Chapter 11: Finding External Support Communities
As we suggest below, many of professional academic organizations have Twitter accounts that can keep you up to date on news and opportunities. However, if you’re not a Twitter or social media type, you can still find lots of useful information on the association’s websites and can become a member if you want to participate more fully. Here are the major organizations that support DH work:
The Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO) is actually a consortium of various national and continental organizations. The ADHO’s member organizations are the European Association for Digital Humanities (EADH), the Association for Computers and the Humanities(ACH), the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities (CSDH/SCHN) (which is pronounced “citizen”), centerNet, the Australasian Association for Digital Humanities (aaDH), and the Japanese Association for Digital Humanities (JADH). Membership in these organizations and in the ADHO more broadly can often open up access to bursaries and travel funding for training opportunities as well as participation in the annual DH conference.
Two other organizations that specifically dedicate some of their websites to teaching and learning resources are HASTAC (the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) and FemTechNet (an organization dedicated to the intersection of feminism and technology).
Conferences and Workshops
THATCamp.org (short for The Humanities and Technology Camp) curates a list of local, inexpensive, and informal training opportunities in an unconference setting. The site also includes active forums and a lively blog that often addresses teaching and learning with technology.
The Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) is the biggest workshop/training venue for digital skills. It offers over 50 courses a year in a variety of subjects and is hosted at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. Stipends and scholarships are often available for participation and training.
The Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School (DHOxSS), similar to DHSI, also offers DH training courses, but during July in the UK.
The Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations hosts the largest annual international DH conference every year. Previous years’ abstracts are searchable on the website, to give you an idea of the kinds of papers that are available. Conference-like presentation opportunities are also available at DHSI and DHOxSS, and remember to check out your own field-specific annual conference for DH-related panels, special sessions, or poster exhibitions.
External Funding Opportunities
Most funding schemes tend to be organized nationally, though there are provisions in a lot of countries for international collaborations and collaborators that can be proposed by the PI. The specific grant that will be right for you or your students depends a lot on your objectives and on the scale of the project you have in mind. Often for teaching-related initiatives you can acquire small teaching innovation grants from your own institution (see more about this in the book Chapter 10), but if you have something more ambitious in mind you might wish to look into some of the larger grants that are available to you.
These resources are especially important if you do not have a center or allied projects at your institution. In the US, there are a few major organizations that fund humanities work in a variety of schemes and specific granting titles. A very helpful resource is the “Grants Database” run by the Mellon Foundation which rounds up all of its opportunities in every subject area. The other big organizations that fund DH initiatives are the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Council of Learned Societies. Browse these grant organizations' websites for award-winning DH projects in your country, focusing first on the Office of Digital Humanities (note that their previous two-tier Start-Up and Implementation Grant program has been replaced by a new system of Digital Humanities Advancement Grants) and the American Council for Learned Society’s digital initiative funding schemes (not that their old Digital Innovation Fellowships have been replaced by Digital Extension Grants).
A useful guide to information about grants in the UK and Europe rounds up the national and EU schemes for funding that sometimes include special digital humanities funding streams and many opportunities for collaborative work across institutions and across nations.
In Canada, most grants in the humanities (DH included), are funded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). In order to be eligible for SSHRC funding you have to be a Canadian citizen, or working at a Canadian institution, but many of these allow for international collaborations as well.
In South America, The Americas Research Network (ARENET) administers a number of funding opportunities including travel grants and international fellowships.
In New Zealand, specific institutions tend to curate some helpful lists of resources (see for example the one from Otago University), and The Royal Society of New Zealand also holds periodic competitions for funding.
Making the Most of Twitter
Jessie Daniels’s 10 Things about Twitter for Academics is a fantastic primer if you still would like more introductory material about Twitter norms. The Online Academic has also boiled down her twelve rules for Twitter, which is part of a whole series of helpful posts about Twitter. How Not to be Boring on Academic Social Media from @AcademicsSay is a solid take on this genre, with a concluding call to arms that celebrates social media as providing a chance for “a new kind of creative, flexible academic to emerge, more closely linked with the public rather than embedded within the ivory towers of the university system.” For more “nuts and bolts” information about Twitter, you can refer to this list of Twitter acronyms or to the information guide that Twitter itself has developed. If you dislike Twitter’s native user interface (what you see when you login at www.twitter.com) and are interested in finding an alternative through a Twitter client, try TweetDeck, which focuses on Twitter alone, or Buffer or Hootsuite if you’d like to integrate your social media activity from various platforms. If you simply want to schedule tweets in advance, try Twuffer.
Twitter conferencing is a whole separate world, with its own strategies and norms. Brian Croxall’s post on Ten Tips for Tweeting at Conferences is a classic, by far the best place to start because other Twitter users have based their behaviors on this particular post in particular. For a more theoretical approach to conference Twitter, Ashley Hall’s brilliantly creative journal article in Reconstructions, “Archiving Academic Tweets: The Digital Backchannel as an Ephemeral Archive,” explains what is known as the “backchannel” that develops as users create a kind of parallel or shadow conference as they interact on Twitter. Finally, Shawna’s own article, A Bechdel Test for #MLA16: Gendered Acts of Care on Academic Twitter, may be helpful because it categorizes the various scholarly “modes” or categories that conference tweets tend fall into. (To go straight to the explanation of these categories, click here.)
If you end up loving Twitter, consider doing research on it (whether about academic Twitter specifically or Twitter in general). 25 Interesting Observations about How Academics Use Twitter is a great place to pick up some quick facts and talking points for discussing your Twitter use. Because it links to various articles and research findings related to Twitter, it’s a great place to start learning about the research others have done on Twitter usage in the academy. A much longer bibliography collating lots of research on Twitter is maintained by danah boyd. If you know of a source that is not listed on this bibliography, or if you want to contribute your own work, you can submit it through this web form. Finally, if you are interested in finding out what’s under the hood in Twitter code, this "Anatomy of a Tweet" post by @Foomandoonian provides a great visualization (thanks to Eileen Clancy, @clancynewyork, for pointing out this source to us).
Who to Follow on Twitter
When you first begin on Twitter, you might find yourself at a loss about who to follow. This will not last long: as you start to find DH scholars and pay attention to who they follow, you’ll soon find yourself with a lively feed. The Chronicle of Higher Education has chosen 15 Indispensable Academic Twitter Accounts, but to get you well and truly started, here is a very short list of the Twitter accounts of DH organizations and major libraries that you could search when you first join Twitter:
Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO): @ADHOrg
Day of DH: @DayofDH
DH Oxford Summer School: @dhoxss
Digital Humanities Now: @dhnow
Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI): @DHInstitute
Digital Humanities Quarterly (DHQ): @DHQuarterly
Digital Public Library of America (DPLA): @DPLA
Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC): @HASTAC
Since Twitter has algorithms that will suggest new accounts to you based on your list of followers, beginning with these organizations will also allow Twitter to suggest individuals who are actively tweeting about DH.
Beyond these digital humanities organizations, look for other cultural institutions that are relevant for your subject area. Claire particularly enjoys following the British Library (@britishlibrary). Big organizations like the British Library and the British Museum often curate multiple accounts, tailored for various interests, so look for institutionally affiliated accounts of individual curators in your subject area, too. For example, @BLmedieval is particularly active and often posts excellent collection images.
Remember, too, that your own humanities discipline likely has organizations with Twitter accounts, and your university (perhaps even your own department!) and institutional library likely also have accounts. You’ll likely be surprised at how many of the scholarly communities you are already part of in the analog world have an active digital life.