All posts by Alan Liu

WhatEvery1Says (WE1S) Project

4Humanities is happy to announce that the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has provided $1.1 million in funding for the WhatEvery1Says (WE1S) project for three years, beginning October 1, 2017. Based at University of California, Santa Barbara, with partners at California State University, Northridge, and University of Miami, the WE1S project investigates how the news media and other public sources portray the humanities. (See the UCSB news release on the Mellon award.) The project uses machine learning methods to analyze public discourse on the humanities at large data scales.

The project’s hypothesis is that digital methods can help us learn new things about how news media sources portray the humanities. For example, are there sub-themes beneath the familiar dominant clichés and memes? Are there hidden connections or mismatches between the “frames” (premises, metaphors, and narratives) of those arguing for and against the humanities? How do different parts of the world or different kinds of sources compare in the way they think about the humanities? Instead of concentrating on set debates and well-worn arguments, can we exploit new approaches or surprising commonalities to advocate for the humanities in the 21st century?

Another core mission of the WE1S project is to study the way racial, ethnic, gender, first-generation student and other groups are positioned by the media, or position themselves in the media, in relation to the humanities. For example, how do mainstream media position students and others from particular groups relative to the humanities? How do media articles by or addressed specifically to such groups compare with mainstream media in how they depict this relationship? In what ways does public opinion about the very ideal of “diversity and inclusion” correlate with public opinion about the humanities?

WE1S hopes to use its findings to provide advocates for the humanities with strategies and materials for effective communication about the value of humanistic study and knowledge – with narratives, arguments, scenarios, and evidence that advance, rather than simply react to, public conversation on the place of the humanities in today’s world.

In the process of its work, the project is also developing tools and guidelines to create an open, generalizable, and replicable digital humanities methodology. These include a manifest schema for data-provenance and processing-steps tracking, an integrated workflow management and virtual environment, and a topic-model interpretation protocol. WE1S will make these tools available to other digital humanists engaged in research involving machine learning at large scales.

“The Humanities Matter!” Infographic

The University College London (UCL) Centre for Digital Humanities–in collaboration with 4Humanities–has created a new The Humanities Matter! infographic with statistics and arguments for the humanities in high-impact visual form. [Download PDF] Countering clichéd, factually ungrounded criticisms, The Humanities Matter! draws on published statistics and a crowdsourced poll to give a shout out to the humanities in sections on “What the Humanities Do,” “But the Evidence Shows,” and “Culture is Important.”

The digital version of The Humanities Matter! is a large, vertical-format banner available as a PDF file. A limited number of printed posters made from the infographic is being mailed to newspapers and magazines, national councils and commissions, public and private funding agencies, humanities centres and programs, and digital-humanities associations and programs around the world.

The Humanities Matter! InfographicAs a follow-up to the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities’ “Quantifying Digital Humanities” infographic from 2012 (PDF), The Humanities Matter! starts a more expansive effort by the Center and 4Humanities to gather statistics and create infographics about the humanities. The Humanities Matter! is part of the 4Humanities Humanities Infographics initiative, including Infographics Friday online posts.

4Humanities invites additional statistics (including from more parts of the world) so that it can expand the infographics initiative and, funds allowing, produce future versions.

The Humanities Matter! was created by the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities under the supervision of its director Melissa Terras, who is also a co-leader of 4Humanities. Terras collected data for the infographic with assistance from Ernesto Priego (an international correspondent for 4Humanities), Lindsay Thomas (lead research assistant for 4Humanities), Victoria Smith (research assistant, Humanities Computing, U. Alberta), and the other co-leaders of 4Humanities: Christine Henseler, Alan Liu, Geoffrey Rockwell, and Stéfan Sinclair.

Please download The Humanities Matter! and help 4Humanities circulate it ; feel free to print in small or large format and distribute. The Humanities Matter! is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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Affiliated and Sponsoring Organizations

The following organizations or initiatives have agreed to be affiliates of 4Humanities: ADHO (Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations) centerNet (International network of Digital Humanities Centers) HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) CSDH/SCHN (Canadian Society for Digital Humanities/Société canadienne des humanités numériques) The following organizations are supporting 4Humanities with sponsorship: CIRCA (Canadian Institute for […]


This branch of the 4Humanities site is a staging ground for collaboration among digital humanists willing to contribute to “powering advocacy of the humanities” through their special expertise. Included here is the current work plan and task sheet for the site, with room for contributors to volunteer their help.

How the Digital Humanities Can Help

The digital humanities provide a powerful resource for assisting in the creation, presentation, and circulation of advocacy for the humanities. They are themselves one of the premier examples today of how the humanities share interests across disciplines and around the world with scientists, engineers, business people, professionals in all fields, and others who use digital […]


Gathered here is a stockpile of resources to aid in the creation, presentation, and circulation of effective advocacy—including recommendations for online platforms and digital tools, site designs, royalty-free graphics and images, customizable newsfeeds or other dynamic materials, and so on. Initially, “Resources for Advocacy” will be a collection of posts about digital resources. Later, it […]