A Smell of Higher Honey: E-Humanities Perspectives
Keywords:digital history, digital humanities, e-humanties, Rens Bod
Is e-humanities ‘The next big thing’ and are we on the verge of a ‘Humanities 3.0’? The field of e-humanities, at this moment, seems to be too diverse and scattered to move in sync. One of the challenges that face e-humanities research at this moment lies in the field of uniting data digitisation/management and data analysis/representation. Here, heritage institutions, libraries, archives and universities should cooperate closely. Existing (digital) humanities data corpora should be connected and integrated through on the basis of question-driven analysis possibilities.
However the biggest challenge would be to take hermeneutics as a base for e-science, by developing digital analytical strategies for the knowledge fields unique to the humanities – meaning attribution, interpretation and concept formation in text, image, sound, object or space, and combining these withnumeric data about production, consumption patterns, networks, et cetera. How can we trace complex and essentially contested concepts? Can digital analysis set us on a trail for new interpretations? How can we accommodate the complexity and ambiguity of the sources with which we work and develop digital methods to automate the way humanities scholars look for patterns, interpret and evaluate them?
The evaluative aspect of e-humanities could really alter our research field, since for a long time humanities scholars have tended to work with implicit evaluative schemes. The advantage of e-humanities research therefore would lie not only in the fact that hermeneutics are structurally taken into account in digital analysis, and that new patterns and interpretations might be found, but also that we would gain more insight in the kind of questions we pose, the steps that we take during this process and in the validation of the results.
This article is part of the forum 'The End of the Humanities 1.0'.
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