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Follow-up on membership meeting

Meeting of February 19, 2008, 3:00 to 4:00 PM, 904 Clemens Hall


  • The January meeting of the DHI membership generated several ideas for defining the intellectual identity of the group. Some proposed identifying a "thematic cluster" at the core, with e-text initiatives being among the central activities which could also include the production of tools (annotation, versioning, archiving). E-publishing was proposed as another possible activity, and it was suggested that development of a cyberinfrastructure for campus humanities computing would be important. As a follow-up to this discussion and the exchanges at the steering committee meeting, Cris and Peter will draft "think-tank" language for an eventual mission statement, Maureen and Austin will draft language about training and support, and Jeff will draft language about membership in the group, with provisions for affiliate and visiting memberships and external affiliations and collaborations. Nancy will provide mission statements from comparable initiatives at other institutions [see discussion page].

Budget priorities

  • The steering committee generally approved the notion that DHI receive a percentage of overhead on member grant applications. The group was told that UB's first year of TEI consortium dues will be paid by Brown's NEH grant. There was no discussion of other memberships such as ACH.
  • There is interest among some members in supporting travel to and registration for the Vancouver workshop this summer.
  • There was some discussion of the manner by which those benefiting from DHI support should reciprocate, and there was support for the idea that those whose training is funded by the DHI should then offer workshops to others ("train the trainers" model).
  • The steering committee considered investing this year's funds in support of member projects, and thought there should be a competition to be judged by a disinterested panel (including reviewers not affiliated with the DHI). It was thought that those who received funds should commit to including the DHI as a beneficiary of any resulting external grant and to making a presentation to the group.


  • Maureen considered that technical support for humanities computing projects was an issue we urgently needed to address. Austin reported that there is a possibility of a shared hire between the University Libraries and the Cultures & Texts strategic strength; there will be further discussion about this possibility with the Dean and the Director of the Libraries.
  • Maureen will meet with a representative from the CIO's office to discuss institutional support for humanities computing, and will also explore possibilities with the Center for Computational Research.
  • There was a lengthy discussion about options for affiliating paid graduate students with faculty projects. Creating GAships or RAships is expensive because we would presumably have to cover the graduate student's tuition as well as the stipend. Summer stipends seem a viable option. Austin reported that there are library GAships, and wondered whether it would be possible to designate one of them for digital humanities support.

The group asked how to maximize the interest of DHI for graduate students, and Maureen reported the concern expressed to her that the time and effort spent learning the technologies and adapting them to projects has to be counted "offline" and outside both work and studies. Jeff mentioned that graduate students should be encouraged to publish working papers to the DHI website as a kind of (pre)publication. Maureen proposed discussion of a graduate certificate in digital humanities or possibly a joint degree program so that UB could begin expanding the meager ranks of technologically sophisticated humanists qualified to envision new generations of projects. There was lengthy discussion of such ideas, and some strong sentiment that UB was not yet in a position to begin considering such an option. Those interested agreed to begin drafting ideas for further discussion at a later date.

The meeting adjourned with the thought that the steering committee would reconvene in about two weeks' time to read each other's drafts and arrive at a working definition of the group. From there a new name and some ideas for a visual identity should be identified, and further precisions about funding procedures should be put in place and announced.

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