Transitioning to a Digital World: Art History, its Research Centers, and Digital Scholarship

The following is excerpted from a report written for The Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University. The full report can be found at the Kress Foundation Website (PDF).


The increasing use of digital technologies in research, publication and teaching has spurred change in many disciplines. In the field of art history, the transition from teaching with slides to teaching with digital images is often cited as the “tipping point” that moved the field into the digital world. Using digital images for research and teaching requires an understanding of digitization, online searching, and use of presentation software for displaying and manipulating digital images. These activities opened up new opportunities for the field. As art historians Hilary Ballon and Mariët Westermann note:

Digital teaching … has stimulated the development and application of tools to simulate and enhance the experience of viewing art and architecture in new ways…. These tools make it possible to unfurl scrolls, move through buildings, zoom-in on details, overlay different states of an etching, track the build-up of a painting, animate structural forces, navigate 3-D reconstruction of ruins, model an unbuilt design, and map archaeological sites.  …These tools are yielding new perspectives on the objects of study….[1]

A question that emerges from the new opportunities afforded by digital teaching and research is the role art history research centers play in this process. Are these centers broadening research traditions to include digitally-based research agendas? Are they serving as incubators of digital projects, tools, and scholarship? If not, where are the frontiers of digital scholarship in art history?

Another factor to be considered is the perspective of art historians. What do practitioners in the discipline feel is the way forward for both the field and for its research centers? How do they think digital engagement will affect methodologies and theoretical inquiries in the field? How will it alter classroom teaching and the training of future art historians? Who will develop the tools, services and infrastructure to support art history as its efforts and byproducts increasingly become digital?

The Art History Research Center in Context

The discipline of art history is supported by an infrastructure of universities, libraries, archives, museums, publishers, funding agencies, professional associations, and research centers. Among these entities, the art history research center plays a particularly important role. Despite differences in organizational structure, institutional affiliation, and core mission and programs, nearly all art history research centers:

  • Create specialized library and manuscript collections serving art historical scholarship
  • Develop specialized visual resource collections that document the objects of art historical study
  • Offer fellowships that bring scholars in various stages of their careers to the center to use its resources in the pursuit of new and innovative research in the field
  • Foster an international community of scholars and a scholarly communications network that draws art historians together to share research interests through conferences, symposia, and publication programs

This unique array of services creates an environment where scholars can pursue their research unencumbered by other professional obligations, yet supported by superb facilities, world class information resources, and well-respected colleagues. In providing this environment, art history research centers advance the field by supporting the research efforts of its practitioners.

Because of the unique role that art history research centers play in the life of the discipline, they seem likely sources of innovation in the emerging area of digital art history.[2] However, preliminary inquiries suggest that this is not the case. In the spring of 2010, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation sponsored a Web-based survey of art history research centers in the United States and Europe. The survey revealed that digital projects and activities undertaken in art history research centers are impressive in their scope and execution, but are relatively uncommon. When they do occur, they tend to be the singular interest of an art historian based at the center, not the focus of a center’s mission or research agenda. Instead it appears that an increasing amount of digital innovation in art history is taking place outside art history research centers, in university academic departments, in museums, or as independent efforts led by individual scholars.

If true, this situation parallels circumstances found throughout the humanities, where digital humanities research proliferates outside of traditional humanities centers. Why is digital scholarship concentrated in nontraditional centers?  Is this a desirable state of affairs?  What is gained by this separation?  What is lost?

An Investigation

In 2011, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, in conjunction with the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, sponsored the first ever study of the art history community to clarify its perceptions on the role of digital scholarship and its future impact on the discipline. While art history’s research centers are at the core of this study, their status mirrors perspectives on the role that digital art history plays in the discipline at large. Consequently the study crosses into the broader realm of art history as it moves toward more digitally-based pursuits, and explores the impact of this move on one of the discipline’s most important institutions – its research centers.

The study incorporates findings derived from fifty-four interviews, eight research center site visits, and a scan of literature addressing digital art history and related topics. During the interviews and site visits, the following topics were explored:[3]

  • The role of art history research centers in supporting digital art history
  • Challenges in art history teaching, research, and scholarship in the digital realm
  • Access to digital tools, services, and resources needed by the discipline
  • Digital pedagogy in art history
  • The role of digital publishing in the discipline
  • Current and potential partnerships, particularly digital humanities centers
  • Sources of innovation in the field
  • The role of funding agencies in supporting digital art history

Summary of Findings

The art history community is ambivalent about the value of digital research, teaching, and scholarship. Those who believe in the potential of digital art history feel it will open up new avenues of inquiry and scholarship, allow greater access to art historical information, provide broader dissemination of scholarly research, and enhance undergraduate and graduate teaching. Those who are skeptical doubt that new forms of art historical scholarship will emerge from the digital environment. They remain unconvinced that digital art history will offer new research opportunities or that it will allow them to conduct their research in new and different ways.

The community’s ambivalence about digital art history also carries into its perception of art history research centers and their role in fostering digital scholarship. These research centers are highly valued, and many professionals feel they should use their respected position in the community to actively promote and support digital art history. However, no one believes these centers have the capacity or desire to transform into purely digital art history research centers, nor do they want them to do so. This raises a number of issues about who can provide the supportive environments needed to create and maintain digital art history projects and what effect will this have on promoting digital scholarship within the discipline.

Many factors account for the current marginal status of digital art history. Among the most important are perceived threats to existing research paradigms and behaviors, outmoded reward structures for professional advancement and tenure, insufficient capacity and technology infrastructure, the absence of digital art history training and funding opportunities, copyright and access problems that interfere with digital publishing, and the need for multidisciplinary partnerships to develop and sustain digital art history projects. Also contributing to this marginalization is an absence of dialogue among the community’s leadership – its professional organizations, funders, thought leaders, and research centers – about what art history will be in the 21st century, and the role digital art history plays in that scenario.

Moving Forward

Many individuals believe that the deleterious behaviors that negatively affect digital art history will “die a natural death” when art historians entrenched in traditional ways retire and are replaced by younger colleagues who, as one scholar noted, are more inclined to “think through technology.” Also, as tools and data resources become more abundant, quantitative research is likely to follow as part of a natural progression that occurs in disciplines when confronted with increasing amounts of data. Nevertheless, interviewees felt many steps could be taken now to encourage and promote digital scholarship among art historians and at art history research centers. These steps include the following:

Engage senior scholars in the enterprise

Junior scholars who pursue digital art history projects are widely thought to be jeopardizing their academic careers. However, the same is not true for senior scholars, whose tenured status, professorial ranking, and respect among their peers uniquely positions them to take risks without fear of career consequences. As one interviewee noted:

Older scholars –if they decide to leap into this – have the possibility of offering more because they are less under the gun in terms of tenure and promotion and publications. Older scholars like me should be out there on the limb doing the e-books, etc. We should set the model. We can take the risk.

Thus senior scholars are seen as having a critical role to play in persuading reticent art historians to lend credence to the emerging area of digital scholarship. Aligning senior scholars with a digital project, or inviting them to take part in discipline-wide efforts that support digital scholarship, imparts a unique imprimatur whose value cannot be overstated.

Conduct digital art history and traditional art history in tandem

It is important to demonstrate to those in the field that digital analysis is one type of art historical analysis that can be fruitfully combined with art history’s more qualitative approaches to yield new insights and information. To drive this point home, efforts are needed that incorporate digital research and scholarship in tandem with traditional modes of art historical research and scholarship.

Bring new people into new roles

“Seeding” academic art history departments or research centers with skilled individuals can help jumpstart digital initiatives in these places. Postdoctoral fellowships in digital art history are one means of accomplishing this goal, but other options might also prove fruitful. For example, using technology-savvy professionals who currently work with art historians (museum educators, librarians and archivists were specifically mentioned) to serve as intermediaries between technologists and art historians would help bridge the divide between these two communities. Another option is to bring in “instigators” or individuals from outside the research center who possess a unique set of technology, humanities, and people skills. The job of these “instigators” would be to push against institutional barriers without being intimidating to others nor easily thwarted themselves.

Convene thought leaders and coalitions

Because the discipline has never brought its thought leaders together to discuss digital teaching, research, and scholarship, no discipline-wide perspectives or consensus have coalesced around the role of these topics in art history. As one scholar noted, the profession needs to ask:

How do we integrate the good about digital technologies and apply rigorous intellectual criteria to their use? Instead of turning our back on digital, how can we co-opt it and embrace it and make it a vital part of what we do?

Coalitions of art historians, representatives of research centers and professional organizations, funders, and other relevant stakeholders are needed to start a dialogue and get these topics on the agenda. While other humanities disciplines are further along in addressing digital scholarship issues and can offer useful insights, the art history profession ultimately must come to its own consensus and devise solutions that meet its particular needs.

Identify a digital humanities training environment

There is a dearth of digital humanities training for art historians and art history students, and a strong sense that more formal training opportunities are needed in this area. However, there is little consensus on how such training should be structured. Should it be part of the art history curriculum and if so, should it be incorporated into existing courses or developed as a separate training strand?  Should the discipline leverage opportunities offered by digital humanities centers, many of whom have a training infrastructure in place? A study that examines the existing digital humanities training landscape (both in and outside of art history), identifies models worthy of emulation, and considers how the discipline can leverage existing opportunities, would provide useful insights for those who wish to move forward on this issue.

Further Issues, Assessments, and Trends

The Art History Research Center and Digital Art History

The general consensus among the participants in this study is that art history research centers should take a greater role in supporting digital art history but should stop short of transforming themselves into full-fledged digital art history centers akin to the digital humanities centers that exist in other disciplines. Instead, participants think it more feasible to advance digital scholarship in the discipline through relationships and collaborations with entities such as museums, university departments, digital humanities centers or other advanced programs that have infrastructure and experience in this area. Digital humanities centers (DHCs) in particular are thought to be important potential partners, and opportunities to establish a dialogue with these centers are highly sought. Such dialogues will be critical for laying a foundation for collaboration, for the two entities harbor misperceptions about the other in terms of roles, research methodologies, and professional cultures.

But if digital art history is to take place outside of the discipline’s research centers, what is to be gained by this separation, and what might be lost? The “gain” might be that digital art history moves ahead at a more rapid pace and in a more cross-disciplinary context that enriches the effort. The few art historians in this study who are engaged in research projects in DHCs certainly suggest this is the case. They describe their work in DHCs as transformative, altering the way they view their research, presenting them with new lines of inquiry, and reconfiguring their “solitary enterprise as a scholar into a collective engagement.”

But there is also a potential “loss” because a crucible of art historical scholarship – the art history research center – will have less of an influence and role in the evolution of digital art history than it does in other areas of the discipline. The effect of this on the discipline is hard to predict. However, recent events taking place between digital humanities centers and traditional humanities research centers might shed some light on the separation and its resolution over time.

Reconnecting Digital Humanities and Traditional Humanities Centers:  A Pathway for Digital Art History and Art History Research Centers?

Those engaged in digital art history believe that digital humanities centers (DHCs) have made digital humanities a valid research area within the humanities, and could help digital art history gain similar credibility in the field of art history. However, those who work in the digital humanities are quick to point out that the move toward greater credibility in the “traditional” humanities is fairly recent and ongoing. It took its first formal turn with a recent initiative between centerNet (an international network of DHCs) and the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI). Under the terms of this initiative, the two organizations will pursue joint activities that explore the relationship between digital practices and disciplinary expertise, and investigate the role of digital scholarship within and between universities and colleges, and with audiences beyond academia.[4]

Digital humanists note that traditional humanities research centers have long been places of innovation in their support of interdisciplinary research. DHCs are extensions of this, albeit with a digital focus and with specialized staff dedicated to assisting the humanities scholars in their digital enterprise. A DHC’s contribution to the broader humanities tradition is to define how digital resources can generate new forms of scholarship and how scholars can build on existing digital resources to create new scholarship (much like the role concordances played in generating scholarship in the past.)

As DHCs proliferate and mature, the opportunities to work with traditional humanities centers grow increasingly apparent to both entities. Together they can explore the interfaces between technology and nontechnology areas of the humanities, and develop curricula that align humanities training with evolving practice. And they might discover they complement each other in previously unimagined ways. Traditional humanities centers, for example, might serve as a hub for digital humanities projects, offering neutral space that transcends DHCs’ increasingly disciplinary boundaries.

There is a sense among many digital humanists that the “digital” modifier will fall away and the distinctions that now exist between digital and traditional humanities will start to blur. As one individual phrased it:

… at some point the notion of what counts as digital humanities should not be considered more distinct from humanities. The example with biology is good one. For a long time computational biology was thought to be very esoteric area – few people were out trying to do that. And now it is part of biology – just another area of the discipline…. We would like to move to this, all of this, (to) humanities.

Does greater collaboration between DHCs and traditional humanities centers portend a similar path for art history? It might help foster an environment that narrows the chasm between digital art history and traditional art history. For the moment however, those who participate in digital art history feel adrift: they are neither embedded in art history research centers nor in DHCs. Until digital art historians have a stronger foothold in some institutional structure, it is hard to know whether the greater meshing of digital scholarship and traditional scholarship that is taking place in the broader humanities world will eventually come to pass in the discipline of art history.

Pro-active Approaches to Image Access

A number of legal and social factors beset image access for art historical research and publication. Copyright, proprietary repositories, risk aversion, embargo policies, and excessively vigilant artist rights agencies and estates are some of the factors that make image access one of the most challenging, time consuming, and costly aspects of the research process. Many of these factors are governed by law and thus hard to overcome. However, others are governed by tradition, which could be changed if there were the will to do so.

One change that is deemed critical, at least in the US, is the creation of guidelines for the fair use of images in art historical research and publication. Fair use guidelines, if created by a coalition of art history organizations and legal scholars, and endorsed throughout the discipline, are seen as potentially “game changing.”[5] They would give normally reticent art historians guidance on when to invoke fair use, and would encourage them to exercise this right. They also would educate artists, estates, and their representative agencies, which are widely perceived to be overly vigilant in asserting rights in situations that are clearly fair use. Moreover, the guidelines could be useful in the legal arena, where courts often consider a community’s traditions when ruling on copyright disputes.

More open access policies by repositories also would go a long way in making the online environment more conducive to art historical publication. Repositories that exert strict control over their public domain collections need to be convinced that their stridency hurts the profession and might harm their institutional reputation. One scholar suggested a more fruitful approach, framing the situation as follows:

… the Web is awash with poor quality images and metadata of works from their (research center) collections. Given this reality, centers would do better to reposition themselves as centers of excellence, and strive to make everything available online at the highest quality levels possible. Centers who do this will quickly become known as the place for authoritative, high quality versions of their works, and people would be drawn to them for this reason, as well as for their expertise and for access to materials that they cannot legally put online.

But if repositories are to reap the benefits of being seen as the providers of authoritative content, they have to reestablish themselves in this light with savvy use and placement of quality content in the online environment.

The Rijksmuseum recently undertook a modest but far-reaching experiment in an effort to reposition itself in this manner.[6] The Museum makes high quality images of its public domain works available without restrictions on its Web site, but when these images are retrieved via search engines, they and other Museum images are “lost” amid innumerable, lesser quality images of the same works. For example, the Museum found that over 10,000 poor quality, “yellowish” versions of its Vermeer painting The Milkmaid[7] are available online. The prevalence of so many “yellow Milkmaid” images has led visitors to question the verisimilitude of the Museum’s own quality reproductions. To push against this tide, the Rijksmuseum placed its high quality metadata with the reproduction of the work into various online open access channels. In the Museum’s view, “opening up our data is our best defence (sic) against the ‘yellow Milkmaid’.”[8]

What is a Digital Publication?

While art historians are aware of digital publishing and its complexities, some underlying conceptual issues have yet to be considered. In particular, what constitutes publication in the digital world? Should new online forms of publication be valued equally? Are they equivalent in value to print publications?

The discipline currently views digital publication through the lens of its print precursor. However, the very notion of publication is expanding as new forms emerge online that have no print equivalent. For example, Web sites, databases, blogs, wikis, etc., are gaining inclusion within the publication rubric. While many in art history do not believe these formats to be publications in the sense they ascribe to the concept, most agree that the boundaries are being stretched. The major bibliographic citation style guides (MLA, Chicago, APA, etc.) have tacitly acknowledged this expansion as well by developing citation formats for content found in new media platforms (Web sites, blogs, Tweets, wikis).  They have done so in response to scholars’ increasing need to reference these formats in their work.

Current digital publishing efforts in art history, innovative as they are, still convey a sense of “publication” that is embedded in conventional norms. It is easier to accept digital publications when they can be understood through a traditional publication metaphor, and to devise ways to include this type of scholarship in current evaluation systems. Assessing digital resources (such as databases) or online research projects (such as the Raphael Research Resource[9]) is less clear-cut because they depart from this metaphor. Yet when viewed from the perspective of evaluative criteria rather than publication format, the originality, research, and intellectual effort invested in digital resources or research projects often equals or exceeds that of a published monograph. In this light, it becomes harder to justify why the latter is assigned greater scholarly value than the former.

Evaluating and Apportioning Credit in Digital Projects

Every discipline is struggling with how to evaluate digital projects and apportion credit to the individuals who work on them. Part of the difficulty is that these projects are never “finished” in a conventional sense:  they undergo many iterations as they develop and evolve. A present instantiation of a project might no longer contain visible traces of earlier work. Similarly, “under the hood” efforts that are foundational to a project often are not visible and thus cannot be easily evaluated.

Complicating this scenario is an academic culture that evaluates scholarly production by assessing individual effort. Because digital projects are collaborative endeavors where it can be hard to tease out “who did what,” they have a limbo-like status in the academic community, awaiting discipline-specific guidelines for how they might be assessed in the context of dissertation review, academic promotion, tenure, or other situations that require evaluative measures.

Although participants in this study felt art history’s leadership was slow to address ways to incorporate new modes of scholarly production, they were optimistic that the evaluative issues will be resolved over the next few years because the increased amount of scholarly production in digital form will force the issue. As they see it, the acceptance process is already occurring somewhat organically, as more digital scholarship is produced and works its way into the “package” of materials they are asked to review as part of tenure and promotion decisions. As one scholar said:

Surely someone is going ask me when I next review someone, ‘please can you look at this electronic resource as well as giving us your opinion of (their other work)?’… And I can imagine writing a reference that says, ‘look these are good articles, but this Web resource is extraordinary.’ And I would expect a university department to give credit for it.

Social Media

Social media is increasingly being used as a means of scholarly communication. Through these channels, scholars engage in discussions with colleagues about methodologies, post inquiries related to their research, and pass along relevant information to their field.[10] This trend might have a transformative effect on scholarship:

As more scholars move more of their workflows to the public Web, we are assembling a vast registry of intellectual transactions – a web of ideas and their uses whose timeliness, speed, and precision make the traditional citation network look primitive.….This new ecosystem promises to change not only the way we express scholarship, but the way we measure, assess, and consume it.[11]

Art history scholars do not appear to be part of this trend, preferring instead to use email or listservs for scholarly communication rather than blogs, wikis, or other forms of social media. What are the implications of this? A vast amount of information is now available on social media platforms that is not available on Web sites or in databases. Additionally, these platforms offer broader opportunities to share research results because they reach far wider audiences.[12] What are art historians missing by not being part of the scholarly information and networking that increasing passes through these channels? What opportunities are being lost by not promoting new research, programs or other scholarly efforts in the discipline via these channels?

Encouraging the discipline to use social media forums for scholarly communication will require some convincing and handholding, as both biases and fears about the use of these communication channels remain high in the discipline. Nevertheless, there are important strategic reasons for doing so. First, these communication channels cast a broader net than email and listservs, extending the discipline’s reach and impact to a larger scholarly community. More importantly, use of these channels help move the research process further into the digital arena. Art historians already conduct a portion of their work in an online environment – they routinely search through databases or Web resources for information relevant to their research inquiry at some point in their research process. Conducting scholarly communication via social media channels essentially puts another part of their research workflow into this realm as well. In doing so, it extends the functional perception of the online world from being “a place to search” to “a place to interact.” This might well be revelatory for a discipline that, as one scholar noted, still narrowly views the digital realm as just “one big research library.”

Addressing Ambivalence

Art historians who remain ambivalent about digital art history cite an absence of convincing arguments about technology transforming research and scholarship. While they acknowledge the value of technology in identifying and delivering resources, and personally benefit from using technology in this way, they feel these capabilities simply address the mechanics of research but do not transform the nature of it. The sentiments expressed by the following scholar are characteristic of others in the discipline:

I wouldn’t say that it allows or breaks new theoretical ground…I wouldn’t say that intellectually it has led to new work.  …I have become completely addicted to it (for searching), but I am crunching everything I find into fairly traditional art historical interpretative frameworks.

Those who work in digital art history need to make a more convincing case about its value for research and scholarship. Claims about the transformative nature of digital art history — how it allows one to pose new questions or investigate inquiries in new ways — need to be demonstrated in a concrete fashion. Projects that pull together materials into a new online resource or tool are valuable, but many participants do not believe they make the big, convincing statements that demonstrate how “digital” can advance scholarship and result in new art historical methodologies and frameworks. They advocate instead for more interpretive projects that allow art historians to see new lines of inquiry or address research questions in new ways.

Increasing the Visibility and Usage of Digital Art History Projects

The creators of digital art history projects are disheartened by how little interest and use their colleagues make of these projects. Despite their efforts at showcasing them far and wide (at conference and symposia presentations, in print publicity, with online introduction and training seminars, and in demonstrations to visiting colleagues and interested parties), usage and participation is far below what is desired.

At the same time, interviewees express frustration about how difficult it is to learn about digital art history projects, and suggest an online portal to make it easier to locate them. But a portal alone might not solve the issue of connecting projects to colleagues because other issues are at play. The absence of a collaborative tradition suggests that even if digital art history projects come to their attention, art historians might not engage with them. Also, digital art history projects lack two critical factors that strongly correlate with high-use digital projects in other professions: strong institutional support, and disciplinary acceptance of digital methods in research.[13]

While the creators of digital art history projects can do little on their own to address these larger issues, there are strategies they can employ that might have a greater impact. A study of best practices in digital humanities projects suggests that developers of these projects need to identify their target user community early in the development process and cultivate them for the long-term, seeking their insights about content, interfaces and functionality.[14] The implication is that pro-active efforts to grow a targeted community for a digital resource must be concurrent with the building of the resource. Cultivating a community in this manner might yield greater returns than the broader promotional strategies that digital art historians have undertaken to date.

Another study that examined the long-term usage of digital projects offers an interesting insight about the value of librarians in directing users to digital projects.[15] The authors note that a key role for librarians is to bring important resources to a researcher’s attention. Researchers trust their librarians’ judgment and will more often follow recommended links from a library or university Web site because they know they have been vetted for scholarly value and interest. Building on this finding, digital art historians might consider the role a university or research center’s librarian can play in developing a strategy for repositioning their digital art history project among other frequently-used resources.

Originally posted by the Kress Foundation in May 2012.

  1. [1]Ballon, Hilary and Mariët Westermann, Art History and Its Publications in the Electronic Age (Houston: Rice University Press,  2006), 57-58. (Also available online at
  2. [2]The phrase “digital art history” is used throughout this report to represent art historical research, scholarship and/or teaching using new media technologies.
  3. [3]Interviewees included art historians, professionals from affiliate communities that support art historical research (e.g., librarians, archivists, information technologists), directors of art history research centers and digital humanities centers, representatives from associations representing art history research centers, and individuals from foundations and agencies that fund art history and humanities research.
  4. [4]“CHCI and centerNet Announce Joint Program | Scholarly Communication Institute,” June 21, 2010.
  5. [5]Similar guidelines developed by other communities are said to have had a transformational effect on these communities. See “Best Practices | Center for Social Media,” 2012.
  6. [6]Harry Verwayen, Martijn Arnoldus, and Peter B. Kaufman, “The Problem of the Yellow Milkmaid:  A Business Model Perspective on Open Metadata,” Europeana White Paper No. 2, November 2011.
  7. [7]“Johannes Vermeer, The Kitchen Maid. Oil on canvas, 45.5 x 41 cm, c. 1658. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.
  8. [8]Verwayen et. al. 2011, pg. 2. See also “JISC Digitisation Programme » Utopian DH Project 2: Art History Is Words Not Images.” JISC Digitisation Programme, January 24, 2012, for a discussion in which the Rijksmuseum strategy is considered in the broader context of metadata’s value for art online images of art works.
  9. [9]The National Gallery, London, “Raphael Research Resource,” n.d.
  10. [10]For a survey of scholarly use of social media by age and social media platform see: Anatoliy Gruzd, M. Goertzen, and P. Mai, Survey Results Highlights: Trends in Scholarly Communication and Knowledge Dissemination In the Age of Social Media, Social Media Lab: Dalhousie University, February 1, 2012.
  11. [11]Jason Priem, “As Scholars Undertake a Great Migration to Online Publishing, Altmetrics Stands to Provide an Academic Measurement of Twitter and Other Online Activity | Impact of Social Sciences.” Impact of Social Science, The London School of Economics and Political Science, November 21, 2011.
  12. [12]A recent experiment by humanities scholar Melissa Terras illustrates the impact of social media in the context of her own publications. Terras found that when she tweeted or blogged about certain publications, their download rate from her university’s digital repository increased eleven-fold over publications she did not tweet or blog about. See Melissa Terras, “Is Blogging and Tweeting About Research Papers Worth It? The Verdict,” Melissa Terras’ Blog, April 3, 2012.
  13. [13]C. Warwick, M. Terras, I. Galina, P. Huntington, and N. Pappa, “The Master Builders: LAIRAH Research on Good Practice in the Construction of Digital Humanities Projects,” Digital Humanities 2007: The 19th joint international conference of the Association for Computing in the Humanities and the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing (Urbana: University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, 2007): 242–244.
  14. [14]Ibid.
  15. [15]C. Warwick, M. Terras, P. Huntington, and N. Pappa, “If You Build It Will They Come? The LAIRAH Study: Quantifying the Use of Online Resources in the Arts and Humanities Through Statistical Analysis of User Log Data,” Literary and Linguistic Computing 23, no. 1 (December 14, 2007): 27. The open access version of this article can be found at

About Diane M. Zorich

Diane M. Zorich consults on information management and digitization issues in cultural and educational organizations. Before establishing her consultancy, she was data manager at the Association of Systematics Collections in Washington, D.C. and documentation manager at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. She also served as past president and board member of the Museum Computer Network, and chaired that organization's intellectual property group. She is the author of the Introduction to Managing Digital Assets: Options for Cultural and Educational Organizations (J. Paul Getty Trust, 1999), Developing Intellectual Property Policies: A "How To" Guide for Museums (Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003) and A Survey of Digital Humanities Centers in the United States (Council on Library and Information Resources, 2008). She also co-authored Beyond the Silos of the LAMs: Collaboration Among Libraries, Archives and Museums (OCLC Programs and Research, 2008) and contributed a chapter on information policy in museums for Museum Informatics (Routledge, 2008). Diane has graduate degrees in anthropology and museum studies from New York University, is based in Princeton, NJ and on Twitter at @dzorich.