Easy and quick strategies to #scicomm your DH project

Your digital project is great, I’m sure of that – but does it even exist if nobody knows about it? Science communication is the answer to avoid this philosophical dilemma. In this short post, I wanted to share a list of quick-and-easy-to-implement ideas to add some science communication to your projects. This is just a short post to give you some ideas, not tutorials on how to do it. However, I am open to any tutorial requests you might have on the topics involved. As for the Twitter bot, there is a short post available already. So let’s get to it!

Quick and easy strategies to #scicomm your DH project

  1. Create a better / thematic / facetted search interface. Maybe people aren’t using your data because the interface is not intuitive and they can’t find things or don’t know what to look for and where to look. This is the basic building block to build all the following things on. If your web page / portal is not well done, all `#scicomm` efforts will have less effect.
  2. Create interesting starting or entry points into your project (like displaying a random object on the landing page).
  3. Make sure you have good mobile compatility (i.e. responsive web pages using Bootstrap etc).
  4. Make visualizations. These need not be super fancy but make sure you include some links so people can use them for exploration and can be redirected to data they might be interested in.
  5. Create a story map of your digital objects. This is an easy but effective approach to make something of your data, like a virtual exhibition or a teaching scenario.
  6. If your data might be used in a school/ teaching setting: teachers love printable PDF worksheets. Don’t let this opportunity unused! This is also easy to achieve from XML data using an XSLT to LaTeX transformation, depending on how elaborated you want it done. You might need to include some ideas for interpretation questions or reflexion prompts though to make them usable for a school setting. If your data is of only one highly structured type, a one-fits-all approach might be possible, such as “Given the historical document, determine who the autor and who the addresseee is”, “Summarize what the conent is”, “What do you think the intention was for the creation of this document?”, “In what contexts could this have been used? How would the situation have been handeled?” (like a ceremony or such? How would it go?).  Make sure to advertize the worksheets you offer in spaces where teachers might look for them / learn about them 😉
  7. Communicate your visualizations and random objects and story maps via an automated Twitter bot. Just let it output a different message daily (provide enough examples so that it seems superficially like a random/custom message every day, i.e. like 15 to 20 options) and then choose one object each day.
  8. Edit 2020/09/19: Of course, you can also create a few 3D models of some of your objects and annotate them, so your users can interact with them in a playful and engaging way. (You might also be interested in this post on what to do with your photogrammetry-created 3D models.)

There are fancier #scicomm options – but are they time-efficient and achieveable for you?

Make sure to choose options which (more or less) maintain themselves after you’ve put in the time. Making a video or organizing an event is great and the video remains available but it’s a lot of work just for one good video. And you might not even have the skills to do it yourself.

Many other (text-based) options might be more favourable. The ones mentioned probably seem a bit boring and not the fanciest science communication strategy ever. But hey, better to have  a simple, self-maintaining strategy than to not do anything at all because of overwhelm and lack of time. Communicating your results is essential for visibility in and outside of academica.

Don’t let your great projects “go to waste” because you’re too lazy to spend this one day implementing one of the strategies above.

Use this tripartite strategy to optimize results

I’d recommend choosing a three-step process for an optimum quick solution:

  1. one strategy to provide intersting entry points to your data,
  2. ensuring it’s responsive / mobile compatible (more or less and actually, your data should already be in an a responsive presentation form, so you might not actually have to actively implement this step – maybe check for possiblilities for quick improvements)
  3. a self-maintaining dissemination strategy such as a bot (like a Twitter bot hosted by Amazon AWS Lambda can easily be set up in a day).

So, this is it for now. What quick and easy science communication strategies have you used? Did you invest into more time- and resouce-intensive ones and was it worth it?

Happy to hear from you,


the Ninja

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I like LaTeX, the Humanities and the Digital Humanities. Here I post tutorials and other adventures.

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