Can we fix it? Yes we can! #DHAnnotates Feb 8-12

With apologies to Bob the Builder, and perhaps also Obama.


In my graduate seminar on digital/public history, I framed the course as ‘Digital History Methods as Public History Performance’. I did this deliberately to riff on my colleague David Dean’s amazing seminar and research on perfoming history; students in that class were making videos, writing music, putting on vignettes. It’s been amazing to watch. But digital history methods as performance? I wanted to suggest to my students that working with digitized materials necessarily involves a performative element, even if that element is hidden away in the final published works (where eg we pretend we actually consulted the 1856, June 15th edition of the Globe and Mail). My goal then for the course was to expose these, and by doubling down on the ‘how to’, the ‘why should I’ and the ‘what’s in it for me’ naturally would emerge.

Thus, the seminar presentations are not on various readings, but rather, on the various tutorials of the Programming Historian. The task of the discussion leader is to tie the method into their thesis research, into the readings from other classes, into the wider world of historical meaning-making. (I do give them some suggestions to read, of course). The final project involves making some sort of public-facing object “using the tools of gaming, a work of digital history that simultaneously explores, comments, critiques, or teaches, digital history.”

Meanwhile, Amanda Visconti and I had been talking about some sort of collaborative project to annotate a crucial text in the digital humanities world using the tool. That is, a public work of digital humanities that simultaneously explores, comments, critiques, or teaches, digital humanities. Worlds have collided! So here’s the plan:

Collaborative Annotation Fest #DHannotates

  1. Create an account on Hypothesis.
  2. During the week of February 8-12 visit the Programming Historian’s lessons and see what other annotations people have left.
  3. Try out some of the lessons, and leave annotations on the page that discuss where things went well, went off the rails, remind you of some other useful resource, reply to others’ annotations (Hypothesis allows for threaded conversations in the annotations) or whatever kind of note strikes you.
  4. Tweet the link to your annotation with the tag #dhannotates .
  5. Amanda and I will monitor the tweets and the feed of annotations. If you get stuck, or you need help, feel free to tweet or email Amanda or myself (@Literature_Geek or @electricarchaeo)

Won’t you join us? Friends don’t let friends do #dh alone!

For more on the nuts-and-bolts of annotation and how Amanda and I plan to support you all, please see her post