Blog Post

The DH Profile Personality Quiz



This quarter, with Sarah Kremen-Hicks, I taught the first two sessions of a year-long workshop series on Demystifying Digital Humanities.  I wrote the personality quiz as a precursor -- an ice-breaker, more than anything, but also, a way of breaking down DH from a massive monolith into a several different types of endeavors. You can read more about the background for the quiz here.

Most people have encountered personality quizzes — whether in the Meyers Briggs format, or in the far less scientific “Which Harry Potter Character Are You?” style. It would allow us to distinguish some of the different types of DH work that we’d seen people doing; and allow us to prompt workshop participants towards some self-reflection about their own preferences and processes (which they may or may not have been invited to think about as important). Also: I thought it would hit the balance between informative and non-authoritative that I was really striving for. Most people are perfectly happy to say “I thought I’d be Harry, and instead I got Ron Weasley” when they post results for this sort of thing on Facebook (admittedly, the personality quiz meme peaked a couple of years ago, at least).

Coming up with the profiles was easy --  compared to writing the quiz itself, which I did using SelectSmart’s free setting. It’s littered with ads, but the quiz mechanism itself was simple enough. With some thought, so was writing the potential questions, and their answers. The hard part was actually mapping the answers to the different profile types, which required me to say whether a particular profile, i.e., the Workflow Expert, would always, usually, sometimes, rarely, or never select a given answer. I do hate thinking in stereotypes, but if I refused to do so, the quiz would be nonfunctional for our purposes. “Congratulations! You are a perfect match to all 12 profiles!” I also didn’t want to make the quiz longer than 12 questions — or do anything that might suggest that we were suggesting that people could only pursue a certain course if they were staff, or faculty, etc. So when a friend who beta-tested the quiz said that a question about how people self-identified would have been helpful, I simply explained why I couldn’t include it.

The quiz was a big success in getting people talking at the workshop -- but I'm flattered by the fact that when I tweeted it and friends who already identify as DHers took it, they thought the results they got were accurate. And their feedback also allowed me to tweak the quiz to adjust for an error that I'd made -- specifically, that of assuming that none of the people who were taking the quiz would be programmers.

Thinking back on this, a few things stand out to me. One is that I don't really know the durability of the quiz -- will these profile types seem accurate in five years? Ten? Another is that I was deliberately mixing two different objects. On the one hand, the profiles were something that I put considerable energy into generating; and really intended to be fairly complete in terms of the range of DH activities they covered. On the other hand, the container in which the profiles were delivered (the quiz itself) was just that -- a medium that was meant to be highly disposable. I wonder: is this a mixture that I'll find myself using again in future projects?

Finally, I'm aware of just how fulfilling it was to produce something that was designed for people to interact with more actively than they do when reading a book or a website. That sort of fulfillment is something I expect I'll be writing about a lot more throughout the rest of this year  -- trying to articulate what it is, why it's so fulfilling (for me), and how I might keep on making opportunities to experience it.  On the quiz, I'm evenly split between the Process Analyst, the Workflow Expert, and the Alt-Ac/Ed-Tech - and while that feels spot-on correct, I'm very aware that it's not who I'd have claimed to be when I started graduate school.


1 comment


I went and checked out the webpage for Demystifying Digital Humanities.  I think the whole idea is great!  I'm curious about why you decided to target graduate students as opposed to undergrads, grads, faculty (any combination).  Is there any thought to expand the series in the future?  What has the feedback been like from the students who have attended sessions so far?  I'm also wondering as the students enter more fully into DH do they feel that they will be supported by faculty and peers at UW? 

I am so interested in this type of work because I'm always asking questions and thinking about inclusion/exclusion, self-selection, access.  Please keep us posted on this project.