One Week | One Tool: A Digital Humanities Barn Raising


George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia



July 28, 2013 – August 3, 2013



In July 2010, twelve strangers arrived on the campus of George Mason University for a first-of-its-kind NEH-funded summer institute. Over the course of the next seven days, with the help of their instructors at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (CHNM), this diverse group of digital humanists conceived, built, and launched an entirely new software tool for humanities scholarship—Anthologize,a WordPress plugin designed to facilitate the remix and republication of blog posts as books.

During the week of Sunday, July 28 - Saturday, August 3, 2013, CHNM once again brought together a group of twelve digital humanists of diverse disciplinary backgrounds and practical experience to build something useful and usable. A short course of training in principles of open source software development was followed by an intense five days of doing and a year of continued remote engagement, development, testing, dissemination, and evaluation. Comprising designers and developers as well as scholars, project managers, outreach specialists, and other non-technical participants, the group conceived a tool, outlined a roadmap, developed and disseminated an initial prototype, laid the ground work for building an open source community, and made first steps toward securing the project’s long-term sustainability.

One Week | One Tool was inspired by both longstanding and cutting-edge models of rapid community development. For centuries rural communities throughout the United States have come together for "barn raisings" when one of their number required the diverse set of skills and enormous effort required to build a barn-- skills and effort no one member of the community alone could possess. In recent years, Internet entrepreneurs have likewise joined forces for crash "startup" or "blitz weekends" that bring diverse groups of developers, designers, marketers, and financiers together to launch a new technology company in the span of just two days. One Week | One Tool built on these old and new traditions of community development and the natural collaborative strengths of the digital humanities community to produce something useful for humanities work and to help balance learning and doing in digital humanities training.

Funding Information: Details About This Grant

Project Director(s)

Tom Scheinfeldt