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.
It was within this context that Humanities Commons launched, and for which we should be thankful. Truly nonprofit and fully dedicated to fruitful conversation among scholarly groups, this new virtual campus that has unified scholars across hundreds of campuses—as well as independent scholars seeking the same—has flourished. Because it is designed and run by academics for academics, it is attuned to their real needs and not the hidden and insatiable demand for clicks and exponential growth.
But grow it has. Just a year after launch, Humanities Commons has become a critical site of discussion for a number of major scholarly societies, hundreds of interest groups, and thousands of faculty members and students. With contributions ranging from the smallest of comments in a discussion thread to the largest of documents uploaded to a shared repository of scholarship, it has undoubtedly spawned countless new ideas and collaborations.
Moreover, it is structured in such a way as to be open to new associations, groups, and individuals. Still new but already vibrant, what lies ahead for Humanities Commons is even more exciting than its incredibly promising and greatly needed launch.