Hypotheses.org, at http://hypotheses.org/, is a French-based platform hosting academic research notebooks, or research blogs, for the use and consultation by researchers, students and research assistants working in the humanities and social sciences. Hypotheses.org now hosts over 330 research blogs, the work of 600 bloggers who have published over 20,000 posts. Created by Cléo, the Centre for Open Electronic Publishing, in 2008, Hypotheses.org is devoted to an unorthodox strand of the digital humanities: academic blogging. It is one of the three platforms included in the OpenEdition program.
At the Digital Humanities 2012 event, we shall be offering a detailed account of how Hypotheses.org works and inviting visitors and interested parties to browse and use the platform. Hypotheses.org is an online platform and is totally adapted to collective and individual presentations. Our data will also be explained in posters.
Academic blogging is a very direct means of communication for academic communities. It also provides a focus for collective exchange, collaboration and construction enabling researchers, research teams, librarians, academic communication assistants, etc, to promote their work.
Hypotheses.org connects with the tradition of academic correspondence, offering a new space for academic writing and enabling wider distribution of results and research processes.
Humanities and Social Sciences Research Blogging
While not the sole academic blogging platform available, it does have a major role to play in humanities and social science blogging, as academic blogging is usually confined to the sciences.
In HSS, the blogging field is more limited, so Hypotheses.org has been able to develop in European countries due to the following factors: in France, the http://culturevisuelle.org/ platform is limited to specialised visual research blogs. In Germany, there is no umbrella platform for HSS blogs. And in Spain, the Madri+d platform hosts research blogs with no distinction between disciplines.
Furthermore, while there are many research bloggers in HSS, their blogs feature on non-specialist platforms and have little visibility, and the numerous existing university platforms offer their services solely to their own researchers.
Hypotheses.org is an academic tool
The platform has a number of qualities to reinforce its academic credentials. Firstly there is its academic committee, composed of researchers and professionals, which defines the platform’s directions, accepts or refuses applications and supports the Hypotheses.org team in its promotion and communication activities. The catalogue offers a documentary classification of blogs with a stable editorial project. Hypotheses.org is also committed to creating long lasting digital research sources and focuses special attention on maintaining long-lasting urls while making research blogs readily accessible to all. The platform features specific technical functions such as bibliographical management, the insertion of footnotes, the integration of a Library Thing library and the importation of word documents, in particular. These characteristics have enabled Hypotheses.org’s research blogs to be included in the Ebsco Atoz catalogue in May 2011, and in Isidore in September 2011. Recently they received ISSN classifications from the ISSN France centre. All of which means that Hypotheses.org is a quality academic platform, attracting a specialist readership.
Hypotheses.org is a community
The hypotheses.org bloggers’ community has a series of tools at its disposal: training sessions, documentation, a discussion list, La Maison des Carnets collating editorial recommendations, technical updates, the latest news, a contact form and a dedicated email address. One person is in charge of running the blog and helping the community. The Hypotheses.org community is an important attraction for independent academic bloggers who wish to take part in discussions.
Hypotheses.org is a technical platform
The platform uses the free WORDPRESS.ORG blogging software. Every new blogger receives a blank blog created on the Hypotheses.org platform. The platform aggregates the various blogs and forms one point of access for visitors, while the blog itself provides another. The blogger has total control over how the blog is presented – on her/his own editorial project and on how contributors are managed, etc. – and can request modifications or technical adjustments from the Hypotheses.org team. New functions are sometimes developed internally; new templates are regularly made available; and the software is frequently updated. Hypotheses.org enables people with no special technical skills to manage a research notebook with innovative functions which is permanently improving.
Hypotheses.org, as an infrastructure, supports research, encourages involvement by academic communities in the digital humanities and contributes to the visibility of research in progress.
More readers and bloggers = new practices
Between 2008 and 2011, Hypotheses.org developed impressively in terms of quantity and quality: on the one hand, the number of new blogs, published posts and visits increased by 40% from 2010 to 2011, a sign that http://hypotheses.org/hypotheses.org has a huge appeal among readers and bloggers alike; on the other hand, technical developments, which have partially evolved from bloggers’ requests, have given rise to, or been accompanied by, new practices.
Hypotheses.org can effectively be considered and used as a tool for academic construction, as a support for academic information and as an online discussion space integrated into the broader digital humanities ecosystem. A typology of research notebooks (focussing on seminars, excavations, research programs, etc.) and publication practices (concerned with simplification, publishing sources, research complements, etc.) through case studies and a typology of notebook profiles shows a variety of practices. Furthermore, the tools at the community’s disposal create relationships between bloggers, as well as between bloggers and the Hypotheses.org team. The community is jointly responsible for the initiation and development of discussions, new projects, improvements, technical changes and the introduction of new bloggers. The relationship between individual blogs and the collective platform means that a wide variety of projects can be developed and expressed, while the main characteristics of Hypotheses.org, as an academic infrastructure based on a community, also make up its character, the way it functions and the way it grows.
A fast-developing international academic blogging platform
The many practices hosted on Hypotheses.org create a very unique academic space and reveal that academic blogging is genuinely taking root in the French HSS community. The latest trends indicate that Hypotheses.org is outgrowing its linguistic origins and reaching out to German-speaking academic communities (with the creation of http://de.hypotheses.org/), and Spanish-speaking academic communities (with the creation of http://es.hypotheses.org/), as well as Portuguese and English speaking communities, among others. As an academic publication and information space, it has been receiving increasing amounts of visitors and is gradually becoming a relay for online media dealing with general information.
Hypotheses.org is thus an infrastructure exclusively dedicated to research which contributes to the expansion of the Digital Humanities through both creation and visibility. Its positive development shows that academic blogging is an expanding field, a place where digital academic communities can build, develop diverse practices and create tools which respond to the special requirements of their bloggers.
La maison des carnets: http://maisondescarnets.hypotheses.org
Platforms for scientific blogging
Harward University: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/
Université Paris 5: http://carnets.parisdescartes.fr/
Universidad de Salamanca:http://diarium.usal.es/
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Dacos, M., P. Mounier (2009). Sciences et société en interaction sur Internet. Communication & langages 159: 123-135.
Dacos, M., P. Mounier (2011). Les carnets de recherches en ligne, espace d’une conversation scientifique décentrée. In C. Jacob (ed.), Lieux de Savoir, 2. Les mains de l’intellect, Paris: Albin Michel.
Gunthert, A. (2008). Why blog? Actualités de la Recherche en histoire visuelle. http://www.webcitation.org/5iT16xsza (accessed 21 March 2012).
Koenig, M. (2011). Une blogosphère à fort potentiel : petit tour des blogs d’histoire germanophones. Digital Humanities à l’IHA. http://dhiha.hypotheses.org/425.