While the humanities and social sciences have traditionally seen the non-academic public as a source of material for analysis (e.g. anthropologists' field notes, linguists' interviews, and ethnomusicologists' recordings), one consequence of moving away from publishing scholarship exclusively in academic journals is the relative ease with which scholars can share their work with the communities that made it possible.
The Bamboo workshop participants painted a very diverse picture of the level of technological expertise that can be reasonably expected from today's students and junior faculty. Both students and junior faculty are likely to be adept with the basic functionality of websites like Google and Facebook, but may not be "power users" of those tools, lacking familiarity with non-obvious tricks and shortcuts.
Bamboo workshop participants unanimously agreed that the library (traditionally conceived of, as a single physical location to access scholarship, with experts who help filter the relevant from the irrelevant) is seeing declining use. Participants noted that for students, the library has largely been supplanted by a combination of Google Scholar, Google Books, and simple web searching. When students access scholarly journals directly, it happens almost exclusively through on-line databases.
"They tend to favor institute of advanced study model there [in Europe] (think tank, shelter of scholarly activity, folks from different disciplines, but discipline question isn't in play, or connected w/ universities, or contexts, or involving questions about disciplines. Not necessarily embedded in universities, but alongside." (
When the dissemination of scholarship has the subtext of building one's tenure dossier, scholars in most humanistic fields still generally turn to printed publication of traditional articles and monographs. Increasingly, though, more senior faculty and junior faculty willing to take a risk are producing non-traditional works of scholarship that they want to disseminate, but many institutions lack the infrastructure to make that possible.
Scholars and librarians alike expressed their discontent with the current relationship between scholars and commercial publishers. For scholars, this relationship often necessitates giving up their right to freely use their own work. At the same time, librarians are in a position where they must devote more and more of their budget on buying access to the electronic databases of scholarly works that their faculty rely on. Without these databases, faculty may find themselves without a legal avenue for making any use of their own work.
Project Bamboo workshop participants appreciated the need for access control systems as a way to avoid violating intellectual property laws*, but few were satisfied by the cumbersome ways these systems are currently implemented. This frustration was shared by all three major groups of attendees-- faculty, librarians, and IT professionals-- but each approached the problem from a different angle.
The discussions at the Project Bamboo workshops clearly indicated that a scholar's research and teaching do not exist in isolation from one another. The interaction between teaching and research can take many forms, from teaching a class on a topic that is also the focus of one's research, to leveraging student work to make progress on a digital humanities project.
If you're thinking about actively involving students in a project, here's a few things to consider:
Many Project Bamboo workshop participants saw social networking as the "pub conversation" of 21st century scholarship. Unlike earlier forms of scholarly community where one was expected to pay a membership fee and join a scholarly society, or be personally introduced to a mailing list, "lurkers" can benefit from the conversations between digital humanists that take place in open forums, and contribute without any formal introduction.
When your plans are big enough to require buy-in from multiple institutions in order to succeed, and they don't fit under the umbrella of existing consortia, it may be time to create a consortium of your own. It'll take some work to get institutions to join, even if you can make a good case. Here's some things to think about and plan for.