Global Outlook::Digital Humanities is the newly approved 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.
Since its approval in mid January, the SIG has been quite busy: it has built a multi-lingual website (http://globaloutlookdh.org/), established twitter account and facebook page, appointed an executive and chair, and core officers. Its mailing list email@example.com has 193 members as of today (January 29, 2013). Plans are well in hand for its first activities: a THaT Camp this coming November in Havana, Around the World of DH events, a conference session on DH in/on Africa at the conference of the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences, a special session (potentially) on DH in/on China at DH 2013, and the launching of Lethbridge-funded bursary programme. Other initiatives that are still in their initial stages include a working group on minimal computing (i.e. computing that is able to operate under a range of different infrastructure conditions) and the development of regional working groups.
If we have learned one thing in the last several months, it is just how much impact diversity of experience has on researchers’ understanding of process, theory and practice. Few if any decisions the group has made this year have failed to include significant, unforeseen modification once the wider community has become involved.
For this reason, we have been deliberately laissez faire in constructing our executive and establishing our initial bylaws. 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. It seems likely that this is an unsustainable governance model; but it has proven effective for these initial stages. A bylaw committee has been struck to consider the complex questions this type of community raises, including how to balance democratic responsiveness vs. regional and linguistic diversity.