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  • Cataloging Digital Tools for Humanities Scholarship - Bamboo DiRT

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

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Overview

Bamboo DiRT is a directory of digital research tools, populated by a broad community of tool developers and users, and curated by a volunteer steering/curatorial board that meets monthly. Its relationship with Project Bamboo has its origins in Bamboo's planning phase; see here for the history and background of the site. Anyone can create an account on the site, and any registered user can add new tool entries and brief comments on existing tool entries. The site includes automatic spam-deterrance mechanisms (integration with external text analysis and CAPTCHA services via Drupal modules), plus the oversight of the steering/curatorial board.

Tool profiles include fields for the tool website, platform (e.g. Mac, Windows, iOS), developer, cost, license, status (e.g. in beta, actively maintained, defunct), and a description. Each tool must be assigned to at least one category, and tools can have an arbitrary number of additional tags. The primary categories are presented to the user on the front page of the site as actions (e.g. "Publish and share information" vs. "Publication").

Users can browse and search the site, and refine their browsing results using different combinations of metadata. Additionally, an RSS feed allows users to subscribe to new and recently updated content.

Bamboo DiRT was implemented on the Drupal platform.

History and Background of Bamboo DiRT

The roots of the Bamboo DiRT digital research tools directory date to the earliest months of the Bamboo Planning Project. During that time, Bamboo program staff endeavored to collect information about existing tools, articles and reports, standards, frameworks and APIs, and organizations relevant to Bamboo's vision of facilitating arts and interpretive social science research through the implementation of shared tool services. This internal initiative was referred to as "Terroir".

In the course of populating "Terroir - Tools", Bamboo program staff identified a number of existing directories that already had fairly comprehensive listings of research tools, including arts-humanities.net and the DiRT (Digital Research Tools) wiki. While there were early discussions with Lisa Spiro, the creator of the DiRT wiki, about officially adopting DiRT as Bamboo's "Terroir" for tools, the decision was ultimately made to reshape "Terroir - Tools" into a directory of tool directories, including but not limited to the DiRT wiki.

The demand for tool directories and other aggregations of digital humanities scholarship, resources and activities was strongly confirmed by the participants in the planning project workshops (see project team member Quinn Dombrowski's analyses "Bamboo as information clearinghouse" and "Sharing Ideas and Solutions"). Early discussions describing Bamboo's near-term and medium-term future work included plans to develop a resource for humanists that would meet many of these needs, along with needs relating to documenting and sharing workflows, and connecting research with pedagogy. This was referred to as the "Bamboo Atlas". Workshop 5 of the planning project included a demonstration of what a "Bamboo Exchange" might look like, building on the vision for a "Craigslist for digital humanities." However, the areas of work comprising the Bamboo Exchange, scholarly network, and Bamboo Atlas were consolidated and reduced into a very modestly scoped effort referred to as the "Tool, Service and Collection Registry" (TSCR) in the final proposal for the Bamboo Technology Project.

Six months into the Bamboo Technology Project, the group tasked with building a "Tool, Service and Content Registry" (TSCR) for Bamboo reached out to the team that was developing DHCommons, a directory of projects and potential collaborators. At that point, discussions were already underway about how to revitalize the DiRT wiki, potentially in coordination with or as a component of DHCommons. The goals and technical underpinnings of the proposal for a revitalized DiRT aligned well with the goals and anticipated structure of Bamboo's TSCR, and it was decided that  the Bamboo TSCR and DiRT would merge to form Bamboo DiRT, which would be developed separately-- but in coordination with-- DHCommons.

Bamboo DiRT launched its beta version in October 2011 at the Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science, and after establishing a steering/curatorial board in spring 2012, its public launch coincided with the Digital Humanities conference that July.

 

HowTo build a similar directory site

A description of how DiRT was built on the Drupal platform, which may serve as instructions for how to build a similar tools directory site, is available on a separate page: How to build a site like Bamboo DiRT using the Drupal content management system.

 

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