(Summer) DH Adventures

Or what I did last summer with a more fancy title. Actually, by DH adventures, I mean the two trips I did last summer for participating at two Digital Humanities events as well as the other DH events I attended in London where I’m based at the moment.

University of Zadar

The University of Zadar nicely located by the sea.

The first of them, for which I travelled at the end of May, was the NeDiMAH working paper meeting that took place in beautiful Zadar, Croatia. The topic of this year’s meeting was ‘Downstream from the Digital Humanities: Digital Methods and the Scholarly Communications Ecosystem’. Its purpose was to gather researchers and other professionals interested in the different aspects of scholarly communication in Digital Humanities. These ranged from publishing and sharing scholarly output to other core academic concerns of today’s digital humanist, such as career and scholarly record. More importantly, we looked at how digital methods have impacted on the communication practices of scholars and their career choices in academia as well as the various issues that result from that.

My paper focused on scholarly communication in the field of art history (my presentation can be found here). More specifically, I used the collecting behaviour of art historians as a starting point for exploring the practices of collaboration and communication with colleagues as well as those of research dissemination and impact employed by scholars in the field. The establishment of personal collections in art history is an activity that is very much related to other scholarly practices, either by facilitating them or constituting a solution to various problems scholars often face, such as access or copyright. Communication and collaboration are amongst the practices supported by scholars’ collecting behaviour; for example, by exchanging information with other colleagues, art historians attempt not only to tackle some of the aforementioned issues, but also to build and support a network of colleagues and friends. As a result, my argument was that by understanding fundamental scholarly practices, like the building of personal collections, and by supporting scholars accordingly with appropriate tools and services, we can eventually enhance other research practices, such as scholarly communication.

Swiss Tech Convention Center

The Swiss Tech Convention Center where the first two days of the conference took place.

The second event I attended last summer was the DH2014 Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland and, even though the weather was not in our favour, it constituted a very interesting experience. As a first timer at the conference, I was really excited to learn about the new research developments in the field as well as meet colleagues and friends. And, although overwhelmed at times by the information overload, I was not left disappointed. The overall atmosphere was as lively as I expected it to be, the presentations were hugely interesting and everyone was keen to meet new people and discuss all possible aspects of Digital Humanities.

Personally, I had the chance to present my work at one of the conference’s workshops. The workshop was called ‘Are we there yet? Functionalities, synergies and pitfalls of major digital humanities infrastructures’ and its aim was to bring together leading scholars involved in major digital scholarly infrastructure projects such as DARIAH, NeDiMAH, Europeana Cloud, CLARIN and many more with other researchers in the field of Digital Humanities. The discussion evolved around the lessons learned from the building and use of these infrastructures, their future as well as the various aspects involved, like the user requirements aspect which is my principal area of interest.

Thus, my presentation (it can be found here) had at its centre the art historian as a user in the digital age. For that purpose, I used once more scholars’ personal collections as a point of departure; this time, though, in order to examine different issues. In particular, my goal was to focus on art historians’ information behaviour through exploring the impact the digital age has had on their personal workspace. As a result, I talked about the kind of information art historians need for their research, where they find them in the digital age, and how they handle this information along with the tools they use and the challenges they face throughout the process.

Yet, apart from the above events, I had the opportunity to attend several other meetings and seminars in London; ‘The Digital Classicist’ was one of them. Actually, these series of seminars have been in my summer to-do list since my first year as a PhD student for the topics and discussions, which can be of interest not only to digital classicists but also to other DH scholars, as well as the friends and colleagues participating whom I am always glad to see.

Hope this new academic season is equally busy and interesting!


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