Regional Diversity of ADHO Authors

What's Under the Big Tent? ADHO Conference Abstracts, 2004-2014In you case you’re addicted to the self-definition of digital humanities, here’s a healthy scoop DH conferences analyses! For some time now, I’ve been working with Scott Weingart on a longitudinal study of Alliance for Digital Humanities Organization (ADHO) conference abstracts. Last week, at the DHSI Colloquium, we presented some of our initial findings, and I thought I would share bits of them here as well. Scott has written a series of blog posts on DH conferences, if you need more (meta)DH in your life. 

Our Dataset

For this study we’ve scraped ADHO conference programs and abstract books of 2004-2014 for:

  • unique authors
  • author institutional affiliations (if provided)
  • academic departments (if provided)
  • presentation types (panels, posters, plenaries, papers, etc)
  • presentation text (abstract or full paper, whichever are in the programs)
  • keywords (if available)

It should be noted that all of our points of analysis are about the ADHO conferences, not for digital humanities as a field/discipline/method(s), even if indicative of the other.

Regional Diversity

We started our analysis by surveying the regional diversity of ADHO presenters, since ADHO is a collection of international organizations. To our list of authors, we’ve added their countries based on their institutional affiliations, and we have clustered them by region. We’re still working on 2014 and 2015, but here’s the breakdown of all unique authors, 2004-2013:

ADHO Regional Diversity 2004-2013

ADHO has been overwhelmingly Americas centric in terms of presenters (US: 851 | Canada: 202 | Mexico: 1 | Peru: 1 | Uruguay: 1), with Europe coming in second at 794. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that for years that ADHO took place in the Americas, 70% of presenters were from the Americas, although they made up 50% of presenters when the conference was held in Europe. However, overall, regional diversity seems to be increasing, with notable increases of authors from Asia and Oceania. But we have yet to see scholars from African countries attend. Everywhere else the trends are pretty clear: a slow move eastward of authors as the conference itself moves eastward. It’ll be interesting to see how things change in Poland in 2016, and wherever it winds up going in 2017 and, even if Americas centric, if 2017 in Montreal and 2018 in Mexico City will mean more international contributors (especially from Latin America).

ADHO Regional Diversity by Year
ADHO Regional Diversity by Year, 2004-2013

While regional diversity of ADHO authorship is growing and becoming less insular, there remains greater diversity of projects related to other regions.Juxtaposing our map of unique ADHO authors to Alex Gil’s map of DH projects from Around DH is telling: DH has a global outlook, even if ADHO presenters are primarily from the Americas and Europe. This year’s dh2015 is the first time ADHO is held outside of the Americas or Europe, and once we’ve compiled our author list of 2015, it’s likely we’ll see the most regional diversity compared to previous years.

ADHO regional diversity
ADHO Presenters’ Country Affiliations, 2004-2013
DH Project Map from 'Around DH in 80 Days' -  Alex Gil
Around DH in 80 Days – Alex Gil

This is just a snapshot of our findings in relation to regional diversity of ADHO authorship, so stay tuned for more posts on other categories of analysis. Or, check out Scott’s blog and our slidedeck from the DHSI Colloquium: .

– nickoal

AB 609: California Leads on Open Access to Publicly Funded Research

I’m so proud of my home state, California! They’re leading the way to make sure that publicly funded research conducted by the Department of Public Health is openly available to the public. Beginning in January next year, over $200 million in annual research that is paid via California taxpayers will be open access (with some restrictions, such as a twelve month embargo. Here’s an excerpt:

The legislation requires researchers whose work is supported by a fully or partially state-funded grant, and has been accepted for publication by a peer-reviewed journal, to submit an electronic version of this resulting article to a publicly accessible database. The database itself is not specified; suggested options include the University of California’s (UC) eScholarship Repository at the California Digital Library (CDL), PubMed Central, or the California Digital Open Source Library (CDOSL). The article would then be made publicly accessible through the California State Library no later than 12 months from its publication date. (If work has previously been submitted to a repository to satisfy OA requirements from another institution or funding agency, the researcher only needs to supply a link to that article to the funding agency and the California State Library.)

AB 609 does not call for mandatory open licensing. While most work deposited in CDOSL is required by California Education Code to bear a Creative Commons CC-BY attribution allowing others to “use, distribute, and create derivative works based upon the digital material while still allowing the authors or creators of the material to receive credit for their efforts,” material deposited under AB 609 is exempt from this condition. All work will be listed and linked to in an online bibliography.

AB 609: California Leads on Open Access to Publicly Funded Research.

The Aesthetic Usability Effect

The_Golden_Ratio_by_crocusgirl- deviant artWhether it’s a simple website or blog, how information is presented to users affects perceived reliability and thus discoverability of content. I’ve played with reader psychology dealing with print publications, but here are some thoughts on aesthetics and usability of digital text.

Surely, you’ve utilized a web search engine, saw a relevant result and clicked the link to what seemed like a good, relevant website based on its title, only to gasp in horror and immediately hit the back button to escape a hideous sight (pun totally intended). I’m not referring to explicit content, but instead seemingly ugly websites that have egregious amounts of content, 13 different font styles, and color palettes from 1996, where it just didn’t seem like you could find what you’re looking for. You know, something like Electrifying Times for all your needs on the latest news about electric cars.

Conversely, take a look at Green Car Reports. Sure, it’s not perfect by any means (for instance, I’m not one who likes to scroll below the fold…), but at least I didn’t fear for epileptic shock when I first landed on the homepage. This is because the site follows some basic design principles, such as consistency (what a concept!) in terms of alignment and fonts, contrast to direct the eyes and assist with navigation, and organization. Functionally, it has some issues, but because it’s (mostly) easier on the eyes, users are more likely to continue perusing this site than Electrifying Times.

When a website is ugly, we often assume that its inherent usability is lacking. In other words, strictly functionally speaking, a website might be completely user-friendly with user-centric architecture, but if its interface overwhelms users with unorganized content or antiquated aesthetics, it can override the sense of navigability. Ultimately, poor visual design of a website negatively affects both usability and discovery.

This concept is called aesthetic usability effect. When websites appear attractive, users make unintentional concessions and ignore usability deficiencies. Aesthetically pleasing sites also appear to be higher quality, which improves users’ perceived discoverability of information and authority of that information. What makes a website aesthetic? This can vary, but it’s important to keep in mind that users generally quickly scan websites, keeping their eyes above the fold, are attracted to and directed by areas of contrast, and prefer symmetry and alignment that reflect “the golden ratio” of divine proportions.

This is all not to say that it’s okay for your website to be absolutely difficult to use but still the coolest looking site ever known to man. As the saying goes, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig” (thanks for this one, Anne H.!). Instead, know that looks do matter, and first impressions most certainly count when it comes to user experience and information discovery.

To learn more about good visual design, check out User Focus’ guidelines.

TEI and Plain Text Files for Reuse

From Michelle Dalmau, Interim Head of Digital Collections Services at Wells Library, Indiana University:

In honor of Open Access Week, and motivated by a recent mock keynote debate, A Matter of Scale,” presented by Matt Jockers and Julia Flanders as part of the Boston Area Days of Digital Humanities Conference, I present for exploration, re-use and re-mixing outside of their native interfaces TEI (P4 & P5) and plain text files of the following e-text collections published by the Indiana University (IU) Libraries:

These files are made available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0) license and can be downloaded or forked from githib,, which includes a detailed readme file that you should, um, read, about this initiative.

I encourage you to share your uses (intended, past, and future) of this data on our repository’s wiki space: <> so we can track your magic.

Have fun!


Twitter:  @mdalmau

Humanities in Public Universities

Gordon Hunter’s and Feisal G. Mohamed’s recent article in The New Republic, “The Real Humanities Crisis Is Happening at Public Universities,” is a definite read for proponents of the humanities, as they discuss the ways in which humanities programs are increasingly suffering in public universities, articulating solutions for a new deal for the humanities:

A new deal for the humanities needs to reimagine institutional structures on three fronts: 1) it must provide stable sources of funding; 2) it must allow humanities programs to generate their own means of evaluating learning outcomes and program viability, not necessarily based on generating grants (which they cannot do) or watering down curriculum to fill undergraduate seats (which they ought not do); and 3) it must marshal its resources to develop new models of the single-subject academic department, or dispense entirely with this limiting institutional model that was not conceived with the humanities in mind.

The evolution of marriage practices

Early modern historians introduced new methodologies in studying the history of marriage, largely because of the sweeping changes in marriage laws and practices that took  place in the sixteenth century, including the shift from femme covert  to women being able to inherit and manage their own property. From history, we have learned that the only continuity in marriage is change and redefinition.

Steven Mintz article featured in Inside Higher Education, “Does History Matter?” (2 July2013), in light of  the fall of DOMA, writes a great piece reminding us that, while history is not a linear progression, it shows that there’s a misconception that “the notion that same-sex marriage deviates from a timeless, unchanging marital norm.”

So, yes, history matters.

3D Manuscripts of Lichfield Cathedral

Manuscripts of Lichfield Cathedral

Bill Endres of Kentucky University has released Manuscripts of Lichfield Cathedral, a beautiful beta version of 3D images of St Chad Gospels and Wycliffe New Testament, with great functionalities. Just hold down the alt key, left-click the mouse and drag it so that the cursor location becomes the point around which the page rotates [haven’t tried touch screen yet]. It’s like you’re there!

Paleographers can  annotate images and generate unique URLs, instructors can interactively share medieval material culture with students, and historians and DHers can nerd out! The possibilities are endless.