“Commonwealth” is defined both as “a body or number of persons united by a common interest,” and as the “public welfare, general good or advantage.” With this report the former meaning, as represented by the Commission and ACLS, presents a framework for action that, we believe, will advance the latter, the general good.
American Council of Learned Societies
It is more than the network and digital storage, more than discipline-specific software applications and project-specific data collections: it is also the intangible layer of expertise, best practices, and standards, and it is tools, collections and collaborative environments that can be broadly shared across communities of inquiry. As the 2003 NSF/Atkins commission noted, “if infrastructure is required for an industrial economy, then we could say that cyberinfrastructure is required for a knowledge economy.”
1. describe and analyze the current state of humanities and social science cyberinfrastructure
2. articulate the requirements and potential contributions of the humanities and social sciences in developing a cyberinfrastructure
3. recommend areas of emphasis and coordination for the various agencies and institutions, public and private, that contribute to the development of cyberinfrastructure
|Paul N. Courant|
University of Michigan
Sarah E. Fraser
Michael F. Goodchild
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Michigan
Peter B. Kaufman
University of Virginia
George Mason University
John Unsworth (Chair)
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
University of Southern California
Editor: Marlo Welshons
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Washington, DC: 4/27/2004
New York: 6/19/2004
Los Angeles: 9/18/2004
“Human interpretation is the heart of the humanities. . . . devising computer-assisted ways for humans to interpret more effectively vast arrays of the human enterprise is the major challenge.”
(Michael Jensen, National Academies Press)
1st draft to Commission: 3/5/2005
2nd draft to Commission: 8/10/2005
3rd draft, public comment: 11/9/2005
4th draft, funders' review: 6/8/2006
Final Draft posted: 7/27/2006
Printed and shipped: 12/1/2006
"commendable" (vs.) "offensive"
"thorough" (vs.) "superficial"
"a wonderful document, but you forgot to mention my project"
Many humanists may have first encountered the concept of sustainability in discussions with potential funders of digital projects. . . . Although funding is critical to a program's viability, sustainability goes beyond simply paying the bills: intellectual sustainability requires human capital.
Digital projects need to draw on a pool of trained and engaged personnel, and therefore universities need to develop the programs and the opportunities that produce people with this kind of expertise. As Kevin Guthrie, the first director of JSTOR and now president of Ithaka, remarked to the Commission, “individual experience is not scalable.”
In European countries and in Canada and Australia, humanities and social science cyberinfrastructure is more generously funded (relative to the size of the population) than in the United States, and research frameworks integrate the support of humanities and social sciences with the support of science and engineering.
Invest in cyberinfrastructure for the humanities and social sciences, as a matter of strategic priority.
Addressed to: Universities and colleges; federal and private funding agencies
Implementation: coordinate the goals of CI funding; increase coordination and funding, including commercial investments that complement the educational community's agenda.
Develop public and institutional policies that foster openness and access.
Addressed to: University presidents, trustees, provosts, and counsels; university presses; funding agencies; libraries; scholarly societies; Congress.
Implementation: The leadership of the humanities and social sciences should develop, adopt, and advocate for public and institutional polices that foster openness and access.
Promote cooperation between the public and private sectors.
Addressed to: Universities; federal and private funding agencies; Internet-oriented companies.
Implementation: A private foundation, a federal funding agency, an Internet business, and one or more university partners should cosponsor recurring annual summits to explore new models for commercial/nonprofit partnerships and discuss opportunities to create digital resources with high educational value and high public impact.
Cultivate leadership in support of cyberinfrastructure from within the humanities and social sciences.
Addressed to: Senior scholars; scholarly societies; federal funding agencies; private foundations (and others)
Implementation: Fund humanities and social science computing organizations to work with ACLS member organizations to set priorities for CI development, raise awareness of research and partnership opportunities, and coordinate the evolution of tools.
Encourage digital scholarship.
Addressed to: Universities and colleges; major federal funders; major private foundations; major scholarly societies; individual leaders in the humanities and social sciences(and others)
Implementation: Funders should establish programs that develop and support expertise in digital humanities and social sciences. The ACLS should encourage discussion among its member societies with respect to evaluating digital scholarship in tenure and promotion decisions.
Establish national centers to support scholarship that contributes to and exploits cyberinfrastructure.
Addressed to: Universities; Congress; state legislatures; public funding agencies; private foundations
Implementation: Universities and university consortia should develop new and support existing humanities and social science computing centers. These centers should provide for advanced training and research and curate collections of unique materials.
Develop and maintain open standards and robust tools.
Addressed to: Funders; scholars; librarians; curators; publishers; technologists
Implementation: University consortia should provide infrastructure for open-source software development. Funders should support community-based standards such as TEI, EAD, and METS, as well as the development of tools for the analysis of digital content.
Create extensive and reusable digital collections.
Addressed to: Funders; scholars; research libraries and librarians; university presses; commercial publishers
Implementation: National centers can organize a certain amount of scholar-driven digitization. Library organizations should sponsor discipline-based focus groups to discuss digitization priorities. Once established, these priorities should be considered in grantmaking by federal agencies and private foundations.
"[S]ome of the recommendations of the report already are being acted upon. . . . ACLS has begun offering Digital Innovation Fellowships designed to advance digital scholarship. . . the Digital Humanities Initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities . . . a new partnership between the Endowment and the Institute for Museum and Library Services to help teachers, scholars, museums, and libraries work together to advance digital scholarship and present it to the widest possible public. The John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has begun a major new effort to understand and develop digital technologies for learning in early education." (Pauline Yu)