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  • Case Statements v0.3

This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.

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Introduction to this Section

This is an early draft of materials to help prepare the "Case Statements" for Bamboo. The Bamboo case statements will be one or more short documents that explain what Bamboo is and why one should participate and invest in Bamboo. We imagine we will need case statements for several different audiences. First, leaders at local institutions such as Presidents, Chancellors, Provosts, Deans, heads of Libraries, and/or CIOs. These leaders will decide whether and to what degree their local institution should commit resources to the Bamboo Project. Second, case statements will be needed for funders from Foundations (private and federal) and corporations. Such funders will need to understand the broad, multi-institutional, and in some cases international value that Bamboo provides. Third, we see the need for case statements that can speak to the very large community of those engaged with humanities scholarship world wide (perhaps as many as 100,000 individuals). This third community is critical to the large-scale engagement with Bamboo in the long-term.

Below we've posted an initial list of arguments for leadership, participation, and/or investment in Bamboo. We seek the Bamboo Community's suggestions on:

  • What should be changed and added to any of these particular arguments
  • What additional arguments should be added
  • Which arguments are most appropriate for different audiences

Several important things to note:

  • We expect to use different parts of the materials below (and other arguments) to help us prepare the different case statements for the three audiences noted above. That is, part of these materials may be more relevant for the case to be made to a university Provost or CIO than to a humanities scholar, and vice-a-versa.
  • We expect the form of the case statements to vary. For example, some of language here may be part of a brochure for Bamboo. Some of the language may be used in the final implementation grant proposal.
  • This section as it stands now is not meant to be the introduction to the 2 year Implementation Proposal, although some of the language here may be used in the introduction or other parts of the proposal.

Case Statement Materials: Reasons to Participate and Invest in Bamboo


  1. Support for All of the Humanities. Bamboo strives to benefit scholars at all levels of technology use, and in all disciplines in the arts and humanities. For humanities researchers who are deeply engaged with digital technologies, Bamboo seeks to provide shared services and infrastructure so that scholars can spend more time on research and teaching and less time managing and sustaining technologies and technologists. For humanities faculty and students who want to explore what is possible in their field, Bamboo will provide multiple avenues to connect to what other scholars have done with digital technology, see what next steps to take, and learn how to use shared services.

  2. Collaborate Across Boundaries. The Bamboo philosophy is centered in bringing together colleagues from the humanities, computer and information sciences, the library, museums and archival collections, university presses, learned societies, and information technology organizations. Bamboo's community model works to make this happen on campus, between campuses, and with other organizations and partners central to the cyberinfrastructure for humanities. Participation in Bamboo thus gives a focus and locus of activity for faculty and staff on a campus to work together in a coordinated fashion to further research and integrate resources.

  3. Understand Scholarly Practices, Search for Commonalities, Build Shared Services. In Bamboo, teams of humanities scholars and technologists work together to understand scholarly practice, now and in the future. They use this growing body of qualitative and quantitative data to search for commonalities across disciplines. From these commonalities of need, they build reusable software components that can be exposed and combined as shared services for the humanities. In this way, collaborative research about humanities scholarship drives the development of software.

  4. Connect Content to Tools, Tools to Content. Digital collections and corpora in all forms are increasingly fundamental to humanities scholarship. Libraries, museums, and archives face challenges in growing and sustaining these collections so that they are accessible to researchers and the public alike. By bringing together content stewards with information scientists, and by investing in a shared platform for services across higher education, Bamboo will help to connect tools with content resources, and to make content across collections far more usable. Often the concerns and methods of content stewards and tool developers have been isolated from each other. The future of the digital humanities requires a common culture of information management. Bamboo will help to develop this shared culture.

  5. Sustain Digital Scholarship with Common Infrastructure. At the heart of Bamboo is the development of sustainable infrastructure for shared technology services across institutions. This will allow digital humanities projects to transition from project-specific applications to longer-lived, broadly supported, efficiently operated, and widely reused services. The Bamboo Services Platform, combined with a partnership process to help existing applications make use of a services model, is the core to this infrastructure. Bamboo believes a sustainable infrastructure for shared services will set the stage for a future in which many scholars can easily discover, combine, and re-mix content and technology to create new forms of research and teaching.

  6. Participate in a Technological Ecosystem for Innovation. Bamboo's philosophy is to leverage and fit in with a much larger ecosystem of tools, content repositories, community source programs, cyberinfrastructure initiatives, and open standard offerings from technology corporations. Bamboo will realize this goal by focusing on the platforms, APIs (programming interfaces), models for data exchange and interoperability, and "gadgets" for services. In this way Bamboo can connect with a wide range of collaborative environments, collections, and applications — thus harnessing innovation from many fields, many technologies beyond Bamboo. In addition, Bamboo will help to coordinate and participate in discussions about critical technical standards across higher education.

  7. Leverage Investments, Save Time, Share Expertise. Throughout its efforts, Bamboo is looking for ways in which small and large higher education institutions can partner together to leverage investments, share expertise, and support the academic and professional development of a cadre of scholars, librarians, technologists, and researchers who can work together for the long term to support the humanities.

  8. Help Lead an International Effort to Advance Humanities Scholarship. Leadership in Bamboo is an opportunity for an institution to partner with other colleges, centers, and organizations globally to nurture technology-enhanced research and teaching in the arts, humanities, and interpretive social sciences. By participating in Bamboo, an institution can leverage the broader community's expertise to solve problems, shape methods for sharing tools and content across disciplines, and influence the direction of humanities research. Participation in Bamboo can be an important means to attract and retain researchers, staff, and students. Helping to lead Bamboo is a concrete step your institution can take to support and advance the humanities locally and across higher education.
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5 Comments

  1. Unknown User (sbrier@gc.cuny.edu)

    I think this is a strong opening effort to define the nature and purpose of PB as it moves forward. I was struck, however, by the fact that the word "teaching" only appears once and only in the final, eighth point. The focus seems still far too much in this version on building and disseminating tools for research. My strong feeling is that for this project to thrive, it needs to move boldly to incorporate IT into both humanities research AND teaching. I know this is what I will need to engage my president and provost in considering my institution's ongoing involvement in PB . Without a clear focus on pedagogy and teaching (essential for the doctoral students in our institution), we will narrow too much the potential impact of PB in the humanities and the arts. I'd be interested to hear the responses of my fellow members of the Education W.G. on this issue.

    Steve Brier

    The Graduate School & University Center, CUNY

    1. Unknown User (kharris@email.sjsu.edu)

      I have to agree with Steve Brier.  I'm walking into a conference call today with Bamboo organizers and my Dean.  Our library is extremely hesitant to commit and our Academic Technology folks have walked away from the table.  Unless we can produce evidence that this will help our teaching institute, I fear we will not have any room to participate in Bamboo. 

      Katherine Harris

      San Jose State University

  2. Unknown User (martinmueller@northwestern.edu)

    This is a more sharply focused case statement than I have seen, and I applaud the progress. I still worry about bamboo sitting in a cloud of 'how' and 'who' of governance without getting down to 'what' that makes a difference to the lives of scholars.

    On a more particular note, #4 'Connect Content to Tools, Tools to Content', draws a useful distinction between 'content stewards' and 'information scientists.' But the distinction is increasingly fluid, and the issue of 'data curation' should be flagged more explicitly, specifically with regard to methods of data curation that maximimize interoperability. It isn't the case that if the 'content stewards' keep their stuff somewhere or somehow, the 'information scientists' can then do something or anything with it.

    You often need to do a lot to the data before you can do anything with them. 'Data curation' seems a task for the 'stewards'-- libraries in the context of the humanities. But curation for what? Techniques of curation have to make some assumptions about a range of future uses. Where do those assumptions come from, and how do we make sure that they are generous enough?

  3. Unknown User (jim.muehlenberg@doit.wisc.edu)

    This is a great start, thanks so much for this work!  A few suggestions that may enhance this going forward:

    First, to build on Steve's reminder to emphasize teaching and learning as well as research (and I might add outreach, as in "public humanities" which is an emphasis of our new Chancellor at Wisconsin), we should not leave behind the arts and interpretive social sciences in these case statements.  Most statements focus on humanities only in this draft.

    Second, there is real potential for Bamboo to address the key findings of the recent CLIR report "A Survey of Digital Humanities Centers in the United States" by Diane M. Zorich from November, 2008.  The need for new models is cited in the executive summary excerpt below, and it seems Bamboo may be well-positioned to meet this need and address these issues (see http://www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/pub143abst.html).

    "The study findings also show that DHCs [digital humanities centers] are entering a new phase of organizational maturity, with concomitant changes in activities, roles, and sustainability. Of late, there is a growing interest in fostering greater communication among centers to leverage their numbers for advocacy efforts. However, few DHCs have considered whether an unfettered proliferation of individual centers is an appropriate model for advancing humanities scholarship. Indeed, some features in the current landscape of centers may inadvertently hinder wider research and scholarship. These include the following:

    1. The silo-like nature of current centers is creating untethered digital production that is detrimental to the needs of humanities scholarship. Today's centers favor individual projects that address specialized research interests. These projects are rarely integrated into larger digital resources that would make them more widely known and available for the research community. As a result, they receive little exposure outside their center and are at greater risk of being orphaned over time.
    2. The independent nature of existing centers does not effectively leverage resources community-wide. Centers have overlapping agendas and activities, particularly in training, digitization of collections, and metadata development. Redundant activities across centers are an inefficient use of the scarce resources available to the humanities community.
    3. Large-scale, coordinated efforts to address the "big" issues in building a humanities cyberinfrastructure, such as repositories that enable long-term access to the centers' digital production, are missing from the current landscape. Collaborations among existing centers are small and focus on individual partner interests; they do not scale up to address community-wide needs.

    The findings of this survey suggest that new models are needed for large-scale cyberinfrastructure projects, for cross-disciplinary research that cuts a wide swathe across the humanities, and for integrating the huge amounts of digital production already available. Current DHCs will continue to have an important role to play, but that role must be clarified in the context of the broader models that emerge.

    When one is investigating collaborative models for humanities scholarship, the sciences offer a useful framework. Large-scale collaborations in the sciences have been the subject of research that examines the organizational structures and behaviors of these entities and identifies the criteria needed to ensure their success. The humanities should look to this work in planning its own strategies for regional or national models of collaboration."

    Finally, at Workshop 3 in one of our table discussions on Day 3, following Chad's deep dive on the consortial model, we made some points that may become parts of case statements.  I'm taking the liberty of transcribing some personal notes here.  I will add that Brett Bobley of the NEH Office of Digital Humanities was part of our table discussion.

    • Stop building all these one-offs that NSF, NEH, Mellon and others have funded - make them sustainable.
    • The Bamboo service layer could be a real "carrot" for NEH to use in filtering proposals - if a proposal is made with a Bamboo service layer, this would be a plus in an NEH review; this might indicate a role of NEH supporting the goals of Bamboo with incentives.  It was also mentioned that peer reviewers would see the lack of compliance in grant applications.
    • Ideas from the realm of political economy:  1) economies of scale; 2) comparative advantage (institutions are better positioned); 3) from each according to his ability and to his needs. 

  4. Unknown User (johnlaudun)

    To follow up on some of the comments already made, and especially some of Jim's just above me, I'd like to reinforce the power of "economies of scale," which I think fits well within Item 7. For a university like my own, Items 5-7 will, I think play well. Adding some notion of economies of scale will only reinforce the wisdom of the investment.

    Speaking of investment, I like that you have refined/narrowed the audience – segmented the market in other forms of discourse on such topics as this – into leaders, funders, and *. I mark an asterisk here because Jim calls into question your use of "humanities" as potentially alienating to those in the arts and human sciences who engaged in humanistic research and teaching. I don't have an easy solution here. Frankly, the simplest solution might be to use the adjectival form, as a way to open up the boundary. (It's rhetorically simple and straightforward.)

    I would also like to echo Jim's comment about the importance of "outreach" or "public discourse", some stretching of what it means to publish. My sense from my own 4/6 at Workshop 1 in Chicago was that that was something that seemed particularly interesting to Chris Mackie as well. I don't think the investment that any of the foundations and endowments have made in the humanities are worth much if all they do is maintain the status quo. The status quo is that the humanities are increasingly irrelevant to public policy and action. The social web holds the promise, I think, of engagement – and perhaps that's the term that might be useful.