News and developments at DHCommons

Since DHCommons merged with arts-humanities.net to become centerNet's official ADHO-sponsored publication, we've quietly been working on developing the publication, working through the consequences of merging our project directory with the information gathered on arts-humanities.net, and thinking through ways of improving the effectiveness of our project and collaborator matching. Here's what's been going on behind the scenes at DHCommons in the last nine months.

The journal

DHCommons will be led by Co-Editors-in-Chief Ryan Cordell, Isabel Galina, and Laurent Romary, and Technical Editor Quinn Dombrowski. We are currently in the process of finalizing an advisory board drawn from centerNet’s regions and help ensure the global vision. DHCommons will be published for centerNet by Anvil Academic using DARIAH’s Open Edition Platform.
DHCommons is intended to address the “evaluation gap” between the Digital Humanities and more traditional disciplinary scholarship. Digital projects can often stretch over many years as a continuum of work—not necessarily building to a finished project in the same way monographs do, though there are significant milestones in a project’s life. DH practitioners need concrete ways to certify the value of long-standing, influential, but unfinished projects to colleagues unfamiliar with the contours of DH work. DHCommons aims to meet these challenges, pioneering a model of peer review focused on mid-stage digital projects from around the world. By reviewing well-developed but unfinished projects, DHCommons aims to foster a developmental model that will help DH scholars hone their work while certifying the value of their projects to both the DH field and to their home disciplines.

Project data from arts-humanities.net

While superficially similar, the arts-humanities.net project directory and the one on DHCommons have very different approaches to metadata. For the most part, DHCommons offers no controlled vocabularies, instead relying on tagging and folksonomies for metadata. In contrast, an extensive DH methods taxonomy is a key component of project profiles on arts-humanities.net.

Instead of choosing to standardize DHCommons project data using one approach or the other, we are collaborating with DARIAH and the DiRT directory of research tools to develop a new taxonomy that will be implemented by all contributing partners (and, hopefully, other projects in the future). This shared taxonomy, which counts arts-humanities.net's methods among its influences, will enable new connections between data collected by different projects. The taxonomy is currently open to public review and feedback, through September 27th; we welcome your comments in the Google Doc where the discussion is taking place.

Other developments

One of the earliest visions for DHCommons was for it to connect projects seeking help with individuals interested in collaboration. While the new journal component expands the scope of what DHCommons is doing, we still see this early goal as an important one, and one where we've often fallen short. We plan on piloting a few new approaches-- both automatic and human-mediated-- to finding matches between collaborators and projects that benefit both parties.

In addition, we are working with ACH on a new way of running mentor/mentee matching on DHCommons; more news on that will follow when it's ready to launch.

DHCommons will be hosting its last MLA pre-convention workshop at MLA 2014 in Chicago, under the leadership of Josh Honn. More details will be posted as they're available.

Finally, we'd like to see the DHCommons project directory expand to include more entries for projects going on outside the US, Canada and western Europe, as a step towards raising awareness about work being done in the non-Anglophone world, building a more global community and supporting collaboration across borders. To help make that happen, we'll be working on making the DHCommons directory better support multilingual content. centerNet will also be running a project registration drive for its member centers this fall. To answer the call for a " truly international database of DH projects" that can "harvest information from numerous databases around the world which are adapted to their own local needs but can still share information" in Isabel Galina's DH 2013 keynote address, we're working on processes for periodically importing project data from other databases, as well as ways for local groups (such as regional or national DH organizations) to export data from DHCommons that reflects the activity of their membership.

Getting involved

DHCommons welcomes volunteers who are interested in helping make these efforts happen. Whether you'd like to provide feedback on the new shared taxonomy, translate the DHCommons interface, suggest a source of international project data, or help with metadata cleanup as part of the DHCommons/arts-humanities.net merger, we'd love to hear from you.