Tool reviews on Bamboo DiRT

In response to popular demand, the Bamboo DiRT board has begun working on adding a new "tool review" feature. Tool reviews will be more than just a comment: anyone can add them, much in the same way that you currently add tool listings to DiRT. Tool reviews will also have their own URL. Users will be able to see reviews listed on a tool's page, and will also be able to browse all reviews. We hope that this feature will be able to capture work that already goes on in classrooms, in a place where the entire community will benefit.

While we welcome reviews written for all purposes, at all levels, we're working on developing (or, preferably, finding and borrowing) some guidelines for excellent tool reviews. The DiRT board will serve as reviewers of reviews, and will recommend the best submissions for publication in appropriate partner journals (including DHCommons.)

We hope to get the review feature up and running in the next month, but we're looking for feedback, especially from people who assign tool reviews as part of their courses. What rubrics do you use for tool evaluations? What fields do we need to include as part of the review form in order to support the work your students produce?

Our current draft list of fields includes:

  • Tool description
  • Use cases
  • Pros/cons
  • Level of expertise required
  • Ease of use
  • Performance

What are we missing? What shouldn't we include?

Please send us feedback via the contact form, or email Thanks for your help!

Bamboo DiRT welcomes new board members

Please join us in welcoming two new additions to the Bamboo DiRT steering/curatorial board over the last couple months!

Kristin Williams works on digitizing an archive on dissidence in the former Soviet Union at the Global Resources Center of George Washington University. When not trying to figure out how to digitally represent archival materials, she tracks down research questions with an international bent and tries to identify ways in which the library can evolve in a digital world to better serve the scholarly community.

Jonathan Armoza works for Google as a Technical Account Manager, and part-time Engineer for Google’s digital humanities efforts. He has Bachelor’s Degrees in English Language and Literature from the University of Washington in Seattle, and in Computer Science from the University of Maryland. In his current position, he helps Google develop their digital humanities work, and acts an intermediary between them and the academy.

Bamboo DiRT experiencing downtime

UPDATE, 10:00 AM Central: Bamboo DiRT is back online. Thanks for your patience this morning!

Due to a DDoS attack on our hosting provider, Bamboo DiRT is currently unavailable (as of 6:45 AM Central on 7/23/12). We’ll update its status here as the situation develops. Apologies for any inconvenience caused, and we hope to be up and running again soon.

Bamboo DiRT now out of beta

After nine months of gathering feedback and making adjustments, Bamboo DiRT is out of beta starting today, thanks to the hard work of the curatorial/steering board.

  • Josh Honn developed the new site design, which lays the groundwork for a future update to
  • Chad Curtis has been working on cleaning up DiRT’s “license” taxonomy, and keeping the site’s software up to date.
  • Jody Perkins has eliminated inconsistencies in the “developer” taxonomy, and cleaned up the “tags”. She and Seth Denbo are also working on aligning DiRT’s “categories” with the “methods” taxonomy.
  • Many of the new additions to the database are courtesy of Zach Coble, who’s been tirelessly working through a backlog of tools and reviews of tools (e.g. in Profhacker posts)

Bamboo DiRT already has listings for over 650 tools designed for collecting, analyzing and/or visualizing data, managing tasks, collaboration, and many other aspects of humanities research. DiRT is powered by community contributions — if you know of a tool or a tool review that isn’t already part of the database, please consider adding it!

If you’re at DH2012 and are in need an analog tool for note-taking, look for Bamboo DiRT pens, which include the URL that can help you discover digital tools to facilitate your research.

Meet the Bamboo DiRT Steering/Curatorial Board

As the content and user base for Bamboo DiRT continues to grow, we’ve brought together the following group of volunteers from a diverse set of backgrounds to shape the future of the site and help keep our taxonomies relevant, useful and well-organized.

Interested in contributing directly to the future of Bamboo DiRT? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at

Zach Coble

Zach Coble is the Systems and Emerging Technologies Librarian at Gettysburg College. Among other things, he is interested in in academic libraries, digital scholarship, library publishing, and new media.

Chad Curtis

Chad Curtis is the E-Learning Librarian at Washington University in St Louis. He currently manages the Arc: Technology Center at Olin Library and leads explorations of educational technology.

Seth Denbo

Seth Denbo is a cultural historian of eighteenth-century England and currently Project Coordinator for Project Bamboo at Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. He has worked on projects in digital history and on development of digital infrastructure for the humanities. He is also a co-convenor of a seminar in digital history at the Institute for Historical Research in London.

Quinn Dombrowski

Quinn Dombrowski is a digital Slavist who works for Academic Technology Services at the University of Chicago, and is the developer for Bamboo DiRT and DHCommons. She is currently working on a book on Drupal for humanists.

Josh Honn

Josh Honn works on scholarly communication and digital humanities projects at Northwestern University as the Digital Scholarship Library Fellow at Northwestern University Library’s Center for Scholarly Communication & Digital Curation. He enjoys literature, blogs at, and lives in Chicago with his wife and their collections of books and plants.

Jody Perkins

Jody Perkins is the Metadata Librarian in the Digital Initiatives Department at Miami University. As Librarian at the Akron Art Museum she co-authored and coordinated an Ameritech Grant funded digital library project. Since coming to Miami she has co-chaired the OhioLink Database Management Steering Committee, Digital Media Center Metadata Task Force, served on the OhioLink Digital Resource Center Metadata Strategies Task Force and presented on a variety of metadata related topics. Most recently a case study describing an experimental project using an opensource entity extraction tool with oral history transcripts will appear on the IMLS grant funded “Oral History in the Digital Age” project website.

Lisa Spiro

Lisa Spiro is the founding editor of the DiRT (Digital Research Tools) wiki, the predecessor of Bamboo DiRT. She is the director of NITLE Labs and program manager for Anvil Academic Publishing.


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