This Year


It’s been a year.

I find myself saying that a lot lately, for reasons that you can probably imagine. Much about the last year has been disheartening, infuriating, anxiety-producing.

But a few good things stand out, and one of them has been the extraordinary first year of Humanities Commons.

We’re thrilled to have the chance to celebrate this first anniversary with all of you, and we’re honored to have had the opportunity to be part of such a dynamic project. Others of my friends and colleagues here assembled will tell you about some of the particular challenges, successes, and continuing struggles in the platform’s ongoing development. I want to share just a few things about the history of Humanities Commons, as well as the work we’re doing today to provide for its sustainable future. Continue reading “This Year”

Top CORE Deposits in April 2018

a picture of a puddle reflecting purple and orange light

1. José Angel García Landa, “Aristotle’s Poetics.” Article. Downloaded 715 times in April 2018.

2. Ayesha Majid, “Marketing Strategy of Lenovo Laptops.” Report. Downloaded 389 times in April 2018.

3. Oscar Martinez-Peñate, El Salvador Sociología General. Book. Downloaded 319 times in April 2018.

4. Edith Hall, The Return of Ulysses: A Cultural History of Homer’s Odyssey. Book. Downloaded 260 times in April 2018.

5. Joshua Abah, Benjamin Ogbole Abakpa, Abel Okoh Agbo-Egwu, “Emphasizing Phenomenology as a Research Paradigm for Interpreting Growth and Development in Mathematics Education.” Article. Downloaded 151 times in April 2018.

6. Titus Stahl, “What is Immanent Critique?” Article. Downloaded 140 times in April 2018.

7. Geraldine Heng, “The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages I: Race Studies, Modernity, and the Middle Ages.” Article. Downloaded 131 times in April 2018.

8. Krzysztof Fordonski, “The Art of Translation and the Art of Editing.” Article. Downloaded 125 times in April 2018.

9. Tim Sherratt, “Hacking heritage: understanding the limits of online access.” Book chapter. Downloaded 122 times in April 2018.

10. Luís Henriques, Livros de Coro da Igreja Matriz de Santa Cruz Praia da Vitória: Inventário Preliminar. Catalog. Downloaded 118 times in April 2018.

10. Nicky Agate, Rebecca Kennison, Stacy Konkiel, Christopher P. Long, Jason Rhody, Simone Sacchi, Humanities Values Infographic. Image. Downloaded 118 times in April 2018.

Top CORE Deposits in March 2018

1. Ayesha Majid, “Marketing Strategy of Lenovo Laptops.” Report. Downloaded 419 times in March 2018.

2. José Angel García Landa, “Aristotle’s Poetics.” Article. Downloaded 289 times in March 2018.

3. Nicky Agate, Rebecca Kennison, Stacy Konkiel, Christopher P. Long, Jason Rhody, Simone Sacchi, Humanities Values Infographic. Image. Downloaded 235 times in March 2018.

4. Tama Leaver, Cameron Neylon, Alkim Ozaygen, Lucy Montgomery, “Getting the Best Out of Data for Small Monograph Presses: A Case Study of UCL Press.” Article. Downloaded 145 times in March 2018.

5. Jim McGrath, Alicia Peaker, “Our Marathon: The Role of Graduate Student and Library Labor in Making the Boston Bombing Digital Archive.” Book chapter. Downloaded 122 times in March 2018.

Implementing Global Search & Personalized Suggestions for the Commons

a pile of jigsaw puzzle pieces

Humanities Commons is powered by WordPress, and its social features like groups and member profiles depend on BuddyPress. Because of the way groups and members are stored in the database, there was no easy way for users to search all the content on the site in a single interface. Earlier this year we implemented a solution to this problem: ElasticPress-BuddyPress. Continue reading “Implementing Global Search & Personalized Suggestions for the Commons”

Doing What You Can

Endangered Data Week logo

It’s only been a year? It seems like two—yet there is one moment since the launch of Humanities Commons that stands out in my memory as particularly rewarding. Like many, I’ve grown increasingly concerned about access to data. I followed the Data Refuge events last spring. I participated in the March for Science in Princeton (since the crowd was about 4000:1 pro-science, it wasn’t exactly a challenge). We on the Humanities Commons team were of course aware of the proposed plans to shutdown the NEH and NEA, so when Kathleen Fitzpatrick suggested we mark Endangered Data Week by archiving all the white papers that have originated from grants issued by the NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities, I was immediately intrigued. Continue reading “Doing What You Can”

Afterimages: Hosting an Online Exhibition on the Commons


Not long ago my colleague, Catherine Burdick, and I launched Afterimages, an online exhibition about the political graffiti that often stretches across the most prominent wall of Chile’s most iconic church. Selecting Humanities Commons as the project’s digital home was the first major conversation of our collaboration, and it remains one of the core decisions we have never reconsidered in the months of experimenting since. Continue reading “Afterimages: Hosting an Online Exhibition on the Commons”

Sharing All the Scholarly Things


When I started my first non-academic job, I asked myself, “What am I going to do with my dissertation?” It seemed such a waste that I’d put so much time and effort into original research, only to have it languish behind the locked doors of my alma mater (finding the time to turn it into a monograph wasn’t going to be an option). And as I’ve continued to work outside the academy, and the focus of my research has shifted from 19th-century French literature to scholarly communication, the kind of outputs I create have shifted too, towards what is often deemed “grey” literature: white papers, blog posts, reports. Humanities Commons allows me to express that shift with a holistic profile that represents not two (or more) discrete periods in my life, but a continuum of evolving humanities expertise. Continue reading “Sharing All the Scholarly Things”

Community, Not Clicks

Among the unsettling and depressing lessons of the last year, the darker aspects of digital platforms has stood out. Online services that we have relied on for communication and that have portrayed themselves as jovial and chatty town squares have been unmasked as much grimmer places with legions of bad actors. Publishing and collaboration channels that seemed to the casual observer as nonprofit venues were uncovered as merely nonprofitish, and were either sold or sought to add revenue in ways that conflicted with the desired activities and ethics of researchers.

Continue reading “Community, Not Clicks”

Teaching and Learning with the Commons


A core value for me, as a scholar, is the open exchange of ideas—among scholars and among the public. Implementing this value requires access and transparency. As gratified as I’ve been, over the past decade or so, to see the growth of open-access publication and the democratized dissemination of knowledge, I have been increasingly dismayed at the financial motives and quality of many of the platforms that have emerged. Importantly, I have been concerned about the inequalities they elide and, at times, contribute to. Continue reading “Teaching and Learning with the Commons”

Humanities Commons and the Cultivation of Sustainable Communities

Platypus at MSU

This post originally appeared on Christopher P. Long’s blog, and  is cross-posted from there.

As we navigate the intense period of transformation in human communication through which we are living, identifying ways to nurture sustainable communities through which scholarship can be shared, discovered, and enhanced gains urgency. So many of the platforms through which we might cultivate scholarly lives together — Facebook, Twitter, Google, — are compromised by business models designed to maximize profit rather than advance scholarship. Continue reading “Humanities Commons and the Cultivation of Sustainable Communities”