When people talk about uncertainty in a historical context in digital humanities, most of the time they talk about questions such as the exact date of birth of a person, whether two names refer to one or two persons, what geographical location a place name refers to, or the location of a person at a specific point in time. These are important questions and it is important to find ways to computationally model the associated uncertainty. However, history is ultimately not about drawing exact maps or time lines, even if those can certainly help: history is about causality. In this talk, I would like to reflect on some of the issues on the level of historical interpretation, i.e., historiographical rather than historical uncertainty.
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 been a couple of weeks now that I attended the NoDaLiDa 2013 workshop on Computational Historical Linguistics, where I gave an invited talk. The workshop—and Oslo in general—was a very pleasant experience. The organizers (chaired by Þórhallur Eyþórsson from the University of Iceland) had booked a great hotel room for me, no, a suite actually, larger than my apartment in Mainz :-) Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the main conference because I had to continue to Paris, but at least I could attend the conference dinner, which took place at the Oslo Opera House. Very nice!