2013 Report to the ADHO Steering Committee

The following is the chair’s 2013 report to the ADHO Steering Committee. Comments welcome!


Global Outlook::Digital Humanities is the first ADHO Special Interest Group (SIG). It is the successor to various “outreach” and “North-South” initiatives proposed by ADHO members and Constituent Organisations, including SDH-SEMI (as it then was), ACH, and the ALLC (while this is its heritage, it is important to note that the initiative does not share all of the assumptions and goals of these previous initiatives: in particular, experience has shown how important it is that an initiative of this type be a peer-to-peer community rather than an “outreach” or “aid” programme).

The SIG began to take shape during DH 2012 in Hamburg under the leadership of Marcus Bingenheimer, Neil Fraistat, Howard Short, and Daniel O’Donnell. Alex Gil and Titi Babalola joined the initial leadership in the course of the fall. Perhaps the biggest impetus to the formation of the SIG came from the meeting arranged by Ray Siemens and the INKE team after their Birds of a Feather meeting in Havana. Additional resources have come from the University of Lethbridge, which has donated $5,000 to establish a series of student research bursaries on the global scope and reach of Digital Humanities teaching and research.

The SIG was approved by the ADHO SC in January, 2013.


Since its approval in mid January, GO::DH has been quite busy: it has

  • built a multi-lingual website (http://globaloutlookdh.org/),
  • established twitter account, facebook page, and mailing list
  • appointed an executive and chair, and core officers
  • announced (and concluded the first stage of) a Global Essay prize (60+ submissions from 15+ countries in at least 5 languages).
  • organised a conference session on DH in Africa at the 2013 CSDH/SCHN meeting in Victoria (a paper at this session by Titi Babalola won the CSDH/SCHN prize for best graduate student paper)
  • submitted a grant application to the AUCC/IDRC for an exchange between Canada and Argentina (O’Donnell and Bordalejo)
  • assisted in organising the ADHO SIG session for DH 2013
  • agreed to assist in writing a chapter on DH in a global context with Representatives from CenterNet (O’Donnell and Gill)
  • established five working groups:
    • Around DH,
    • THaTCamp Caribe 2,
    • Translation commons,
    • Minimal computing,
    • Rewriting wikipedia
  • advised the DH2014 programme committee on potential Keynote Speakers.

Upcoming or proposed activities, include a proposal for a hacker competition similar to the Global DH essay prize.


Progress has been less quick on governance matters.

As was mentioned in our initial report last January, GO::DH was established with a laissez faire attitude towards its governance. The was a result of initial experience which showed just how widely experience, expectations, and (infrastructure) capabilities varied among regions. Few if any decisions the group has made since its inception have failed to include significant, unforeseen modification once the wider community has become involved.

For the first year, this approach meant that there were few formal rules. The executive was formed from all volunteers who expressed an interest in joining. Officers were appointed on a first-come, first- appointed basis; all positions are held by two or more people from different regions and language communities. The idea was that these first-year structures would then establish rules and procedures that reflected the expectations and interests of the community.

In actual practice, it has proved quite difficult to get the initial structures operating. The officers, in particular, have found it almost impossible for infrastructure reasons to establish a workable method of meeting in order to develop the kind of policies we set as our goal for this year. Amongst other things, this has meant that the bylaws are running behind schedule and we have not made adequate use of our larger executive. One of the two secretaries to the SIG, Titi Babalola is investigating ways of organising meetings that take into account the infrastructure issues facing us.