Small-Scale Digital Archiving Sans Institutional Support (relatedly, Kickstarter)

If you have a discrete set of sources that you think could make an interesting digital archive, but you’re not going to be executing the project with the financial support and institutional imprimatur of a library, archive, or university, how do you get started? How do you get copyright? How do you fund your labor (or maybe just some of it)? How do you find collaborators, and maybe fund their labor as well? How do you choose the kind of CMS that’s right for the project? How do you help your project gain visibility after it goes live? How do you plan for long-term sustainability moving forward?

As a soon-to-be-finished PhD in a humanities field, with several ideas for small-scale archiving projects but no sure source of continuing institutional support, I’m wondering if there are enough people with the same needs to constitute a session.

The session could be of interest to people who find themselves in the same position as myself, people who’ve independently created specialized archives of this kind, people who’ve worked with Kickstarter (successfully or un-!), or people who just know a lot about digital archiving, copyright, or grant-writing.

Issues of copyright are, of course, crucial here (for example, I’d love to do a full-text, searchable archive of Sassy magazine—but without the prestige & cash of an institution backing me up, I’m not sure I could secure that copyright), but I’m also interested in questions of labor and compensation. Is there any way to work on this kind of a project while, if not getting paid a ton, at least receiving some compensation for the time spent scanning and formatting?

I’m very interested in talking about using Kickstarter as a source of funding for this kind of a project. Trevor Owens wrote a blog post last year pointing out that many DH projects have found funding this way, and linking to some examples. What kinds of projects end up getting funded? How have they framed their projects to appeal to the public? What kinds of outcomes do they promise? What do their budgets include? What swag do they offer their funders?

If people know about ways of getting small-scale non-Kickstarter grant funding for this kind of a project, that’d also be great to add to the discussion.

As a product of this session, I suggest we could produce a GoogleDoc outlining best practices for getting small digital humanities projects funded on Kickstarter.

Things I’d love to discuss

Using GIT
I “get” GIT–I see the utility–I see the logic–I see why it’s great. But I’d love some discussion on how to start using it, what are some preferred GIT clients, and what the best-GIT-practices are. If this conversation could be combined with a western-twanged series of puns on the word “git,” that would be ideal.

Digital Scholarly Editions
This is my main DH interest at the moment. I would love to talk about:

  • Issues of encoding
  • What software platforms people are using (Islandora, Omeka, by-hand?)
  • Excellent, and execrable, examples of digital scholarly editions
  • Issues of copyright (i.e. “Do ALL digital editions have to be out of copyright???”)
  • What kinds of scholarly apparatus do digital editions facilitate that were harder or impossible in paper editions?
  • Multi-media digital editions

Working without institutional infrastructure
AKA, when you’re more alt than ac :)
For the many of us who are still on the hunt for the permanent position, how do we think about the issues of our digital work differently? For example, in a workshop I was once in, someone said: “This is what you’ll need to tell your design team…” What about when we ARE our team? What are the dangers of developing digital tools, editions, creations of any kind on resources provided by a university where you are only a temporary employee? How do we access resources? How do our grant applications differ? How do we access the support systems we need to make our work…work?