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Epistemic Encounters: Interdisciplinary collaboration in developing virtual research environments


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Epistemic Encounters: Interdisciplinary collaboration in developing virtual research environments

  1. 1. Epistemic EncountersInterdisciplinary collaboration in developing VREs Smiljana Antonijević Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences Roskilde University Interdisciplinary Insights Oxford Internet Institute March 12, 2012
  2. 2. ‘I went to sleep one day a cultural critic, and wokethe next metamorphosed into a data processor.’ Alan Liu, 2002
  3. 3. Overview• Alfalab, Digitizing Words of Power, fieldwork• Interface Lab• Our approach to developing virtual research environments (VREs)• Voices from the field
  4. 4. AlfalabSix KNAWinstitutesLinguists,historians, ITengineers, STSexperts …Top-downinitiative
  5. 5. Text LabNamed entityrecognitionTranscription andannotation of textualsources
  6. 6. Text Lab Space labHistorical GISWeb-based mapannotation
  7. 7. Portal for historical population countsLife Lab Open and easy access to the data of the Historical Sample of the Netherlands
  8. 8. VRE for interdisciplinary and multilingual study of ‘words of power’ Digitizing KNAW and University of AmsterdamWords of Power Historians of religion, ethnologists, IT, STS.. Bottom-up initiative
  9. 9. InterfaceLab promotes cross-disciplinaryuse of data and tools among researchers, by demonstrating how their different methods can be bridged.
  10. 10. Connecting epistemic cultures Developing cross-disciplinary understanding Promoting user-centered approach Implementing feedback cyclesUser-testing sessions
  11. 11. Discussing epistemological and methodological differences Developing common vocabulary Promoting collaborative writing Supporting shared valuesTeam meetings
  12. 12. Listening to voices from the field Harvesting best practices Sharing experiences Supporting collaborationFieldwork
  13. 13. Sharing experiences and practices Presenting our approach Supporting interaction within the community of practice Promoting critical reflectionDissemination
  14. 14. UseOur approach Structure Use ContentFostering epistemic encounters and user involvement earlyand oftenDeveloping non-data driven approach (data linked to interrogation)Recognizing researchers’ sensibility to new ways of workingUnderstanding cultures of formalizationAccepting boundaries or limits of technology
  15. 15. FieldworkAlfalab (KNAW) andHumanities InformationPractices (Oxford InternetInstitute)April-October, 2010.25 academic institutions;Europe, USA, CanadaSite visits, observations, in-depth interviewsResearchers, developers,funders, policy makers,students
  16. 16. Developing digital tools and resources‘In those days [10 years ago] Challenges ofcomputer scientists at your own interdisciplinaryuniversity wouldn’t even want totalk to you. Even now when we collaborationwork with them what computerscience recognizes as research andwhat digital humanities recognizeas research are different things.’
  17. 17. Developing digital tools and resources‘Humanists … are lacking a frame Challenges ofwithin which to say what they interdisciplinarymight expect, or what they mightwant, in a way that would help collaborationdevelopment process. The firstthing that we need more of is justbetter and easier communicationsacross IT people, computerscientists and humanists. Thelanguages are very different,hugely different.’
  18. 18. Developing digital tools and resources‘Unless humanists take seriously Challenges oftwo things, firstly the value of their interdisciplinaryown contributions to themigration of cultural legacy into collaborationthe digital environment, andsecondly, the really central valueof the humanistic perspective onknowledge, then theseenvironments will be built withoutthe humanists, and that would bea huge mistake.’
  19. 19. Developing digital tools and resources‘It needs to be open source, Apps (microservices)interoperable, sustainable, which instead of generic ormeans not so specialized and ‘boutique’ resourcesboutique that the success orfailure in the long term of aparticular tool depends on threeor four scholars who use it andlove it.’
  20. 20. Developing digital tools and resources‘A massive problem of the last Apps (microservices)couple of decades of building instead of generic vs.these ‘one size fits all’ sort of ‘boutique’ resourcessolutions, which does not workeither. Apps—it’s a differentgeneration in softwaredevelopment…with apps, you letthe community define whatworks.’
  21. 21. Developing digital tools and resources‘For example, I do not use Zotero, Respecting researchers’my students do. I don’t know why practicesexcept that I am too lazy. A lot ofit is just a habit. I am so busy, Ijust focus on what needs to bedone.’
  22. 22. Developing digital tools and resources‘It was as if the scales dropped Going beyond ‘ah!’from our eyes, it was as we had experienceseen the future. The world wasthe same and yet completelydifferent and new. We’ve gottenmuch more familiar with thesekinds of technologies andpossibilities, we do not have thatsort of ‘ah’ experience every day.’
  23. 23. Developing digital tools and resources‘We have now digitized a lot of Going beyond ‘ah!’resources, we have those silos of experienceinformation, so trying to managethe delusion of data is a priority,something that certainly everyoneis grappling with.’
  24. 24. VREsFloating signifierImportance and problems ofcombining corpora and toolsImportance of developingresearch communitiesKeychallenges/requirements:interpretative level; linkeddata; preservation
  25. 25. Future directions and recommendations • Links within and among • Research questions as a institutions driving force • Educating researchers • Digital or only humanities – Crusade and social sciences? – Trick – Inspire them to think “Slow time” for digital humanities and social • Educating scholarly fields sciences
  26. 26. Thank you