PB6 Day 2

*Advisory (and Apology): This post is finally going up early Wednesday afternoon. A tiring flight back — we sat in an un-air-conditioned aircraft on the ground in Atlanta for half an hour — combined with a delightful series of Father’s Day activities delayed my finishing the post. (Oh, and a cold I caught at some point still tugs at the corners of my ability to focus.)*

I’m writing this summary in Boston’s Logan Airport. It’s the Saturday morning after the second and final day of Project Bamboo’s sixth, and final, planning workshop. The Bamboo Technology Program is well under way, and I believe, the proposal will be submitted to Mellon some time soon.

The piece that remains is the social component — perhaps ironic given our current era’s focus on social graphs — and it seems the hardest one to get right. Bamboo’s innovation is not to build tech nor is it to build a community: there have been plenty of efforts to do both. But never has anyone aspired to build both together.

And so the second day was focused on building the consortium that will, at first, seek to support the technology program, and be the dialogic partner that will ensure that technologies support theories and methodologies and that, in turn, reveal that make new theories and methodologies possible.

Our task for the day was a set of interconnected steps: determine the scope of the three working groups that will be the consortium’s first working social units, enumerate three deliverables for each WG, and describe how the WG will form.

The three working groups are:

* the Consortium WG, which is to establish the organizational and leadership structure as well as define membership dimensions and benefits,
* the Community Outreach WG, which is to develop and initiate a variety of communications efforts to reach out to interested parties and orgs both within campuses as well as across campuses, and
* the Bamboo Labs WG, which is to outline the nature of how individual labs and centers can be involved in BTP initiatives as well as what seed grants and fellowships might look like.

Because my mind is not naturally drawn to abstract organizational matters, I decided to join the consortium group. (Sometimes you have to work against your own grain. I can only hope I didn’t impair the group’s functioning in doing so.)

The first thing we decided was that social openness had to be a working principle, working in tandem with technological openness to make it as easy and as welcoming as possible for individuals and organizations to explore Bamboo’s communities and technologies. To do that, we engaged in some semantic re-jiggering, if you’ll allow me to use that term here, in order to open up *membership*. To do this, we converted the proposed *Partner* tier into *Executive Partner* and the proposed *Member* tier into *Contributing Partner*. The result matrix then becomes:

Tier Commitment Benefits

Executive Partner

$20,000+ cash
$100,000+ in-kind
Strong presence on governing board
Ability to influence technologies and standards that will determine course of digital humanities

Contributing Partner

$4,000+ cash
$19,000+ in-kind
Presence on governing board
Ability to vote on board members and other important decisions
Ability to be first to adopt new technologies and repositories


$250 – $500 cash Access to technologies and repositories


That’s a very quick sketch done as an HTML table, and so forgive me if it doesn’t reveal the fact that there are gradations within the tiers as well as the host of benefits and other matters we discussed. I think the point we were trying to make is that what Bamboo is looking for is people’s time: we want partners to invest time and we want members and potential members and users to invest time as well.

The working groups went through several iterations, and it became clear that, well, clarity is key. Clarity achieved through communication, both internally and externally. But by this point in the day, we needed to begin to wrap up and to have some concrete tasks to achieve. My sense is that the BTP has such tasks and deadlines: I fear that the BOP, or the Bamboo Organizational Program — the social side of Bamboo, er, the consortium — did not quite get there. My hope is that there will be a lot of post-workshop communication and activity.

I volunteered to co-chair the website development working group, which got broken out because it needs to get done and it needs to happen outside the scope of the Community Outreach WG in order to get done.

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