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Navigating DH for Cultural Heritage Professionals

2011 January 10
by Sheila

Recently, I’ve engaged in lively discussions about access to information about digital humanities (DH) from folks working in the cultural heritage sector. How do museum professionals, specifically, get involved in and learn more about the latest digital projects, tools, and research? Is the broadly-defined field of DH a clique of cool kids? Is Twitter siloing discussions?

Many challenges, depending on individual professionals and their home institutions, block cultural heritage professionals from engaging in this DH community, including lack of financial support for training/attending conferences; little flexibility in job descriptions and departmental structures that allow for pursuing these opportunities; few local opportunities for hands-on learning; little time to mine discussion lists and social networks for information pertinent to one’s daily duties, et al.

Flickr photo from user teachingsagittarian

In attempt to improve the ways that I reach out to those in the cultural heritage sector, whom I am not already connected with via various media and personal networks, I want to provide a quick start guide for those interested in finding more information about things digital that might relate to cultural heritage.

This list is only meant to be a starting point, and in no way final, definitive, or proscriptive. I am cross-posting this to DH Answers so that it can grow there in a forum setting and be more open.

You as readers can also be helpful by pointing others to these posts who may not follow Twitter or be involved in DH activities and would really like to be more involved. I cannot control what individuals do with that information, but I would like to continue pushing people to existing resources rather than trying to create something new (please, no kitten deaths for 2011).

Find a THATCamp

The Humanities and Technology Camp is an unconference, meaning everyone who comes is expected to participate and work, on problems related to using technology to solve problems relating to work in the humanities. Many regional THATCamps are springing up all over the world attracting GLAM professionals, graduate students, tenure-track professors, and independent scholars. Find one near you. They are FREE, unlike many other cultural heritage technology conferences, and you will meet lots of cool folks who might want to collaborate with you on something.

  • Subscribe to the THATCamp blog feed through RSS or Email.

Join a Museum Tech Association

Attend technology-focused sessions at GLAM conferences

If you are not working in your institution’s tech department, you can still attend sessions at a LAM conference. More tech-focused sessions are available at regional museum association meetings and professional conferences, and sometimes there are some strategy sessions that offer project management assistance or advise for choosing appropriate tools for specific projects.

  • Digital-JumpStart sessions from NCPH and AAM 2010, offered opportunities for individuals to to benefit from the lessons learned by those more experienced in the field, and left a legacy with a wiki of resources on all kinds of GLAM-related topics.
  • Webwise is sponsored by the Institute for Museum and Library Services where representatives
    of museums, libraries, archives, systems science, education, and other fields interested in the future of online content for inquiry and learning. Conference is free.
  • Museums and the Web: Not everyone can afford to attend Museums and the Web, or may feel that they are not tech-savvy enough to attend, but you can read most papers presented at the conference online for free.

Review Award-winning Museum Media/Technology Projects

  • MUSE Awards, sponsored by AAM’s Media and Technology Committee.
  • Best of the Web, sponsored by Archimuse and the Museums and the Web community

Subscribe to Blogs

There are too many good blogs for me to list here, but I will recommend a few that can help you get started.

  • Musematic: Written by members of AAM’s Media and Technology standing professional committee.
  • Technology in the Arts: Written by Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Arts Management and Technology.
  • Digital Humanities Now: Created by Dan Cohen and Jeremy Boggs at the Center for History and New Media, is a real-time, crowdsourced publication. If you don’t use Twitter, this helps pull out what people are talking about by taking the pulse of the digital humanities community and tries to discern what articles, blog posts, projects, tools, collections, and announcements are worthy of greater attention.

Participate in Online Forums

Most technology projects host forums for help questions (ie, Omeka), but there are also some general forums that can be very helpful too.

  • DH Answers is a collaborative project of the Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH) and the Chronicle of Higher Education’s ProfHacker and is building a community-based Q&A board for digital humanities questions that need a longer answer than Twitter provides.

Experiment with Digital Tools

  • Digital Research Tools wiki (DiRT): DiRT is a good starting place for browsing summaries and reviews of scores of digital tools for you to play with or think about trying for a new project.

Take a Webinar

Some webinars are free, others are not. They all offer training and varying levels of interaction that occur at your desktop and do not require travel.

Participate on Twitter

Getting started on Twitter may seem overwhelming and may not be practical given your daily responsibilities at your institution. If you’re interested in following some folks before participating yourself, here are a few lists to get you going. (Not sure how to get started on Twitter?)

Read More about Digital Humanities Research & Practice

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