In the scholarly communication ecosystem, lectures and conference roundtables offer valuable opportunities to share one’s on-going research and reflections with an engaged audience. Although social media, online conference programs, and slideshare sites now boost the signal of scholarly work, talks at conferences are still often limited by the time and place of their delivery. Even as digital humanities forges wider global connections, travel funding at universities and other public humanities institutions is on the decline. Everyone must make increasingly strategic decisions about how and where to invest travel time and money, often to the exclusion of professional events that might be interesting or thought-provoking. Digital networks and the open web, however, transcend boundaries of location and time by allowing for the rapid, broader distribution of transcripts, slides, posters, and audio and video.
In this seventh issue of the Journal of Digital Humanities, each featured piece translated what began as an oral presentation at a scholarly conference into another form for a wider audience on the open web. Some were Digital Humanities Now’s most frequently nominated content by Editors-at-Large or were the posts most highly-circulated by readers between May and September. Their timeliness, interdisciplinary reach, and popularity among readers make the following works well-suited for formal publication in the Journal of Digital Humanities.
In these articles, the authors consider the opportunities, challenges, and wide range of possible forms of digital humanities “data.” Speaking about the need for humanists to consider their research materials a type of data available for analysis or manipulation, Christof Schöch first presented “Big? Smart? Clean? Messy? Data in the Digital Humanities” at European Summer School in Digital Humanities in Leipzig, Germany, before sharing a version on his personal blog. Likewise, Trevor Muñoz offered his perspective on data curation as an emerging form of publication to the CIC Center for Library Initiatives Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio, and then posted “Data Curation as Publishing for the Digital Humanities” on his personal website. Nicole Beale’s presentation on collaborative explorations of 3D technology by archaeologists and artists was delivered at the Electronic Visualisation and the Arts conference in London before it was revised with her co-authors Gareth Beale, Ian Dawson, and Louisa Minkin for open-access publication in the conference’s proceedings. Finally, Robert Sanderson’s project briefing on RDF frameworks –both recorded audio and accompanying slides—was first delivered in San Antonio at the Coalition for Networked Information and was subsequently made available by the conference organizer on their website. In each case, the authors began with an orally-delivered version of their work, which they subsequently circulated through informal, open-access publication avenues in order to reach an audience that extended beyond those who could be physically present when the paper was first delivered.
This issue of the Journal of Digital Humanities also features another genre of scholarly communication that rarely finds its way into formal publication venues: posters. More familiar to attendees of scientific conferences, posters are nevertheless an excellent means for humanities researchers and practitioners to share their approach to a humanities question or to offer best practices learned during their on-going research. Highly visual, often static, and necessarily focused, posters are produced as exportable, printable files that are efficiently and easily distributed in a digital environment.
The Journal of Digital Humanities is proud to debut this genre of gray literature in this first of two installments of posters originally presented at DH2013, the annual, international conference of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations. Presenting a poster at DH2013 allowed practitioners from around the world to introduce their research, tools, and projects to a global audience. Conference participants in July repeatedly celebrated the posters’ high-quality and usefulness and expressed a desire to see them again in a format that could be thoughtfully considered and to which they could respond. In addition to public enthusiasm for the posters, we were aware that poster abstracts are written nine months prior to the conference and are often a poor substitute for the evolving final product. Without a venue such as the Journal of Digital Humanities to feature the posters themselves, interested readers would be forced to imagine the material from a sometimes out-of-date description.
The posters demonstrate the collaborative nature of digital humanities work by including all the names of the scholars, technologists, graduate and undergraduate students, and other collaborators who come together for project-based work. While some represent the resources of a single creator, other posters demonstrate the possibilities enabled by funding from a national or international organizations. For this reason, we invited the creators of each and every poster from DH2013 to first publish their poster on the open web, and then to submit their poster for publication in the Journal of Digital Humanities. Our goal was to improve the visibility of these already peer-reviewed works by offering a sustainable, open publication venue that benefits both those who were able to attend DH2013 and those who were not.
Gray literature originating as lectures, conference presentations, invited talks, and poster sessions offers timely insights into scholarship in progress. By providing a formal publication venue, the Journal of Digital Humanities increases the available avenues of access to the most recent developments in our field. While conference presentations, keynote addresses, or seminars will always remain important venues for interactions between presenters and audiences, the Journal of Digital Humanities hopes to forge connections between such work and those who are unable to attend. While many readers may have participated in one or two of the conferences in which the posters and talks in this issue were first presented, it is unlikely that any reader attended them all. As you read the features and peruse the poster gallery in this issue, we hope that you find new insights, new tools, or new approaches that are currently in development and of lasting value to you.