Humanities Commons is a peculiar sort of animal, part social network, part institutional repository, part web host and part collaborative platform. The open source tools we have used to build Humanities Commons have evolved separately in the wild over many years. Our secret sauce was to integrate these disparate parts into a new entity. Some of these tools have evolved together and some are rarely or never seen together. Much like the duck-billed platypus with webbed feet and a flat tail that lays eggs and feeds her young milk, we hope Humanities Commons is a platform that will evolve to be perfectly adapted to its environment.
Humanities Commons team members had used the platypus among themselves to describe the project. Just like a platypus takes components of various animals to create something unexpected and magical, the Commons is built with a number of disparate open source projects… When a call went out on Twitter asking “if Humanities Commons were an animal, what would it be,” one of our followers replied, “a platypus”—and it went from there. In fact, the team blog is called platypus.
We send our plush platypus to folks who’ve been advocates for the platforms, or users who’ve marked particular milestones (like our 25,000th user!), or to winners of our conference magnetic poetry contests.
Our platypus is friends with OA Owl at Sheffield University. He’d like to be your friend, too.