What is One Week | One Tool?
In July 2010, twelve strangers arrived on the campus of George Mason University for a first-of-its-kind NEH-funded summer institute. Over the course of the next seven days, with the help of their instructors at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (CHNM), this diverse group of digital humanists conceived, built, and launched an entirely new software tool for humanities scholarship—Anthologize, a WordPress plugin designed to facilitate the remix and republication of blog posts as books.
The process of building Anthologize—a marathon of 16 hour days of practical design, development, project management, and outreach work—taught the group a range of new technical skills, including advanced TEI, the GitHub code versioning system, and the inner workings of the PHP-based WordPress content management system. Even more importantly, however, the group learned the practical principles of collaboration, leadership, constraint setting, agile development, marketing, and community-building that are so important to the success of digital humanities projects. These were lessons learned not by listening to lectures, but in the high-stakes, hands-on environment of real-life software development.
A Digital Humanities Barn Raising
During the week of Sunday July 28 – Saturday August 3, 2013, CHNM will once again bring together a group of twelve digital humanists of diverse disciplinary backgrounds and practical experience to build something useful and usable. A short course of training in principles of open source software development will be followed by an intense six days of doing and a year of continued remote engagement, development, testing, dissemination, and evaluation. Comprising designers and developers as well as scholars, project managers, outreach specialists, and other non-technical participants, the group will conceive a tool, outline a roadmap, develop and disseminate an initial prototype, lay the ground work for building an open source community, and make first steps toward securing the project’s long-term sustainability.
One Week | One Tool is inspired by both longstanding and cutting-edge models of rapid community development. For centuries rural communities throughout the United States have come together for “barn raisings” when one of their number required the diverse set of skills and enormous effort required to build a barn—skills and effort no one member of the community alone could possess. In recent years, Internet entrepreneurs have likewise joined forces for crash “startup” or “blitz weekends” that bring diverse groups of developers, designers, marketers, and financiers together to launch a new technology company in the span of just two days. One Week | One Tool will build on these old and new traditions of community development and the natural collaborative strengths of the digital humanities community to produce something useful for humanities work and to help balance learning and doing in digital humanities training.
Who should apply?
Scholars, students, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, developers, designers, hackers, bloggers, sys admins, outreach coordinators, community builders, project managers, fundraisers, and anyone else with an interest in building scholarly software. No specific qualifications (e.g. a higher degree or particular skill set) are required. But we are looking to assemble a cohesive group of twelve talented and accomplished people who together will possess the entire range of skills necessary to conceive, manage, build, and disseminate a tools project. Given the importance of intra-team dynamics and self-initiative to the success of any open source project—especially at its inception—we will also be looking for evidence of teamwork, patience, flexibility, and resourcefulness (such as a history of picking up a programming language on one’s own) in assessing applications for One Week | One Tool. Accepted participants will receive travel, lodging, per diem, a small stipend, and a practical education in open source scholarly software development from the organizers of THATCamp and the makers of Zotero and Omeka.
How do I apply?
By March 15, 2013, please send a two-page C.V. and a brief email to info@oneweekonetool (subject line: One Week Application) addressing each of the following questions:
- What skills/experiences/interests do you think are most important in building a successful tool;
- Which of these skills/experiences/interests will you bring to the barn raising;
- What do you think you will get out of attending that will help you in future pursuits.
We apologize in advance that space is limited to 12 participants.