[globaloutlookDH-l] DH Awards

Daniel O'Donnell daniel.odonnell at uleth.ca
Wed Feb 5 15:50:58 MST 2014


I'd like to stress the whole time that I think this is a worthy 
initiative, that I think we should be grateful to James and others who 
were responsible for thinking it up, and to the committee for their 
efforts. It is not nice to be on the receiving end of criticism, but I 
think we should see this whole project as an example of the DH ethos of 
progress by screwing around. In other words, we're farther along because 
this exists--even if we think we see some flaws--that if it didn't 
exist. And we're finding these flaws (if that's what they are /because/ 
the project exists.

James lays down a reasonable challenge: what would you do?r eligib

I think personally, I'd implement two changes for sure independent of 
any debate about the fitness of specific categories.

 1. I'd increase the eligibility period for most categories to 2, 3 or 5
    years.
 2. I would include an "open" category, even at the risk of it becoming
    unwieldy

I'd do (1) because I think the one year limit is creating some of the 
pressure that is causing the trouble. Marin and I both reacted to the 
one year eligibility in different ways. And a calendar year is a rough 
kind of schedule. I counted GO::DH as being a 2013 thing because that is 
when we started with the executive, got permission to call ourselves and 
ADHO SIG, and so on. But we set the mailing list up and started 
recruiting in very late 2012--meaning you could have considered us as 
actually being too old and instead eligible for the 2012 awards--on the 
basis of a couple of weeks work.

But more importantly, a year eligibility means you have one chance to 
hit the categories: a larger eligibility period would allow a rotating 
set of categories, for example, and reduce the unintentional exclusions 
or examples of category abuse. I suppose if the categories didn't cause 
trouble, as we've been arguing, then you might be able to use a single 
year (though you still end up with the problem of the project that 
starts at the beginning of December and is too young for this year's 
award and ineligible for any subsequent ones.

I'd do (2) because DH is simply a highly innovative field and there is 
no way you can guess what categories are going to be important. And if 
you can't guess and have no flexibility, the net result is going to be 
(inadvertently) defining and exclusionary.

I don't think that you should just have a single award (I'm not against 
categories at all). But I think you need a catch all. And then I'd say 
use some of our standard disciplinary categories: best edition, best 
popularisation of visualisation, best integration of multimedia, best 
article or blog, best journal, (or even better than "best" maybe "most 
innovative" for each category). I'm not sure of exactly what those 
categories might be, yet, but if you had an open category and a couple 
of years' eligibility, you could experiment without inadvertently 
excluding anybody.

I confess I would have included a "non English category" before my 
experience with GO::DH. Now I wouldn't. I might experiment with regional 
categories, perhaps focussing on subject matter or something (best 
project focussing on South America, best project focussing on North 
America, and so on), but I'm not 100% sure that's a good idea. But I 
think a longer eligibility period and open category might take the risk out.

Anyway, as I've said all along, I think it is a very worthwhile 
initiative and I'm grateful for it. I think this discussion might have 
exposed some interesting and unforeseen (and even potentially 
offputting) implications, but that doesn't mean the idea was wrong or 
that we should be angry about it. People are doing there best and this 
is certainly food for thought IMO.

Now maybe I'll be quiet. ;-)

-dan


On 14-02-05 01:15 PM, James Cummings wrote:
> 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 year.
>
>> 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.
>
>> 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.
>
> 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
>> succeed.
>
> 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 possible.
>
> -James
>

-- 
---
Daniel Paul O'Donnell
Professor of English
University of Lethbridge
Lethbridge AB T1K 3M4
Canada

+1 403 393-2539

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