Oftentimes, when I mention that I study Digital History to people that are not working on it, I get questions on some computer tricks. Everybody wants to make things faster and easier, and there is an assumption that digital tools can bring (or should bring) a solution for almost everything. Doesn’t matter if the subject of study is “digital related” or not, if tools cannot solve problems, it can be misunderstood as if those “digital fancy things” are not really great for nothing in humanities/history realm. And, suddenly, these people interest seems to disappear. “If it has no utility, them we don’t need it”, at least, in the immediatist point of view.
However, there are a bunch of tools that can help historians in their daily work. Of course, I don’t know all of them, and that’s why, many times, I feel unprepared to answer this kind of question. Anyway, before searching for a tool, one needs to know for what purpose she or he needs a tool.
Cleaning my Favorites bookmarks, the other day, I came across a link of the American Historical Association with useful references for Getting Started in Digital History. Among literature and projects, I found (again) this directory of tools:
If you are not familiarized with what can be done with tools and if you don’t really know the needings of your own research, it might be not so useful, but you can always jump on it, look for some reviews on specific tools you like, search for online tutorials and play with it.
It doesn’t mean that one needs to believe in some sort of technological solutionism, as criticized by Evgeny Morozov, and lose his/her time surfing the web endlessly, looking for the perfect tool, or trying to learn how to use it only for the sake of using it, because it’s hype. I believe it’s more about seeing the meaningful connections between the human and the machine work in one research, and try to figure out which kind of questions can be answered with this hybrid conjunction, mankind and computers, tradition and new technologies… Perhaps, it can turn out not only that is possible to answer X or Y question in a different way, favoring new approaches, but also be insightful for the proposition of new questions.
It’s is not a matter of changing the whole tool box of historians for a very new brand digital thing. But how to associate what we already know from our craft to the assistance those digital things can give to us.
One important exercise, is trying to not create a natural opposition between (digital) technologies and the humanists (and historians) work. Federica Frabetti has discussed the resonances of such complicated assumption in DH in her Rethinking the Digital Humanities in the Context of Originary Technicity (2011). After showing that the utilitarian mode of technology has been dominating the Western thoughts for almost three thousand years, as an Aristotelian heritage, according to Timothy Clark, she did a strong call for critical thinking on it. She emphasized the needing for questioning “the model(s) of rationality on which digital technologies are based” while importing it to digital humanities. Such reflection on the digitality, which I very much like, could hopefully show that technology and humanities are not separated, or opposed. Rather, they can be (are) complementary. Frabetti developed an interesting argument on it, bringing together different philosophical views on technicity/technology and knowledge. In dialogue with Derrida, she argues that “dissociation between thought and technology is – as is every other binary opposition – hierarchical, since it implies the devaluation of one of the two terms of the binary”.
A second good exercise is forgetting about that perfect tool. In another opportunity, Max Kemman wrote that “no tool can do all research for you” (2015), collecting his notes from the second edition of DHBenelux conference, last year, in Antwerp, Belgium (By the way, the third edition will be held next June, in Belval, and the call for proposals is here, closing 31 Jan 2016). His impression on that conference echoes my perception on the Trier Digital Humanities Autumn School 2015, co-hosted by Trier University and the University of Luxembourg. Concernings on tools were almost omnipresent in the lectures during that week, starting with the first speaker:
Thaller’s warning is a great north. However, a relative ignorance can make people be afraid of trying. As Andreas Fickers pointed out we need to be playful with those tools, use the digital without fear of taking risks, because research is about taking risks. As Claudine Moulin said in her opening words of this Autumn School the time for testing has come, but bear in mind Thaller’s reminder. You don’t need to avoid the tools because you don’t know them, dedicate yourself to understand it and learn something. If at the end of the day you do not find that it was useful to you, some knowledge will remain out of your tests. Maybe, that is not the right tool; maybe you will need to search for another one, or just other(s) to combine. Tools can also be complementary among them. You just need to understand what you need and try to find which (one, two or more) work better for your case.
As Kemman also noticed in the same blog post: “While DH loves to develop tools, tools do not always reach their potential adoption by the target audience”. Apropos, Kemman and Martijn Kleppe presentation on user research in digital humanities (and its value for developing tools) at Benelux 2015, showed that “due to the many unique and out-of-scope user requirements, […] there is a tension between the specificity of scholarly research methods, and generalizability for a broader applicable tool.”.
Moral of the history? First, know your needings and, if you do not know a tool, don’t be afraid to try it, one or more of them. Study it, learn about it, play with it. And, if you do not like it, or if you like but think it could work differently, search for alternatives. But, most important: share your experiences with other colleagues and, if possible, do write a review on the tools you have used. It must be useful for others like you and also for those who work developing it.
I hope the Digital Research Tool will be of help for some.
Soon I must be posting on the tools I will use on my research. 😉
Herrenhausen Conference: “(Digital) Humanities Revisited – Challenges and Opportunities in the Digital Age”
In times of digitization, internet, and mobile communication, the humanities can build on new, empirically driven methods to gain new insights. But what are the implications of this mode of knowledge production for the various disciplines subsumed under the term humanities, their methods and research objects, and for the role the humanities should and could play in society?
This triad will be the focus of our Herrenhausen Conference “(Digital) Humanities Revisited – Challenges and Opportunities in the Digital Age“. Together with experts from the various fields of the humanities, the conference would like to facilitate a dialogue between protagonists who embrace digital tools and those following and sustaining more traditional approaches.
Amongst others, we would like to discuss the following questions:
What kind of knowledge can we expect?
What could be lost relying solely on digitally driven methods?
What are the opportunities offered by the digital technologies, and what kind of challenges do these developments pose for the humanities?
We invite researchers embracing digital humanities and scholars criticizing the digital tools to reflect on the recent and forthcoming developments, and to deliberate together about the future of the digital humanities.
There is no registration fee for the conference, but you must register in order to reserve your place.
Prof. Dr. Hubertus Kohle, University of Munich,
Prof. Dr. Gerhard Lauer, University of Göttingen,
Prof. Dr. Henning Lobin, Justus Liebig University Giessen,
Prof. Dr. Norbert Lossau, Göttingen State and University Library,
Prof. Dr. Anke Lüdeling, Humboldt University Berlin
Apply here to participate as a blogger at the Conference!
Divulgação via revista Diacornie
El Grupo de Investigación Siglo de Oro (GRISO) de la Universidad de Navarra anuncia la convocatoria del Congreso Internacional «Humanidades digitales: visibilidad y difusión de la investigación», que se celebrará en Pamplona los días 23 y 24 de mayo de 2013.
Objetivos y áreas temáticas
Los principales objetivos del Congreso son compartir experiencias y avanzar en el conocimiento de las diferentes maneras de aplicar la Comunicación Digital y las Nuevas Tecnologías a la difusión de la investigación en Humanidades, haciendo en última instancia más visibles los resultados de nuestro trabajo. El congreso se organizará en torno a cuatro grandes áreas temáticas:
- Blogs y redes sociales. Los blogs y las redes sociales, las generales y las de carácter más académico, constituyen vehículos importantes para dar a conocer nuestro trabajo entre los colegas del mundo universitario, pero son también una herramienta fundamental para llegar a un público más amplio.
- Revistas digitales. La necesidad de visualizar nuestra investigación ha impulsado, entre otras razones, la aparición y consolidación de revistas digitales en Internet. Poder tener una fotografía de la situación actual de los proyectos en marcha y conocer los requisitos de indexación de las revistas son aspectos centrales que requieren también nuestra atención.
- Edición digital. El libro electrónico va consolidando un espacio propio en el ámbito de las publicaciones en Humanidades. Acercarse a los estándares existentes y conocer la situación actual de este mercado y las posibilidades de futuro nos ayudará a estar presentes en este cambiante mundo.
- Divulgación de la investigación / Visibilidad / Bibliotecas digitales. Bases de datos de publicaciones, repositorios académicos, publicaciones on-line, materiales en Open Access, etc., nos acercan el trabajo de muchos colegas y ponen a nuestra disposición vías para dar a conocer nuestras investigaciones. Asimismo parece conveniente contemplar las implicaciones legales que se suscitan en este ámbito.
“This is very different from the traditional “hoard and polish” technique, in which scholarly humanities research is an individual effort, published only in late stages, but it is very much in keeping with the emerging cooperative spirit of digital scholarship, Nowviskie said. Digital humanities projects at U.Va. cover a large swath of work, ranging from online archives of 19th-century scholarship to interactive maps of historical Jamaican architecture.”
Trechinho extraído da página da University of Virgina Today sobre um interessantíssimo projeto piloto em Digital Humanities. Um grupo de alunos do projeto “Praxis Program” está trabalhando para desenvolver um software de análise de textos Web-based que possibilitará a análise cruzada de reações e categorizações de textos Web a fora. O programa em que os estudantes bolsistas responsáveis pelo Praxis estão envolvidos deve, segundo as boas línguas repensar a educação superior na Era Digital.
Fiquei curiosa. Let’s stay tuned!
É com prazer que compartilho com vocês meu primeiro artigo publicado em Italiano sobre a relação entre História e Digital.
Este artigo é fruto da reelaboração de algumas ideias que eu já havia desenvolvido em “Histórias no Ciberespaço: viagens sem mapas, sem referências e sem paradeiros no território incógnito da Web”, nos Cadernos do Tempo Presente, e em minha fala nas “VIII Jornadas de Historia Moderna y Contemporánea” em Buenos Aires, novembro passado, “Do texto ao hipertexto: notas sobre a escrita digital da história no século XXI“.
(en) I am pleased to share with you my first article published in Italian on the relationship between “History” and “Digital”.
This article is the result of the reworking of some ideas I had developed in “Histórias no Ciberespaço: viagens sem mapas, sem referências e sem paradeiros no território incógnito da Web”, in Cadernos do Tempo Presente, and in my talk in the “VIII Jornadas de Historia Moderna y Contemporánea”, in Buenos Aires, last November, “Do texto ao hipertexto: notas sobre a escrita digital da história no século XXI“.
“Sopravviverà la storia all’ipertesto?”. Qualche spunto sulla scrittura della storia ai tempi di internet
Abstract (en): This paper examines theoretical and methodological aspects related to the writing of history in the Digital Age. It’s a sort of introduction on some issues and problems on the relationship between history and the Internet in the early years of the century (2001-2011). We highlight mainly problems concerning the use of historical sources and documents available in cyberspace. It’s especially about issues regarding the use of hypertext as a new way for a reference system more virtual than the classical footnotes system.
Keywords: History, Digital History, Internet, Hypertext, cyberspace.
Abstract (it): L’articolo analizza aspetti teorici e metodologici relativi alla scrittura della Storia nell’era digitale. Si tratta di un approccio di carattere introduttivo ad alcune tematiche e problemi propri delle relazioni tra storia e internet nei primi anni del secolo XXI (2001-2011). Verranno analizzati, principalmente, i problemi relativi all’utilizzo delle fonti storiche e documentarie disponibili nel cyberspazio. Analizzeremo, soprattutto, le questioni relative all’uso del ipertesto come nuovo percorso per un sistema di riferimenti, per quanto virtuale, rispetto alle classiche note a piè di pagina.
Parole chiave: storia, storiografia digitale, internet, ipertesto, cyberspazio.
Ref: Lucchesi, Anita, «“Sopravviverà la storia all’ipertesto?”. Qualche spunto sulla scrittura della storia ai tempi di internet», Diacronie. Studi di Storia Contemporanea, N. 12, 4|2012