Position Paper: Funding

Invited remote discussant: Jennifer Serventi, National Endowment for the Humanities (2-3:15, Washington) 
Invited in-person discussant: Willeke Wendrich, outgoing director of UCLA’s Center for Digital Humanities

3D projects face a significant funding challenge. As with all digital humanities projects, moving forward grant by grant is inefficient, institutional support for this type of work is uneven, and a reliance on student labor is not a tenable solution. The holy grail is a sustainable funding model for very expensive and time-consuming 3D work. While each project is unique, and their level of complexity ranges from classroom exercises built with free software to large-scale, multi-institutional reconstruction projects intended for public dissemination, the costs associated with bringing a 3D project to successful completion fall into eight basic categories:

  1. Project staff (e.g., course relief for the PI; benefits related to salaried employees; project management staff; administrators/human resource personnel; technical hires such as modelers, animators, and web/graphic designers; recharge or funding for collaborators; training; outsourcing; and student workers)
  2. Research (e.g., travel costs; archive fees for things such as access, duplication, and licensing; book purchases; conference participation; digitization services; and transcription and mark-up services)
  3. Lab space (i.e., the physical infrastructure required for the project team)
  4. Hardware (e.g., computer workstations; possible system upgrades for things like advanced graphics cards or solid state drive; and stand-alone devices such as cameras, 3D scanners, 3D printers, mobile devices (e.g., smartphones and tablets), Total Stations, drones, and video recorders)
  5. Software (e.g., the purchase or subscription costs of required 3D modeling software packages for the team; costs for general purpose software like Word, the Adobe Creative Suite, and project management software; licenses for web-based services like BaseCamp, Survey Monkey, Box, or Dropbox; and charges associated with compute time)
  6. Technical support (e.g., desktop and hardware support; trouble-shooting expertise; and specific technical expertise above-and-beyond that possessed by the PI on issues like metadata, database construction, data standards, copyright, intellectual property, web design, gaming, and graphics)
  7. Cyberinfrastructure (e.g., network support; shared workspace systems; virtual private network and virtual machine creation and administration; and servers for storage/delivery, GIS data, and streaming audio/video)
  8. Long-term maintenance (e.g., costs associated with storage, web-hosting, archival preservation, sustainability, and forward migration)

Most academics enjoy some level of indirect support from their home institution, typically in the form of overhead costs (e.g., offices, furniture, office equipment, and electricity) and administrative costs (e.g., contracts and grants, finance, or human resources staff). This may be at the departmental, divisional, college, or institutional level.



How to overcome the funding hurdle? What are the common funding challenges? How best to leverage institutional indirect support for 3D work? How to encourage infrastructure build-out at the institutional level to support 3D work? How can we work less expensively and/or more efficiently? How do we break down silos on campuses so divisions collaborate to make labs/centers/places for digital work across disciplinary boundaries?


Humanities Indicators – Funding (a pdf of graphs pulled from http://www.humanitiesindicators.org/)

Maron, Nancy L. and Matthew Loy. Revenue, Recession, Reliance: Revisiting the SCA/Ithaka S+R Case Studies in Sustainability. October 6, 2011 http://sr.ithaka.org/?p=22366

Maron, Nancy L. and Sara Pickle. Sustaining the digital humanities: host institution support beyond the start-up phase. June 18, 2014. http://www.sr.ithaka.org/publications/sustaining-the-digital-humanities/

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