Project Bamboo Workshop 6, Day 1

It’s the end of the first day of Project Bamboo’s Workshop 6, which represents an opportunity for the larger (arguably still emergent) community to shape a response to the new context, which is, as I understand it, a function of the Mellon Foundation’s merging of the Research in Technology program with the Scholarly Communications program.

In the interval between this change in context and the workshop itself, the core PB team has worked with a group of universities who early on had identified themselves as likely partner level contributors to whatever it is we’re building. That has resulted in the Bamboo Technology Project.

The goal of the BTP is to identify “strategic areas of work” within which they can plan and, in the case of Phase I projects, build something — because across the board any number of us agree that it’s time for Bamboo to make something, to have an identifiable product that we can show to colleagues and administrators and others that reveals the potential profit in universities and other organizations collaborating in an open way to build services, software, and standards for knowledge creation and distribution. The list of partners is impressive. (I will list them in an update to this post.) The four major areas of work to be completed in Phase I are: work spaces, scholarly web services, collections interoperability, and corpora space. (Phase I is to last eighteen months, as is Phase II to follow.) The first three areas already have some pieces in place that the BTP hopes to build upon and, at the same time, begin to draw together into the kind of whole that is the promise of Bamboo.

For work spaces, there is HubZero and an ECM (Enterprise Content Management System) which will be the foundations for further work.

For scholarly web services, the partner institutions will be able to draw upon a number of projects, including, but not limited to, PhiloLogic, Perseus, CLARIN, SEASR, and Prosopography. (Links to follow.) Most of these services offer some or all of what are becoming the usual analytical tools for textual scholars: document mapping, concordance, collocation, frequency, etc. Collection interoperability will focus on metadata interchange.

The one area of work that will not be built but will be subject to planning in Phase I is corpora space, which is going to focus on the production of five or so white papers as well as identifying some high priority/profile corpora that can be targeted for a project. (I would like this to be a folklore corpus, of course.)

There are other projects and plans within the BTP, but much of the morning was focused on determining the kind of consortium that would, during this transitional period, support the BTP projects. This is, of course, the reverse of Bamboo’s ultimate goal, but I think it rightly puts resources and imaginations in motion. A number of organizations have stuck with the planning process now for two years, and we will, I think, continue to stick with it because we believe in the greater good that Bamboo seeks to serve. What we need are tangibles to show to others to concretize our participation and to act as an incentive for others to join.

Once more firmly established, Bamboo can do a lot of good, if it can negotiate the somewhat crowded waters of already existing as well as emerging organizations, coalitions, and other consortia with similar goals and/or visions. E.g., CHCI, CenterNet, and now CHAIN. Part of what I think Chad Kainz was struggling to articulate in trying to develop an organizational structure for Bamboo was to make as many people and institutions feel included as is humanly possible. (In all honesty, humanists and their organizations can be a fairly territorial lot, as contradictory as that seems to the rhetoric that we so often deploy.)

One of the things it could do, that was the focus of our table’s conversation not once but twice during the day, is the development of a federated researcher/user identification system for the humanities. Think Thomson-Reuters’ ResearcherID but open source and run by the collaboration of member organizations — and even non-member organizations. Throw in DOIs for publications, projects, datasets, tools, and workflows and you have not only a very powerful, and searchable, data stream but one that fits within every organization’s already existing workflows of annual reports and assessments and every individual scholar’s workflows of vita maintenance. And it would be a natural component/connection to institutional repositories. (I will link to the small presentation I pulled together for my colleagues at UL-Lafayette in an update.)

*UPDATE*: [The document is here.](

There was a lot more that happened today. Some of it can be gleaned from Chad and David’s slide decks, which I hope they make available later, and some of it can be found in the planning documents, which may be available on the Bamboo website. For now, I will leave off my summary of the day here.

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