DH Forum 2012 Abstracts

Big Data and Uncertainty in the Humanities

Fall Digital Humanities Forum
20-22 September 2012
Lawrence, Kansas

Recordings for the 2012 Forum are available on YouTube and searchable with the IDRH Finding Aid.

Plenary Speakers

Kari Kraus, Assistant Professor, College of Information Studies and the Department of English at the University of Maryland

Geoffrey Rockwell, Professor of Philosophy and Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta, Canada

Paper Presentations

A World in a Grain of Sand: Uncertainty & Poetry Corpora Visualization

K. Coles & J. Lein, Professor, Department of English, University of Utah

Under a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities in the US and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, and JISC in the UK, we recently embarked on a poetry visualization project with a group of computer scientists at Oxford University.

Recording: A world in a grain of sand

The Humanities in a Digital Age

Gregory Crane, Editor-in-Chief, Perseus Digital Library

We now live in a pervasively digital world and Humanists have an opportunity to rethink our goals. On the one hand, we can now develop research projects that are broader and deeper in scope than was feasible in print culture. First, we can trace ideas across dozens of languages and thousands of years. Second, the explosion of high-resolution digital representations of source texts, objects, and archaeological data sets has, in some quarters, transformed the traditional (and out of fashion) task of editing.

Recording: The Humanities in a digital age

"Grounds more relative than this": Harnessing Uncertainty in Digital Literary Studies

Patrick Flor, English, Computer Science, and Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Kansas

Recording: "Grounds more relative than this"

What Are You Going to Do With that Data?: Digital Collections and Humanities Research

Harriet Green, English and Digital Humanities Librarian, University of Illinois

Library collections are an important source of data for digital humanists: Libraries digitize, transcribe and mark up their repositories of texts, images, and manuscripts to produce digital collections of primary source materials for humanities scholars to use in textual analysis, data mining, visualizations, and many other types of research methodologies. But are libraries producing digital materials that are optimized for digital humanities research? And are humanists getting all of the types of data that they need for their research to reach its fullest potential?

Recording: What are you going to do with data?

Phylogenetic Futures: Big Data and Design Fiction

Kari Kraus, Assistant Professor, College of Information Studies and the Department of English at the University of Maryland

This talk seeks to position phylogenetics within the broader frameworks of both big data and the design disciplines. Originating in “big data” applications of evolutionary biology, phylogenetic methods are increasingly used to reconstruct the hereditary relationships of cultural data sets in the social sciences and humanities, including textual criticism, historical linguistics, and anthropology—examples I will provide.

Recording: Phylogenetic Futures

False Positives: Opportunities and Dangers in Big Text Analysis

Geoffrey Rockwell, Professor of Philosophy and Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta, Canada

Recording: False Positives

Reading Genres: Exploring Massive Digital Collections From the Top Down

Ben Schmidt, PhD candidate in History, Princeton University, and Graduate Fellow, Cultural Observatory at Harvard

At what scale can digital analysis address live questions in the humanities? On the one hand, humanists have long cultivated expertise in elucidating meaning from a single text or author; on the other, increasing numbers of scientists are drawn to massive digital corpuses by the appeal of describing ‘culture’ writ large. While digital reading promises only modest improvements to traditional techniques, the scientific approach rightfully causes many humanists discomfort for simplifying the variegated worlds of historical experience out of existence.

Recording: Reading Genres

Museum Collecting in the Age of "Big Data": Opportunities for Collaboration

Peter Welsh, Professor and Director of Museum Studies, University of Kansas

Museums, particularly museums of cultural history, face a constant challenge of deciding which objects to add to the collection, knowing that acquiring any object brings obligations to provide long term stable environments, appropriate documentation, and ongoing access.

Recording: Museum Collecting in the Age of "Big Data"

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