Press Forward: Practicum

Greetings peers and friends! I hope everybody is doing well in these ~wild~ times.

As with many of the practicums we have looked at this semester, PressForward is a project of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. PressFordward is a free and open-sourced WordPress software plugin that aggregates content from your favorite websites in one place. Essentially, Press Forward reads RSS feeds that allows you to curate (I know this is a hot-button term) and redistribute content from the back-end of your WordPress website. Their website makes it easy for users to download and learn how to use the software. The “resources” tab on their website compiles FAQs, Presentation Slides, Workshops, Research &r Reports, and Microgrants ($1000) given by the PressForward. The website also houses a full user manual and starter guide for anybody interested!

Digital Humanities Now is an experimental “publication that highlights and distributes informally published digital humanities scholarship and resources from the open web.” DHNow uses PressForward to aggregate content from hundreds of feeds and blogs that produce scholarly content. Each week, the editors-at-large scrub through the content and nominate them to be disseminated. One of the coolest aspects of this project is that any of us could apply to be volunteer “editors-at-large” and assist DHNow to identify and disseminate engaging works. One thing to note, the higher-ups at DHNow are all related to the Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.

Those interested in subscribing to DHNow can choose between the Editor’s Choice, News, all posts, and even their unfiltered feed. Allowing users to see everything that “didn’t make the cut” is a really interesting example of the mass amount of information that can be compiled by the PressForward software.

Baby Penguin GIF by MOODMAN
(mid-post penguin wiggle to keep your attention)

Another organization that uses PressForward is dh+lib. This website is particularly targetted at promoting librarianship of digital humanities resources. Similar to DHNow, community members volunteer to serve as Editors-at-Large and sift through the RSS feeds, nominate the highlights, and write up short posts. These posts are released every Thursday. Every Wednesday, dh+lib publishes longer-form content that is produced solely for this platform. Unlike DHNow, visitors to the site can see the most recent blog posts right on the home page – so subscription required. In many ways, this is a better set-up as it allows for people to engage with this information, without being bombarded by posts.

Overall, PressForward is a pretty interesting resource for anybody looking to push out the content they think is interesting, without having to sift through their favorite websites themselves. For those of you with blogs: Consider how you can use PressForward to produce content for those of us who are stuck at home.

im out take care GIF

Stay well!

5 Replies to “Press Forward: Practicum”

  1. Thanks for the great post! This seems like a really interesting tool no just for possibly getting your own digital projects out there,but for seeing what others are doing too and what'[s popular in the field right now. I find the volunteer “editor-at-large” system interesting. I’m sure there’s some way that the content that gets shown on those pages is filtered, but I do think it would be interesting to see what this audience decides are the most relevant or impressive posts are at the time. Especially since you can then compare them to the posts that didn’t get the Editors’ choice and you can maybe find some hidden gems in there. I think this is great for engaging with and staying up to date on the field, even if it is curated by one school.

  2. Thanks for this overview! PressFoward’s publications, DH+Lib and DH Now, continue to be really valuable resources for finding and discovering interesting work that is percolating around the open web.

    I think it’s important to consider the way that this fits into the scholarly ecosystem for a more open and distributed kind of scholarship. That is, a lot of the things we depend on for finding new and interesting scholarship on a topic are themselves tied into the publication of journals and books. As more content shows up on the open web it becomes important to have platforms like this that can surface that work and draw attention to it.

    It’s worth also noting that for a while the team behind this project was also running an overlay journal called The Journal of the Digital Humanities (http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/about/). We’ve read some pieces from JoDH over the course of the semester.

    The idea behind JoDH was that some of the best of the best from the DH Now feeds would be invited to pull together more fully developed revised articles of things from the recent run of featured material from the blog. But it’s worth underscoring that it takes a lot of work to edit and manage a journal like that.

    This brings us back to one of the huge underlaying challenges for all of this work. As Kathleen Fitzpatrick underscores in Planned Obsolescence, and as we have been discussing throughout the semester with our projects, identifying when something is done and getting a base of resources to support and sustain both platforms and programs that run on those platforms is a huge challenge.

  3. Thanks for the comprehensive post, Luke! This seems like a great place for a DH novice to start exploring and who doesn’t want someone “curating” content related to an interest for them! I’m thinking about this in the context of Jack’s post about openness in digital scholarship and this seems to really fit with much of what he had to say. First it can expand the audience for DH scholarship (similar to MLA Core). Also, I think it might be interesting to consider that it emphasizes to the reader what might be worth their time according to the folks working at DHNow.

    1. I completely agree! In some ways, this can be seen as a new way to stay up to date with every-changing historiographic discussions going on in the field. I don’t know how useful it is for me, personally, but I can definitely see the appeal for people looking to orient themselves with the field on a continuous basis. I wonder if this might also be a useful tool for organizations to internally disperse information (thinking news agencies)

  4. Great post Luke! Very comprehensive indeed! The openness and accessibility of this weeks readings pair up very nicely with this practicum. This seems like a great tool for assisting to get your own personal research out to the web, but it also would help in seeing what others have published and are writing about. The world of digital history is ever changing and expanding. Keeping up to date on the publications being produced is important for everyone.

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