A Heckuva Year

A Heckuva Year

With 2015 packing its bags to go and 2016 knocking on the door, I’d like to take a brief moment to step back and ruminate on how far Labs has come in the past twelve months.  My apologies in advance to those of you with a low tolerance for navel-gazing…

A year ago at this time, we had three live projects: Classroom Readings, the first version of Understanding Shakespeare, and the first version of JSTOR Sustainability.  In the past year we substantially updated both Understanding Shakespeare and Sustainability.  We redesigned Shakespeare’s home page and jumped from six plays to the full set of thirty-eight.  We added Topic Pages and Influential Articles to Sustainability, helping “scholars in interdisciplinary fields understand and navigate literature outside of their core areas of expertise.”  We released JSTOR Snap, which lets you take a picture of any page of text and discover content in JSTOR about the same topics.  We built the ReflowIt proof of concept to test out a potential method for handling page-scan content on small, mobile screen.  With the JSTOR Global Plants team, we built Livingstone’s Zambezi Expedition, which lets you browse primary and secondary materials both chronologically and geographically.  We created an open, public API on top of the Understanding Shakespeare data and used it to create oodles of visualizations of Shakespearean scholarship.  And we completely overhauled and expanded this Labs site.

This litany of projects doesn’t even include those that we’re still working on, such as a U.S. Constitution mobile app and a tool that allows teachers to share a poem with their class for them to annotate and discuss, informed by scholarship on JSTOR about the poem.  It’s been a productive year.

All of this would not have been possible without our partners, who throughout the year have been open, collaborative and creative.  We started the year with just one: the Folger Shakespeare Library, and that partnership remains strong and fruitful.  Since then, we’ve worked with the great Eigenfactor team at the University of Washington’s DataLab.  We are working on an exciting annotation project with both Hypothesis and the Poetry Foundation.  We’ve begun one exploration with the Anxiety of Democracy program of the Social Science Resource Center and another with University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab.  I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such enthusiastic partners and excited about the partnerships to come.

Speaking of gratitude: every day, I count my blessings to be working with the talented, committed, fun and just-plain-awesome individuals within the Labs team. Ron, Jessica, Kate and Beth are each veritable rock stars in their respective fields, and that kinda makes JSTOR Labs a supergroup.  (I’ll leave it to you to decide whether we’re The Traveling Wilburys or Cream.  Maybe Atoms for Peace?) I’m lucky to be a member of this group, and I can’t wait to see what they create next.