

What will we do next?

  • Expand our Editorial Board: We already have placed a call for editors to help distribute the labor and expand the networks surveyed starting in June. So far more than thirty editors-at-large have signed up to help by survey the field and nominate items for recirculation.
  • Highlight more scholarly posts from the broad field: We will continue to prioritize highlighting original research (very broadly construed) in the Editors’ Choice selections. We hope to see and find more examples of works in progress, as well as white papers and reports from finished projects. In addition, we will begin to highlight scholarly projects (e.g., new tools and websites) as Editors’ Choices rather than Resources.
  • Strongly encourage everyone, and especially women and collaborative groups, to share more work. We can only highlight what we see and can link to. We will work to expand the networks that we survey, and find ways to supplement the currently limited group of mostly self-nominated individuals.

Can you think of other ways we can improve? Please add your suggestions in the comments below or email us at

This content was selected for Digital Humanities Now by Editor-in-Chief based on nominations by Editors-at-Large: