The Dirt on DiRT (Digital Research Tools wiki)

New Design for DiRT!
December 10, 2008, 5:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Even though it’s winter, DiRT is abloom.  Eric Frierson designed a marvelous new logo, motto and look for the DiRT wiki, with some tweaking by Tyler Manolovitz.   We’re collaborating with Project Bamboo to add information about digital humanities tools and readings to DiRT; in particular, new DiRT editor and Project Bambooer Quinn Dombrowski has contributed some terrific links and other information.  Eric, Tyler, and I (Lisa) will be presenting a project briefing DiRT at the ELI Annual Meeting.  If you’re at ELI, please drop by and speak with us between 3 and 5 on January 20.


DiRT Designs: Summary of Planning Call, 6/18/08
June 18, 2008, 9:54 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Four of the five DiRT editors held a teleconference to discuss how to respond to user feedback and where to go next. Here’s a summary

  • We’re setting up a blog (The Dirt on DiRT, this very blog) to make our process as transparent as possible.  (Tyler–or was it Abe?–gets credit for the cool name.) On this blog we’ll post: project plans, responses to user feedback, project tracking information, deadlines, new tools that are being posted to DiRT, and other information that will help folks–including the DiRT Team–see what we’re up and provide feedback. Since pbwiki does not yet allow people to post comments without being registered on the wiki, we can use the blog as a temporary workaround until pbwiki is more full-featured.
  • Overarching goal: to be a community-centered, flexible site where researchers can come to find out about tools that can help them work more productively and creatively, and to share their knowledge about research tools. In a way, DiRT is providing reference support for tools rather than library resources in a wiki environment.
  • Users asked for information about the cost of tools and platforms that they work on. On our category level page, we will add $ to indicate that a tool is not free, a $ with a slash through it to indicate that it is free, or a $ with a slash plus a + sign to indicate that it is free but that upgrades are available. Once we get a better sense of price points, we will use a certain number of $ signs to indicate cost, e.g. $ for $1-50, $$ for $50-$200, etc. We will also write out what platform the tools work on (or just use headshots of the Mac and PC guys from the Apple commercials as icons).  We’ll consider using icons like the SHSU folks used for their presentation on Web 2.0 research tools.
  • So that users can get a quick glance of what distinguishes the tool from others on the category level page, we will provide brief (one sentence) descriptions of each tool.
  • In the long term, we hope to develop tool comparison matrices that highlight key features and help users identify what tool is most appropriate given their needs. Of course, we need to acknowledge that we’re not experts on every research tool out there and thus may need to recruit others to help us develop such matrices.
  • We also want to indicate ease of use of different tools, although this can be complex to evaluate and represent.
  • We don’t want the category level page to get too crowded by icons– we need a good balance.
  • USER FEEDBACK: We want to encourage DiRT readers to make comments on their experiences with different tools so that expertise is truly community based. Currently pbwiki’s commenting capabilities are limited–you have to be a registered user to comment. Tyler will investigate integrating a third party tool into pbwiki, perhaps via iframes. For now, we’ll encourage folks to take our survey, to make comments on the blog, or email editors. Pbwiki is supposed to be improving its commenting.
  • We also want pbwiki to improve its rss feeds–currently every revision is included in the feed. We’ll look into options–or encourage folks to subscribe to RSS feeds for the blog
  • Instead of sending e-reams of email to each other, we’ll set up a Sakai collaboration site to use its message board/ email archive functions. (This may sort of contradict our overall aim to be transparent, but we’re thinking that no one really wants to read all of our nitty gritty emails about when to hold our next conference call.)
  • We’ve already done a “soft” launch (that seemed to have a pretty big impact.) We’ll aim to do a full launch at the beginning of the fall semester. We’ll post announcements about DiRT to listservs and invite bloggers to help spread the word.
  • We’ll each commit to writing at least one review a week and developing the sections we’ve signed up to edit.
  • We’re always looking for more collaborators, whether contributors or editors.
  • A long term idea: to provide a chat service where people can ask questions about research tools or DiRT. We’d need to work out staffing issues, etc.
  • For now, our main focus will be on creating a critical mass of content, figuring out the best way to present content (e.g. developing icons and the like), and writing more reviews.