Yesterday was a long and very important day for german Digital Humanities. Up to then there has not been an official association of german speaking Digital Humanists. The DH2012 should be the place to change that. On this account an UnConference meeting was convened to take place the day before the official opening ceremony of the dh2012. Besides the official founding of an association of german speaking digital humanists, there should be enough time to meet and greet each other as well as to learn about projects there are. Not wanting to gather the “usual suspects” once again, the organizers especially emphasized the presentation of projects of young scientists.
Two Slamming Fireworks
To make it less formal and more fun, the presentations were organised as a science slam. Each scientist had not more than five minutes to show the best side of his or her work. Afterwards there should be time left for informal discussions and small talk over a cup of coffee next to a poster-presentation. The youngsters were to start and they “slamed” as if it was a battle. Not a single presentation lasted more than the given fife minutes, some did it in even less time. They showed an inspiring mixture including textanalysis, -edition and visualization, a blog project and the relationship of statistics and literature. My personal highlight was a project planning a digital scrapbook – that should be the end of endless numbers of sheets of papers flying through scientists offices. After these fireworks of digital humanities projects there was a nice chat in the first coffee break which lasted one hour instead of half an hour because our youngsters were so fast.
After this informal meeting everybody gathered again for the second slam. Not quite as fast as the youngsters, the scientists of these project gave an equally enjoyable overview of their work. Less concentrated on the work with texts, this session included the new founded association for digital history of art, some institutions of different subjects and what is the most important for scientists of all disciplines: an organisation for financial support of sciences. Afterwards there was a lot of chatting again before the dinner was served.
It lies in the german history that a german association for digital humanities never could be concentrated on scientists from Germany. Austria is a german speaking country, switzerland is a german speaking country but there are also regions in which french or italian are spoken, in Luxembourg there are also people speaking german… This problem was the first to discuss during the official founding of the german dh association as it will be important for its name. DH Germany surely will not do. The other big question on this founding meeting was the relationship to the international dh organisation ADHO. It would be a given infrastructure one could easily integrate into but it also is depending on the “Oxford University Press” which follows a closed access publishing strategy. The german speaking dh community rather follows the idea of open access publishing – a sereous problem which could not be solved on this short meeting. Anyhow we were quite happy everybody basically agreed that there should be a german dh organisation whatever name it will have and however to solve the institutional problem. So finally the foundation could be undertaken.
Finally we could concentrate on content again. Prof. Elisabeth Burr (Leipzig), Dr. Sebastian Drude (Frankfurt), Prof. Erhard Hinrichs (Tübingen), Prof. Fotis Jannidis (Würzburg), Prof. Jan Christoph Meister (Hamburg), Prof. Claudine Moulin (Trier), Dr. Heike Neuroth (Göttingen), Prof. Manfred Thaller (Köln) were to discuss what digital humanities should be about and which difficulties there still are. Dr, Wilhelm Krull from the VolkswagenStiftung which helped to finance this important day for the german speaking dh community moderated the conversation. Central controversies were the relationship of humanities and the – as Prof. Manfred Thaller said half-joking – absolutely “insignificant” natural sciences, the question how to finance digital humanities projects and how to communicate about new tools. If you missed the possibility to come to this important founding event, you have the possibility to watch the discussion here:
The german dh community proudly presents its board of directors
After the discussion the names of the board of directors was presented to the audience. As diversity is one of the most important characteristics of the digital humaities, the directors of an german dh organisation should best be from different disciplines as well. Finally Claudine Moulin, Jan Christoph Meister, Peter Gietz, Elisabeth Burr, Thomas Stäcker, Malte Rehbein, Joachim Veit and Michael Stolz were elected so that there are philologists, literature scientists, a culture scientist with profound knowledge in informatics, a librarian, a music scientist and next to scientists from Germany one director from switzerland who takes care of the interests of german speaking scientists of other countries than Germany. At the end of a day everybody seemed to be quite happy about this successful UnConference.