Collaboration Celebration

While wandering (digitally) on tumblr., I found an interesting post by The Getty. It compiled six principles as to why “networked scholarship” in the digital humanities is important.

The post’s principles relate to any digital humanities project as there is an environment where DH projects do conform to ideas like “process and product are inseparable,” “experimentation and collaboration are core values,” and “digital work enables and demands innovative modes of thought and argumentation.” And this got me thinking.

The Zeugmatic is currently in a phase where collaboration and consultation are integrated into the process.

There is an absorption of ideas, with a focus on interoperability, and a goal to contribute to the work already done with rhetorical figures.

Presently, the Zeugmatic is experimenting with various consultations and collaborations:

The project started as an inkling in one scholar’s mind at the University of Calgary (Michael Ullyot). From there, the project has had collaborations with many, including our counterparts at the University of Waterloo (Cameron Butt and Adam Bradley). These collaborations alone improve the ideas circulating within the project – adding depth, creativity, and intelligence to the Zeugmatic.

A taxonomy of rhetorical figures has been made through consultations with various resources and experts. The taxonomy is a foundation for the understanding of the rhetorical figures that the algorithm searches for. Through an addition and subtraction of sources (including definitions and examples) each figure (of direct repetition) is expanded to meet the Zeugmatic’s need. This collaboration of definitions improves the development of the epistemological background of the Zeugmatic.

Most recently, Michael and Cameron attended the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (#DHSI2014). There they interacted with DH experts and even created interesting Python games. DHSI acted as a networking hub, but also offered a course (#26) describing DH collaborations. Cameron remarked that one of the important concepts from that course was “building a culture” — that is, a culture based off of the people associated with the project. The Zeugmatic team’s experience at DHSI encouraged the organisation of new connections and collaborations.

Other moments of collaboration come from various conversations with the University of Waterloo’s Randy Harris (mentioned on this site in the post “Civil Engineering“), in the input from scholars like Heather Froehlich, in the exploration of various existing text analysis tools (like JANTOR, Voyant, WordNet, and Visuwords), and many others.

f82befbb06754285f1cfd8bedaf03e57So what makes these and other types of collaboration important? For the Zeugmatic, these collaborations better the project. In exploring new ideas (from consultations, @replies, or different Zeugmatic members), interacting with different text-analysis tools, and intertwining various definitions of rhetorical figures, the Zeugmatic has the ability to expand and cultivate more supportive information. These collaborations invite new possibilities and new avenues to the project — expanding it (for the better) beyond the original vision. Especially in this phase, collaboration is an improving part of the Zeugmatic — which possibly is a celebratory feat that marks the project’s progress.