David M. Weigl deposited Community-Centered Sustainability: A Case Study of the Music Encoding Initiative in the group Music Encoding Initiative on Humanities Commons 3 months ago
Lacking institutional support, the vast majority of digital humanities communities and their respective projects confront the pervasive challenge of sustainability. Shifts in technologies, resources, and communities over time present systemic barriers to the long-term viability of digital projects. The “Communities sustaining digital collections” project is investigating the roles of research communities in the sustainability of digital collections, with the purpose of identifying strategies to increase the long-term viability of their digital resources. Four unique case studies span several types of digital humanities projects: the Lakeland Digital Archive, the Open Islamic Text Initiative, the Enslaved.org project, and the Music Encoding Initiative. By conducting interviews with community members and users of these digital projects, we have observed some unifying themes, particularly regarding the symbiotic relationship between the maintenance of the digital object and the maintenance of the community of contributors and users. Of these case studies, the Music Encoding Initiative represents the longest-running and most geographically dispersed scholarly community, composed of technologists, musicologists, music theorists, and music librarians from around the world. This research community has engaged in the creation, maintenance, and adaptations of an open-source standard for encoding musical documents in machine-readable XML schema. Our paper will present preliminary outcomes of the case study of the Music Encoding Initiative, and how the MEI community understands sustainability in the context of their digital markup standard. This paper will also relate emergent findings from cross-case analysis of our broader study of community-centered strategies for sustaining digital humanities resources.