Minimal Computing Approaches for Public Humanities Projects: A New Take on the History Harvest Model

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Main contributors
Dalmau, Michelle; Szostalo, Maks
By preserving artifacts held by communities who are often hidden or erased from the dominant historical narrative and contextualizing these artifacts with oral histories, the History Harvest model, set forth by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) in 2010 as a form of public humanities engagement, amplifies voices that would otherwise not be heard. A public history endeavor at Indiana University Bloomington offers a case study in which we reconsider History Harvest fundamentals, from technology needs to workflows, with human labor at the center, following minimal computing approaches. Our adaptations of the original model, eleven years after UNL’s launch of the History Harvest, are guided by the same principles of engagement, replication, and autonomy for the community members, students, and scholars alike, all of whom contribute to the telling of stories. In consultation with minimal computing “thought pieces” and related literature, we are working towards an approachable model, both in computer and human terms, for History Harvests. Our presentation will explore the human and technological aspects of minimal computing in the context of History Harvests, with a focus on how to scaffold limited resources like funding, lightweight technology and workflows, and properly support and acknowledge the limitless contributions of the cross-section of people involved in History Harvests.
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