Last week the Office of Digital Humanities (ODH) at the National Endowment for the Humanities announced the most recent winners of funding from the Digital Humanities Start Up grant competition (including a team here at CHNM).
Three things jump out at me as I look at the list of new projects. The first is a question–what happened to Web 2.0? Only two and possibly three of the projects seem to be utilizing the features of Web 2.0 that we were all so excited about just a year or two ago. I don’t know if this means that Web 2.0 has lost its luster in academic-techie circles, if the folks at the ODH are less interested in Web 2.0 proposals, or if the Web 2.0ish proposals submitted this time around just weren’t very good. One funding announcement does not a trend make, but it will be interesting to see what happens to Web 2.0 humanities in the next round of these grants.
The second thing I noticed in looking at these grants was how few use hand held computing platforms, especially smart phones, as essential technologies. I find this much more troubling than the lack of Web 2.0 grants because I think that the power of hand held computing devices to transform what we do in the digital humanities is far greater than the various things that can be found in the Web 2.0 basket. And I’m not alone in having such strong feelings about the coming impact of smart phones and other hand helds…just listen to what Tom and Dan had to say on this subject back in January.
Finally, it seems that 3D is the next big thing. A significant number of the funded proposals offer some sort of take on the creation of immersive 3D environments in one way or another. To date I think the jury is still out on 3D simulations in the humanities and so I’m pleased to see that the ODH is putting some money into these ideas to see which ones will work. After all, that is the purpose of these start up grants — to invest in a variety of opportunities in the hope that at least some of them pan out.