This.is.awesome. The @CLIRDLF has created a community calendar for digitally-inflected conferences. This came across my Twitter feed from Amanda French and Bethany Nowviskie just as I was providing an SJSU iSchool grad student with some information about Digital Humanities community and infrastructure both at the local level at SJSU, in the Bay Area, and at a national and international level. I’m adding it here on my blog as double duty to broadcast this wonderful resource and to remind myself to check it often.

The exchange with this graduate student also reminded me that Digital Humanities is still so geographically-dispersed that it might be difficult for those who are exploring DH for the first time. FWIW, the Digital Humanities community from my point of view:

The Bay Area doesn’t have a consistent community in Digital Humanities. There’s a DH Meetup Group in the Bay Area that tried but struggles. In fact, most of the DH community has been shaped by an online presence of geographically-dispersed scholars, faculty, and students. (See the Day of DH for diversity.) This is one of the issues within the community itself — it’s very difficult to get everyone together. This is primarily due to the fact that dedicated DH scholars are usually only found in single digits at any institution.

Locally in the Bay Area, there are in-person meetings at Stanford’s LitLab and CESTA. There’s also an initiative at UC Berkeley but it’s focused on Data Science as it intersects with the Humanities. DH also has a presence on their campus, but it’s not clear if the two initiatives work together. At SJSU there are faculty who use digital tools in their teaching and research, but they don’t identify as Digital Humanists. SJSU has a world-renowned Digital Media Arts program, but it’s not part of the DH community.

My DH community comes from my Twitter presence, where I’m listed as a a DHer to follow by many entities (e.g., https://twitter.com/dancohen/lists/digitalhumanities?lang=en). I, and a majority in DH, have some kind of online presence to establish community, e.g., my WordPress blog. UC Santa Barbara has a vibrant DH community because of Professors Alan Liu and Jeremy Douglass. Once there is a critical mass of faculty, students follow, projects evolve, funding is obtained. (BeardStair was a project resulting from my graduate students’ efforts, but it’s difficult to get another DH course on the grad schedule due to funding cuts.) UC Berkeley hired Professor David Bamman for its iSchool just recently and has kicked off several initiatives around his specialties in data mining. My primary focus is on Digital Pedagogy, not necessarily DH as scholarship; my latest project pushes publishing boundaries with a collaborative project that’s completely open and free, even while its in progress: Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities.

Most of us find people to collaborate with at conferences, through Twitter, or via some other form of social media (see DHCommon and DH Q&A) Rarely do I get a chance to chat weekly with a DH colleague in person. (Stanford allows me to attend the workshops at LitLab and CESTA, but I find that they are exclusively research-focused while I must access DH through pedagogy because SJSU is primarily a teaching institute.) Last Friday, UC Irvine’s initiative on Data Science hosted myself and several other Digital Humanists for a day of talk (my reflections).

There are now aggregators and digital projects to assess the content being distributed online, e.g., DH Now. There’s also a Digital Humanities Conference that rotates locations each year with this year in Krakow, Poland. Last year, it was in Australia. There’s a few journals that are DH specific, such as Digital Humanities Quarterly. There are also several Centers for DH across the world. The DH in England and Europe is much more organized because projects are funded as part national cultural heritage projects, hence they are more centralized in their progress. CUNY in New York has been instrumental in organizing DH across the country. This week, NYCDH is hosting a DH week with several institutions involved (follow on Twitter https://twitter.com/nycdh) and a focus on graduate student work. I’m an alum of The Graduate Center, CUNY and work with Prof. Matt Gold on another project; since we all came into DH at the same time, we follow each others’ progress and get involved in collaborations if we can.

So, there is no simple answer to your question. The DH community is inherently distributed far and wide. It takes work to get in on the conversations (because you have to find them on Twitter and other social media) but once you find those conversations, everyone is welcome no matter the discipline. We try to keep boundaries squishy and porous so DH can evolve. DH also invites everyone at all levels for exploration. But, Digital Humanists are woefully underfunded ~ we continue to do extraordinary work without the necessary resources, which is an odd prospect because DH is so hot. Or, as Miriam Posner said on Friday, “DH is Dean candy.” Without travel funding to attend conferences, some Digital Humanists are at a distinct disadvantage in distributing and highlighting their work.

I really wish SJSU had a DH presence. I’ve tried to organize an initiative on our campus (for years) to no avail. I need funding to invite speakers and to set up a lab to work on student projects. Also, SJSU faculty are so dispersed that we really don’t have an opportunity to talk to each other all that much. There’s no way to find out who’s doing something similar or adjacent to DH on our campus.
Thus ends the advice. There are many, many other outlets for the DH community. One of the advantages of DH is its diversity and willingness to open outward in debate. So, perhaps it not so bad that we’re all over the world.