[globaloutlookDH-l] DH Awards

James Cummings James.Cummings at it.ox.ac.uk
Wed Feb 5 04:41:19 MST 2014

On 05/02/14 09:59, Ernesto Priego wrote:
> Hi James,
> I gave you my feedback as a user. It's not that I found the lack
> of links on the form "problematic", I said I wished there had
> been links on the actual form. As someone who works online every
> day, having to refer back to different tabs/pages always means
> extra labour. When you accumulate them, clicks are time and
> effort. Perhaps I am very slow and it's just me who felt I needed
> to refer back to the form to remember what it was exactly I was
> voting for.

And thanks for your feedback, it is really appreciated. I'll 
investigate better ways to do it for next year. Using google 
forms buys all sorts of other benefits, but maybe there is a way 
I can put links into the selections.

> You are right that the form does not have all the fields as
> 'required'. This is in technical, database terms. If I am
> presented with a form, I want to complete it all, even if some
> questions in it are not compulsory. Instead of suggesting a user
> is wrong for having perceived the whole form had to be completed,
> perhaps an indicative text or a different design would help avoid
> this misconception?
> https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1gDL-FR6r6il8uhMGcRN2ocjLoiWqEI2Fs06DnAYmbCc/viewform

I suppose it isn't entirely a misconception: the intent, after 
all, is to get people to know that these other projects exist. 
However, very many of the ballots do not vote in each category. 
I've updated the form.

> I am missing the point as an active, informed member of the DH
> community, then. I did never suggest that the DH Awards are
> offering some accurate measure of the 'best', I was suggesting
> that allowing voters to categorise the nominated projects *could*
> be an alternative to pre-categorising the projects in advance.

Oh, sorry, I misunderstood. Currently the categorisation is done 
by the person nominating the resource -- where multiple 
nominations come in for a single resource but in multiple 
categories, then the nominations committee might make a decision 
for one or the other. But generally we try to leave it where it 
was nominated. The owners of the successfully nominated resources 
are emailed to receive feedback on whether they agree to stand, 
we're linking to the right place, or indeed if they think it is 
in the wrong category.  However, we work on assumed agreement and 
if they don't email back we will assume there is no problem.  (So 
Dan could have complained about Global Outlook DH being in 
'tools' at that point if he had wished.) The system, as you might 
guess, is intended to minimize the amount of work done by the 
volunteers on our end over Christmas and New Year periods. 
Entirely selfish, I must admit.

> However, for many people (dare I say "most people"?) any awards
> imply that the best in something is being publicly recognised by
> a community of experts or consumers or whatever.

That is precisely what the DH Awards aren't doing -- the 
nominated resources and the winners in any category aren't 
determined by some shadowy oligarchy who understands DH as 
experts, but by entirely open nomination and open voting.

> Awareness seems
> to me to be a positive, but secondary consequence. Many public
> reactions to the DH Awards expressed the sentiment that the
> Awards were creating a "celebrity" culture around DH. It might be
> possible that you are underestimating the reputational element of
> the DH Awards.

I understand people think that, and why, but so far disagree. If 
we look at the winners and runners-up from last year none of them 
are what I would view as DH Celebrities. 
http://dhawards.org/dhawards2012/results/ Omeka and DH Now are 
both certainly well respected but I don't think count as 
'celebrities'? I don't know. The others I don't think have had 
any particular lasting glory because of it. I believe CEISMIC 
(winning in the Public Audiences category) was perhaps unusual in 
forwarding the voting announcement to their entire alumni mailing 
list. The benefit there is not only do those alumni who may know 
nothing about DH find out about that project but have learned 
that there are all those other DH projects out there. I've 
definitely received feedback that indicates both DH and non-DH 
people alike have found new resources entirely because someone 
had nominated them. To me this is the real underlying benefit and 
one of the reasons I had the idea to do this many years ago (and 
then sat on the idea for many years assuming someone else more 
important would do it).

I'm not entirely convinced that having some DH 'celebrities' is 
entirely a bad thing (there are certainly bad aspects to that), 
but any academic field has their 'rock star' performers and this 
has both good and bad effects on the field. I'm very pleased if 
in just over one year a grass-roots entirely open DH awareness 
activity has gone from a casual musing about whether I should do 
something that first occurred to me when the first Robert Busa 
award was handed out to something with such an effect. (Though 
hopefully without being overly or additionally divisive.)

> My intention when voting was precisely to assess them properly
> and make an informed decision. Maybe I shouldn't have done this?
> I feel really stupid now for having taken this so seriously when
> it fact it wasn't. Logically, if I wanted to make an informed
> decision, I needed the time to do it, and this is I why I
> suggested that it would be nice if it were stated more clearly
> that one can only vote for one category and that's it (however,
> projects nominated under just one category are a fair number
> deserving proper assessment in my view).

I've added a note like this to the form. Hopefully that will 
clarify it.

> Perhaps this text could be edited that the projects *nominated*
> are already being recognised for their excellence, talent and
> expertise? As currently written it suggests to me that the
> projects that are deemed "excellent" are those who win. If you
> don't win, you were not considered "excellent" by the community
> of voters.

Maybe 'excellent' and 'excellence' was a poor choice of words. 
This is difficult, of course, because we make no filtering based 
on quality. (To do so would turn us into the shadowy oligarchy I 
mentioned above.) I've edited the front page and tag line and 
would (offlist) appreciate any comments or suggested improvements.

> You have said in your reply that in order to assess which
> projects are 'the best' (often interpreted as a synonym of
> "excellent") the process would "necessitate individuals vote who
> actually could assess these properly and make informed
> decisions", and that "since it is open voting, I agree that this
> is unlikely." It is my view that as currently phrased the
> information around the DH Awards gives the impression that the
> intention is to reflect informed decisions from the DH community
> in order to recognize excellence. I personally don't think the
> obstacle to this is the open voting, but the way it has been
> implemented. Of course there are many positives in the way it's
> been implemented, but our focus here is brainstorming how it
> could be done better by sharing our feedback as users.

I'm happy to receive (offlist) suggested changes to the way it is 
now expressed. I've already changed the tagline.

> I am posing these issues with a constructive mindset.

That is appreciated. I am taking them that way.

> I understand you have worked very hard on the DH Awards and it must
> be hard not to feel defensive. I know what it's like when one
> unleashes a project onto the world and then the world seems only
> to complain.

I'm trying not to be defensive... all of the suggestions I've 
received here on GO:DH have been extremely useful. (Though I do 
feel we've wandered away from the 'how to encourage more 
non-English projects to submit' topic so should probably stop 
*abusing* the list as my own little focus group!) It only bothers 
me a little when people say things which aren't true and 
especially that the FAQ clearly explains.

> Like my colleagues who have participated in this
> thread we have shared our feedback honestly and with the best of
> intentions. I would hate it if you take our feedback personally.

I'm not taking it personally. I've tried my best to make it open, 
fair, transparent, and useful. It is an experiment which seems to 
be more beneficial than not. As long as it feels that way (and 
doesn't become too much of a burden) I intend to keep doing it. 
If loads of people I know in DH were telling me it was a bad 
idea, I might stop.

> If one takes the time to share this feedback is because we
> believe the project is important; it might even be more important
> for others than what you as its creator might imagine.

I can understand that it is important (which of course feels 
weird for me), but mostly for the opportunity it gives less 
well-known projects to be highlighted. It is not meant to be in 
competition with the awards by other organisations. (See note 
about this on the FAQ for this year.)

As I said above, I've probably abused this list enough. But I'm 
more than happy to continue this discussion off-list.

Many thanks for the thoughtful feedback!


Dr James Cummings, James.Cummings at it.ox.ac.uk
Academic IT Services, University of Oxford

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