Day of DH: The Collaborative Historian

[This post originally appeared at Day of DH on 2014-04-08]

I’m a collaborator and consultant on a wide variety of projects at Stanford — the geography of post offices, visualizations of the Grand Canyon, digitizing colonial Senegalese archival records, Chinese grave relocations, Palladio plugins, Chinese railroad workers, the list goes on — and each of these have given me a chance to think creatively about approaches to solving problems. The variety is one of the best parts of my work, and, I suspect, a reflection of a growing area of the university: technology experts who are involved in collaborative research.

And collaboration takes many forms, even if they’re not extended interactions — just working in CESTA for the day has me involved in conversations about digital publishing, musing about the Stanford DH community, shooting the breeze with the LitLab, overhearing the Humanities+Design fellows talking about their work, chatting about an idea for a historical U.S. population visualization, and lamenting our too-often-missed goal of trying to jog every morning.

One of the things I learned early in digital history – and most of us learn – is the work is necessarily collaborative. The work is complicated and often requires creative approaches to ask or solve significant research questions. Doing this work requires other people’s input. The success of projects don’t hinge on the single rock-star programmer or researcher, but rather on a team that joins together various ideas from various disciplines. And DH, I think, is well positioned to push forward the idea that this kind of collaborative teamwork is a form of scholarship.

08 April 2014 · @jaheppler