For a change, this post is actually related to NLP. It’s about rules, but not the linguistic kind, but those that govern our research communities.
During my summer vacation I read John Markoff’s book “What the
Dormouse Said.” 1 I assume it was the publisher that insisted on
adding the subtitle “How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the
Personal Computer Industry”; it does give you an idea what the book is
about, but actually it’s somewhat misleading.
In his recent blog post Die Digital Humanities brauchen ein Ziel: DH-MAX, Wolfgang Schmale wondered whether the digital humanities need a goal and suggested one potential goal, which he calls “DH-MAX.” At the core of DH-MAX is, as I understand it, a new publication infrastructure made up of “megaportals,” i.e., repositories of all the research results that do not really warrant a long-form, narrative publication, organized by interdisciplinary topics such as memory, remembrance, border, migration, othering, nationalism, etc.
This post is a response to Wolfgang Schmale’s post. As his post is in German, my response is also in German. In summary, I disagree that the digital humanities need an explicit goal, because there is no such thing as the digital humanities. I do agree, however, that new forms of publication are needed, and I argue that nanopublications could form the technical infrastructures for the megaportals he envisions.
Over the Easter holidays I read the little book Tschichold – na und? (‘Tschichold—so what?’) by Gerd Fleischmann (Wallstein, 2013).
Documents of all types have always played a central role in the humanities, both of an object of inquiry and for documenting research results. The digital humanities are thus also concerned with documents and with digital documents in particular. Apart from “traditional” scholarly questions, this raises many new questions, for example, on encoding, markup, and processing of texts, where technical and scholarly aspects interact.
It’s already some time now since I’m back from the digital humanities conference double pack, which involved about 3,000 km of rail travel: first DHd 2015 in Graz, then the DH Summit in Berlin. In Berlin several people, who couldn’t make it to Graz, asked me about how it was; here’s basically what I told them.
The main problem with Twitter is that everything you post there is publicly visible. Oh, wait—are you saying that’s intentional? Well, then. Anne Baillot recently mentioned on Twitter she’s numbering her publication list by hand. With Word.
— Anne Baillot (@AnneBaillot) January 30, 2015
This is, of course, wrong, and at some point I may actually blog about better ways. However, her post also reminded me that I’m not quite perfect myself, as don’t have a list of publications on my Web site—only a link to my list of publications on CiteULike. In principle, that would do the job, but it’s not quite optimal, because it requires readers to follow a link to get at the information. It would be much nicer to have the list of publications right on my own Web site—but of course without requiring any additional work to keep it current.
A fact that should perhaps be emphasized when promulgating academic blogging is: it’s not for everyone. If you can regularly write a sparkling essay in half an hour, say, during your commute or your lunch break, and you enjoy doing it—then it’s definitely for you. If, on the other hand, the only thing that’s regular about your writing is writer’s block, then you should feel free to either blog for therapeutic reasons—or to leave it. Well, and then there are some people who don’t have a choice because they somehow managed to win an award that contractually requires them to blog.
I’d like to (belatedly) point you to another review of my book Natural Language Processing for Historical Texts. The review by Laurent Romary appeared in Computational Linguistics 40:1, 231–232, and I was very happy to find that Laurent considers the book a “compendium of information that […] has been heavily awaited by many scholars having to deal with corpora of historical texts” and that it “conveys a wealth of information on the various aspects where recent developments in language technology may help digital humanities projects to be aware of the current state of the art in the field.”
I think you could call this a recommendation, so go get the book now!