Impressions of NYC Digital Humanities Inaugural Event, 9/25

nycdh-horizontal1The NYCDH Inaugural Gathering on September 25 was a great event, for DH in NYC and for Fordham DH specifically. I’d like to add another set of impressions about the event to supplement Alisa’s post.

(The working notes from the day are a more comprehensive resource on the projects presented throughout the day, so check them out.)


The day’s events began with talks by Ray and Lynne Siemens. I appreciated the traditional nature of this presentation format because it allowed the participants to begin conversation throughout the day with some shared knowledge. I was particularly struck by Lynne Siemens’ talk about management challenges in getting DH centers/institutes/projects off the ground. This topic prove to be fertile ground for discussions throughout the day. I hadn’t previously thought about the fact that DH’s focus on collaboration sometimes runs up against the research practices that many humanists have become accustomed to, namely working alone. Even for those who want to take on collaborative projects, doing so may pose unexpected challenges on a social/communication level. While this is an experience that I have not (yet) encountered myself, I continue to think of the human, social level of how DH scholars interact and produce great work.


I also enjoyed the short session that followed about what we (the group as a whole) wanted NYCDH to be. This involved an unstructured time for people to stand up, introduce themselves, and express their hopes for the group. It was exciting to see and hear where people were coming from and to have their different ideas incorporated into the group’s vision for itself. I even stood up and shared my goals for improving graduate student communication across institutions! It was exciting to take a vocal role in an organization that includes everyone from students to distinguished scholars on an equal plane.


The afternoon was comprised of unconference sessions. These are free-flowing discussions centered around a topic that the group votes upon. They are led by one or two people, but all are free to participate. First, I was with a group of people discussing how to structure the Wiki section of the NYCDH website ( We discussed ontologies and how information could best fit into the Wiki as opposed to the Groups (for example). I enjoyed working with fellow NYC DH-ers to improve the scaffolding for online community. Considering the debates within and about Digital Humanities between “hacking and yacking’, it was appropriate to spend some time building in addition to discussing.


The second session I attended was about building DH program and institutional support as well as how to integrate DH into the curriculum of graduate programs. This group was large and ambitious in the scope of its topic. The most supported idea (it seemed) for adding DH into the curriculum included having “lab-style” sessions throughout a “normal” course for an additional credit, integrating DH skills. Further discussion can be found in the notes, but the part of this session that I found most compelling was a discussion of ways to align DH (or whatever your project is) with the strategic mission of your institution in order to justify and receive support (financial/staffing/space).

Overall, I found the meeting exciting, both for the contacts that I made in the NYC DH community and for the projects and events that I see coming out in the future. In that vein, I’d like to highlight an event that I’ve been excited to help organize. On Oct. 18, 2013 from 6-9pm, the Student Group of NYCDH will hold a social! The event will take place at Swift Hibernian Lounge (34 E. 4th St.). We will get to meet students from across the NYC area. The goal is to follow up this social with coffee hours specifically discussing projects and tools with one another. Join us on Oct 18!

See you there!
Photo of Kristen Mapes-Kristen Mapes

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