How to create a digital project? (the articles edition)

Projects have been key to most people’s lives, whether in personal experiences, at work, or during school. But, how do we understand digital projects? It may seem rather simple, and in some ways it is simple, but they are very complex machines. Here are the key factors to take into consideration if you wish to start a digital history project.


The Field Guide to Human-Centered Designs by Ideo.org

This kit is designed for you to turn objects into human-centered ones, but what does this mean? It is both a combination in believing that all problems are solvable and in emphasizing closely working with communities. By doing this, you will build relationships, connections, and empathy with your communities, which can be highly valuable in the development and standing of your digital projects. This is important to consider at the beginning of establishing your digital project as it can impact how your end product will look like.

The process is split into three categories and each emphasizes what you need to bring in the digital project building process:


Omeka and its Peers by Scheinfeldt

One of the many questions we may ask is what format should our digital project take? For some, Omeka is the answer, and it is a very neutral website that allows for users to create community service-based digital projects. It is very popular, as well, amongst preservationists and scholars because it offers open source, low price tag, and vast abilities to create archives, storage spaces, exhibits, and much more:

This is definitely not the only means of formatting a digital project, however (i.e. WordPress, YouTube, Tiktok, Wix.com).

A Short Guide to Digital Humanities

If you can only read one short document on how to create digital projects, then this guide is the best option out of these all. It is an excellent source that breaks digital projects as a basic idea, details the importance of working with not just communities but institutions as well, how to evaluate digital scholarship to work for your project, and breaks down some of the processes and methods of digital projects. However, the most important here is discussing advocacy and asking if your digital project is relevant?

“Among its other activities, digital scholarship asserts the possibility of charged relations between consumers and producers of cultural work”

page 15 in “A Short Guide to Digital Humanities”

Done: Finishing Projects in the Digital Humanities by Kirschenbaum

We’ve all come to a point in our projects, laid down our pens or closed our laptops, and gave an exasperated sigh to say “DONE!” But, hold on– are you actually done? Kirschenbaum discusses how you know when the project is finished by detailing various scholars and their endings to their projects. Some found their finale not in an epic battle, but in knowing:

  1. The preservation of the digital project after the work is done?
  2. Knowing there is a processional and financial necessity?
  3. Went to press?

For digital projects, we cannot just close our laptops, but we must continue our work to ensure it lasts beyond the high of creating it.

NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grants

These grants are built to support digital humanities projects as detailed above and can be research, studies, enhancement, or a design. These grants are split into three levels of financial aid that depend how much the projects need. The need here is either to fund the continuation of the project or sometimes in the permanent establishment of the project somewhere.


In class, we will be looking at two sample grant applications supplied by the NEH for their Digital Humanities Advancement Grants to dissect why these projects are examples of “good” digital projects.

The first is on the mapping project through the University of Georgia Research Foundation and the other is on open accessibility to manuscript collections through St. John’s University. It should be noted that these grants are for projects that already began before they applied for these grants.

Some of the questions to consider for this will be:

  1. Look at the list of people under each project’s teams. What do these lists reveal about the human state of digital projects and of Digital Humanities?
  2. What does each project add to digital history and to traditional history?
  3. How do the teams envision the project continuing to sustain itself?
  4. How would you apply this to public history?

2 Replies to “How to create a digital project? (the articles edition)”

  1. Hi, Jane! The Kirschenbaum article and the questions you posed made me think of the future of digital projects. How can digital projects truly be preserved after generations and generations? How can we truly be prepared for the change in technology and the direction of the internet?

    My main concern is with money. Kirschenbaum states that the United States has great digital humanities start-up grants, but is lacking with the awards for finishing or closing projects. What about maintenance grants? When the digital project is done, how will projects get the funds to maintain it? If a digital project is not getting enough traction, will people or organizations actually want to fund its maintenance? If not, what happens to the digital project then? Would it just be taken down? Further, what happens if the creators die and no one else wants to inherit it?

    Anyways, those are just some of the questions I thought of and it sent me into a slight panic! Who will maintain and support our work when its finished?

    1. Hi Rachael! These are great questions to consider for the future of digital projects and are truly serious concerns for them.

      Money is such a big concern for me as well after reading these articles. Of course there are great organizations that can provide grants, but they defintiely do not last. I think a lot of it has to do with how digital history is still not appreciated on the same level as traditional history and traditional history already has issues of getting funded right now. Till funding is given to these projects or they can stay up without worry of being taken down or paying of maintenance, digital projects will always be at risk of dying. It truly is sad, but so much needs to change for digital history to be more future-oriented.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.