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Digital Humanities 2015: Continuing the Dialogue

In July of 2014, our Digital Humanities experts Roeland Ordelman and Eva Baaren attended the DH2014 pre-conference workshop on Sound and (Moving) Image in Focus. Filled with a mixture of humanities scholars, IT-scholars and archive experts, the workshop consisted of a wide range of subjects, questions and perspectives with an interdisciplinary focus. This interdisclipinairy focus is still relevant as we enter 2015.


The workshops keynote speakers, Andreas Fickers (Professor for Contemporary and Digital History at the University of Luxembourg) and Arjan van Hessen (Technologist at Twente University and board member of CLARIN), stressed the importance of this focus by pointing out that education and dialogue remained was necessary, both within humanities and between humanities, IT-experts and content providers such as archives. As a growing group of historians use audiovisual sources for their research, they have to be educated by those that know media and media research. Also, humanities, IT-experts and content providers need to keep communicating well with each other before, during and after projects. To often, technical solutions are already out there without users knowing this.

The agency of techology

But next to solutions, technology also has it's own dynamics. Roeland and Eva held two separate talks, asking humanities scholars to discuss and their needs, experiences and assumptions regarding the tools they (may) work with in the future. Both presentations aimed at discussing what is seen as the black box of digital humanities: the role, or agency, of technology itself.

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Together with Jasmijn van Gorp (Digital Humanities expert at Utrecht University), Eva addressed the implications of interfaces such as that of TROVe for close and distant reading and asked the audience to think about the effect of changes in research phases that interfaces can bring about. In addition, Roeland showed the importance for users of knowing the state-of-the art of image retrieval technology, and therefore it’s limits for recall and precision. He urged humanities scholars to start asking more questions about automatic processes in order to be informed. Both presentations can be found here.

2015: Learning, teaching, developing and testing

Apart from these presentations, seven more presentations that day have posed questions, needs and examples to be addressed in order to make digital humanities work. As new tools and infrastructures will be developed and other will be used in 2015, these issues will only become important. Sound and Vision will continue to learn from and educate humanities and IT-experts to improve existing tools and contribute to long-term solutions for research with audiovisual material. So keep an eye out for our Digital Humanities activities this year, which already starts with the researchathon on January the 29th at ThatCamp Utrecht, where AVResearcherXL will be put to the test. We hope to see you there.

For more information, also see:

Images from Sound and (Moving) Images in Focus and by Roeland Ordelman