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Codespeak Kit

Speaking in Code was an NEH-funded symposium and summit. On November 4–5, 2013, thirty-two software developers and practitioners active in the digital humanities met at the Scholars' Lab in the University of Virginia Library. They gathered with the intent of exploring and making explicit the kinds of tacit knowledge that inform and underlie software development, especially in the context of DH projects. The purpose was to reflect on the context of our work, discuss the transmission of tacit knowledge and whether our practices and communication patterns contribute to an ongoing disconnect between developers and humanities scholars, and to interrogate DH code itself, as practitioners. We were particularly interested in welcoming and listening to developers who could speak from perspectives that have traditionally been marginalized in software development.

In the end, in part due to our success in bringing together an unusually diverse group of developers and participants' shared sense of the specialness of that opportunity, the focus of the meeting diverged from code critique and conversation about tacit knowledge transmission in the act of software development. Participants instead spent the most of the two days identifying and discussing ways to dismantle social barriers, both explicit and implicit, spoken and tacit — barriers to access to digital humanities communities and conversations, and internal barriers dividing the DH community. These might range from knowledge acquisition required to perform technical work, to the way the field's structures of review and reward primarily address the needs of traditionally-employed scholars rather than all members of digital humanities teams. Participants also examined the working conditions, social and power structures, and (lack of) diversity found in technical environments in general and in DH work in particular.

Additional Materials


The Codespeak Kit is a Jekyll application that can run in Github Pages. There are a couple ways to get a copy of this up-and-running, so pick the one that fits your needs.

Fork It

  1. Create a fork of this repository.
  2. Clone your fork of the repository.
  3. Install Jekyll and its dependencies.
  4. Check out the gh-pages branch of the repository.
  5. Make modifications to the site as needed. The main file is index.html.
  6. Push the gh-pages branch to your Github remote.
$ mkdir -p ~/projects
$ cd ~/projects
$ git clone
$ cd codespeakkit
$ git checkout gh-pages
$ bundle install

Yeoman Scaffold

If you have node installed, you can use the yeoman as well. Simply install the codespeak generator from npm and then run the generator.

$ npm install -g yo generator-codespeak
$ yo codespeak

Once installed, you can preview changes to the content with the built in web server that ships with jekyll.

$ jekyll serve --watch

The scaffolding will take care of installing dependencies and setting up a development environment. When you're ready to deploy to github, simply create a new repository and push to the gh-pages branch.


Once you have updated the site the way you want it, you can push this to the special gh-pages branch (assuming you have a Github remote configured).

If you have a custom domain for your #codespeak, create a file in your project directory named CNAME that contains the domain name you registered and push it to your gh-pages branch.

$ echo "" >> CNAME
$ git add CNAME
$ git commit -m "Add custom domain"
$ git push origin gh-pages

In your DNS settings, create a CNAME entry that points to the github pages. For more detailed instructions, see Tips for configuring a CNAME record with your DNS provider.

What happens next?

Discussions at Speaking in Code were challenging, thought-provoking, open, heartfelt, and compelling — and we want to share. We put together this kit to amplify voices, to continue conversations, and to enable more DH and digital library software developers and members of our larger digital humanities community to join in.

This kit is your key to hosting conversations of your own.

But there are no step-by-step instructions. In fact, your Speaking in Code will — and should! — look different from the one held in November 2013. This is a loose set of suggestions, priorities, and practices to encourage the type of discussion that the Scholars' Lab attendees found transformative. Nevertheless it will be your Speaking in Code. It will grow out of your context and address the concerns of your participants.

The main concrete tool in this kit is a website template. It includes basic styling, slots for necessary information, an application for interested practitioners, and the You are Welcome Here statement. You can fork this git repository, use the styles and overall design we created, and customize the template as you wish to jumpstart your own Speaking in Code summit.

However, you don't have to wait to join in the conversation. We are committed to continuing the discussion online:

Use the hashtag on Twitter or join the Speaking in Code IRC channel to bring new voices into the mix — and to call on the experience and goodwill of participants and organizers from the inaugural event.

Additional Materials