Daniel Alves, Digital Methods and Tools: results and future needs

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Results of the international workshop Digital Methods and Tools for Historical Research, Lisbon, November, 2011

Results of the international workshop Digital Methods and Tools for Historical Research, Lisbon, November, 2011

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  • 1. Results of the workshop and future directions Daniel Alves, New University of Lisbon
  • 2. Organization• Luís Silveira and Daniel Alves (historians)• 18-19, November 2011• Lisbon, FCSH, New University of Lisbon• Web: http:// digital-methods-and-tools-for-history.blogs /
  • 3. Objectives• Discuss the implications of using digital technologies in the production and dissemination of knowledge in History;• Understand how digital methodologies has influenced historical research;• Discuss advantages and disadvantages, as well as identify innovative ways of linking the future of the digital world to the study of the past;• Stimulate debate about the interaction between History and Information Technology, and encourage its use by the academic community, especially young researchers.
  • 4. Programme (day 1)• Session 1: Primary sources and relational databases• Session 2: Interaction of space and time: GIS and History• Session 3: Decoding historical sources: Text Encoding• Session 4: Internet, digitization and digital preservation• Session 5: Digital humanities and research infrastructures
  • 5. Programme (day 2)• Workshop 1: Historical GIS• Workshop 2: Reference Management Software• Workshop 3: Text Encoding
  • 6. Participants (I)• Presentations from 9 researchers from several universities in Portugal, England, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands:• John Bradley (Kings College London)• Joaquim de Carvalho (University of Coimbra)• Paul Ell (Queens University Belfast)• Luís Silveira (New University of Lisbon)• Malte Rehbein (Universität Würzburg)• Rita Marquilhas (University of Lisbon)• Melissa Terras (University College London)• Daniel Gomes (Portuguese Web Archive)• Peter Doorn (Data Archiving and Networked Services, Nederland)
  • 7. Participants (II)• About 60 participants, including students, researchers and teachers of diverse backgrounds, from various Portuguese, English, and Spanish institutions;• 40 of them attended the workshops on day 2;• NeDiMAH was represented by Leif Isaksen, University of Southampton.
  • 8. Results (I)• Giving the narrative nature of the discipline itself, we must find ways of using and exploring models of structured data (databases; XML; GIS) that pay special attention to textual sources;• The importance of building tools that can deal with large corpus of textual information was one of the features highlighted in virtually all the presentations;• The relevance of combine "distant" and "close" reading in the analyses of historical records;
  • 9. Results (II)• The potential of visualization techniques in the analysis of large data sets;• The ability of crowdsourcing methods and tools for engaging a wider audience in research activities, and making vast collection of manuscripts more easily and rapidly available for historical research;• The ability of web visualization tools to combine time and space, to transmit a sense of place, to superimpose past and current events, and to engage users;
  • 10. Results (III)• The “Digital” didn’t provoked a “revolution” in the production and dissemination of knowledge in History, but has brought interesting developments and new challenges;• Interdisciplinary encouragement is an important result;• Collaborative work is another major feature;• The importance given to texts and textual sources;• But it’s also a major challenge to the historian’s training;• The historian (the humanist) must not let himself become dazzled by the technology and by an endless experiment with tools each time more powerful and more available.
  • 11. Future (needs?)• The need for new ways to represent spatial-temporal information is increasingly felt;• The same for visualization techniques that must have a better ability to represent networks;• The need to preserve and value cultural heritage, whether it has born in the digital format or converted from the analog.
  • 12. Outputs• Six researchers that presented their work in the workshop accepted the challenge to put together a proposal for a special issue in an international peer review journal• Six papers, plus an introduction, were sent for peer review in the beginning of September 2012