For those lucky enough to have jobs that directly relate to the Digital Humanities, whether you’re working in academia, museums, libraries, or archives, part of your job is to advocate to the unconvinced. While those that created the position may have seen the importance of digital work– or were at least keeping up with trends and understand that DH is the new hotness– many of your colleagues may be less convinced.
We have to find ways to advocate to those in our fields about the advantages of digital work– and persuade them to invest time, money, and energy into digital projects. Likewise, we have to reach out to our audiences and get them to use our digital tools and resources.
I’d like to propose a discussion on best practices for advocacy and outreach. What do you find helps convince your institutions to get onboard with projects you can’t do alone? How do you shift institutional inertia and get people to work together who may be skeptical about DH projects? How do you raise awareness of your projects when they’re ready to go live? How do you convince people outside your institution that it’s worth investing energy and time into your projects?
I see this as a wide-ranging and rather loose conversation, an opportunity people to share across disciplinary, institutional, and other boundaries about what has worked for them, what has not, and why they think that is. Topics might include (but are certainly not limited to):
- How do you persuade the curatorial department of your museum to do the extra work so that your online exhibit might be more than just an online version of the physical exhibit?
- How do you talk to fellow academics who are inveterately analog when you feel they might benefit from DH approaches?
- How do you convince an archive that textual records are important to digitize too– not just the photos that drive a lot of hits?
- How do you work to gain the trust and efforts of a community to contribute materials for an online archive, transcription project, etc?
- Twitter: is it really useful for outreach, or are you just preaching to the choir?
- How do you weigh the need to do advocacy and outreach against the needs to actually produce scholarship/tools/databases/etc?
- Is there ever going to be an end to “What is the Digital Humanities and…” panels at every conference? Is it better to integrate DH scholarship with the rest of the group or to put DH at center stage?
- How do you reach out to other comparable institutions so they know about your projects, and perhaps either send interested parties your way or even collaborate?
…This may not be a super-groundbreaking topic– it’s something we’ve all talked about amongst ourselves. But I think it’s one of those perennial discussions we have to keep having as we all navigate a fairly new and frequently-shifting landscape.