Research and Collaboration

Today opened another side of DH I knew about, but never put much thought into. Previously, I thought that in order to do a DH project you need to do your research, complete your tasks, and collaborate with others. Now, I realize how completely chaotic and stressful that could be. Given that most of the debate was on our project topic today, I feel like the rest was just a bunch of dead ends. Of course it would’ve been ideal to have all the data we need just fall into our laps but that was not the case. After surfing the web for different databases and archives we didn’t exactly find what we were looking for, which then turned into a new topic angle with new research questions. In some cases it could even turn into a new topic in general.

I’d imagine this happens in a lot of DH research, and I applaud DHers that spend a lot of time and effort on their research (as they should). Through our readings I knew that research was an important aspect to DH, but I never knew how much time and effort could and should be spent on it. With just 30 minutes of research with about 10 people we thought we’d at least be able to locate an archive with MSU’s Mission Statements but we were only successful in finding a few.

Collaboration is another aspect of DH I thought would be a little easier, and I assume it will get easier as we are each assigned tasks (and hopefully complete them). As for right now, it seems a little rocky. Group projects are one thing, and I feel like a class project is another. With so many (but so few) of us in different areas of study I realized our possibilities with this project could be endless. It seemed like every time we chose a topic we got deeper and deeper into it and started adding new ideas with different angles based on our assumptions on data collection etc. Thinking critically about research and topic ideas is a very important skill to have when working on a DH project and we did that pretty well while collaborating in class so I feel like we’re getting on the right track.

DH is a reality to us now. We’re actually doing the work that Kirschenbaum talked about in his article. DH is a methodological interdisciplinary field in academia that focuses on the dissemination of knowledge through technology, and today we found that the internet really doesn’t have all of our answers (surprising right?), so we have to go deeper. Research is work, DH is work, and we’re finally getting ourselves into that work.

Finally, after exploring our options data-wise I can see how different questions and project angles could come up. However, I feel like it’d be easy to get off track if you want all of these interesting questions answered and your DH project just ends up being this huge mess without giving an actual message or getting a point across. You wouldn’t want your viewers saying “cool, now what?” I feel like it needs to have a point. As we continue to do our research it’s important to weigh our options and consider the data that is available to us, and right now it seems to be limited (within MSU’s history). So, looking at different colleges within MSU might be the way to go.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where this project will take us and learn more about these aspects of DH.

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3 thoughts on “Research and Collaboration

  1. I do agree with you on the point that collaboration is difficult. We all come from different backgrounds and have different levels of investment in the project as a whole. I think once we get a better idea of what we are doing things will start to stabilize.

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  2. I also wrote about some of our difficulties collaborating. I think the conflicts we have will end up benefitting our project in the end. You’re right about how it’s easy to get off track. I think this is because the asking of one interesting question just leads to more questions. I think it’s important we find a true focus for our project.

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  3. So Thursday seemed pretty frustrating, but I also thought it was pretty productive! You’re definitely right that our project needs to have a purpose and an audience in order to really coalesce, but it can be about your learning, too. It’s totally ok if you don’t turn out a finished project at the end of the semester, because I’m confident that you’ll have learned a ton about what it means to start a DH project and that you’ll be able to talk about that in a confident, knowledgeable way. In this class you’re starting to understand what it takes to get a project (particularly a collaborative one!) off the ground. You’re absolutely right–you’re starting to really do DH work now, along with starting to see potential problems. That’s good.

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