E-science initiatives are technology-enabled interventions in current research practices. These interventions are justified by the hope that e-science infrastructures and tools will foster new venues for researchers and scholars. This triggers a complex interaction between hope, hype, and accountability. In this article, we discuss a new initiative at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) - the Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences (VKS) - in which we are directly involved. The VKS combines the goals of reflexive analysis with design of scholarly practices in a variety of fields. The article discusses this nexus and the tensions involved, as exemplary of the types of challenges that researchers will experience in e-social science as it develops.