Sólo el inicio / Just the Beginning


De regreso al tema original de este blog, #trDH se ha movido lentamente pero a paso seguro. En la etapa de planeación creo que todos tuvimos la impresión de que las traducciones serían más sencillas—y rápidas—de hacer. Error. Traducir es una labor lenta y laboriosa, aunque muy disfrutable también.

Entre todo el torbellino de tuits y entradas de blog estoy consciente que es muy difícil estar al tanto de lo que sucede en DayofDH, pero realmente espero que aunque en RedHD y con otros colaboradores hayamos hecho apenas un puñado de traducciones, el impulso se mantenga y los humanistas digitales logremos crear una cultura que facilite y sobre todo busque las traducciones del trabajo en otras lenguas. Dicho de otra forma, que en las Humanidades Digitales no asumamos que el trabajo en idiomas que no dominamos está fuera de nuestro alcance, nuestra área de influencia y nuestro interés. Por el contrario que nos comprometamos a establecer colaboraciones que devengan traducciones multilingües y con ellas el fortalecimiento del campo.

Apenas pasadas las 7 de la noche en hora de este norteamericano, estoy por irme del laboratorio. Sé que algunas otras traducciones se publicarán un poco más tarde en RedHD en traducción, pero en verdad la expectativa sigue siendo que esto sea apenas el comienzo.

Para terminar deseo agradecer a todos los que tomaron parte en esta iniciativa, el trabajo es complejo y requiere, como siempre, tanto el esfuerzo en equipo y de la energía individual de cada uno.

Ahora a traducir al inglés…


Back to the original topic of this blog, #trDH has moved slowly but surely during DayofDH. During the planning stages of this initiative, I’m sure we all believed that translating would be easier and quicker. Mistake. Translating is a slow and laborious task, though hugely enjoyable too.

Among the whirlpool of tweets and blog posts, I’m aware that it is extremely difficult to be on top of everything going on during DayofDH. However, I really hope that even when RedHD and others only managed to translate a handful of texts, the impulse sticks and we (DH people) manage to create a culture in DH that facilitates, and above all, seeks translations of work done in other languages. In other words, that the default in DH is not to assume that work done in languages we don’t know is out of reach, out of our area of influence or beyond our interests. On the contrary, the expectation is that this exercise will lead to a (our) commitment to establish collaborations resulting in multilingual translations, which will in turn strengthen the field.

It’s just past 7pm EST, I’m about to leave the lab. I know other translations will be published in the RedHD en traducción blog a bit later, but again, I hope that this is just the beginning.

To wrap up, I would like to thank everyone that took part in this exercise. This work is complex and requires, as usual, as much of a team effort as the individual energies.


Not just about translation

Thank goodness most Digital Humanities work is collaborative. Otherwise it would be impossible for me to take a few minutes to scribble this post. Originally, I had planned to write a composite post on the two parallel projects I’ve been working on that aim to map the scope and elucidate the characteristics of the IberoAmerican Digital Humanities community MapaHD and AtlasCSDH. However, since Esteban Romero Frías has already done a superb job in his post on our joint project AtlasCSDH, I think I will only deal a bit with MapaHD. The story of the project goes back almost a year ago when the first DíaHD (DayofDH in Spanish and Portuguese) was celebrated. During that day, the lovely Silvia Gutiérrez from Würzburg Universität and I pretty much improvised a 8-9 item questionnaire that circulated around for a couple of months and led to the collection of huge amounts of data. Little did we know that the project would go on to become really something. If after reading this post you’re still curious about MapaHD, there are a number of places where either Silvia or I, or both, will be talking about it (RedHD 2ndo Encuentro de Humanistas Digitales, DHSI Colloquium, and DH2014), and are publishing a rather long chapter (in Spanish) in Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades Digitales: técnicas, herramientas y experiencias de e-research e investigación en colaboración forthcoming in the next few weeks. We’re almost done with the English version, so if you’d like to publish us, say hi!

A survey of results include:

1)      Geographic locations of HD (inverted acronym to indicate Sp and Pt DH practitioners): very widely spread beyond the Spanish speaking world and definitely underrepresented in other map visualizations.

CenterNet Map and MapaHD Map showing different approaches to the HD community
CenterNet Map and MapaHD Map showing different approaches to the HD community

2)      Length of HD practitioners’ trajectory: much, much older than we had previously imagined.

Length of trajectories. Pioneering practitioners with over 30 years of work and a huge increase in the last five years.

3)      As it was already expected, we observed a predominance of literary studies practitioners in our participants—more than 50% of them—and their huge influence in shaping the field.

Disciplines represented in the dataset by total frequency and percentage.
Disciplines represented in the dataset by total frequency and percentage.

More detailed analyses, the ones I’d like to mention here, had to do with interdisciplinary dynamics. So we measured how common it was for a discipline to be matched with others, after all we all are under the assumption that our work is interdisciplinary. Silvia and I designed an “interdisciplinary index”, that is whenever one participant reported working in Philosophy and Visual Arts, for example, we would give this relationship an interdisciplinary index of two, if the participant reported working on Philosophy, Visual Arts, and Music, the relationship was given an index of 3, and so forth for every participant. Next, we gathered subsets for each discipline and further measured these data’s central tendencies for the five most common disciplines to get an estimate of both how many fields they tend to be paired with (mean and median) and how consistently (mode). Fig.7 Results obtained show that most common interdisciplinary connections happen between two fields. And although Literary Studies has the most connections, it also seems to be the least collaborative. Conversely, Linguistics appears most consistently paired with another discipline than on its own. Interestingly, Information Science has the highest tendencies, meaning not only that it is most consistently matched with other disciplines, but also with the most disciplines. History and Philosophy are similar.

Furthermore, the question of what makes certain disciplines more prone to appear in combination with others remained. While some disciplines, like Literary Studies, by sheer numbers seem to have a greater influence, others due to their connections offer a stronger base for interdisciplinary dynamics to take place. With the objective of observing another dimension of the disciplinary combinations and the many coincidences among participants, we analyzed the approaches – text mark up, database building, digitization, etc. – present in each of the disciplines. The vast majority of participants indicated working in between 1-4 approaches. Fig.9We then observed a discipline’s linked approaches, the analysis shed light on what might be one of the factors contributing to a given discipline’s interconnectedness: a bigger number of approaches linked to it. Again, even when it seems to have a very strong influence, the absolute frequency of approaches in each discipline seems less crucial for the creation of links, than their diversity . For instance, Philosophy and Computer Science, which in spite of having low frequencies, have varied approaches associated to them and thus, a greater likeliness to be linked to others. In contrast, Anthropology, Music, and Education with limited approaches linked to them remain much more isolated.

There is still much to explore and bigger datasets of HD practitioners actual practices to explore. However, the work that Silvia and I have done up to now offers a detailed snapshot of where HD stands now as it seems to gain more presence in the global DH community. MapaHD also provides pointers of where we are and where we would like to be, training issues to address in curriculum development, and even clues as to how to put collaborative teams together (hope I’m not exaggerating).


This post will not have a translation below. The reason for this is just that most of this work, if not all, is already published in Spanish. So, the whole post is a translation/adaptation. Links refer back to original posts in Spanish.


Scroll down for English translation.

En español:

La primera vez que participé en DayofDH fue en 2011. De un puñado de resultados positivos, el mejor fue por mucho conocer virtualmente a Isabel Galina, Ernesto Priani y Alberto Martínez. En esos días la RedHD estaba en proceso de formación. La RedHD fundada en junio de 2011 fue la primera organización de HD en español y desde entonces trabaja desde México para promover las humanidades digitales en países hispanohablantes. Poco antes de eso, su actual presente Isabel Galina había dirigido una serie de talleres en los que gente mayoritariamente de la UNAM se juntaban a ser humanistas digitales. Asistí a un par de esos talleres, el más importante de ellos cuanto la RedHD fue instituida—en realidad más bien acordada y apoyada consensualmente que hecha institucional—y los resultados de la experiencia fueron presentados por Galina y Priani en DH2011 en Stanford. De aquí se podría decir que el resto es historia: de los más o menos 15-20 participantes de los talleres, la RedHD ha crecido exponencialmente. Hubo un Primer encuentro de humanistas digitales en la Ciudad de México en 2012 y el segundo está por suceder en mayo en conjunción con GO::DH. La RedHD también co-organizó el DíaHD y ha creado lazos muy fuertes con otras organizaciones de humanidades digitales en español y portugués como la HDH (España), HDA (Argentina), AHDig (Brasil y Portugal), etc. En algo más de tres años—desde mi experiencia personal—hemos ido de ni siquiera conocernos a trabajar juntos constantemente y realizar proyectos importantísimos. Mucho trabajo queda por hacerse, pero mucho se ha logrado ya.

El punto de la historia es señalar cómo aunque el principio básico de DayofDH es llegar a un entendimiento de qué son las Humanidades Digitales—”¿Qué hacen los humanistas digitales exactamente?”—la iniciativa, de hecho, ha tenido “efectos secundarios”. Uno de ellos, claro a partir de la anécdota de arriba, parece ser la formación de redes que en esta edición del evento se incluyó con la posibilidad de formar grupos comunitarios y foros de discusión. Incluso por la creciente dimensión de las HD en el mundo, que un ejercicio como éste lleve a la formación de una red general e inclusiva es cuestionable, pero sí ha tenido un gran impacto en la formación de redes de menor escala.

En el caso particular de la RedHD y, tal vez, de la comunidad luso e hispanohablante de HD en general, DayofDH puede haber servido como punto de encuentro al principio, y luego, gracias a los esfuerzo de grandes líderes de diferentes organizaciones se hizo determinante. DíaHD fue muy exitoso en acercarnos a muchos de nosotros, revelar la rica variedad de proyectos en el mundo y crear un sentido de cohesión en las comunidades hispana y lusa de HD. No obstante, el éxito logrado, me parece, obliga preguntas sobre nuestro lugar en las Humanidades Digitales globales y, de forma más concisa, en un evento como DayofDH: ¿Cuál es el lugar de las HD hispanas y lusas en un ejercicio que todavía parece mayoritariamente anglófono? Ya que hemos construido una comunidad relativamente cercana, ¿tiene sentido participar en DayofDH? Y de ser así, de qué manera distinta y/o renovada? ¿Y específicamente con qué objetivos?

Algunas respuestas tentativas salen de los problemas de visibilidad y prominencia lingüística. Aun cuando entre un creciente grupo de humanistas digitales luso e hispanohablantes conocemos el trabajo de otros y establecemos intercambios de forma relativamente frecuente, hay ocasiones en las que es evidente que nuestros esfuerzos continúan estando bastante aislados, con certeza, por el idioma. Dicho de otra forma, el problema que los humanistas digitales aún tienen que resolver es su falta de visibilidad en el ancho mundo de las HD. Los problemas con esto se han discutido aquí y aquí y aquí y aquí y en muchos otros lados. Que existimos ya está establecido, pero qué tipo de trabajo hacemos—o hemos hecho—no es tan bien sabido. En ese sentido, me pregunto si la pregunta básica del DayofDH puede ser sutilmente ajustada y convertirse en “¿qué es lo que hacen otros humanistas digitales?” En esta pregunta está implícito el reconocimiento de que si bien siempre pareció bastante imposible llegar a una definición de HD, ya que nuestro campo ha crecido tanto y florece en una variedad de idiomas que no todos podemos hablar, la tarea es más difícil. Mayoritariamente, y con buen grado de justicia, este problema se ha adjudicado a la prominencia de la rama Anglo-Americana de HD, pero también es cierto que no todos podemos hablar cada idioma en el que las HD se practican actualmente.

La creciente complejidad lingüística y cultural del campo no se va a solucionar por sí sola y tampoco se puede ignorar. Como ya lo mencioné en otro lado, traducciones multilingües pueden ser una herramienta no institucionalizada muy poderosa para mover ideas alrededor del mundo de las HD. Una ocasión como DayofDH, entonces, me parece una gran oportunidad para promover la traducción y expandir nuestras ideas a partir de familiarizarnos con lo que hacen otros humanistas digitales. El 8 de abril, miembros de la RedHD y otros (la propuesta se ha extendido a HDH y GO:DH pero está abierta a todos) trabajarán traduciendo y publicando textos cortos ya existentes a cualquier otro idioma que cada uno conozca. Para unir el trabajo usaremos el hashtag #trDH tanto en blogs como en Twitter. Con este ejercicio, nos proponemos empujar las barreras lingüísticas y promover prácticas similares poco a poco y de forma tanto individual como colectiva.

Además, el ejercicio invita nuevos encuentros y apertura: sí, hagamos DayofDH un día en el que mostremos nuestro trabajo y nos actualicemos sobre el trabajo reconocido de los más reconocidos, pero también un día en el que desafiémos los límites de nuestras redes inmediatas (lingüísticas, geográficas, institucionales, personales o de otra índole). Tal vez, este ejercicio de un giro a los objetivos iniciales de DayofDH, pero espero que también refleje cómo el campo es cada vez más variado y cuánta participación de la comunidad extendida es necesaria para llamar nuestra atención hacia ello. Los invito a sumarse al esfuerzo traduciendo algún texto y/o trabajando con los autores si les es posible. Si no, de mucha importancia también, dedicando unos momentos a encontrar algo que no habrían conocido si no hubiera sido traducido.

Now in English: 

My first time participating in DayofDH was back in 2011. Out of a bunch of different positive outcomes, the best was by far meeting Isabel Galina, Ernesto Priani, and Alberto Martínez virtually. Those were also the days when RedHD was coming into being. RedHD was the first Spanish-speaking DH organization founded in June 2011 and currently works from Mexico to promote DH in Spanish-speaking countries. Earlier that year, its current president Isabel Galina had spearheaded a series of workshops in which people mostly from UNAM got to be DHers together. I attended a couple of those workshops, most importantly the one when RedHD was ‘instituted’—really more agreed upon and supported consensually than made institutional—and the budding results were presented both by Galina and Priani at the Stanford DH2011 conference. From here we could say the rest is history: from the original 15 or so workshop attendants, RedHD has grown exponentially: there was a Primer encuentro de humanistas digitales in Mexico City in 2012 and a second one is about to take place in May in conjunction with GO::DH.  RedHD also co-organized DíaHD (DayofDH in Spanish and Portuguese), and has built really strong ties with other Spanish and Portuguese speaking groups HDH (Spain), HDA (Argentina), AHDig (Brazil and Portugal) etc. In a matter of three years, and of course from my personal experience, we’ve gone from not even knowing each other, to working together constantly in really relevant projects. Much work is still left to be done, but a lot has been achieved.

The point of this story is to highlight how even though the founding principle of DayofDH is to arrive at an understanding of what DH is—”Just what do digital humanists really do?”—the initiative has as a matter of fact been having “side effects”. One of them, clear from the anecdote above, seems to be networking. This year, the organizers have acknowledged this and offered the possibility of community groups and discussion forums. Even by the growing dimensions of DH around the world, that an exercise such as this has led to a tight overall DH network is questionable, but it has had an impact in the formation of smaller networks.

In the particular case of RedHD, and perhaps the larger Spanish speaking DH community it might have served  as a meeting place at first, and then thanks to further efforts by great leaders from different organizations become determinant. DíaHD was a huge success in bringing a lot of us together, revealing a rich variety of projects around the world, and building a sense of cohesion in the broader Spanish and Portuguese DH communities. However, its success, I believe, posits questions in regards to our place in the global Digital Humanities and more concisely in an event like DayofDH: What is the place of Spanish and Portuguese speaking DH in a what still feels like a largely English-speaking exercise? Since we have managed to build a relatively cohesive community, does it make sense to take part in DayofDH? To take part in both, DíaHD and DayofDH? And if so, in what distinct and/or renewed way? And, what for, specifically?

Some tentative answers to these questions come out of issues of visibility and linguistic prominence. Even though among a growing group of Spanish and Portuguese speaking DHers we know about each other’s work and are in relatively frequent exchange, there are times when it’s evident that our efforts continue to be largely isolated, admittedly, by language. Simply put, the problem Spanish speaking DHers are currently having is a lack of visibility in the broader world of digital humanities. The problems with this, not just in the context of Spanish speaking DH, have been discussed here and here and here and here, and many other places. That we exist has been established, but what exactly it is that we do/have done is not that well known. In that sense, I wonder if DayofDH’s founding question can be tweaked a bit and become “Just what do other digital humanists do?” In this question there is an implied acknowledgement that if it was always pretty impossible to arrive at a definition of DH, given that our field has grown so much and flourishes in a variety of languages we can’t all speak, the task is even harder. This problem is mostly and with a good degree of fairness attributed to the prominence of Anglo-American DH, but it is also true that we can’t all speak every language in which DH is currently being practiced.

The growing linguistic and cultural complexity of the field is not going to be sorted out on its own, and it can’t be put to the side. As I mentioned elsewhere, multilingual translation can be a powerful non-institutionalized tool to move diverse ideas around the world of Digital Humanities. An occasion such as DayofDH, thus, seems to me a great opportunity to promote translation that broaden our ideas by familiarizing with what other digital humanists do. On April 8, RedHD members and hopefully others (the proposal has been extended to HDH and GO::DH and is open to everyone) will work on translating and publishing already existing short pieces of writing into any language each one happens to know.  We’ll be using #trDH both on blogs and on Twitter to gather and find our work. With this exercise, we aim actively to work through linguistic barriers, and promote similar practices little by little, and individually as well as collaboratively.

Furthermore, the exercise invites new encounters and openness: yes, let’s make DayofDH a day in which we show our work, and get updates on the well-known work of our well-known-ones, but also a day in which we challenge the limits of our immediate networks (linguistic, geographical, institutional, personal, or otherwise). Perhaps this exercise shifts the original aims of DayofDH in a different direction, but I expect it to reflect how increasingly varied the field has been turning, and how much community participation is necessary to bring it to our attention. I invite all of you to join the effort by translating something and working in collaboration with authors if you can. If not, perhaps, most importantly, by taking a few moments to encounter something you wouldn’t have been able to if it hadn’t been translated.


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