From its inception, Digital Humanities has relied on
interdisciplinary research. Nationally and internationally, our
experience of doing research involving people from various
disciplines has become increasingly important, not only because
the results are often innovative, fascinating, and signifi cant, but
also because the management tools and practices we have
been developing are potentially useful for a wide range of
researchers. In this session, we will discuss three very different
aspects of interdisciplinary project management, based on our
combined experience of decades of collaboration.
The fi rst paper, “Hackfests, Designfests, and Writingfests,” is
an attempt to pull together a summary of the best practices
we have been developing in the area of planning and carrying
out face-to-face work sessions. Over the past three years,
we have carried out a total of fourteen Hackfests, involving
programmers, designers, and writers. In studying our own
results, we have generated practical guidelines on topics such
as the choice of locations, the assignment of tasks, and the
handling of logistics.
The second paper, “Hackey,” provides a description of a
new online tool that we have been developing for use by
programmer/designer pairs, to encourage small but frequent
activity on a project. It often happens that people make
commitments, especially to virtual teams, that result in them
working in large but infrequent blocks of time, as at the
Hackfests, when it may be more productive in the long run if
they are able to devote instead an hour a day. We’ve attempted
to address this problem through the design of a game that uses
the concept of volleying back and forth on a specifi c topic, all
under the watchful eye of a benevolent third-party pit boss.
The fi nal paper, entitled “Rules of the Order,” considers the
sociology of large, multi-institutional software development
projects. Most people would be able to cite the major
obstacles standing in the way of such collaborations, like the
lack of face-to-face communication. But even with the best
methods of communication available, researchers still need to
acknowledge the larger “sociology” of academia and develop
ways of working that respect existing institutional boundaries,
workfl ows, and methodologies.
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