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Our Mission

Established in 2011, the Digital Innovation Lab’s (DIL) mission has been to:

  • combine the project-focused organizational model of the laboratory with the social model of the network to stimulate digital humanities work as public goods: digital projects, products, tools, and applications that are (1) of special social and cultural value, (2) can be produced for free public use (or at a minimal marginal cost), (3) are scalable, (4) are reusable and repurposable, and/or (5) serve multiple audiences/end-users within and outside of the University
  • facilitate humanistic research and community engagement with large-scale data sources, and, in the process, guide the humanities’ transformation from enterprises predicated upon data scarcity and remoteness to those that assume data hyper-abundance and ubiquity
  • develop, test, and document best-practice models for faculty and student work in public humanities that integrates community engagement, digital technologies, and inter-disciplinary inquiry

Administered through the Department of American Studies, the DIL seeks to collaborate with units across the University and to form project-based partnerships with cultural heritage organizations across North Carolina as well as public-facing digital humanities initiatives at other universities around the world.

Our Values

As we have developed our own practice in relation to this mission, these values and beliefs help guide our work:

  • we value process as much as product: as an organization that learns and adapts, we continually experiment and refine our processes, sharing those processes and outcomes with others
  • we strive to be an inclusive, open, and welcoming community: the role of a digital humanities lab should be to create a safe space for experimentation and failure, exploration and discovery, innovation and creativity;
  • we work to make and sustain connections, build capacity, and realize synergies
  • we believe that for digital humanities to realize its potential, barriers to entry have to be significantly lowered
  • we believe that interdisciplinary, collaborative digital humanities practice represents a singular opportunity to connect research, scholarship, graduate training, undergraduate teaching, life-long learning, and community engagement

Our Rationale: Sustaining Digital Humanities Through a New Laboratory Model

Emergent digital humanities practice at research universities challenge traditional academic practice in the humanities in several key respects:

  • it is inherently social and is often interdisciplinary, involving multiple knowledge domains
  • it usually requires skills, resources, access to technology, and infrastructure the individual humanities scholar does not possess
  • as a consequence of the above, it requires skilled and sustained project management as well as programmer/developer support
  • it is often experimental, in the sense that challenges, outcomes, uses, and ultimate value are difficult to anticipate