[globaloutlookDH-l] DH Awards

James Cummings James.Cummings at it.ox.ac.uk
Wed Feb 5 16:45:05 MST 2014

On 05/02/14 22:50, Daniel O'Donnell wrote:
> 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.

Thank you for saying this. To be clear it was entirely my own 
idea: when I saw a Roberta Busa award being given -- not the 
first one...it was Susan Hockey's -- I thought "This is great, 
she really deserves that... but I wonder who else was nominated? 
Wouldn't it be good to have some awards of some sort where anyone 
could nominate people and anyone could vote on all the 
nominations?" Then I waited and occasionally mused about it 
(there needed to be some minimal criteria, etc.), occasionally 
asked people about it. I was convinced one of the big 
organisations would do something like this and so I left it for 7 
or 8 years...and at the end of November 2012 decided to do it. 
With almost no time left to announce nominations, create a site, 
figure out categories, etc. I contacted a disparate group of 
people. (Clearly limited by my own exposure in DH and my own 
background.) That time limitation goes a long way to explaining 
why it is set up as it is. There is no development time, no 
additional energy to create bespoke solutions, no money -- the 
nominations review process and voting form has to take very 
limited time and I had no time to do any real development work on 
it to have an website to approve nominations or something like 
that. Google Docs it was then. Those people I chose fed into the 
categories and how it should work etc. and donated their time to 
help proof the nominations. I thank them very much for that -- I 
don't mention this for a desire for credit but just a note that 
any overall blame for any failings should reside principally with 
me. (And given the discussion so far... that takes some admitting!)

> 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.

That is certainly fair -- it was intended as a grass roots type 
of thing intentionally outside any of the big organisations. 
Specifically it also had to work with zero budget because as soon 
as money gets involved in anything, never mind anything 
international, it gets tricky.

> 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.

Which means that resources could be nominated every year for up 
to 5 years from any time they had a major update? Which means 
that those important rock star resources that are central to DH 
might win again and again?  (It would show my own biases here to 
point out that the TEI Guidelines or stylesheets have what could 
be major updates each year and I was very conscious that the 
categories I had suggested to the nominations committee (who then 
modified and extended them) would preclude the TEI Guidelines 
being nominated.)

>  2. I would include an "open" category, even at the risk of it
>     becoming unwieldy

Yes, it would become both large and as I've expressed before I 
would worry that we'd get extra criticism about "How am I 
supposed to compare X with Y when they are different fields, 
different technologies, different audiences, different purposes, 

> 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.

If GO::DH *does* something important and interesting in 2014 then 
I think that would count. It doesn't have to be new just have a 
'major update' or development of some sort that you can point to 
then that would be valid. I take your point and I believe 
Ernesto's about this privileging the 'new'. This is certainly a 
failing or limitation.

> 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.

A project can start in December one year, and then 'launch' in 
the summer 3 years later. I think you are having too strict an 
interpretation of that we'll remove nominations that "don't seem 
to have had a major update or have not been launched, created, 
started, finished, enacted or had something significant happen in 
2013." (our FAQ page for this year) There are a number of 
resources nominated last year which were nominated this year as 
well, or that have been around for years but had some major 
update.  (Look at papyri.info...it is certainly not new this 
year, but did have a major change; or I ♥ E-Poetry which changed 
the software and the whole way the site works after doing so well 
in the DH Awards last year.)

> 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.

Yes. I'm leaning towards keeping a fixed set of categories for 
certain types of thing (like best post/article/shortPub) and 
rotating others based on frequency of suggestions in a survey 
conducted after the voting ends (or perhaps in future years as 
part of the voting).

> 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 like the 'most innnovative' or 'most innovative use of' instead 
of best. That is a much better way to phrase it in my opinion. 
Though it does then reward innovation rather than say good solid 
but non-innovative scholarship. I'm sure I'd get complaints.

> 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.

Last year we were criticised by several people for *not* 
including a non English category, and not doing enough to 
encourage non English nominations (even though we did say you 
could nominate any resource in any language for any category... 
we did admittedly say it *in English*).  This is predominantly 
because this is thrown together at the last minute by busy 
people.  If I run it for a third year, I will approach 
communities like this one earlier this year to try to get some 
volunteers to translate the call for nominations especially into 
other languages. I don't think we can win on this one. I promise 
you that if we do it for 2014 and *don't* have a non-English 
category people will email telling me that it is because I hate 
all non-English speakers and am a privileged Oxford £$%£$^&£. 
(You don't want to see some of the mail I get, you guys are nice 
and intellectually stimulating in comparison.)

> 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.

Thank you, again, for stressing that.

> Now maybe I'll be quiet. ;-)

I still worry that this has strayed from globaloutlookdh as a 
topic, but so far no one has complained. I am noting these ideas 
and have pointed the rest of the nominations committee at this 
thread in case they wanted to comment.  (But they may be keeping 
their heads beneath the parapet.) Some of the ideas are great, 
some cause other problems, some I just don't know how to 
implement for voters to actually use.

Many thanks again,

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

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