Celebrating the Success of NYCDH Week

Something amazing happened in New York City last week. No, I’m not talking about this or this or this. Well…a lot of things happened in the city last week. I digress.

Last week marked the inaugural NYCDH Week.

If you live outside of the city (or in the city and under a rock), here’s what happened: NYCDH Week brought together cross-institutional scholars who engage in digital research, pedagogy, and publication to share their projects and learn and teach digital tools. Over 150 academics and members of the GLAM community shared their expertise and enthusiasm for digital scholarship. The week kicked off with an afternoon of lightning talks from graduate students, professors, archivists, and librarians. This experience was incredible. I still tell friends about Ellen Hoobler’s Digital Zapotec. And I’m eager to track Caroline Catchpole and her team’s Culture in Transit on Twitter. I was grateful to share my own project, The U.S. Goes Postal, (and receive invaluable feedback and support). My friend and colleague, Boyda Johnstone, gave a presentation on the importance of online communities and academic blogging:

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Each of the presentations showed how digital tools can animate humanistic study. Seeing such an array of good work was encouraging, inspiring, and energizing for all involved. Following the lightning talks were panel and roundtable conversations about the past, present, and future of the digital humanities in NYC with Matt Gold, Jennifer Vinopal, Micki McGee, and many others. Of course, we rounded out the day with a happy hour. Here, Margaret Galvan, Eilleen Clancy, and I (three of this year’s NYCDH Graduate Student Award Winners) compare notes over the din of DH networking at the Digi-bar:

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Following the Kick-off Event was a week-long series of workshops hosted at campuses, museums, and libraries across NYC. You could visit NYPL for a Digital Maps Primer, Fordham hosted a Typography workshop, and there were a couple Git workshops at Columbia. The full range of the program was enough to fill your digital toolbox for years to come.

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I’m not recounting NYCDH Week purely out of nostalgia or to incite FOMO (although, sheesh, you really should have been there!). I am sharing the success of last week’s event because it can be a model for what organizer Alex Gil calls a “low effort, high impact” event. NYCDH Week was successfully implemented with next to no budget. The event was a success because a large group of people pooled their academic and intellectual resources and donated their time to lead workshops and coordinate the events.

The nitty-gritty: when the steering committee (a group of volunteers) put out the call for workshops, the presenter had to arrange for their own space (although assistance was given to presenters from outside NYC). Then, presto! All the committee needed to do was confirm with the presenters, loosely arrange the schedule, put it all online (on the site Jesse Merandy built), and advertise the event through any channels at their disposal.

To call NYCDH Week a success would be an understatement. Over the course of a week, I made new connections and reunited with friends, planned future projects, expanded my digital repertoire, and even gave my own tidbits of advice here and there. NYCDH Week fostered the best kind of academic community–one built on mutual respect, generosity, and intellectual inquiry. If you want to learn more about the event, check out the website or #NYCDHWeek on Twitter.

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