Musings on Digital Humanities
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David T. Bailey

David Bailey

On Saturday, November 7, a dear friend and colleague, David T. Bailey, passed away. I always find it difficult to write about friends who have left us.  I can write the straight forward — like about his digital work in a blog post for Matrix. I will just make a few notes; difficult to sum up nearly 20 years. He was an amazing supporter of the digital humanities and Matrix. I always enjoyed working on projects with him. He could be frustrating in that he never answered an email but I think he did that because he wanted you to come and see him in person. And that is the thing I enjoyed most.

When I would go over to history, I would always peer down his hall to see if his door was open and light on. One would start at the door talking and leaning on the door frame and at some point move to sitting in the comfortable leather chair, although, more often than not, someone else would already be in the chair. He would always turn in his chair and fold his arms across his chest. It was always easy to talk to him. Never awkward or forced. It could be about breaking news, a sporting event, advice on handling problems and who to talk to (he knew everyone at MSU), or about family. He always liked to ask about the kids.

Granted he did most of the talking, but he had an uncanny way of engaging you; you were always important and what you said was important. And it would always surprise you what he would know. My son is an actor and David knew all the theaters, acting companies, and productions in New York City and could talk about them in great detail. He loved musical theater and had a very large collection that he let my son borrow. He sent my son a play he had written (David had several staged readings of his plays at the Riverwalk). He always gave more, much more, than then he took.

In summer of 2013, we had a wonderful opportunity to do a two-week workshop at the University of Bahia in Brazil. David went with us along with my daughter. Since he did not teach all of the workshop sessions, he spent time with my daughter. David, my daughter, and I also spent one day going to art museums and markets. It was simply a wonderful day. The next summer, he joined my daughter and I for lunch to catch up with her and see how she was doing in college. I think one of the reasons he was such a great teacher is that he enjoyed engaging with young minds and watching (and nurturing) their development. He cared.

Now when I look down the hall and see his door shut, the hall dark, I know that we, the History Department, MSU, have lost something irreplaceable.

Yet we always have to remember his good humor and love of the game. There is a wonderful line in David’s play, The Shortstop, said by an old baseball managerthat I think sums things up nicely—it is not about the end result but the trying, engagement and becoming: “Winning is overrated. I learned that cause we never won. But I will say this. You gotta put the best team out there you can. Maybe they are destined for the cellar, maybe not. But when the phony patriots are finished with the damn song, and the flag is put away, and the ump brushes the plate, and the kid with the ball looks down from the mound, ain’t nobody wants to be any place but there, on the field, playing ball. And ain’t nobody out there to lose.”

David Bailey photo

AAAM 2015

This week I am attending the Association of African American Museums annual meeting in Memphis, TN. It is one of my favorite conferences to attend. Great locations, wonderful activities, and interesting and practical presentations. Most important, though, great people. Like oral historians, museum professionals are engaging people who like to work with the public (for often very little remuneration).

On August 5, I presentented with the wonderful Faith Morris, Director of Marketing, National Civil Rights Museum on “Build It Right, They Will Come: Effective Social Media and Website Strategies.” Faith covered the highly successful work that the National Civil Rights Museum is doing with social media. I looked at current design practices for cultural heritage museums. I used the NCRM as an excellent example of focusing on contemporary design principles and user experience design.

Finding the Digital Humanities

While popular retelling likes to place the origins of the “digital humanities” with John Unsworth and the entitling of the volume, A Companion to Digital Humanities, the term has earlier origins and DH first began appearing in 1998.  The term is often associated appropriately with one of the pioneers in digital projects, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

In November of 1998, in Technological Horizons In Education, an article “NEH Grants Promote Technology Integration” talks about a new set of NEH grants:

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded 20 “Schools for a New Millennium” grants totaling $622,000. The grants are part of a new NEH initiative to develop precollegiate models for me use of computer technology in day-to-day teaching.The initiative, which builds on the strengths of the agency’s Teaching with Technology initiative and EDSITEment Web site, will help schools integrate digital humanities resources — online and CD-ROM — into teaching and learning in a way that enriches the entire curriculum.

Ahh, remember the days of the CD-ROM.  In 1999, Larry Witham in the Washington Times, in an article curiously entitled “NEH gets Digital Direction, Steers Clear of Culture Wars: Largest funder of humanities looks to be on cutting edge” declares a new era of the “digital humanities”:

The National Endowment for the Humanities’ top panel took a break from approving grants here last week to watch two Hollywood versions of “Hamlet” get a high-tech, side-by-side analysis on a viewing screen.What the 20 NEH council members saw may one day be standard on high school computers, where students can use the Internet or a CD-ROM to study Shakespeare and avant-garde film criticism all at once.”None of this enterprise could have been accomplished without the sustained support of NEH,” Janet H. Murray, senior researcher in educational computing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in her presentation.The era of digital humanities has arrived. (http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-56767623.html)

This is not to leave John Unsworth out.  There is also a NINCH project that he helped to start that dates back to 1998 called the “International Database of Digital Humanities Projects” (http://www.ninch.org/projects/data/data.html).  It was certainly the The Companion to Digital Humanities that gave the term its everydayness, but I am interested in these earlier echoes and others before the turn of the century because they tell a more international story of the origins of DH that I hope to return to shortly.

 

Oral History and Digital Humanities

All fields in the humanities have been transformed by digital technology, but none more so than oral history.  The new book, Oral History and Digital Humanities: Voice, Access, and Engagement, published by Palgrave Macmillan, explores the impact that new technologies have had on the field.  Edited by Doug Boyd and Mary Larson, the essays in the book chronicle a number of key oral history projects, the lessons learned, as well as look to the future of the field.

“Over the last two decades, much has changed in the world of oral history, as technology has opened up a 9781137322012wide range of possibilities for presentation and preservation of material. The doors of the archives have been blown from their hinges – and “access” has come to have a completely different meaning. This results in expectations for access and engagement that are vastly different than they were a mere twenty years ago. …” (read more)

Doug Boyd is a long time partner with Matrix.  He served as project manager for the highly successful Matrix project, Oral History in the Digital Age, and has developed an amazing application for indexing audio and video, OHMS.  Mary Larson has be a long time associate and editor at H-Net.  I was asked to do the final essay in the collection, “[o]ral [h]istory and the [d]igital [h]umanities, that looks at the relationship between oral history and DH.

The table of contents has several contributors to Oral History in the Digital Age and is an rich representation of the field:

Part I – Orality/Aurality

Chapter 1: “Oral History in the Age of Digital Possibilities” by William Schneider
Chapter 2: “WHY DO WE CALL IT ORAL HISTORY? Refocusing on Orality/Aurality in the Digital Age” by Sherna Berger Gluck
Chapter 3: “Adventures in Sound: Aural History, the Digital Revolution, and the Making of I Can Almost See the Lights of Home: A Field Trip to Harlan County Kentucky” by Charles Hardy III
Chapter 4: “‘I Just Want to Click on it to Listen’: Oral History Archives, Orality and Usability” by Douglas A. Boyd
Part II –Discovery and Discourse
Chapter 5: “Beyond the Transcript: Oral History as Pedagogy” by Marjorie McLellan
Chapter 6: “Notes from the Field: Digital History and Oral History” by Gerald Zahavi
Chapter 7: “Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project” by Tom Ikeda
Chapter 8: “Deconstruction without Destruction: Creating Metadata for Oral History in a Digital World” by Elinor Mazé
Chapter 9: “‘We All Begin with a Story’: Discovery and Discourse in the Digital Realm” by Mary A. Larson
Part III – Oral History and Digital Humanities Perspectives
Chapter 10: “Swimming in the Exaflood: Oral History as Information in the Digital Age” by Stephen Sloan
Chapter 11: “[o]ral [h]istory and the [d]igital [h]umanities” by Dean Rehberger

Network Detroit

26 September 2014

Network DetroitToday, I attended the dh conference, Network Detroit, and presented on the Public Philosophy Journal (http://publicphilosophyjournal.org/), in a talk entitled, “Reimagining Scholarly Publishing and the Public Philosophy Journal.”  It is a wonderful regional conference that attracts many DHers from the midwest and beyond.  The conference is in its second year, held at Lawrence Tech, and wonderfully run by Melinda Weinstein  (@Melindawp) and Nathan Kelber  (@nkelber).

The talk was put together from a talk by our Penn State partners,
Christopher Long (@cplong) and  Mark
Fisher (@mdfphilpsu) and was well received.

Public Philosophy Journal Logo

DH Awards and African Visibility

A colleague of mine tweeted out that it is revealing that no African projects were among the nominations for of the DH Awards (http://dhawards.org).  After taking a gander at the list, I not only found this to be true but they also left off Oral History in the Digital Age (http://ohda.matrix.msu.edu/).  Then I was really peaked.  How could they leave off OHDA in the category of “DH projects for public audiences”?  This was a scandal only eclipsed by leaving  Joaquin Phoenix off the Oscar list for Best Actor for his performance in Her.

After all, OHDA gets 15,000 unique hits every month, used in classrooms around the globe, cited by many library reference sites, and even appeared in AARP magazine (really how many DH projects appear in AARP).  Of course, then one slaps the forehead and says “doh, it is my fault.”  Given that the folks (many I  know) on the Nominations Committee are kind, generous, and all-around excellent DHers, and given the process of the DH Awards, the committee would have given consideration to OHDA, but more important, would have jumped at the chance to put an African project(s) on the lists.  The fault does not lay at the feet of the DH Awards but ours (we did not nominate the projects); thus next year we will need to be more proactive in bringing African projects to the attention of the committee.

This is not to say that my colleague did not have a point.  There is something revealing about the lack of African projects on the list (but in no way the fault of the DH Awards folks).  Africa, in general, has been invisible within the DH community and it is time to shake this up a bit.  Like one of my favorite sites, Africa is a Country (http://africasacountry.com) that seeks to “deliberately challenge and destabilize received wisdom about the African content and its people in Western media,” we need to destabilize the ways in which the DH community makes sense of the world.  To do this, I intend to write a series of speculative posts about possibly (no causality but bits of correlations) why Africa is in the DH blind spot.

However, before I do so, I want to stress the importance of DH Awards.  This is a great way to give credit to the hard work people put into DH projects.  Within our space, there are actually very few avenues to get credit for projects and it is great to see that there are more and more avenues for recognition.  And in the good-old DIY collaborative mindset of DH, DH Awards has created an open and creative space for making awards (it would be nice to see large sums of money tied to the awards but we are in the humanities).

Having our projects recognized by our peers is critical to moving the field forward; it is particularly true in the humanities where the single-authored printed text still remains the primary site of value.   And one needs to emphasize the term “authored” because for some reason we like to fetishize the notion that an author can only be an author if he/she has physically written the words, has physically written words (and, of course, the written words must appear in only selected places).

In the sciences, highly published authors may never write the final words (just scratch notes or design the study) but still can be authors.  They also often do things, like experiments and studies, that lead to results that can be published and shared with others.  In the digital humanities, often our result is a “project” — a collection of voices of those who fought against apartheid; a scholarly platform for exploring diversity and tolerance in the Islam of West Africa; a space for story telling and preservation of African languages; interviews about Africa past and present; and so on.  Lots of words (not published — at least in a proper sense) but mostly voices.

On a similar note, I recently attended a meeting in which the college was trying to figure out how to encourage more grants and large grants in the Humanities.  They proffered answers were typical sticks and carrots: force all faculty to write at least one grant, put more funding into getting people together, and so on.  All strategies guaranteed to fail. I asked the simple question — if we get a big grant, what does the college do?

This was met with silence because, of course, the answer is nothing.  As one colleagued noted, I am better off locking myself in my office and turning out two or three articles, alone, writing words.  At least at the end of the year I will get something in terms of merit pay.  Get a big grant and complete a big digital project and …. nothing (in fact it may hurt).

What one needs to do to increase large grant production in the humanities is pretty simple.  Go find folks who do not really care about traditional careers.  Find it fun to collaborate with others.   Enjoy venturing beyond the confines of the of the department, field, college, institution and muck around with folks in museums, libraries, archives and sundry non-profits.  And can be gleefully blind to the ways in which they are ignored and slighted by traditional measures of merit and scholarship.  Of course, again stating the obvious, the #alt-ac folks have been saying this for years.  #Alt-ac is not simply about preparing students for alternative career paths (an important part), but also about the ways, many in the DH, live their lives and do their work.

I do apologize for retreading the well-worn space of merit and #alt-ac.  Many of my DH peers have much better posts on this (and more complete).   MLA has been doing wonderful work in this area for years both on the level of panels and policy statements.  But it is an important context — not only for pointing out the importance of the DH Awards — but it is precisely in what we value, how we define ourselves, and how we tell our history that shapes the invisibility of Africa within DH.

But that will be speculations for next time.  For now, I am off to vote for DH Awards and support their efforts.  And promise that next year we will bring many African projects to the attention of the nominations committee.

 

 

DH and CC

I have been asked recently to think about the relationship between the Digital Humanities and Community Colleges.  I realized that this would be a daunting task, but my first inter-institutional DH project was with several community colleges in Michigan.  In the end, how do we think about DH in resource challenged institutions and with overworked faculty members.

Engaged

Matrix (http://matrix.msu.edu)

Oral History in the Digital Age (http://ohda.matrix.msu.edu/)

Overcoming Apartheid (http://overcomingapartheid.msu.edu/)

American Black Journal (http://abj.matrix.msu.edu/)

ExplorePAhistory.com (http://explorepahistory.com/)

MSU.seum (http://msu.seum.matrix.msu.edu/)

Learning  and Learning Object Hubs

HYBRID PEDAGOGY: A Digital Journal of Learning, Teaching, and Technology
http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/

Teachinghistory.org
http://teachinghistory.org/

Teaching American History
http://teachingamericanhistory.org/

Merlot History
http://history.merlot.org/

History Matters
http://historymatters.gmu.edu/browse/wwwhistory

AHA: Resources for Teachers at All Levels
http://www.historians.org/teaching/

Smithsonian: Heritage Teaching Resource
http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/educators/resource_library/heritage_resources.html

Smithsonian Source: Resources for Teaching American History
http://www.smithsoniansource.org/

National Archives: Teachers Resources
http://www.archives.gov/education/

Curriki
http://www.curriki.org/

National Archives (http://www.archives.gov/index.html)

Internet Archives (http://archive.org/index.php)

DIY History (http://diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu/)

What’s on the Menu (http://menus.nypl.org/)

Haven Center Audio Archives (http://www.havenscenter.org/audio/archives)

ItunesU (https://itunes.apple.com/us/genre/itunes-u/id40000000)

Google N-Gram Viewer (http://books.google.com/ngrams)

5 Good Resources for Historical Maps
http://bit.ly/1hlzrel

Assignments

History Matters Assignments
http://historymatters.gmu.edu/browse/digblack/

Ideas for Faculty: Clark
http://library.clark.edu/?q=faculty-ideas-assignments

Archives

Adaccess
http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/adaccess/

Civil War Washington
http://civilwardc.org/

Social Explorer
http://www.socialexplorer.com/

Free Tools

WordPress
http://wordpress.org/

EliReview (at MSU)
http://www.elireview.com/

Wikispaces
http://www.wikispaces.com/

Piazza
https://piazza.com/

Pinterest
http://www.pinterest.com/

Tumblr
https://www.tumblr.com/

Disqus
http://disqus.com/

Flickr
http://www.flickr.com/

Interactives

Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History
http://www.canadianmysteries.ca/en/index.php

Second Story
http://www.secondstory.com/

Monticello Explorer
http://explorer.monticello.org/

Londoner
http://www.wizardits.com/Londoner/

Picturing U.S. History
http://picturinghistory.gc.cuny.edu/

BBC History Interactives
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/interactive/

Newsseum
http://www.newseum.org/

Annenberg History Interactives
http://www.learner.org/interactives/?grade_levels%5B%5D=COLLEGE&page=1&per_page=20&query=history

Visitory
http://www.vistory.nl/

Lost in the Digital Wilderness: A Perpetual Jerimiad

I was distracted by a thoughtful jeremiad, “How Long will People Read History Books?” written by William Cronon for the President column of the October 2012 issue of Perspectives on History. It bemoans the fact that the digital age is one of “impatience” and “distractedness” and that the computational maw will ground to dust the “long, slow, thoughtful” writing and reading practices that are necessary to produce good history. Whenever I come across these well written pieces, I feel the tug of resistance, the need to go into the streets and erect barricades around the book, before it too is lost to history and all we left are the shiny baubles and glittering trinkets of digital culture.

Few things are more popular among cultural spokespeople who analyze the ills of our digital age than to point out how we have all become multitaskers lost in the tsunami of information, hopelessly distracted and impatient: info-junkies perpetually needing the next google search, twitter hash fix. I have always wanted to do a jeremiad project that would chart from generation to generation the lament of speed and chaos into which the new age, the next age, was plunging us. We always begin with Plato who lamented that writing would be the undoing of things since it destroyed the necessary practice of memory. I always kind of liked Thoreau being flummoxed by high speed rail travel; 25 mph had great promise and terror. If I had the patience I would like to do the study, but I dread the last decade or so. There has seen an avalanche of books about the end of the book and the dumbing down of the digital generation. Whatever happened to crazy-hair guy, Silicon Snake Oil, who would pop up on every channel as a talking head. It is really not by placing Cronon’s work in the jeremiad cavalcade that I wish to criticize it, though.

If I had the focus, I would write a history of the history monograph. It has been a rather short-lived thing. Born with the modern university, it did not really come into its own until the birth the modern research university (post WW II) and the entrenchment of the tenure system in the 1960s. Since then it has been an evolving thing that has had its social swings. Now I don’t think it is fair to criticize Cronon’s piece based on the rather short and changing history of the monograph. Brevity of a tradition does not negate saving it from the digital miasma. But it does set one to wondering, as a historian, are bulwarks against change covering over complex and nuanced moments of flux?

If I had a more hardy constitution, I would like to collect together all of the more recent studies about reading and writing, not to mention those about digital age distraction and multitasking to see if our claims of lore are correct. Much of the recent evidence about reading and writing rates (and not to mention book publishing rates) seems to counter claims about the end of reading and writing as we know it. Cronon acknowledges this but if more it can only be fast food bits and bytes (yet is it really? As good historians, can we make this claim based on solid evidence?). Of course this goes back to the jeremiad. It would be nice to collect all of those 20th-century claims about how one media or technology would destroy the prior. Recording replaces sheet music. TV replaces the radio. (I always liked, TV would replace teachers — see hysterical claims about MOOCs). Historians know that the answers to these replacement questions are never complete but are “complicated webs of actors and actions, causes and effects, events and contexts, ideas and meanings.”  We do have to wonder.  It may be true that the public has liked the thick histories and read from cover to cover, but with indexes, citations, and table of contents, have academics been hypertext poachers since long before the invention of the web?

In the end, what I think we really need is a good cat massacre. Because here is the sneaky and treacherous thing about Cronon’s argument. We all know many historians who simply dismiss the digital humanities and anything technological as bad history. In a way they are easy to understand and deal with. Here Cronon embraces the digital as an important space: “[p]lease do not misunderstand me. I embrace and celebrate the digital age.” But then through an argument of dichotomy, he sets digital as a space of frenetic, “frictionless” movement (thin greasy gruel), and history as the disciplined, slow and solid place of “richness” (rich creamy goodness). We can ignore that this cuts short “complicated webs of actors and actions, causes and effects, events and contexts, ideas and meanings” of history in the digital age. This thin and rigidly ahistorical binary view of digital/history is the precise fulcrum that maintains the illegitimacy of the digital humanities. In fact, I have rarely seen such a brute and naked occasion of the rhetoric, a perpetual jeremiad. You digital humanists are cute, slick, fast, and important, but you can never be real. Digital tools have their place — they are good for “sharing” with that messy, frantic “wider world.” Real historians are solid, slow, and meticulous and history making can only happen outside of history.

We do need to get past this binary thinking.  I am a book collector and fan of the thick, rich history.  The monograph is one way of doing really good history and will as Cronon imagines continue with the ebook.  Good historical thinking may take many shapes and forms (perhaps even digital).

Digital Humanities at MSU

This past year I had the fun assignment of co-chairing a committee on the digital humanities for the CIC (as most of you know, the CIC or Committee on Institutional Cooperation is a consortium of BigTen universities plus the University of Chicago). The charge of the committee was to find out what the CIC and its member institutions could do to support and foster the growth of the Digital Humanities. To complete this task, our committee did three things: one, an environmental scan of DH at CIC institutions; two, a DH summit meeting that brought together representatives from all of the CIC institutions; three, a white paper summing up our findings (coming soon). The long and short of the story is that from all of this scanning, surveying, and meeting, I found that MSU is doing some amazing and cool things.

Before I get too far I should explain the what and the why of the digital humanities (DH). What is (are) the digital humanities? For the quick answer, DH is what happens when computers, computational tools, and digital technologies collide with the humanities. Making sense of this collision and what it means seems obvious since most of us spend our days with computers, networks, and digital media to do our work, research, and creative expressions. As with most things, what appears a simple question is always made more difficult by humanists who like to tease out the threads of complexity in any question. Bethany Nowviskie, a leading DH scholar and DH center director, did a nice job of succinctly pulling together some key conversations about defining DH in her post to the DHanswers forum. Of course, as with all academic fields, DH is as much about people and politics, networks and relationships, as it is about the locus of inquiry. To this end, Melissa Terras, another amazing DH scholar and center co-director, gave an wonderful encomium about the DH community (praise and blame) in her DH 2010 keynote address, “Digital Humanities in the Panopticon” that should not be missed.

In short, I am going to punt on answering “what is the digital humanities” and send you to the above links and to google for a taste of the many conversations (DH’ers are obsessive about the question and there are no shortages of blog posts and articles addressing it). The more interesting question here, though, is “why the digital humanities?” and “why does the CIC care and why now?” Again there appears a simple answer: in an era of continual contraction and crisis for the arts & humanities, DH offers up a glimmer of hope as an area of growth and quirky vitality.

Re-imagining the Humanities

Yet the actual answer is, as you would expect, more knotty. The image of the lone scholar in the archives diligently publishing single-authored works, a scholar who only talks to like-minded peers, is a clumsy simplification of the rather complex universe of the humanities. Humanities folks have always engaged, performed, and interacted with a wide range of audiences, but the image is true enough in evaluative practice that the focus on single authored monographs and articles, and specialized audiences, is still the norm for advancement. Yet this norm faces a shaky future in the face of waning public support and dwindling opportunities of publishing. I do not need to rehearse this well worn perspective, except to say here is the place for the “why” of the DH. DH offers an alternative model for transforming the humanities. It is needful to emphasize “alternative.” Traditional work in the humanities is important work that needs to continue and be highly valued, but likewise we need alternative spaces to explore new models of research and different forms of scholarship in the humanities.

The digital humanities by its very nature is a collaborative pursuit. It is rare that the lone scholar will have the deep knowledge of domain expertise coupled with extensive programming skills (not to mention the time and funding) to complete in seclusion a complex digital project. DH folk must reach out to not only to other colleagues in the humanities but, more important, to those outside the humanities (e.g., sciences, health, math, computer science, statistics, geography, social sciences) for the technological expertise; to those inside and outside of academic spaces (e.g., museums, archives, libraries) for data transformation, curration, and management; and to those outside the academy (e.g., internet users, game players, social network users, community groups) for dissemination, engagement, and use of digital projects. This reaching out is both critical for doing DH projects and for funding. Funders not only like to see collaboration across disciplines but collaboration among institutions, and as is often the case in the world of grants, one needs a track record to get funding. So working with established centers and institutions, as well as colleagues with past funding is often very helpful. Before returning to MSU, we should remark that this reaching out is not a one way street. The collaboration between the humanities and the sciences has many mutual benefits. After all, the humanities offer up a number of thorny and complicated challenges. Greg Crane’s question, “What do We do with a Million Books?” is a challenge not only for humanists but computer scientists as well.

With all this said, it is particularly the “why” of DH that makes MSU such fertile ground for the digital humanities. The digital humanities are to be found woven in many partnerships across campus. Digital humanities initiatives and projects have been and are in the College of Arts & Letters, the College of Social Science, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, the College of Music, the College of Engineering, the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, Lyman Brigs, International Studies and Programs, the MSU Museum, the MSU Archives, the MSU Libraries, and the MSU Press. I will refrain from naming all of the departments across campus and area studies programs that DH touches — too many to list. Likewise the partnerships outside of MSU are too numerous to mention and range from Lincoln to Cape Town, from the Michigan Historical Museum to the Smithsonian, from Stanford to the Université Cheikh Anta Diop.

MSU has one of the oldest, and well regarded, digital humanities center, Matrix: Digital Humanities and Digital Social Science Center (easiest to see what they do by looking at project page)and one of the newest DH labs, Digital Humanities and Literary Cognition Lab (that is already making a big splash). MSU has one of the most successful DH centers in writing and rhetoric, WIDE Research Center, their research has created not only great scholarship but amazing new writing tools like Eli. MSU is making its mark in Computational Legal Studies and has had long standing success with the GEL Lab, serious games for entertainment and learning, and has a long track record in Computers and Music.

MSU has a CAL DH undergraduate specialization and soon a graduate certificate will follow in CAL and CSS. There is the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative. Hosted by the Department of Anthropology, The Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative is a platform for interdisciplinary scholarly collaboration in the domain of Cultural Heritage Informatics at Michigan State University. The Initiative is supporting 7 graduate students this year from History, Anthropology, WRAC, and Philosophy (oh by the way, congratulations Donnie Sackey and Madhu Narayan for winning fellowships this year). And there is even a Digital Humanities Club.

In short, the environmental scan of MSU’s DH community is stunning. If we keep our focus on diversity, interdisciplinarity, transdisicplinarity, cooperation, and collaboration (not to mention a healthy dose of silo busting), MSU can be a leader in DH.

Oral History in the Digital Age

Oral History in the digital Age is launched.

The OHDA project represents a partnership between MATRIX, the Michigan State University Museum, the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center, the American Folklore Society, and the Oral History Association. Seven interdisciplinary working groups composed of experts and practitioners from museums, libraries, and scholarly societies worked to produce recommendations around core topics including intellectual property, transcriptions, digital video, technology, scholarship, preservation, and access. Final recommendations from all groups were compiled and published on the OHDA website as a guide to conducting digital oral history.