Greenhouse Studios has always been concerned with fostering meaningful work using digital tools as a medium. However, the members of Greenhouse Studios, and the Digital Humanities movement as a whole, often rely on physical space to cultivate collaboration as well. While Greenhouse Studios has always used virtual spaces such as Google Docs and Slack in our design process, having a physical space filled with whiteboards, screens, notepads, and other tools has been integral to the process of collaboration. Since the beginning of COVID-19 and the practice of social distancing, Greenhouse Studios has been searching for creative solutions to try to replicate the physical space of the design process. These efforts are exemplified in a recent 2 week fully virtual collaboration by the team.
The team took up the project with the prompt “Social Distance” and condensed the design process to fit a 2 week timeline. Throughout the early, discussion-heavy phases of the project, the team used WebEx, Mural, and Google Docs to replicate synchronous, conversation-based brainstorming. As the project progressed, the team also communicated through Slack and Mural asynchronously. The team even experimented with using the app House Party to try to simulate the random encounters in physical workspaces. All of these tools were used to help create a sense of a common “place” where everyone in the project could meet and share ideas.
Overall, the project was successful, and the team learned a lot about planning and managing online collaboration efforts. The result was a video that explores why people are driven, both voluntarily and involuntarily, to isolate through history and the present moment.
Greenhouse Studios at the University of Connecticut, in partnership with the Northeastern University Library, is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a one-year planning grant in the amount of $120,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the continued development of Sourcery, a mobile application for sharing scans of archival materials.
Launched in December 2019 by Greenhouse Studios, Sourcery is an open source, community-based mobile application that expands access to non-digitized archival sources. With the Sourcery app installed on a phone or laptop, a researcher seeking a document can simply type in the citation information, and the app will notify Sourcery-registered researchers currently working in and around the repository where the document sits. One of these remote researchers claims the job, calls the document from the archive, takes a picture of it from within the Sourcery application, and sends it directly to the requesting researcher. A custom, enterprise version of Sourcery, for use by archivists – especially during COVID-19-related library closures – will launch in late-summer 2020. This enterprise version will offer special functionality for institutional users, such as a dedicated institutional account, customized pricing, and eventual integration with collection management systems and online catalogues. In addition to providing archives with a streamlined workflow and additional revenue stream, the enterprise version of Sourcery will provide patrons with a single interface for placing document requests across multiple repositories, even during a time when social distancing measures limit in-person access to collections and the ability to travel.
Funding from The Mellon Foundation will allow the Sourcery team to expand the geographical reach of the app, improve its user interface, and work with partners in libraries and archives to support the development of the enterprise version of the software. As a part of this effort, Northeastern University Library will host a virtual workshop series for institutional stakeholders in the fall of 2020, during which the team will solicit feedback and advice from stakeholders in the library and archives community. In addition, working in partnership with the Corporation for Digital Scholarship (CDS), which provides the legal and financial infrastructure for Sourcery, the grant will support develop plans for making Sourcery interoperable with CDS-supported projects, including Zotero, Omeka, and Tropy.
Members of the Courtroom 600 project team recently participated in the 2020 ED Games Expo in Washington, D.C., allowing students, educators, and others to dive into an immersive encounter with the Major War Criminals Trial (1945-46) at Nuremberg, Germany. The annual expo, hosted by the Department of Education, is described by the ED as a “public showcase and celebration of educational learning games as well as innovative forms of learning technologies for children and students in education and special education.”
Collaborators Clarissa Ceglio, Stephen Slota, and Ken Thompson presented an early-stage prototype of the virtual reality experience to crowds of all ages; attendees were able to wear the headset and engage with the project first-hand, while also discussing both the research and the process of creating the experience. Courtroom 600, which integrates collections materials from UConn Library’s Archives & Special Collections (ASC) into the learning quest, is supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities‘ Digital Projects for the Public grant. You can read more about the Courtroom 600 project and its other team members, here, and explore the ASC’s fully-digitized collection of materials from the U.S. Prosecution’s Executive Trial Counsel Thomas J. Dodd, here.
A young ED Games Expo attendee explores an early Courtroom 600 proof-of-concept. ED Games Expo is a showcase of government-supported
educational learning games and technologies.
The Greenhouse Studios Team would like to congratulate and extend a sincere thank-you to this year’s group of graduates for all of their efforts and accomplishments during their time as Greenhouse Studios collaborators!
Sylvia Mosiany has been working with us for the last two years while pursuing an MFA in Digital Media & Design, studying digital humanities. In that time, she has contributed to the Greenhouse Studios team in many valuable ways! In addition to her presence on a few of our project teams, Sylvia has also undertaken responsibilities in research on digital publishing as well as helping us to organize many important documents and events.
River Soma, who has also been with us for the past two years, earned an MFA in Studio Art with a concentration in sculpture. Among River’s valuable contributions to our team is the wonderful design process model mural she painted on one of our walls in 2018. She also lent her talents in ceramics to creating several custom vessels for the plants which inhabit our studio space, most of which she also thoughtfully curated (read all about it here)! River was also a member of several project teams, including Convivio, Husky ReView, Léamh, and Tube. Additionally, River managed the curation of our gallery wall, having programmed a number of interesting and fun exhibitions of student & staff artwork, including our most recent show featuring the children of Greenhouse Studios collaborators!
Both Sylvia and River exhibited their thesis work in a very successful and exciting exhibition at the William Benton Museum of Art this Spring, and gave thought-provoking public artist talks as well!
Undergraduate Research Assistant Sophia Valentin joined us in Fall 2018, and has been managing the social media accounts of both Greenhouse Studios and Tube. She has dreamed up so many awesome social media posts and campaigns, and has greatly improved our online engagement! She has applied her many talents into the creation of custom, engaging visual content for all of our channels, and has helped to shape the voice and brand of Greenhouse Studios. Sophia graduates with a BA in Digital Media & Design with a concentration in motion design and animation.
Finally, Ting Zhou will also be moving on after two years at Greenhouse Studios to pursue teaching undergraduate design courses for both UConn’s Digital Media & Design department, and the department of Art & Art History at Eastern Connecticut State University! Ting has made very meaningful contributions to the branding of Greenhouse Studios and its projects, and also has a track record of bringing in delicious homemade snacks!! We have also very much enjoyed visits from Ting’s two young children, one of which even exhibited artwork in our first ever Children of Greenhouse Studios art show this Spring!
We will sorely miss all of our new Greenhouse Studios alumni, but we are very much looking forward to seeing all that you accomplish! Congratulations, and thank you all so much for being a part of our team!
Greenhouse Studios | Scholarly Communications Design at UConn is a shared venture of the School of Fine Arts, UConn Library, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Connecticut. Backed by long-term university investments of staff and space, Greenhouse Studios aims to institute on its university’s campus, and share with others involved in academic publishing, a workflow and work culture suited to the creation of multimodal scholarly communications. This paper summarizes the research, undertaken with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, that informed the development of a design-based, inquiry-driven, collaboration-first model of scholarly production that places continuous, close, equitable scholarly communications labour at the heart of its mission. The model draws together divided workflows and flattens counterproductive hierarchies that, as vestiges of print-only traditions, impede fuller realization of the possibilities offered by the diverse range of digital and hybrid forms that increasingly define the publishing landscape.
Ceglio, Clarissa J., Tom Scheinfeldt, and Sara Sikes. “Redesigning Scholarly Communications Workflows and Work Habits for the Digital Age: The Greenhouse Studios Proposal.” Journal of Scholarly Publishing 50, no. 2 (January 2019): 96–114. https://doi.org/10.3138/jsp.50.2.02.
At the heart of the Greenhouse Studios design process is the concept of “collaboration from the start.” All too often collaborators are brought on board at a late stage merely to implement or put the finishing touches on scholarly projects, not to conceptualize them. This is particularly true with respect to designers and developers, whose labor and expertise are typically used in a service capacity to support the work of credentialed faculty researchers. There’s nothing wrong, of course, with hiring a developer to build a website for a scholarly research project, or having a design technologist create colorful and engaging data visualizations. Indeed, designers, developers and other technologists can enhance conventional research outputs, especially at the publication and dissemination stages, by making them more accessible, more engaging and more comprehensible to broader audiences.
But what happens when collaborators with expertise in design and technology are part of a project team from the very beginning? Moreover, what happens when technologists work alongside other diverse researchers, whose respective fields may lie adjacent to one another, but rarely overlap?
Since the 1970s, scholars in fields as varied as sedimentology, ornithology, sociology, and philosophy have come to understand the importance of self-organizing systems, of how higher-order complexity can “emerge” from independent lower-order elements. Emergence describes how millions of tiny mud cracks at the bottom of a dry lake bed form large scale geometries when viewed at a distance, or how water molecules, each responding simply to a change in temperature, come to form the complex crystalline patterns of a snowflake. Emergence describes how hundreds of birds, each following its own, relatively simple rules of behavior, self-organize into a flock that displays its own complex behaviors, behaviors that none of the individual birds themselves would display. In the words of writer Steven Johnson, emergence describes how those birds, without a master plan or executive leadership, go from being a “they” to being an “it.” In other words, emergence describes a becoming.
We, too, form emergent systems. Emergence describes how a crowd of pedestrians self-organizes to form complex traffic flows on a busy sidewalk. Viewed close-up, each pedestrian is just trying to get to his or her destination without getting trampled, reacting to what’s in front of him or her according to a set of relatively simple behavioral rules—one foot in front of the other. Viewed from above, however, we see a structured flow, a river of humanity. Acting without direction, the crowd spontaneously orders itself into a complex system for maximizing pedestrian traffic. The mass of individual actors has, without someone in charge, gone from being an uncoordinated “they” to an organized “it.” Continue reading →
Wes Hamrick is a Greenhouse Studios Mellon Fellow who will be managing the Cohort B projects that started this year. A dedicated team member, Wes recently answered some questions related to his role at Greenhouse Studios.
At Greenhouse Studios, we are working out the process of creating new forms of scholarship. One important aspect of what differentiates scholarship from projects is sustainability. As I like to say, there is no scholarship without persistence. The infrastructure of persistence is well understood in traditional academic publishing, but is less understood in the world digital humanities.
The Greenhouse Studios model works through five distinct phases, Understand, Identify, Build, Review, Release, and is based on the idea of flattening traditional academic hierarchies: we do not build things for faculty, we gather together a group of people around a common intellectual question, and go from there.
Archivists have traditionally insisted that it improves the preservation potential of any digital record for the archivist—or at least preservation thinking—to be a part of the creation of that record from the beginning. At Greenhouse Studios we are testing what that actually means in terms of new forms of scholarship. What is the beginning? When is it appropriate to consider preservation? Continue reading →