In 2008, NEH Chairman Bruce Cole gave the go-ahead to create the Office of Digital Humanities (ODH), with Brett Bobley serving as its director. Bobley, who had studied philosophy as an undergraduate, was the agency’s chief information officer (CIO). He had been advocating for the agency to concentrate its support for the digital humanities for a number of years. It might seem odd for the CIO to be spearheading a grant program, but, for Bobley, it made perfect sense. As CIO, his job is to help the agency think strategically about how technology supports NEH’s mission of bringing the humanities to the American people where they are. What better way than via the Internet and evolving digital technologies?
So much of the funding and design impetus for digital tools comes from commercial interests—we see this very clearly in the swift evolution of the Web towards a purely commercial platform,” says Julia Flanders, director of the Digital Scholarship Group in the Northeastern University Library. “By deciding to fund digital humanities, the NEH established an important push in a different direction. It enabled academic digital projects to develop tools, methods, platforms, and working practices that are shaped by goals like information-sharing, longevity, respect for complexity, and social justice.”
“Collaboration is super important,” says Bobley of ODH’s past and current approach to grantmaking, both among scholars and funders. “We’re building the digital infrastructure that is necessary for humanities research, preservation, and public programs. But you never want to build it in a vacuum by yourself.”
New Article: The NEH Office of Digital Humanities Turns Ten
Filed by April 4, 2018on