[globaloutlookDH-l] DH Awards

Bordalejo, Barbara bab995 at mail.usask.ca
Wed Feb 5 13:16:26 MST 2014

Dear all,

In a way, I am glad that Dan has reached such a sad conclusion. As some of us have been saying for a while, many things in DH work like this and people who do not fit certain standards, especially those who lack the ability to communicate in English, are excluded. One thing that I find interesting about James´ reply is that it makes it clear that there is no malice involved: the exclusion is procedural and follows very concrete guidelines. You know, just like sitting at the back of the bus if you are black and it is 1960. What is worse here is that the people in power believe to be doing the right thing by following exclusionary guidelines that were created with the best of intentions.
While I would love to call for a revolution, I am also aware that it might not solve anything. Instead, I suggest that everyone on this list goes to vote at the DH awards.


My suggestion (and it is only a suggestion) is to log your protest there and, if I were you, I would not vote in every category. Protest by voting only in the Best DH contribution not in the English language and vote for GO:DH in the Best DH tool or suite of tools (or Best Project that could not fit any of the regular categories). Let them know that we exist or, as put by Mario Benedetti “El sur también existe."


On 5 Feb 2014, at 13:23, Daniel O'Donnell <daniel.odonnell at uleth.ca<mailto:daniel.odonnell at uleth.ca>> wrote:

Whereas I would have just not nominated it because it didn't really fit any of the categories.  I don't think the categories *should* be all encompassing of DH. Partly because that is impossible, partly because voters would have even more choices, and partly because it would need an 'other' category which would then just become a repository for highly heterogeneous materials.  So voting in that category would be comparing apples and elephants, rather than just the apples and oranges that are compared in the current categories.
Wow! That seems to me to be a pretty aggressive stance.

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.

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." 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. 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.

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 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 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.

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.

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