Thursday, October 28, 2010

Digital Humanities and Humanities Librarianship

Hitoshi Kamada has written an excellent article titled, "Digital Humanities, roles for libraries?" in the latest issue of College & Research Libraries News.  Kamada's points out that in addition to digital versions of scholarly works being created,  the "electronic environment is presenting new opportunities to analyzing information for humanities research with the help of computational media."  For example:

"Computer assisted analysis allows researchers to gather and analyze a large amount of data, which would otherwise be too time-consuming by human work, and can help find unexpected relationships among variables in this data, which might have been overlooked by manual analysis. It allows researchers to look at data in different ways. Text, which is meant to be read from beginning to end, can be sliced and diced to be examined from any angle. And, the digital application is not just about text data. Other media such as visual objects and data mapped on Geographic Information Systems can be electronically analyzed, synthesized, and presented, or combined with other types of data, for many disciplines, such as art and archeology."

Text mining is another popular software application that can be the "subject of systematic data analysis." 

The role of librarians is intrical to this process:

"These kinds of research involve not just the knowledge of relevant computer applications but also often skills and knowledge in collecting and organizing data, in which librarians have unique training and background. What is the best possible way to extract relevant text information on the Internet and organize and convert it to the format suitable for an analysis? How are elusive conversations on social networks captured? What is the best approach to digitizing this classical document for a particular kind of analysis? What would be possible metadata to effectively classify or describe art objects for this research project?"

How can librarians help researchers with their individual research projects? Kamada asks, "Can librarians provide support for collecting and organizing data in a way suited to a particular research project and perhaps even help put the collected data into digital archives in a reusable format and possibly facilitate collaboration with other researchers?"  Librarians need to play a greater role in providing access to primary sources.  The repurposing of data in a variety of formats in order to be analyzed is a challenge.

How do librarians acquire this special knowledge and training?  New librarians may have acquired this knowledge from their SLIS.  Older librarians would need to enroll in summer classes such as the courses being offered by the The Digital Humanities Summer Institute. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Call for papers: Digital Humanities Conference 2011 at Stanford University

The call for papers has been announced for the Digital Humanities Conference 2011 at Stanford University in Stanford, California, June 19-22, 2011.  More details at the ADHO.  The conference web site is at:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Digital Humanities Conference 2010 abstracts now online

The abstracts for the Digital Humanities Conference 2010 are now online.  The conference is being held in London, UK at King's College from July 7th-10th, 2010.

The conference consists of 11 panels, 74 papers and 46 posters.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Another Digital Humanities Manifesto, this one from Paris THATCamp

I had a chance to visit the THATCamp held at George Mason University last June.  Billed as a unconference, participants show up and contribute ideas to various projects.  In the last year, the concept has spread around the world.  One recent THATCamp was held in Paris, May 18-19, 2010. One of the products of this unconference was a Digital Humanities manifesto, posted in French.  Here is a Google translate.  Contrast with the manifesto put out by UCLA Mellon Seminar in Digital Humanities.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Google and the Library of Congress to acquire Twitter Archives

Both Google and the Library of Congress announced today that they will be acquiring the entire Twitter Archives going back to March 21, 2006.  Specifically, Google will handle the searching while the LC will handle the archiving (Wired).  Searching for President Barack Obama's first tweet as president-elect would be an example of the usefulness of such a collection.

A more profound application would be in the area of Humanities High Performance Computing (HHPC).   The Office of Digital Humanities defines 'High Performance Computing' as 'fast computers, capable of performing calculations many times faster than standard desktop machines. High Performance Computing is used mainly by scientific disciplines for processing huge amounts of data, data mining, and simulation. That is, using an enormous amount of data to simulate a physical object or series of events,' such as studying hurricanes.

HHPC takes this application and applies it to humanities and social science projects. One could mine tweets for trending topics, correlations of location and particular topics, tags, snapshots on various daily issues, historical insights, individuals before they became famous, and even apply these results to visualization data techniques.  As the ODH says, 'HHPC offers the humanist opportunities to sort through, mine, and better understand and visualize this data.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Definitions of the Digital Humanities

The TaPoR (Text Analysis Portal for Research) project at the University of Alberta has provided an ongoing listing of digital humanists' conceptions of the digital humanities.  Here is a select gathering of the more robust definitions from the list that I found interesting. 

"Digital Humanities is a difficult concept to define; for me DH explores how and whether we can apply technology to our experience of history, heritage and culture. DH questions how technology changes the environment around us, physical and digital, and discusses whether those changes are for the better. I believe the concept of digital humanities is much more then just humanities computing; as society becomes increasingly digital, it become a way of life and it is important to understand how and why that is happening. -Claire Ross, University College London, UK

"Digital Humanities involves the use of computers, the internet and related technologies to enable the creation and sharing of humanities scholarship in ways not possible in traditional humanities practice. Digital Humanities challenges traditional understandings of the Humanities by fostering interdisciplinary collaborations and providing new perspectives on the objects of humanistic inquiry. -Jason Boyd, University of Toronto, Canada

"Digital Humanities is the deliberate, critical application of emerging technology to the study of traditional subjects such as literature, art, philosophy, and language, often (but not always) with a focus on how those traditional fields are now using emerging technology. We are deliberate and critical when we foreground the study of our own digital tools (for example, the forward-thinking digital humanist prefers the open-source tool to the proprietary one). We apply technology because we must participate in digital culture in order to understand it. Full participation in digital culture means contributing to (creating) the cultural economy, not simply observing (consuming). -Dennis Jerz, Seton Hill University, USA

"Application of computer-based methods for the Humanities. Though, on some occasions, I prefer "Humanities Computing" to make clearer that these applications often have to be developed and that a lot of basic research is required. What I do not like about the term "DH" is that it implies that there is digital humanities as opposed to non-digital humanities. But there is not. In the future, computer-based methods will be naturally used by any scholar. It is not like experimental vs. theoretical physics. -Malte Rehbein, University of Wuerzburg, Germany"

Friday, March 12, 2010

Digital Humanities 2010

Digital Humanities 2010 conference is now open for registration. The conference will be at King's College in London, UK and is hosted by Centre for Computing in the Humanities and the Centre for e-Research.

Digital Humanities is the annual international conference for digital scholarship in the humanities, sponsored by the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organisations (ADHO).