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Digital Humanities Post

I went to the first meeting of a discussion group at the University of Houston about Digital Humanities.  As a technology, Information Science, and database person, rather than a scholar, I was in the minority.  Wrote the following comment on History Professor Caleb McDaniel’s blog Digital History @ Rice offering my thoughts on what Digital Humanities is and where it’s going.

It obviously reflects my own concerns and interests.

The makeup of the UH reading group Friday was about 10-12 humanists, 2 librarians, and myself, (an IT/Library tweener basically, run the Art History Dept’s image database and have an MLS).  Prof. McDaniels and myself were the only Rice people there.  It seems to me that Academic Libraries are positioned to become the resource-support providers for digital humanities, but I think that structure will also need to include technologists and yes, computer scientists.

I see two basic types of production generated by Digital Humanities – research work created by scholars that uses digital tools to analyze materials, and digital publishing projects that present information in an accessible format to the wider community both scholarly and otherwise.  These can be major multidisciplinary projects.  An example of this kind of project is “Mapping Gothic France” from Vassar and Columbia (http://mappinggothic.org/), described as

“A joint project from the Media Center for Art History at Columbia University and the Art Department at Vassar College, Mapping Gothic France is a visual exploration of the parallel narratives of Gothic architecture and the formation of France. The site, currently in beta, includes databases of images, texts, charts and historic maps, allowing users to triangulate French political and architectural history geospatially and temporally in addition to offering a narrativized accounting of France’s Gothic structures.” (http://soa.utexas.edu/vrc/blog/2012/04/mapping-gothic-france/)

Obviously an ambitious project like this requires an entire team to realize and is not entirely a scholarly endeavor.  Other aspects of it would involve project management, programming, database management, information architecture, and presentation design.  Think of the credits rolling at the end of a movie, with a humanities professor taking the role of writer, director, producer depending on how you look at it.

Categories: Digital Humanities
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