All digital projects have certain structural features in common. Some are built on “platforms” using software that has either been designed specifically from within the digital humanities community (eg Omeka, a possible platform you might use for your final projects), or has been re-purposed to serve (eg: WordPress), or has been custom-built.
We talk about the “back end” and “front end” of digital projects, the workings under the hood (files on servers, in browsers, databases, search engines, processing programs, and networks) and the user experience. Digital information on the web is specified in HTML (hypertext markup language) – any project available on the web will utilize hypertext markup.
But what creates the user experience on the front end? How are digital projects structured to enable various kinds of functions and activities on the part of the user? All digital humanities projects are built of the same basic structural components, even though the degree of complexity that can be added into these components and their relations to each other and the user can expand exponentially.
User experience and functionality are not the only considerations when creating a digital project. The long-term preservation of a project must also be evaluated. Will the software and file formats chosen for a project still be relevant and in-use in decades to come? Will the web domain exist long past the initial completion of the project? Essentially, how can a digital humanities project be archived so it can be preserved and accessible in the future?
The basic elements: a repository of files or digital assets, some kind of information architecture or structure, a suite of services, and a display for user experience. While this is deceptively simple and reductive, it is also useful as a way to think about the building of digital humanities projects. At their simplest, digital projects can consist of a set files (assets) stored in an information architecture such as a database or file system (structure) where they can be accessed (services) and called by a browser (use/display).
All of the complexity in digital humanities projects comes from the ways we can create structure (in the sense of introducing information into the basic data) in the assets, organize the information architecture or structure, in order to support complex services accessed through the display.
All of this should be more clear as we move ahead into the analysis of examples.
As you are reading these, make a few web annotations. I have provided a few prompts for you that may help you generate some perspectives for annotations.
- The Digital Humanities: A Primer, Ch 5 “Digital Tools”
- How Did They Make That? http://miriamposner.com/blog/how-did-they-make-that/
- Born Digital, Projects Need Attention to Survive https://www.chronicle.com/article/Born-Digital-Projects-Need/143799
- Blunt Instrumentalism: On Tools and Methods http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/60
- DIRT (Digital Research Tools) http://dirtdirectory.org/
- Where to Start? On Research Questions in The Digital Humanities http://www.trevorowens.org/2014/08/where-to-start-on-research-questions-in-the-digital-humanities/
- How to Get A Digital Humanities Project Off The Ground http://www.paigemorgan.net/how-to-get-a-digital-humanities-project-off-the-ground/
- “We’re Going Backwards” https://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2016/10/207755/fulltext
- How Did They Make That? http://miriamposner.com/blog/how-did-they-make-that-the-video/
- Learning from an Undergraduate Digital Humanities Project https://vimeo.com/17368737
- When Is A Book Not a Book? https://youtu.be/PO0Wb13SZmY
- On Not Looking: Ethics and Access in the Digital Humanities https://vimeo.com/90140105
- Preserving Digital Art: How Will it Survive? https://youtu.be/vkSG7XaKoAs
- Benjamin Walker’s Theory of Everything, “Artifacts” Parts I and II
- Use Hypothes.is to annotate the required readings. Try to ensure you make your annotations using the ENGL201 Hypothes.is group. This isn’t a huge problem if your comments are made to [Public] rather than the ENGL201 group, but it does make it easier for me to find your annotations.
- Use Evernote to create a “notebook” of a collection of at least eight DH projects found on the web. For each “note” you have bookmarked, include a short 1 or 2 sentence description of the DH project. Use multiple meaningful tags for each of your bookmarks. If possible, tag your bookmark with the technology used to support the project. See my Evernote notebook or Annelise’s notebook so you have a sense of how you can collect and organize your notes. When creating tags, try to think about how useful the tags will be if you try to search for the project within your notebook in the future. Do the tags best describe your project? Do you see similarities and differences between my notebook and Annelise’s?
- Blog post (Please note: these are meant to be suggested prompts rather than prescribed questions you need to address. If you have another topic or line of inquiry you would like to address in this week’s blog post, please pursue it. Please try to ensure your blog post connects to this week’s theme and/or resources.)
- Suggestion 1: Exploring Digital Humanities Projects – Making Some Notes and Narrating Your Process. Share your public Evernote ENGL201 Notebook link in a blog post. How do you organize your research now? Would a tool like Evernote change your methods? What were some aspects of Evernote that you found most helpful? Choose one of the DH projects you found and address the following questions in your blog post: …. (see course site for more details).
- Suggestion 2: Exploring DH platforms at your domain