Getting It Done with Anthologize

Jeff Rogers
August 09, 2010
Image of the Anthologize logo.

News from the productivity front:  the One Week | One Tool summer institute funded by the NEH and hosted by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason met its ambitious goal of developing a new open-source digital humanities tool entirely within the space of a week.  What's more, Anthologize, the end result of all that frenzied collaboration, is well worth talking (and blogging) about--hence the digital humanities web hubbub of the past few days.

The new tool is notable both for its functionality and its inspiring origin story, and those two threads are arguably relatable in a greater trend that says a lot about what's going under the big digital humanities tent.  On the one hand, the blog-to-book ethos of the Anthologize plugin suggests an exciting new wrinkle in DIY electronic publishing, allowing WordPress 3.0 users to quickly aggregate, edit, and remix blog posts and external feeds with new content and to export the end product in multiple formats.  And on the other hand, the impressive utility of this prototype that went from inception to launch in just seven days seems to point toward additional horizons.

As others (see CHNM director Dan Cohen's blog) have well noted, the whole process that led to Anthologize is something of an anomaly in the typically deliberative environment of academe, and the idea of brainstorming, crash developing, and unleashing anything in a hurry runs directly counter to that sort of deliberation--perhaps refreshingly so.  In that sense, the apparent success and considerable boldness of the One Week | One Tool institute is an inspiration, and similarly, Anthologize itself seems to encourage a bold new sort of publication--one that pulls back the curtain on the process of scholarship and promises to shine a new light on rough drafts and alpha versions.

Anthologize users may never match the dizzying workflow of the tool's creators, but the events of the past week surely represent a provocative step in that direction.