DHQ_ Digital Humanities Quarterly_ Humanities Computing as Digital Humanities

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Digital humanities Quarterly

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<ul><li><p>12/6/2014 DHQ:DigitalHumanitiesQuarterly:HumanitiesComputingasDigitalHumanities</p><p>http://digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/3/000065/000065.html 1/17</p><p>1</p><p>2</p><p>3</p><p>4</p><p>DHQ:DigitalHumanitiesQuarterly2009Volume3Number3</p><p>HumanitiesComputingasDigitalHumanitiesPatrikSvensson,UmeUniversity</p><p>AbstractThisarticlepresentsanexaminationofhowdigitalhumanities iscurrentlyconceivedanddescribed,andexaminesthediscursiveshiftfromhumanitiescomputingtodigitalhumanities. It is argued that this renaming of humanities computing as digitalhumanities carries with it a set of epistemic commitments that are not necessarilycompatiblewithabroadandinclusivenotionofthedigitalhumanities.Inparticular,theauthorsuggeststhattensionsarisefromtheinstrumental, textualandmethodologicalfocus of humanities computing as well as its relative lack of engagement with the"digital"asastudyobject.Thisarticleisthefirstinaseriesoffourarticlesattemptingtodescribe and analyze the field of digital humanities and digital humanities as atransformativepractice.</p><p>IntroductionThehumanitiesareundergoingasetofchangeswhichrelatetoresearchpractices,fundingstructures,therole of creative expression, infrastructural basis, reward systems, interdisciplinary sentiment and theemergence of a deeply networked humanities both in relation to knowledge production processes andproducts. An important aspect of this ongoing transformation of the humanities is humanities scholarsincreasinguseandexplorationof information technologyasbothascholastic toolandaculturalobject inneedofanalysis.Currently,thereisacumulativesetofexperiences,practicesandmodelsflourishinginwhatmay be called digital humanities. The research presented here explores the scope and direction of thisemergingfieldaswellastheroleofhumanitiescomputinginthisenterprise.</p><p>Inthisarticle,thefirstinafourpartseries,Iexplorethediscursiveshiftfromhumanitiescomputingtowhatisnow being termed the digital humanities, examining how this naming is related to shifts in institutional,disciplinary, and social organization. Materials such as the Humanist email list, journals, conferencematerials,principaltexts,professionalblogsandinstitutionalwebsitesprovideanimportantempiricalbasisfor the analysis. Academic fields are partly produced, represented, reinforced, changed and negotiatedthrough these modes of discourse. As will be evident from the analysis, the renaming of humanitiescomputing to digital humanities brings with it a set of epistemic commitments that are not necessarilycongruentwithabroadandinclusivenotionofthedigitalhumanities.Isuggestthatinterestingtensionsarisefromtheinstrumental,textualandmethodologicalfocusofhumanitiescomputingaswellasitsrelativelackofengagementwiththe"digital"asastudyobject.</p><p>Inthesecondarticle,Iexplorethebroaderlandscapeofthedigitalhumanitiesthroughadiscussionofdigitalhumanities and digital humanists, associated traditions, personal encounters and importantly, through asuggestedsetofparadigmaticmodesofengagementbetweenthehumanitiesandinformationtechnology:informationtechnologyasatool,anobjectofstudy,anexploratorylaboratory,anexpressivemediumandanactivistvenue.</p><p>The third article discusses cyberinfrastructure for the humanities more broadly and for the digitalhumanitiesinparticularinrelationtothecurrentdiscourseofcyberinfrastructure,modelsofimplementationand possible directions. The article also presents a fairly extensive case study of HUMlab a digitalhumanities center at Ume University. Finally, tentative advice as to implementing and strategizinghumanitiescyberinfrastructureisoffered.</p></li><li><p>12/6/2014 DHQ:DigitalHumanitiesQuarterly:HumanitiesComputingasDigitalHumanities</p><p>http://digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/3/000065/000065.html 2/17</p><p>5</p><p>6</p><p>7</p><p>8</p><p>9</p><p>10</p><p>11</p><p>Inthefourtharticle,Iexplorethemultiplewaysinwhichthedigitalhumanitieshavebeenenvisionedandhowthedigitalhumanitiescanoftenbecomealaboratoryandvehicleforthinkingaboutthestateandfutureofthehumanitiesatlarge.Somefoundationalissues,includingtheroleofthehumanitiesandchangingknowledgeproductionsystems,arediscussedandrelatedtothedevelopmentofthedigitalhumanities.Furthermore,atentativevisionofthedigitalhumanitiesispresented.Thisvisionisgroundedinthearticleseriesasawholeaswellasintheimportantcollaborativepossibilitiesandchallengesthatlieaheadofus.</p><p>Together these four articles constitute an attempt to outline and critically discuss how the humanitiesinterrelates with information technology in multiple ways, to understand the historical, conceptual, anddisciplinaryaspectsofthisinterrelation,andtopresentanexpansivemodelforthedigitalhumanities.</p><p>BackgroundOne of things that has fascinated me for a long time is the range of origins, approaches and traditionsassociatedwithdifferentvarietiesofdigitalhumanities,rangingfromtextualanalysisofmedieval textsandestablishmentofmetadataschemestotheproductionofalternativecomputergamesandartisticreadingsofnanotechnology. An important rationale for this article series is to facilitate a discussion across variousinitiativesanddisciplinesand tomakeconnections.Therearemanyhumanitiesscholars involved inwhatmaybecalleddigitalhumanitieswhohavenoorlittleknowledgeofhumanitiescomputing,andviceversa,manyhumanitiescomputingrepresentativeswhodonotengagemuchwithcurrent"newmedia"studiesofmatterssuchasplatformstudies,transmediaperspectivesordatabaseaesthetics.Fewpeoplewillengageinactivitiesacrosstheboard,ofcourse,butitisimportanttohaveasenseofthegrowingdisciplinarylandscape,associatedmethodologicalandtheoreticalpositions,andemergingcollaborativepossibilities.Tome,thisisanintegralpartofdigitalhumanitiesasaproject.</p><p>Thereareseveralgoodreasons forgivinghumanitiescomputing theparticularattention it receives in thisarticle:itsrichheritage,historicalandcurrentaccomplishments,thesheernumberofpeopleinvolved,andtheapparentdiscursivetransitionto"digitalhumanities."Furthermore,anyattemptatmappinganemergingfieldpresupposes a discussion of disciplinary territory and ambitions, and humanities computing provides aparticularlygoodstartingpointasitisrelativelyestablishedandwelldefined.Andaswewillsee,manyoftheissues, considerations and parameters relevant to humanities computing are also relevant to digitalhumanitiesmoregenerally.</p><p>Inthefollowing,wewillstartoutfromaparticularexampleofhumanitiescomputingasdigitalhumanitiesandassociated epistemic commitments. Some of these commitments are traced in the subsequent historical,institutional and contextual description of humanities computing. We will then move on to look at therenaming of humanities computing to digital humanities,which in turnwill lead to a critical discussion ofhumanities computing with a particular focus on some points of tension between traditional humanitiescomputingandanexpansivenotionofdigitalhumanities.Inconclusion,humanitiescomputingwillbebrieflyjuxtaposedwithaverydifferentkindofdigitalhumanitiestradition.</p><p>SettingtheStageTheCallforProposalsforDigitalHumanities2009,theprincipalhumanitiescomputingconference,providesanillustrativeexampleofhowthedisciplinaryterritoryofdigitalhumanitiesisbeingdefinedinrelationtothetraditionofhumanitiescomputingandhowepistemiccommitmentscanbemanifesteddiscursively.</p><p>Epistemic cultures, as defined by [Knorr Cetina 1999, 1], are "those amalgams of arrangements andmechanismsbondedthroughaffinity,necessity,andhistoricalcoincidencewhich,inagivenfield,makeuphowweknowwhatweknow"(originalemphasis).Wearethusconcernedwithwaysinwhichknowledgeiscreated, representedanddefended.Epistemicculturesareconstructedandmaintained through,amongotherthings,theepistemiccommitmentsofparticipatingscientistsaspartofthemeansbywhichalignmentsaremadebetweenacademicdisciplines,thefieldsofenquirythattheyrepresent,andsharednotionsaboutwhat constitutes valid research [Ratto 2006]. In the following, the epistemic commitments of humanitiescomputinganddigitalhumanitiesaremainly tracedthrough lookingatdifferentmodesofdiscourse.Whilethesemodesmayhavedifferentfunctionsandintendedaudiences,theycollectivelyaddtotheanalysis.</p></li><li><p>12/6/2014 DHQ:DigitalHumanitiesQuarterly:HumanitiesComputingasDigitalHumanities</p><p>http://digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/3/000065/000065.html 3/17</p><p>12</p><p>13</p><p>14</p><p>15</p><p>TheDigitalHumanities2009Call isdivided into threeparts.The firstpartprovidesabroadand relativelyopendefinitionofthedigitalhumanities.</p><p>TheinternationalProgrammeCommitteeinvitessubmissionsofabstractsofbetween750and1500wordsonanyaspectofdigitalhumanities,broadlydefinedtoencompassthecommongroundbetween information technologyandproblems inhumanities researchandteaching.</p><p>As always, we welcome submissions in any area of the humanities, particularlyinterdisciplinarywork.Weespeciallyencouragesubmissionsonthecurrentstateof theart in digital humanities, and on recent new developments and expected futuredevelopmentsinthefield.</p><p>Theinvitationrelatesto"anyaspectofdigitalhumanities"which is looselydefinedasthecommongroundbetween information technology and problems in humanities research and teaching. Interdisciplinarycontributionsareparticularlyencouraged.Asexpected,thesecondpartprovidesahigherlevelofspecificity.</p><p>Suitablesubjectsforproposalsinclude,forexample,</p><p>Herewearepresentedwithanarrowingdownofwhatwasdescribed in the firstpart.This iscommon inconferencecallsasawayofindicatingtheparticularfocusoftheconference,ofcourse,althoughitisdifficulttodiscernanyclearthematicdelimitationinthisparticularcase.Wearethusconcernedwithafairlybroadrangeofpossibletopics.However,theorderingandphrasingofthesetopicssuggestaspecifictraditionorframework, and an associated set of epistemic commitments. For instance, it is not by accident that textanalysiscomesfirstandthatphrasessuchas"computerbasedresearch"and"useofcomputation"areused.Evensoitcouldbearguedthatmuchofwhatbeincludedinabroadnotionofdigitalhumanitiescouldbesubsumedunderthesetopics,andthatparticularlythesixthtopicresearchissuesopensupthescopetoareassuchasnewmediastudies.Buttheplacement,exactwording(e.g."theculturalimpactofnewmedia")and the broader context may not make these potential conference participants feel targeted unless theyalreadyhavearelationtothecommunityandhumanitiescomputing.</p><p>In the thirdpart of the call for proposals followsamuchmoreprecisedefinitionof digital humanitiesandassociatedtopics:</p><p>Therangeoftopicscoveredbydigitalhumanitiescanalsobeconsultedinthejournaloftheassociations:LiteraryandLinguisticComputing(LLC),OxfordUniversityPress.</p><p>ThejournalLiteraryandLinguisticComputinghasbeenakeypublicationforhumanitiescomputingforalongtime.However,definingdigitalhumanitiesthroughthetopicspresentedinLLCclearlyexcludesmanyotherinitiativesanddevelopmentsintheintersectionofthehumanitiesandinformationtechnologyandsuggestsavery particular tradition, institutional grounding and epistemic culture.[1] Moreover, this level of narrowingdownisclearlynotcongruentwiththedescriptionofdigitalhumanitiesgiveninthefirstpartofthecall,whichmaybesaidtobelessobviouslysituatedinthetraditionofhumanitiescomputingandassociatedepistemic</p><p>text analysis, corpora, corpus linguistics, language processing, languagelearninglibraries,archivesandthecreation,delivery,managementandpreservationofhumanitiesdigitalresourcescomputerbased researchandcomputingapplications inallareasof literary,linguistic, cultural, and historical studies, including electronic literature andinterdisciplinaryaspectsofmodernscholarshipuseofcomputationinsuchareasasthearts,architecture,music,film,theatre,newmedia,andotherareasreflectingourculturalheritageresearchissuessuchas:informationdesignandmodellingtheculturalimpactofthenewmediasoftwarestudiesHumanComputerinteractiontheroleofdigitalhumanitiesinacademiccurriculadigitalhumanitiesanddiversity</p></li><li><p>12/6/2014 DHQ:DigitalHumanitiesQuarterly:HumanitiesComputingasDigitalHumanities</p><p>http://digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/3/000065/000065.html 4/17</p><p>16</p><p>17</p><p>18</p><p>19</p><p>20</p><p>commitments.</p><p>HistoryandParadigmThepartialinstitutionalizationofhumanitiescomputinghasresultedinacademicdepartmentsorunits,annualconferences,journals,educationalprogramsandaratherstrongsenseofcommunalidentity.Theseareallqualities thatare typicallyassociatedwith theestablishmentofanewdiscipline (cf. [Klein1996, 57]). Thefollowing excerpt from a description of a 1999 panel organized by the Association for Computing theHumanitiesseemstoconfirmthisanalysis:</p><p>Empirically,humanitiescomputingiseasilyrecognizedasaparticularacademicdomainandcommunity.Wehaveourprofessionalorganizations,regularconferences, journals,andanumberof centers, departments, andotherorganizational units.Asense for thesubstanceofthefieldisalsofairlyeasytocomeby:onecanexaminetheproceedingsofACH/ALLCconferences,issuesofCHumandJALLC,thediscussionsonHUMANIST,thecontentsofmanybooksandanthologieswhichrepresentthemselvesaspresentingworkin humanities computing, and the academic curricula and research programs athumanitiescomputingcentersanddepartments.Fromsuchanexerciseoneeasilygetsaroughand readysenseofwhatweareabout,andconsiderable reassurance, ifany isneeded,thatindeed,thereissomethingwhichweareabout.[2]</p><p>Communalidentity,ofcourse,isbuiltovertime,andhistoryandfoundationalnarrativesplayanimportantroleinthisprocess.FatherRobertoBusaistypicallycitedasthepioneerofthefieldofhumanitiescomputing,andhisworkdatesbacktothelate1940s:</p><p>During theWorldWar II,between1941and1946, Ibegan to lookformachinesfor theautomationofthelinguisticanalysisofwrittentexts.Ifoundthem,in1949,atIBMinNewYorkCity.[Busa2004,xvi]</p><p>In this foundational story, two important epistemic commitments of humanities computing are established:information technology as a tool and written texts as a primary object of study (for linguistic analysis).Commitments such "computer as instrumental tool" and "text as object" end up helping decide what arelegitimate types of questions and study objects for the field, and how work and relevant institutions areorganized.</p><p>ThejournalComputersandtheHumanitieswasstartedasearlyasin1966and,interestingly,itseemsasifearly issues were not as textually oriented as one might have assumed. Early articles include "PL/I: Aprogramminglanguageforhumanitiesresearch,""Art,arthistory,andthecomputer"and"MusicologyandthecomputerinNewOrleans"(allfrom19661967).Thirtyyearslaterwefindarticlessuchas"ThedesignoftheTEI encoding scheme," "Current uses of hypertext in teaching literature," "Neural network applications instylometry" and "Word frequency distributions and lexical semantics" (all from 19951996). In 2005, thisjournalwasrenamedLanguageResourcesandEvaluation,andhadbythistimelostitsstatusasoneofthe"official" journals forhumanitiescomputing. Inoneof theobituaries,WillardMcCartyapplauds the first25yearsofthejournalandcommentsontheeditorsfinalstatement(whichpointsthedifficultyofmaintainingthebroadscopeofthejournal):</p><p>CHum'sastonishingdenialofafutureforhumanitiescomputingcomesinthesameyearastheBlackwell'sCompaniontoDigitalHumanities.[]Ifanything,thedevelopmentofCHumsincethensuggestsrathertheoppositeanarrowingdownfromthebreadthofhumanisticinterests,acrossthefullrangeofdisciplines,toasharpfocusonmaterialoftenclosertocomputationallinguisticsthananythingelseandoftentootechnicalforallbutthespecialistt...</p></li></ul>