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One Week, One Tool: Practical Lessons from a Digital Humanities Barn Raising

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One Week, One Tool: Practical Lessons from a Digital Humanities Barn Raising

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One Week, One Tool: Practical Lessons from a Digital Humanities Barn Raising


The Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has come to the conclusion that effective digital tools for scholars are forged mostly in practice rather than theory. There is no reason that a weeklong institute can't both teach and produce something useful to the community—an actual digital humanities tool—while also laying the foundation and skills for future endeavors by the participants. Indeed, the act of doing, of building the tool, should be the best way for participants to learn what digital humanities really is and how it really happens. Project proposes a unique kind of institute: One Week, One Tool will teach participants how to build a digital tool for humanities scholarship by actually building a tool, from inception to launch, in a week—a digital humanities barn raising. One Week, One Tool won't be for the faint of heart. For one week in June 2010, from early mornings to late nights, the Center for History and New Media will bring together a group of twelve digital humanists of diverse disciplinary backgrounds and practical experience to build something useful and useable.
A short course of training in principles of open source
software development will be followed by an intense five days of doing and a year of continued community engagement, development, testing, dissemination, and evaluation. Comprising designers and programmers as well as project managers and outreach specialists, the group will conceive a tool, outline a roadmap, develop and disseminate a modest prototype, lay the ground work for building an open source community, and make first steps toward securing the project's long-term sustainability.

Start Date


End Date


Proposal Co-Authors

Tom Scheinfeldt
Dan Cohen


Tom Scheinfeldt
Dan Cohen

Staff Members

Jeremy Boggs
Dave Lester
Trevor Owens
Amanda Shoemaker


The first phase is the coordination and creation of a seven-day institute that includes learning and doing days.
The second activity will include year long activities to support the tool, including; spreading the circle, internationalization, user community development, feature requests/upgrades and alliances/partnerships,
Third, ensuring the long-term viability of the tool through meetings with CHNM and institute participants regarding permanent home institution for the project, renewal of project managers and developers, and strategies for the economic stability of the project.


National Endowment for the Humanities

Funding Amount






“One Week, One Tool: Practical Lessons from a Digital Humanities Barn Raising,” RRCHNM20, accessed June 24, 2024, https://20.rrchnm.org/items/show/208.

Item Relations

This Item foaf:fundedBy Item: National Endowment for the Humanities
This Item Staff Item: Dan Cohen
This Item Staff Item: Tom Scheinfeldt
This Item Staff Item: Jeremy Boggs
This Item Staff Item: Dave Lester
This Item Staff Item: Trevor Owens
This Item Staff Item: Amanda Shoemaker