Launching DH-Central : the central platform for digital humanists

Definition of the project objectives & deliverables

Digital Humanities implies digitizing very large amounts of books, pictures, paintings etc. and then analyzing the obtained data using complex methods related to image processing, machine learning, text mining… This requires a lot of work and contributions from digital humanists. That work would be definitely more exciting, more efficient and probably more performant using cooperation.

Yet, at the moment, there is no platform that gather digital humanists to present their projects, challenge their knowledge, share their tricks or compare their bots. But we think DH-Central would do exactly that. The question is, how to make it?

The scope of our project is mainly to define the required features of such a web platform, but also to derive the whys and wherefores when launching a crowdsourcing platform to make it emerge and sustainable.


Structure of the project

DH-Central First Sketch

We thought important, first, to give a sketch of how we would imagine DH-Central, without any research. It is that initial baseline that we will try to refine next semester. The tricky thing is to find ways to attract the researchers on the platform thus it should create a friendly environment that enables an efficient interaction through the whole digital humanists community. Here are a few features that could be part of the website.

Learning about DH : The user can fill-in quizzes about DH, get results, statistics to evaluate his DH knowledge and contribute to his DH-grade. The platform would also benefit to amateurs by offering a “teaching part”.

Project presentations : Every user should be able to present his current and past projects, and browse through the others. The project pages could also enable to “recruit” other users to contribute to the project.

Bot competitions : There should be a way to evaluate the performance of the users bots so that a positive competition rises through the community.

Users competitions : In the end, summing up the user’s bots grades, users performance on quizzes or contributions on projects, there would maybe be a way to rank the users.

News : It would be interesting to centralize some relevant articles or outstanding performances on a different section, like a “News” page.

Forum: The users could propose some project ideas and ask questions.

On the top of that, the navigation should be smooth and it must allow the user to track his improvements and his overall role in DH thanks to the platform.

Laurent Bolli actually designed some pieces of the website, giving a deeper impression of how the platform could look like. 

DH-Central : Quizz page DH-Central : Profile page DH-Central : Browsing stats and projects

Improve that sketch – Second semester

State of the art
An interesting point to start from is to analyze what are the currently existing platforms on Digital Humanities that we can find online, and thanks to that evaluate the overall DH community. Indeed, knowing the number of digital humanists (amateurs, researchers) and what is their most probable gender or age would enable us to get an overview of who the platform should be dedicated to.

Survey
Thanks to the state of the art we will be able to build a smart survey in order to ask the right persons what they would like to see on a DH platform, and we could also ask them for feedbacks on how our current platform concept would fit their desires.

How to launch such a crowdsourcing platform?
At this point we will dig into how crowdsourcing platforms usually emerge, especially which funding vectors we should use (crowdfunding? private “big” investors?).

How to make it sustainable?
The final, but maybe most important point, would be to make the platform sustainable. Directions to be studied include the financial sustainability : how to get revenues? should they just enable financial balance or generate profit? We could also question content-sustainability : how can we benefit from crowdsourcing, eventually using Wikipedia current tools, to organize the community in a way that it becomes self-managing?


Plan of the project with milestones

DH-Central : Plan for second semester


Conclusion

The final delivery of this project could thus consist in a report that highlights the main features DH-Central should offer and a suggestion on, when the time comes, the best manner to launch the platform and maintain it. It would include useful and precise tools as a Business Model Canvas, a Value Proposition Canvas and precise statistics about Digital Humanities extracted from our State of the Art and Surveys parts.