[Humanist] 30.153 how digital humanists use GitHub

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Jul 10 09:41:13 CEST 2016

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 30, No. 153.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Andrew G Taylor <agt2 at rice.edu>                           (63)
        Subject: Survey studying how Digital Humanist use GitHub

  [2]   From:    Lisa Spiro <lspiro at rice.edu>                              (53)
        Subject: Re: Survey studying how Digital Humanist use GitHub

        Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2016 09:26:27 -0500
        From: Andrew G Taylor <agt2 at rice.edu>
        Subject: Survey studying how Digital Humanist use GitHub

Hi all,

Given the discussion of process in Digital Humanities, I thought the 
following might interest some of you.

Rice DigHuma scholar Lisa Spiro has created a survey asking how Digital 
Humanists use GitHub (about <https://github.com/about>). I'm going to 
fill out a response today.

Here are the pertinent links for that, followed by the Comment I wrote 
on the blogpost announcing it, I mention an "open notebook history" 
project by a Rice professor that may also be of interest. - Andrew Taylor

Lisa's Blogpost 

  * Survey questions + consent
    (revised 11 May 2016)
  * Interview consent form
  * Interview questions (these may evolve)

My Comment:

    A really useful area for study, I'll fill out a response.
    Some "open" thoughts on that.

    I probably registered my first GitHub account when auditing "Digital
    History Methods" in Spring 2014, an undergraduate class taught by
    Rice [digital] historian Caleb McDaniel.  We explored the
    programminghistorian.org/ website and a number of open-source tools,
    and registering for GitHub was a requirement of the class.

    Since then I have followed a number of GitHub-based projects
    (including LoC's Viewshare and Knightlab's TimelineJS and StoryMapJS
    projects), but haven't contributed myself to a GitHub project except
    in terms of [power-]user response.  I am more a visualization
    technologist/librarian than a coder.

    In my view, just having a GitHub account is not equivalent to being
    open-source. A true open-source project formats its contents with an
    eye to it being understood by an outside audience.

    I remember the old story (true or not) that one of the reasons
    McDonald's franchises succeeded was because people could see the
    employees preparing the food in the back (something still true
    today).  I think we need a higher standard for DH projects open-ness
    to be considered open-source.

    Being able to peek in on people doing their work is nice, but
    doesn't constitute real access - to their project planning
    documents, internal conversations, and future intentions for the
    project.  True, meaningful access requires more explanatory work on
    the part of the GitHub project creators - and ideally should include
    a tutorial for more-developed projects.

    As with most things involving "Digital Humanities," what constitutes
    openness (and inclusivity) is being hashed out in real-time.
    For the past couple of years, Dr. McDaniel has been attempting to
    practice "Open Notebook History" (described here:
    http://wcm1.web.rice.edu/open-notebook-history.html).  I'm curious
    as to whether Dr. McDaniel has revised this page since it was
    published 3 years ago (half-joking - if yes, is there a record of
    how the post has changed?).
    This question may seem cheeky (and unnecessary in this case), but it
    is totally pertinent to the goals of the project, "openness"
    regarding process.

    Regards, Andrew Taylor, gistro.wordpress.com

Andrew Taylor, MLS
Associate Curator, Visual Resources
Department of Art History, Rice University

        Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2016 09:46:50 -0500
        From: Lisa Spiro <lspiro at rice.edu>
        Subject: Re: Survey studying how Digital Humanist use GitHub
        In-Reply-To: <6636a52a-276a-8ac8-ac0b-f5bce251543a at rice.edu>

Thanks for the insights and questions, Andrew! 

At this stage of the GitHub study, we’re focused on collecting responses from people who meet a particular set of criteria:

* have a public GitHub account
* have attended the Digital Humanities conference in the past three years or are affiliated with an organization that is part of centerNet and has a public GitHub account
* make their email address public through their GitHub account
* use English on their GitHub account (since currently the survey and invitation message are only in English)

We have already sent two emails to people who meet those criteria.  

In any case, the survey is now closed, as we are preparing to present our initial findings at the Digital Humanities conference next week.


Lisa Spiro, Ph.D.
Executive Director of Digital Scholarship Services, Fondren Library
Lecturer, Humanities
Rice University
lspiro at rice.edu

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