Morning activities: Digital what?

Since, I have just finished a news article about the Day of DH for our website, I am about to head for one of my most important tasks now: Our new image brochure. Why is it so important? Was it easy for you to fill in the required “How do you define DH?” I suppose not, and neither was it for me. How would you explain to your friend, your neighbor or your grandma what Digital Humanities are? Surely, you know how widespread digital humanities are as they bring in contact language and literature researchers, historians, scholars of religious studies, musicologists, archaeologists and many others, with computer scientists, web designers, and other technologists. Where these scientific groups meet each other, DH arise. Today, the scholars often have different backgrounds and so they have to develop an understanding of their colleagues’ specifical research interest but very soon a new generation of digital humanists will be born that combines these skills. In Trier, we are about to initiate a new master’s degree “Digital Humanities”. I have just talked to our Professor Caroline Sporleder about it (read about her Day of DH and her HERA-project ASYMENC here). So how do you attract students to a master’s degree of studies you can hardly define?

Thus, I decided to explain Digital Humanities and show their variety by what we do. Let me give you some examples.

Our first projects derived from lexicology when we digitized dictionaries, encoded them and developed problem solving software for an electronic publication. We uploaded various dictionaries into a network so that you can easily search them altogether. Thereby, for example, you can make user-friendly comparisons of expressions of different dialects (Sounds interesting? Take a look here). Still on the same subject, today our director Dr Vera Hildenbrandt is at an editorial meeting for a handbook of internet lexicography to determine certain standards – that is also part of a Day of DH.

To give you only a small insight into our versatile projects let me shortly introduce you to two more projects. “SeNeReKo – Semantic and Social Network Analysis as an Instrument for Research into Inter-Religious Contacts”. Its aim is to find out how religions influence each other. Therefore, semantic and social network analysis is used. Right now, the researchers are working on part-of-speech tagging for the language Pali which is quite challenging. Read about our scholar Jürgen Knauth’s Day of DH on the SeNeReKo blog. Another long term project is “Arthur Schnitzler: Digital Historical-Critical Edition”, which we are developing in cooperation with international partners. To transcribe Schnitzler’s manuscripts electronically we invented a special software called Transcribo which is optimized continuously by one of our programmers. You can find out more about the daily tasks of the project at their blog.