Sustainability is a red herring

Yesterday on <a href="">my blog</a>, I noted how, in recent years, a higher and higher premium has been placed on "sustainability" in our discussions about digital humanities and especially in the grant guidelines our funders produce. I believe this emphaisis is misplaced. I believe the effort we require practitioners to spend crafting sustainability plans and implementing them would be better spent on outreach&mdash;on sales. I believe we'd be better off spending our time and resources making sure our projects are <em>used now</em>, rather than planning for some time in the future when they will have to be "sustained." In my experience, the greatest guarantor of sustainiability is <em>use</em>. When things are used they <em>are sustained</em>. When things become so widely implemented that the field can’t do without them, they are sustained. Like the banks, tools and platforms that become too big to fail are sustained. Sustainability is very simply a fuction of use, and we should recognize this in allocating scare energies and resources. 

What I'd like to do in this session is discuss how we might shift our from sustainability to use, perhaps by revising the "sustainability" section of the <a href="">NEH Digital Humanities Implementation Grants</a> guidelines along these new lines.

Categories: Session Proposals |

About Tom Scheinfeldt

Tom is Director-at-Large of CHNM and Research Assistant Professor of History in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University. Starting in the Fall of 2013, Tom will be Associate Professor of Digital Culture and Director of Digital Humanities at the UCONN Digital Media Center.Tom blogs at Found History, co-hosts Digital Campus with Dan, Mills, and Amanda. He is @foundhistory on Twitter. He is contemplating abandoning his academic position to make his fortune by securing exclusive catering rights to THATCamp for his next brainchild, THATHotDogStand.