ESCALATOR progress report - July 2021

This month we’re incredibly excited to share loads of news about activities and opportunities that our community can get involved in, learn from, or contribute to.

Digital Champions Initiative: First EXPLORER track meetup

The EXPLORER track provides newcomers to digital scholarship in Humanities and Social Sciences an opportunity to learn about foundational concepts and meet other community members. As part of the track, there is a regularly scheduled meetup on the last Tuesday of every month. Registered and prospective participants are invited to join the meetup and ask questions related to the content, the EXPLORER track, or the ESCALATOR programme in general.

On 29 June we had our first monthly meetup and were joined by two community members. We discussed the content on the EXPLORER webpage, the registration form, and other topics related to the track. Thanks to their feedback, we were able to improve the site.

We look forward to our next meetup on 27 July at 15:30 - 16:30 SAST! Please join us there if you have any questions, comments, suggestions or if you’d like to meet other community members.

Digital Champions Initiative: Brainstorming with speakers for the EMPOWER track

In August 2021 we’ll be launching the EMPOWER track. This track is specifically open to women students and staff in Humanities and Social Sciences at South African academic and research institutions. We want to provide a welcoming space where women can join the conversation about technology in research and beyond. In the last weeks we’ve had three meetings with our wonderful speakers. We’ll start advertising shortly, but if you’re curious, please see the programme and save the date in your calendar!

Presentation at Digital Humanities Summer Institute

The Open/Social/Digital Humanities Pedagogy Training and Mentorship is a Virtual Conference of the ADHO Special Interest Group for Digital Humanities Pedagogy and Training and the INKE Open Social Scholarship Cluster. The event took place alongside the Digital Humanities Summer Institute 2021 in June this year.

During this conference, we presented a short overview of the history of Digital Humanities in South Africa and introduced the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) along with its two programmes focused on:

  • Digitisation; and,
  • Growing a Digital Humanities community of practice through the ESCALATOR programme.

We also provided more information about the ESCALATOR programme and specifically focused on the Digital Champions Initiative.

The recording and slides are available online under open licenses.

Mapping the South African Digital Humanities and Computational Social Sciences landscape

One of the goals of the ESCALATOR programme is to create a stakeholder map of Digital Humanities and Computational Social Sciences in South Africa (see our Theory of Change for more info). We are excited to announce that this project will kick off properly in August. We are hoping to collect and share information about research, people, training materials, courses, publications and more over the coming months.

Digital Champions Initiative: ENHANCER Precursor - Python and R Study groups

Since the start of ESCALATOR we’ve had several requests from community members wanting to learn to use R or python in their research. These programming languages are becoming increasingly popular for all kinds of data science workflows, not only in STEM fields, but also in Humanities and Social Sciences.

SADiLaR in collaboration with The Carpentries run regular workshops where various tools like R, Python, OpenRefine and more are taught. However, we recognise that workshops offer limited opportunity for participants to adopt and adapt their learnings to apply in their own work. Therefore we will kick off with a Python and R study group in July. The study group will meet twice per month for two hours and will offer an informal, virtual co-working space where community members can continue to learn at their own pace with support from others.

If you’re keen to learn Python or R or improve your existing programming skills, we hope to see you there!

Slack Workspace Activity

We strongly encourage researchers and students from Humanities or Social Sciences disciplines who are keen to grow their digital and computational skills and networks to join the DHCSSza Slack Workspace.

The Slack workspace is used to share information, resources, opportunities, ask questions, collaborate, and much, much more. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Slack, please reach out to us.

We currently have 33 members from institutions across South Africa, including North-West University, University of the Western Cape, University of Zululand, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, UNISA, and many more.

Anelda van der Walt
Anelda van der Walt
ESCALATOR Programme Manager