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Digital Humanities Resources, Part 1: Organizations and Coding

Interested in getting started in the Digital Humanities? Here are some places to start.

January 10, 2012

Back in 2011 (you know, last month), I stated that I wanted to become a digital humanist (if that’s what it can be called). Over the past month, I’ve collected a number of resources in order to try and make this a reality. As just about everything I do professionally now, I’m sharing them with you.

The first place to start would be the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (digitalhumanities.org). You can find a great deal of information and resources, as well as an open access book, The Digital Humanities and Humanities Computing: An Introduction. I haven’t had time to read it yet, but it’s on my list. It’s international in focus, so you can also get an idea of the research and projects that are going on around the world.

Another great resource hosted over at ADHO is DH Answers.  It is a forum where people can ask questions and those who are in the know answer. Some examples of discussion threads include Best textbooks for teaching writing fundamentals for new media environment?, Resources / Examples of Marking up a Periodical in TEI?, List of scholarly resources focused on usability studies of DH projects?, and Good books relevant to DH in the past year?. You can spend hours in here, but you can also ask your own questions or find answers to your DH queries.

The National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (http://www.nitle.org/) is another good place to find resources for aspiring and established digital humanists. I did an online seminar in December about teaching Intro to Digital Humanities courses. Not only was the course informative, it included a number of syllabi and course websites that are a wealth of resources for those looking to learn more about the discipline. You can watch it here.

Also useful is the Office of Digital Humanities over at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Of particular interest are the projects they fund, as well as the summer institutes. I am intregued in the one taking place at Tufts, Working with Text in a Digital Age. Application information was just released, and the deadline is February 15, 2012. I’d better get on that, then.

Another place where you can learn all about doing Digital Humanities is the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (http://www.dhsi.org/). They have a list of courses offered during the week, from beginner to more advanced courses. I’m going this summer and I am really looking forward to it. I’m sticking to the beginner course, as I currently have no idea how to code. At all. I learned a little HTML back when I was an undergrad, but I am woefully behind on the times.

And of course there’s always THATCamp (http://thatcamp.org/), the un-conference that, along with bootcamps often held on the first day, can help you learn new skills and get new ideas about your research and teaching. I’m going to once again try to attend THATCamp Southeast, as it is in Atlanta, which is about as close to me as anywhere else they’re being held.

This is starting to look like an awful lot of travel, isn’t it?

What if you don’t have the time or resources to go to any of these workshops? There are ways to learn to code, for free, online. One resource is codeacademy.com. I’ve been playing around with it and it’s easy to see your progression, but I’m having trouble understanding why I am doing what I am doing. Another place to look is p2pU where you can learn Python, HTML5, and PHP. I don’t know what those mean, either. But I’m going to figure it out. TeamTreeHouse was also suggested to me on Twitter and it seems pretty user-friendly. You can also find some quality free courses on iTunes U or OCW, although they are less interactive than the online teaching tools.  

So, really, as I am figuring out, there is no excuse not to learn how to code. Or learn anything, for that matter, but I digress.

If all of this seems overwhelming (I’m exhausted just typing all this), I recommend heading over to Tooling Up for Digital Humanities from Stanford. The page I’ve linked to will take you through the basics of digitizing texts and the introduction to text markup and metadata. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, head over the Digital Tools Wiki (soon to be relaunched). There is currently a handy list on the front page asking what you want to do and then brings you to a list of tools you can use in order to accomplish that goal with some explanation and further resources.

Some other sources/resources include the National Writing Project’s Digital Is page, HASTAC, and DHcommons.org. The latter resource is a relatively new player to the DH resource game, but I’m looking forward to the connections they seem to want to forge between those interested in doing digital projects. Also in the mix is Digital Humanities Now (dhnow.org), a great place to learn about the different types of Digital Humanities projects (or, as they put it, Discover the Best of Digital Humanities Scholarship). I’m using it (for now) as a source of inspiration.

For a more academic discussion of the Digital Humanities and the work that’s being done, you can start with the Open Access journal Digital Humanities Quarterly. The first issue was published in 2007, and it’s kinda fun (or at least fun for me) to go through and read through a partial evolution of the discipline. Digital Studies is the Canadian counterpart, also Open Access.

(In support of what one of my Twitter colleagues, Trent Kays, wrote over at HATAC, I’m only sharing Open Access journals. Again, if I missed any, please share in the comments).

I haven’t even scratched the surface here. There will be a second part with various digital humanities institutes and research projects. Again, please feel free to share anything (and everything) I’ve missed here in the comments, or tweet them to me, @readywriting. Tag them #DHresources. What I am interested in are projects, bloggers, resources (preferably Open Access), Twitter lists, and any other sources you think someone who is beginning to explore or just wants to better understand Digital Humanities should go/look/read.

Addendum: Katherine D. Harris blogged after her experience at the 2012 MLA conference’s DH Commons workshop, providing some more helpful DH links, including a Twitter list and syllabi. Head on over and check it out.  Also, William Pannapacker over at the Chronicle blogged some of his own suggestions and resources for Digital Humanities.


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