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Digital History as Trading Zone

Digital History signifies a transition wherein digital methods are incorporated in historical research. Digital History thus introduces techniques developed by computer scientists or engineers into the practice of historians, so that we can speak of methodological interdisciplinarity. 1 However, how digital methods affect the practices of History, in methodology as well as epistemology, remains unexplored. My PhD research aims to address this gap. This blogpost introduces some initial ideas and concepts that I will be investigating with an ethnographic study for which I hope to find interested historians, computer scientists, or other relevant actors of Digital History.

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  1. Klein, J. T. (2014). Interdisciplining Digital Humanities: Boundary Work in an Emerging Field (online). University of Michigan Press. doi:10.3998/dh.12869322.0001.001 ref-oa

DHBenelux 2016 abstract

This week I’m at DHBenelux 2016, right here at the University of Luxembourg. I am part of the local organisation of the conference, and will give a tour of the DH Lab which launched its website www.dhlab.lu this week. Moreover, I will present my PhD research in a short paper, see below the abstract for my presentation. To learn more about DHBenelux, see my previous posts on DHBenelux 2016 submissions and DHBenelux submissions 2014-2016.

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DHBenelux 2016 submissions

This year marks the third annual DHBenelux conference, which cycles through the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The third instalment will be held in Luxembourg, and as part of the local organisation and programme committee I get the chance this year to look at all the submissions. Inspired by Scott Weingart’s series on submissions to the annual ADHO DH conference (see his 2016 post on submissions here), I present you a first analysis of the submissions to DHBenelux 2016. Later posts will bring comparisons with the 2014 and 2015 editions, as well as a description of the steps taken to get to the figures below.

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Standing on the shoulders of the Google giant

“Standing on the shoulders of giants” has long been the metaphor of choice to describe the scholarly workflow of discovering, reading, and citing literature. However, for the past decade this workflow has been influenced significantly by the availability of academic search engines. In this field, the search giant Google has come out as the discovery mechanism of choice. How does “standing on the shoulders of the Google giant” impact the scholarly workflow? This is a question I look into in a post on the LSE Impact of Social Science blog. Read the entire post here.

Tool Appraisal

The Need for Tool Appraisal

Methodological Intersections, the Digital Humanities Autumn School organised by Trier University and University of Luxembourg was held this year from 28 September to 3 October. With four days of theoretical reflection in Trier, and two days of hands-on courses in Belval, this autumn school provided a great introduction to the Digital Humanities for PhD students.

This blogpost is not intended to provide a complete overview of the autumn school, but rather to show the discussion from my perspective. The main theme I will follow is the discussion of tools, and that there is a need for tool appraisal.

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User Required? User Research in the Digital Humanities

The development of tools plays an important role in the Digital Humanities. For the recent DHBenelux conference, I found that the word “tool” was used almost a hundred times in all the abstracts, not counting my own. Still, the actual adoption of all these tools by the target audience, the humanities scholars, does not always reach its potential. 1 In a recently published paper by Martijn Kleppe and me, titled User Required? On the Value of User Research in the Digital Humanities, we look into how Digital Humanities scholars might address this problem. 2

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  1. Claire Warwick, M. Terras, Paul Huntington, & N. Pappa. (2007). If You Build It Will They Come? The LAIRAH Study: Quantifying the Use of Online Resources in the Arts and Humanities through Statistical Analysis of User Log Data. Literary and Linguistic Computing, 23(1), 85–102. http://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqm045 ref-closed (OA version ref-oa)
  2. Max Kemman, & Martijn Kleppe. (2015). User Required? On the Value of User Research in the Digital Humanities. In Jan Odijk (Ed.), Selected Papers from the CLARIN 2014 Conference, October 24-25, 2014, Soesterberg, The Netherlands (pp. 63–74). Linköping University Electronic Press. ref-oa
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MIT. Photo on Flickr

DH in the US: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

In the first week of June, my supervisor Andreas Fickers and I went to the US to visit several Digital Humanities centres, specifically ones working on Digital History, in Boston (MA), Lincoln (NE), and Fairfax (VA). Since the University of Luxembourg will get its own DH centre soon, we went with the goal of learning how others set up their centre, how DH is incorporated into the curriculum, and how collaboration takes place.

This blogpost is an attempt to summarise what we learned during our visit to the US. The structure I will follow is not chronologically, but by the title of John le Carré’s novel: Tinker (building and making), Tailor (specific versus generic tools), Soldier (collaborations of people), Spy (digital literacy regarding online tracking and other subjects). At the bottom of the blogpost is a numbered list of the people we met; I will refer to sources of information using these numbers.

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