The Year in Digital Humanities Now

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As 2013 rolls to an end and magazines and newspapers begin to reflect on the past year, we thought we’d take a look at the last twelve months in Digital Humanities Now. As part of the PressForward project’s research into scholarly communication, these periodic status updates help us better understand where we’ve been and provoke questions we can work to answer in the future. The web stats alone are interesting and exciting, with our average number of unique visitors each month nearly tripling those in 2012. A year ago, those unique visitors averaged 3,400 per month, but at the end of November, this year’s number was 9, 192. Each visitor is averaging just over 3 visits each month, a number that has not changed significantly from 2012, but with the increase in visitors themselves, there’s been a whopping 952, 827 page views this year, up from 323, 913 in 2012.

These numbers don’t tell the whole tale, of course, but in combination with other statistics, they do paint a picture of a publication that is gaining readership and, hopefully, a valued place in the community. Our audience is broad, with long-term practitioners of digital humanities as well as those with a new interest in the field. We try to distribute works that appeal to those interested in academic research and teaching, as well as those engaged in cultural heritage practice and information sciences. And to help flesh out the web stats, we look to places like Twitter for a better sense of that community. We currently have more than 11,900 followers, an astounding number that underscores the reach of our news announcements and the pieces we highlight. We’ve seen how individual posts that appear as “Editors’ Choice” in DHNow provoke and extend discussions about digital humanities research and practice. There also is significant interest in the job postings and calls for participation that invite members of digital humanities communities to be further involved in the field.

We couldn’t do it, of course, without the volunteers that keep DHNow on its feet. This year alone, DHNow has had more than 100 Editors-at-Large, a job that entails reading the posts that come through our feed and their own networks, evaluating them, and nominating the best of the them to be highlighted as Editors’ Choice. An outstanding way to get a broad sense of what’s happening in digital humanities, volunteering as an Editor-at-Large also helps us invaluably. Everyone can sign up for a week of reading and nominating in the Editors-at-Large Corner, and we are currently seeking volunteers for the new year.

The Editors-in-Chief, all faculty and graduate students at the Roy Rosenzweig Center of History and New Media, have chosen 148 pieces as Editors’ Choice so far this year, and these are the posts that bring the most traffic to the site. Though the quality of those posts continues to be outstanding, we’re noticing a change in what comes to us via our feeds, as well. Two years ago, when we began keeping track of the blog posts that were scanned for DHNow content, there was an average of 4,000 new posts each month. Now we find the numbers are dropping significantly. We have refined our PressForward plugin so that we no longer receive duplicate posts from multiple feeds, and our metrics and ability to keep track of the numbers of posts are improving. This accounts for some difference, but we also believe this provokes questions about changes in blogging community: Are there fewer bloggers? Are those who blog waiting to publish more polished posts? Is the workload in the academy making it harder for academics to write for the open web? As we continue our research into scholarly publication into 2014, we will be considering these questions. (And welcoming the thoughts and ideas of our readers.) We’ll also be considering how we can continue to facilitate, aggregate, and highlight some of the most provocative and insightful work in digital humanities.

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