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.
The past six months I have been on parental leave to enjoy our son Felix (born 13 December 2015), and today I am finally back at the university. In these months I have seen a baby grow from not being able to do anything except for reflexes, to understanding objects around him, interacting with them, and manipulating them to do what he wants (although not yet always successfully). Watching him go through these stages of learning actually reminded me of the above gif captioned as how software developers see end users. When I saw that gif a while ago it gave me a laugh, but then I saw that my son had taken my bottle of water, and what he was doing was actually quite similar; licking the bottom, sucking on the side, holding it with his feet.
At some point he figured out what the top part is, and put that in his mouth, which left me to wonder how he figured it out. I left the cap on, so it’s not a simple trial-reward since he still cannot drink the water. Instead, I think there are two aspects of this learning process: visual feedback (seeing what side is supposed to be up), and learning by playing.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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
- 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 (OA version ) ↩
- 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. ↩