Planning the next phase

About a month has gone by since I forwarded you the detailed NEH feedback for our unfunded grant proposal. I thank you all for your renewed support. However, I believe that, in light of the feedback we received, we need a longer gestation period before we resubmit the proposal to NEH or another funding agency. Rather than rushing (again) to meet the February deadline of the NEH Implementation program, to which we submitted our proposal last year, it makes more sense to take a little more time in order to rethink, reframe and hopefully refine our proposal and, more importantly, reaffirm and clarify our goals.

One of the reviewers, indeed the most critical of our proposal, had perhaps also the most constructive criticism. While this reviewer found “some merit” in the proposal – indeed s/he considered it “in many ways an excellent proposal to develop a digital editing and curation environment for texts from Early Modern Italy,” s/he also expressed the following concerns:

“- Year 1 seems to include many planning, prototyping, and experimental activities. Despite the fact that this initiative would build on earlier DH projects, the initiative may benefit from a 1 year start up phase prior to an implementation grant. In particular, I note from the detailed timeline included in an appendix that project staff would need to familiarize themselves with Shared Canvas (a complex data model) during the grant term and draft a feature list for annotation functionality. These seem like preliminary, pre-implementation activities. ”

Personally, I believe this could be, in a nutshell, our plan for the next few months. This planning phase could (and perhaps should) also include another suggestion made by the same reviewer:

“- The environmental scan mentions MESA, but the project team should note that Renaissance scholars are also planning an ARC node to meet their needs named the Renaissance Knowledge Network (ReKN). The project team should be consulting closely with ReKN members and particularly with Ray Siemens at University of Victoria who is leading the initiative. Since the project team will be using Shared Canvas and OAC standards, interoperability with other resources and projects should be an essential part of a planning phase.”

These seem very specific and useful goals to be discussed among us, also in view of our planned meeting here at Brown, for which I’d like to propose the following dates: April 17-18, or May 1-2, 2015 (please, let me know at your earliest convenience which of these dates are preferable for you).

Of course, there might be other ideas (and other tools) to be taken into consideration and perhaps also tested in this planning phase, according to the specific goals of our various projects, and I invite you to propose them in response to this post (Dino for example has already posted some interesting suggestions for the next phase of the Pico project). The underlining question for me remains: what can the VHL provide that would make possible for us to meet our specific research goals and, in the process, allow us to develop our scholarly network to include also operative connections among our university libraries? I remain convinced that “l’unione fa la forza” (unity makes strength) and I consider this preliminary discussion essential also for a successful planning of our seminar/workshop in the Spring (more thoughts about this, shortly).

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