[globaloutlookDH-l] DH Awards
James.Cummings at it.ox.ac.uk
Wed Feb 5 13:15:11 MST 2014
On 05/02/14 19:23, Daniel O'Donnell wrote:
> Wow! That seems to me to be a pretty aggressive stance.
Hrrm. It isn't intended as such.
> Basically, that advice would reduce to "DHAwards is an awards
> programme for the type of things we (the organisers) decide
> represent DH. If your project doesn't fit our categories, it
> means we are not interested in it and our advice would be to go
> away." In other words, it would suggest something that is not an
> open competition at all, but an editors' choice award with a
> public voting round. That advice, coupled with a single year
> eligibility criteria, would mean that the project is as much
> about hiding projects from view (by excluding them categorically)
> as bringing other ones to the fore.
Not at all! The problem is that if we have either many many
categories for everything, or one category for 'everything else
we didn't think of' then I suspect the number of resources
nominated will become unmanageable. The limited categories, and
limited year, are all an attempt to make this something that is
possible to do. If we have to have any type of DH activity
(which could be *vast*) or any year of activity (also *vast*)
then we just simply would not be to run this activity. I'm
certainly not trying to exclude any particular category of DH
activity... that is just a necessary side effect.
> I'm sure that's /not/ what the actual goal is, but it would
> certainly be an unintended effect of "I wouldn't nominate it if
> the category isn't there."
That might have been a bit of a flippant response.
> It strongly suggests that the
> categories are about trying to define the field in exclusionary
> terms as much as celebrate it. It also seems to me to be a recipe
> for missing innovation since it implies that the organisers can
> anticipate what is important in the discipline.
Erm no, I think that isn't the case as well. We certainly don't
know every field in DH nor would expect to. Each year I've asked
for feedback and especially made a note of suggestions for
categories. I didn't receive many last year (more confirmation of
particular categories -- people liked the 'fun' and 'viz'
categories), this year there has been more suggestions of
additional categories and if the nominations committee routinely
ignored the suggestion of a particular topic then it would be
being exclusionary. If you have categories of DH work you'd like
to see highlighted, then I'm happy to report back those
suggestions. I'll try toencourage feedback when announcing the
results, or point to a survey. Moreover the categories we have
are not really about particular topics of DH work, but a mix of
modalities of working and target audiences.
> Even if we
> assume, as I'm sure has to be the case, that this is not the
> original goal, that kind of exclusion does seem to be an
> unavoidable result of the approach.
If you have another approach that allows open nomination and open
voting in an easy manner I'd like to hear it.
> I'm afraid in that case, I have to agree with Ernesto's
> criticism. The award implicitly seems to claim to be a very
> different thing than it actually, in practice, is. Its name and
> rhetoric imply that it is about celebrating the range of of
> practice in DH. The advice not to nominate a project if it
> doesn't fit the proposed categories, however, implies that it is
> really about celebrating whatever subset of DH the organisers
> think is important. That just seems really dangerous.
I'm sorry, I still feel it is about celebrating _a_ range of
practice in DH. But I just don't think we can celebrate an
unlimited range. We can change what is covered by that range each
> I hate to say it, because I still think it is a great and elegant
> idea at heart, but I don't think I can support a competition that
> seems to be willing to put its thumb on the scale like that.
I'm sorry you feel like that, it certainly isn't our intention.
> thought that the category issue was growing pains coupled with an
> unfortunate one year eligibility period (if the eligibility were
> longer, you could presumably wait until a suitable category was
> proposed). But if the categories are /meant/ to be exclusionary
> and the fact that projects fall between the category cracks is
> not an accident but evidence that they should not be considered,
> then I think it may do more harm than good.
If the awards covered multiple years, then why would you repeat
them every year? Surely you'd have to have them only every 5
years or something and then also be able to have a vast number of
categories. That seems more detrimental to me for something
intended as a DH awareness activity. It is not meant to
encapsulate the entirety of DH, just some small segments of it
for that year.
> I'm really sorry to come to that conclusion, because it really is
> an initiative I want to support and think is good. But I think
> this may be showing that the category issue is actually maybe a
> fundamental thing.
I would be interested in proposed solutions. If you *have* to
have categories, then which would you have and why? If you have
to only have a set number, (we could maybe increase by 1 or 2)
then which would you not include?
> I actually might have accidentally voted twice.
Your ballot will be rationalised if you only voted twice. (I'll
take the common elements). If you voted hundreds of times all of
them will be removed.
> Since we're not a tool in the classic sense
> (<northAmericanDialectJokeAlert>well my brothers often argued
> that I was</northAmericanDialectJokeAlert>), it wouldn't surprise
> me if we don't win. And indeed, there are some great tools there,
> in the more normal sense, that deserve to.
Yes, I try never to express my opinions over which nominations
should win in which categories. I also don't vote, or nominate
any projects I'm involved in. (A project I was very tangentially
involved in was nominated but I don't think there was any
conflict.) This doesn't (and shouldn't) hold true for the rest of
the nomination committee however, as long as their nominations
are treated fairly.
> I'm being critical above, but really want to emphasise that I
> think it is a great initiative and I am grateful to you for the
> work you put into it. I do think that category issue (and/or the
> eligibility period) is going to have to be addressed if it isn't
> going to end up marginalising itself. But I really want it to
I'm happy to receive your proposals for modifications remembering
the limited time that can be given to it. I think it is best to
have annual awards because there is an annual chance to remind
people of DH resources. I suppose that could be annually for the
last 2 years or something... but that seems problematic in other
ways. I think we need to have categories (to get multiple
winners) and that we can't have unlimited categories. If you
want to sketch out how you'd run it I'm sure I could find similar
deficiencies...but I am interested to get the best/fairest system
Dr James Cummings, James.Cummings at it.ox.ac.uk
Academic IT Services, University of Oxford
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