Launching Digital Humanities 2.0 at the University of Minnesota

Last week I gave a talk at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, as part of the launch of a new University-wide initiative, Digital Humanities 2.0 (DH 2.0). I focused on epistemological and methodological challenges in digital humanities, based on results of my recently completed projects, Alfalab and Humanities Information Practices.

DH 2.0 initiative sets the ground for advancing humanities research in general, and at the University of Minnesota in particular, through digitization and Web 2.0 technologies. ‘The advancement of knowledge in the humanities will increasingly rely on an informed and creative use of the new tools and methodologies that are made possible by digitization and computer networking,” the DH 2.0 initiative asserts. ‘To carry their work forward, scholars and artists will necessarily engage with the digital humanities.”

The initiative builds on University of Minnesota’s existing rich resources and programs, such as the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute; the Digital Technology Center; the Institute for New Media Studies; the Department of Geography’s GIS concentration; large digitization projects undertaken by the University of Minnesota Libraries in collaboration with Google Books and the Hathi Trust Digital Library; the digitization program of the University of Minnesota Press; the University of Minnesota Libraries’ major archival initiative called the Digital Conservancy; and numerous individual faculty projects in the field of digital humanities.

DH 2.0 proposes digital humanities beyond printed word, i.e., an advanced study of words, images, moving images, sounds, color, shape, and motion as a coherent whole, as well as harvesting opportunities of the social web, such as crowd-sourcing and user-generated content. As an initial set of topics that could be explored at the University of Minnesota in a powerful way, DH 2.0 proposes application of GIS and map-annotation systems; legal constructs such as copyright and fair use; text-to-speech synthesis; archival preservation, access, and text mining; the social implications of network-based research and collaborative forms of writing and publishing; the democratization of information and the concomitant issue of parsing accurate information noise; and the ways trust and credibility are established in digital settings.

Forthcoming talks in the DH 2.0 launch series will include George Oates, a project leader of the Internet Archive’s Open Libray project, and Dan Cohen, the Director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.

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