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Session Overview
#SL2: Whose Infrastructure Is It Anyway Roundtable
Friday, 26/Jul/2019:
2:50pm - 3:50pm

Session Chair: Abigail Potter
Location: Marquis B, Marriott City Center
capacity 42

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Whose Infrastructure Is It, Anyway: Cross-Atlantic Collaboration with DARIAH

Zoe Borovsky4, Quinn Dombrowski1, Thea Lindquist3, Abigail Potter2, Glen Worthey1

1Stanford University; 2Library of Congress; 3University of Colorado Boulder; 4University of California Los Angeles

Although the European and US-based digital humanities communities have long been joined under the ADHO umbrella, significant differences remain in their funding models and scale(s) of collective action. EADH, the organizational equivalent to ACH within ADHO, itself serves as an umbrella for five nation- or region-based associate organizations, each with its own website, branding, and membership structures (including, in some cases, the option of joining the local organization but not EADH).

This divergent structure of scholarly society organization is paralleled in the infrastructure efforts that have emerged (or not) on the two continents, most notably DARIAH (Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities) in Europe, and the defunct Project Bamboo in the US. DARIAH exists as one of the pan-European research infrastructures (known as ERICs), eligible for central EU funding, along with peers that include infrastructures for materials science, biotechnology, and ecosystem research. It also receives contributions (cash and in-kind) from its members and partners. Currently, DARIAH membership is structured around nations or intergovernmental organisations, and each participating country has its own national coordinator, projects, priorities, and resources. In situations where DARIAH works with a particular institution in a country that is not a DARIAH member, it lists that country as a “partner”.

WIth an eye towards sustainability, DARIAH has recently funded a set of outreach activities, DARIAH Beyond Europe. Through workshops held on the west and east coasts of the United States (fall 2018), and in Australia (winter 2019), DARIAH has facilitated knowledge exchanges between each workshop’s host region and DARIAH’s technical and social infrastructure (in the form of tools like TextGrid, a course registry, working groups, and pedagogical materials).

The presenters in this roundtable have accepted DARIAH’s invitation by participating in working groups and making use of DARIAH’s technical and pedagogical resources in their research and instruction. Nonetheless, we remain limited in our ability to shape the directions or priorities of DARIAH, due to our inability to “join” DARIAH under a nation-based membership structure. Bluntly put, with what US governmental agency would DARIAH be affiliated? DARIAH itself is open to exploring more flexible membership options, and roundtable participants are working towards reaching an agreement with DARIAH about what sort of organization(s) might be eligible for DARIAH membership.

We envision less a traditional roundtable, and more a discussion and debate with the audience following a brief, context-setting presentation on DARIAH. Is the ACH community interested in serving as a hub for DARIAH membership? Acknowledging US-European differences in culture, governance, values and priorities, would a US-European partnership with money and resources at stake lead to unproductive tension? How valuable is shared, supported, maintained infrastructure -- providing actual services, rather than simplistic “open-source-as-infrastructure” promises -- for US-based digital humanities? Should we as a community (within or outside of ACH) engage in strategic planning about whether and how to invest in infrastructure? What values should inform the decision to undertake our own infrastructure initiative, and/or to partner with European infrastructure?

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