What is this, exactly?
The Socio-Technical Sustainability Roadmap (the “Roadmap” or the STSR) is a module-based workshop intended to help you and your team approach the seemingly daunting task of sustaining your web-based, user-facing, digital humanities project over time.
What does “sustaining over time” mean?
Not all digital project teams plan for their work to last for “BookTime,” that is, for as long as a traditional paper-based codex might last on a library shelf. Digital humanities projects can, and should, have a variety of expectations of longevity, and these expectations should match individual intellectual and technological goals as well as a realistic assessment of funding opportunities.
Some projects might “bloom and fade,” others may plan to last for the length of an individual scholar’s career, and some may indeed strive to persist indefinitely into the future. But all of these various options are best pursued as intentional plans rather than surprise happenstance. Even the process of ending a project is something that can be done with forethought and integrity. Digital projects might end for a variety of reasons, from an intentional “sunsetting” of the work to a sudden loss of funding resulting in an inability to support the project any further. The Roadmap is here to help plan for any and all sustainability aspirations or exigencies.
When would I use the Socio-Technical Sustainability Roadmap?
The design of the Roadmap is predicated on the conviction that digital humanities project teams need to answer the question, “How long do we want this to last?” at the very same moment as they are formulating their intellectual goals. We therefore suggest that an instance of the Roadmap be run at project inception. However, for digital work, engagement with such questions does not end after project launch, and so working with the Roadmap at any point in the project’s lifespan will be beneficial. Indeed, thinking about sustainability should happen iteratively and at multiple times over the life of a project. Digital humanities teams need to ask themselves questions relating to their project’s vision, scope, and socio-technical sustainability requirements periodically—we suggest every three years, to be precise.
How does the Roadmap help us work through these issues?
This website incorporates a series of modules that focus on what it takes to sustain a digital humanities project over time, taking both social and technical needs into consideration. The modules are organized thematically and are designed to make up a structured, process-oriented workshop that incorporates design thinking and collaborative-learning approaches. This team exercise, which can be implemented in a variety of institutional contexts, will guide you through the practice of creating effective, iterative, ongoing digital sustainability strategies for as long as your project is scheduled to last, and can also serve as a lifeline should an unexpected change, such as a sudden loss (or increase!) in funding or unplanned change in project staffing, happen. The Roadmap works best when you gather together all of the core stakeholders you can muster: all input is helpful, and most of it is critical, when attempting to plan for the future.
The modules of the Roadmap are categorized into three main sections, and it is best to take them in order. The next page in this introduction will give you an overview of what you can expect from each.
|Next Page: Overview of the STSR Modules|