How to reflect on DH collaborations
collaborative DH

Towards a hermeneutics of cross-disciplinary collaboration in the humanities

One of the defining characteristics of digital humanities is the emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration.[1]Klein, J. T. (2014). Interdisciplining Digital Humanities: Boundary Work in an Emerging Field (online). University of Michigan Press.[2]Spiro, L. (2012). “This Is Why We Fight”: Defining the Values of the Digital Humanities. In M. K. Gold (Ed.), Debates in Digital Humanities (online). University of Minnesota Press. The different facets of digital humanities research, such as computer technology, data management, and humanistic inquiry, call for experts with different backgrounds to collaborate. But how to study or reflect on DH collaborations? In this post I introduce a blog series in which I will develop a vocabulary for collaborative DH.

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References   [ + ]

1. Klein, J. T. (2014). Interdisciplining Digital Humanities: Boundary Work in an Emerging Field (online). University of Michigan Press.
2. Spiro, L. (2012). “This Is Why We Fight”: Defining the Values of the Digital Humanities. In M. K. Gold (Ed.), Debates in Digital Humanities (online). University of Minnesota Press.

Abstract: Power Asymmetries of eHumanities Infrastructures

In the final week of October the annual IEEE eScience conference will take place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. This will be my first eScience conference, and I look forward to seeing how the eScience community is similar to or different from the digital humanities community. I have submitted a paper applying findings of my PhD research to the development of eScience infrastructures for the humanities. Specifically, my paper discusses the problems of power asymmetry in collaborations, with scholars dependent on infrastructures developers, and of knowledge asymmetry, with scholars lacking the knowledge necessary to influence the practices of infrastructure developers. A first difference between the eScience and DH communities I already observed was in the reviews of my submission, which found my topic of interest but lacking in a (technological) solution to the problem. Unfortunately, I do not have a solution readily available, but I have extended my power relation circle with a possible way out in the development of know-howBelow you can find the abstract for my paper, and the poster I will present at the conference (designed by my wife).

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DHBenelux 2018 submissions

This week will be the fifth instalment of the DHBenelux conference. Last year, the conference was held in Utrecht, and this year the conference stays close, moving to Amsterdam. I forgot to apply to be a reviewer (oops!), but the organisation was kind enough to provide me all the data of submissions for my analysis. In this post I will analyse the submissions, authors, and keywords from abstracts. For the previous years see my analyses of 20172016, and 2014-2016.

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DHBenelux Abstract: Boundary practices in digital humanities

Next week the annual DHBenelux conference will take place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Here I will present the results of my online survey of digital humanities collaborations, focusing on boundary practices and the distance between collaborators. Below you can find the abstract of the paper.  For those not able to come, follow the hashtag #dhbenelux. And if you are able to come, see you next week!

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Models of Infrastructures for the Humanities

Last week I was at ECHIC 2018 in Leuven, which focused on infrastructures in the humanities. The conference was small, allowing very integrated discussions in a single-session format, combining participants with backgrounds in the humanities, as well as a large number of librarians. This variety in backgrounds, and the shared concern over infrastructural problems of sustainable data storage and access in itself was already an interesting demonstration of my paper’s point that digital humanities brings infrastructure into focus. In this blog post, I want to draw a bit of the debate around the main question of the conference: do the humanities require their own research infrastructures?

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Survey on DH collaborations

Digital history is not simply a matter of asking historians what they want from a digital tool, emailing the resulting user requirements to a software developer, and waiting for the perfect system to be implemented. Instead, digital history requires an ongoing negotiation of software design and alignment with scholarly practices by coordinating the practices of computational researchers and historians. This ongoing negotiation of practices constitutes what I call a ‘trading zone’:[1]Galison, P. (1997). Image & logic: A material culture of microphysics. The University of Chicago Press. a local area within which practices and discourses are coordinated so that participants from different cultures can perform exchanges.

Update April 3rd 2018: The survey is now closed, thank you for your interest and participation.

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References   [ + ]

1. Galison, P. (1997). Image & logic: A material culture of microphysics. The University of Chicago Press.

ECHIC Abstract: Infrastructure As Afterthought

Now that I’m halfway through my third year my supervisors told me it would be better to start focusing on writing chapters rather than conference abstracts. They are of course absolutely right, but then a colleague notified me of the call for papers for ECHIC 2018 (European Conference for the Humanities on behalf of the European Consortium of Humanities Institutes and Centres). This conference will be in Leuven (Belgium) from 4 to 6 April 2018, and will focus on the role of infrastructures in the humanities. As a conference so close to home, and so close to my topic, I could not resist sending in an abstract. In my presentation, I will argue that infrastructuring is the central practice of digital humanities, even though practitioners of digital humanities themselves do not always give as much attention to infrastructures as needed. This is a result of my thinking of the need for a definition of DH, and the work I’m conducting for my PhD. So the below is a slightly more provocative summary of an argument I intend to make in my thesis. I would love to hear your comments and feedback, both good and bad!

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Digital History

Historians must become digital now!

As long as there have been computers, there have been scholars pulling at historians to adopt computational methods, otherwise they risk becoming irrelevant. Already in 1948, Murray Lawson wrote “historians have not been sufficiently conscious of the benefits to be derived from the technological revolution which has transformed contemporary society”, and similar claims are still being made today. Without discussing the extent to which historians have answered or ignored such provocative claims, I’d like to try and collect such claims that warn scholars they will become irrelevant if they do not take up computers or data analysis. Please do let me know any quotes you have relating to historians or humanities scholars in general and I will add them to the list below.

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