Reflections on the New York City Digital Humanities Kickoff Event, the “Finding, Cultivating, and Sustaining Support for your DH Project” Round-table, and the Manifold Workshop.

As intended, my engagement with NYCDH Week began with the Kickoff Event on February 7th, which allowed some of New York’s most active Digital Humanists (I really should’ve taken down more names, I apologize) to introduce attendees to the theme of support that would pervade the week’s subsequent workshops, lectures, etc. Rooted in the ongoing impact of COVID-19, this commitment of support from the broader Digital Humanities community struck me as particularly salient, not purely because of its obviously apposite application in the wake of a global pandemic that impacted each person in some way, but also due to its relevance to my experience as a first-semester Digital Humanities student navigating the common challenges associated with acclimating oneself to any new academic endeavor. The Kickoff Event and its ensuing roundtable discussion introduced me to the existence of a network of brilliant minds, each in the pursuit of developing unique and innovative digital projects, that I was entirely unaware of prior to entering this program, providing me with a sense of the city’s Digital Humanities community and the potentialities inherent in cultivating relationships and support networks with such a tight-knit web of inspiring folks.

I was especially interested in Jim Groom’s Reclaim Hosting platform, which, in their words, “provides institutions and educations with an easy way to offer students domains and web hosting that they own and control”. Despite the fact that my interest in Groom’s service might be heavily influenced by Reclaim Hosting’s landing page including references to bands such as Mission of Burma and Minutemen, the support provided through this web hosting platform, allowing for both students and educators to “take control of their digital identity,” acts as another appealing example in a long line of Digital Humanists undertaking the project of the democratization of technology. If interested in reading further about the story and motivations of Reclaim Hosting, Jim Groom wrote an interesting blog detailing its history here.

The second NYCDH workshop I attended was hosted by DHUM 70002’s very own, Robin Miller, and detailed the “intuitive, collaborative, open-source publishing platform” that is Manifold. Developed as a novel medium in which academic books can be published online, Manifold allows authors to supplement their work with the traditionally unpublished elements existent beneath the text (“conversations, research, exploration”), providing an opportunity to expand the breadth of each text in an accessible, unbounded, aesthetically-slick digital space. Robin did a fantastic job enthusiastically detailing the scope of Manifold’s capabilities, such that Digital Humanities “freshmen” like myself came away from the workshop with a practical understanding of a program that feels simultaneously approachable and sophisticated. There’s nothing I can say about Manifold that hasn’t already been said more effectively by those involved with its production (i.e., CUNY Graduate Center, the University of Minnesota Press, & Cast Iron Coding) so I encourage everyone to take a look at the provided linked materials, should this application be relevant to your DH pursuits.