This chapter discusses the internal deliberations of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO), its constituent organizations, and committees (such as the steering committee, which I was a part of during some of this time, and its various conference committees, which I was not). These deliberations were carried out by email and in person. As the debate about “quality” vs. “diversity” broke out, parts of the debate were also discussed in social media, notably Twitter and Facebook. The debate finally became the subject of a number of conference presentations and, with this collection, chapters and articles. This history raises various ethical, evidentiary, and argumentative challenges. As noted in the introduction, many of the key texts in this debate were composed as emails as part of an at times heated and semi-private discussion among committee members faced with the practical problem of how to distribute speaking spots at the annual and high-prestige Digital Humanities conference. As a result, they were not intended for publication (or even wide circulation) and, given the context of the discussion, they cannot be assumed to represent the considered, evidence-based, and reasoned positions of their authors.
Moreover, our knowledge of the discussion from which these emails come is by nature fragmentary and partial. In my experience of participating on similar committees, the collected correspondence for a conference programming committee can range into the hundreds (or even thousands) of emails. If the committee also meets in person or by teleconference, this correspondence also has an unrecorded oral context. This means that the few emails from this debate that have circulated on social media, in addition to representing perhaps unguarded and also provisional and informal positions taken in the context of a larger discussion, are also by nature incomplete: we do not know (or it is impossible to report) the full context of the discussion from which they have been extracted or how views were modified, strengthened, or abandoned in the course of debate.
Having said all this, however, the discussion these emails prompted is important to the field. While it is true that much of the evidence discussed in this essay was not intended for publication and may not represent the considered views of their authors, the debate from which it comes was much more than a private philosophical discussion among colleagues.