The title of this issue of the eHumanities group magazine could be ‘here be dragons’, the warning found on medieval maps for those parts of the world that were uncharted. The most obvious reference is to the new publication by members of the Tunes and Tales project in the prestigious Folklore journal. Folgert Karsdorp and his colleagues have developed a tool for searching the canonical Motif-Index of Folk Literature developed more than 50 years ago. Monsters of all sorts appear often in folktales, but it used to be difficult to find all instances. This new tool makes it much easier to chart the folktales, and to do innovative analyses about the physical and other location of monsters, including dragons. Meanwhile, Berit Janssen, also from the Tunes & Tales project, was sharing her experiences of identifying musical motifs with many other musicologists at the Lorentz Centre.
Other members of the wider eHumanities group report on recent events they have organised and/or attended, in the Netherlands and further afield. In order to chart dragons it is always useful to have data. And many of the events people have attended have been about data. I attended a workshop in Exeter at the end of last year about ‘dark data’, which was very much about monsters. Christophe Guéret reports on events he has been involved in which aim to ensure that the right data gets to the right people during times of crisis and emergency, and he also discusses an event he organised in April about how best to make data easy to re-use across contexts and projects. Andrea Scharnhorst organised a workshop in which she brought together experts in the classification and organisation of knowledge, those people devoted to taming the monsters, and to bringing order into disparate and sometimes chaotic systems. They discussed different ways of classifying knowledge, and how these are challenged by the web and other digital technologies. Participants learned about how the changing classification of ‘eugenics’ tells us a lot about the values and beliefs of those involved. Jacqueline Hicks shares her experiences of the final conference of ‘Nedimah – Beyond the Digital Humanities’, held in London. The long-standing but still pertinent question of what to do with one’s data once projects come to an end came up. Much of digital humanities is project-based, meaning the infrastructure for long-term support is important and difficult. Recognising this is part of what lies behind CLARIAH, and is part of the argument of the first PhD arising from the eHg, even if somewhat tangentially.
To really push an image to its limits, Wolfgang Kaltenbrunner will be facing the dragons of opposition, during his defence of his PhD in Leiden on 27 May. Wolfgang has been associated with the eHg since its inception, and used one of our projects, Elite Network Shifts, as one of the case studies in his PhD called, Reflexive Inertia. Reinventing Scholarship through Digital Practices. He presents case studies of other Dutch digital humanities projects in order to investigate conflicts that arise in multidisciplinary endeavours, and to develop his argument about what is necessary for lasting innovation in digital scholarship.
Our featured article this month is by Patricia Alkhoven, responsible for ‘external communication’ for CLARIAH, the multi-million investment in a research infrastructure for the arts and humanities. Alkhoven provides some of the background, some of the plans, and some of the hopes for how CLARIAH will help many humanities researchers to explore new research questions, to extend the frontiers of knowledge by identifying monsters or something else.
Two EU-funded projects are coming to an end – you can find out more about the final conference (28-29 May) of EINS, the Network of Excellence in Internet Science, and the recommendations produced by the RECODE team aimed at stakeholders engaged in promoting open access to research data. If you are not able to attend the final EINS conference in Brussels, maybe we will see you at the DH BeNeLux conference in Antwerp (8-9 June) or at the tools criticism workshop in Amsterdam (22 May). Details of all of these can be found in this issue.
Sally Wyatt, Programme Leader, eHumanities group.