My Time as an Editor for DHNow

Housekeeping

As an editor-at-large for DHNow, your job is to nominate content that will eventually be pushed by the system’s feeds. The system they use is extremely similar to dh+lib where PressForward allows the editors to both view and nominate the content that gets picked up by their submissions and subscribed feeds. First I want to give a thanks to Jenna for providing a detailed guide on the entire PressForward system featured on both DHNow and Dhlib – that guide can be found here. To amend a small detail to that guide: one of the best features about it is the fact that you can keep track of which articles you have read already by ticking a small “Mark as Read” button on the upper-right hand corner of the article.

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Using this system for an entire week has alerted me to some of the shortcomings to WordPress plugins like PressForward. As good as it can seem as a system of content nomination granted to short term users, it is quite clunky with most articles initially whiting out when clicked. You will most likely be reading “Attempting to Retrieve Full Article” for minutes at a time before clicking the saving grace that the system provided at the bottom of the window – the “Read Original” link which redirects the user to the article in question.

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I highly recommend setting aside at least thirty minutes each day to nominate content for the site. There is a lot of reading to be done and the content varies from a short article to long data studies. The “Mark as Read” feature becomes handy if you end up skipping a day and need a marker to continue from. However, you’ve been warned about the PressForward system: scrolling through to reach previous content can almost be nightmarish because it doesn’t cache, and retrieving previous day’s articles can take some time.

Content
Probably one of the most compelling and notable pieces of content that I nominated for the feed was an archive of the thousands of drawings penned by King Frederick William IV of Prussia (1795-1861). The drawings are sorted thematically and the top and bottom of the page provide two different ways of searching. You can search from a list of generated keywords that are relevant to his art or you can search based on a certain year. Aesthetically, the archive is beautiful and it will definitely ensure the preservation of the works. It’s examples of DH like this that truly intrigue me because something as obscure as the drawings of a Prussian king turn into something of much greater importance (due to both the curation and accessibility that’s generated from this).

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Another interesting and less serious project featured from the crawlers was the launch of the U.S. National Archives’ Animated GIF Archive. This collection features thousands of animated GIFs, but their message is more important. NARA is looking to provide people with a location for properly attributed and sourced content and are currently hosting it all through Giphy. Even something like two different exposures of Walt Whitman ended up making it to their archive. For those who are interested about the terms of the agreement with the government and Giphy, they put the document in the spotlight to encourage user participation in their endeavors.

The content was also inclusive of job postings from universities, open access journals, and even a lot of posts on African American and Native American history. Of course you also have your share of ridiculous content that shouldn’t be muddled in with great examples of Digital Humanities like election related nonsense and whatever this thing is.

One last interesting trend I noticed (in the content that I didn’t nominate to go directly in the feed of DHNow) was the fact that PressForward was picking up a lot of middlemen, where small bloggers would link to an article and then be picked up by their system. Unfortunately, DHNow wasn’t picking up the direct links but side roads that would eventually lead to the content in question.

Tidbits
For the more adventurous types, I highly recommend visiting the “Subscribed Feeds” section of the DHNow page to check out all the feeds that are aggregated by their system.

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