We work on lots of exciting digitisation work in the Digital Humanities Lab, and our wonderful undergraduate interns have put together a video to give you a snapshot of just some of the materials we have made digitally available.
But how do we make sure that the resources we create will be usable in 5, 10 or even 100 years time? Digital content can be extremely ephemeral, and is vulnerable to being irreplaceably lost if we’re not careful – just think of how many floppy disks and CDs most of us have that are no longer supported by our current computer. So while we’re creating new content through digitisation in the lab, we’re also working hard with colleagues around the University to plan for the longer-term future of the materials we create, as well as supporting the preservation of digital resources in the University collections.
A lot of digital preservation goes on behind the scenes, and isn’t always as obvious as some of the other work we do, so World Digitisation Day, run by the Digital Preservation Coalition is a great opportunity to stop and celebrate what we do as well as see how much else is going on around the world!
The new online platform for the Exeter book is now live, making one of the oldest surviving volumes of English literature in the world fully accessible to the public for the first time.
The new platform has already been generating lots of interest, especially through Exeter’s role as a UNESCO city of literature, and since this kind of digitisation might be new to many of those interested, we thought we’d share a behind the scenes tour of what goes into creating the high definition images that make it possible to explore the tiny details of a 1,000-year-old manuscript on your phone.
Recently we welcomed a distinguished guest speaker to the DH Lab, Professor Jane Winters of the School of Advanced Study, University of London, to give a seminar on the current landscape of Digital Humanities (DH) in the UK. Prof. Winters discussed the results of a major new survey, commissioned by the School of Advanced Study, the British Academy, the British Library and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, into DH research, teaching and practice in universities, GLAM institutions (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) and the creative industries. The aims of the report were to document the current landscape of DH research, teaching and practice; identify what kind of support this needs; and explore possible demand for a UK-based DH network or association and the nature of the role that such an organisation could play.
Interpreting the statistics of the report for a highly engaged audience, Winters drew out from the facts and figures a picture of a diverse DH landscape, in which respondents identified themselves as belonging to almost forty different research areas. More than three quarters also had extensive involvement in teaching, either in their subject area or in DH. Winters noted that not all digital research and digital scholarship is described by its practitioners as ‘Digital Humanities’, even when it is firmly rooted in the study of Humanities sources and their related areas of specialisation. As researchers within universities, we therefore need to ensure that when we collaborate with creative partners or GLAM institutions, we try to use a common language to describe what we do: this will help not only in the project itself, but also in how we communicate what we do to those outside our particular areas of expertise.
A warm hello to our blog readers, my name is Emma Sherriff and I am the newest addition to the Digital Humanities (DH) team. I am embarking on my DH journey at the beginning of an exciting new era of digital research, collaboration, and preservation for the College of Humanities; and ahead of the official opening of the Digital Humanities Lab on 23rd October by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Steve Smith.
My experience at the University of Exeter to date has involved supporting the work of Postgraduate researchers, as a member of the Doctoral College. My former role led me to discussions with the DH team around how the Lab can offer specialist expertise alongside cutting edge equipment, creating an opportunity to engage with, and connect an existing body of researchers across disciplines and themes. I am pleased to be involved in shaping the planning and delivery of training, digital projects and technical support in my new role.
In contrast to the huge scale of the previous conference in Kraków, Autumn has offered an opportunity to attend something a little more manageable. The Digitial Humanities Congress is hosted biennially by the Humanities Research Institute in Sheffield, and is a national conference that attracts international audiences.
In a very varied programme, the speakers covered topics such as musicology, text mining and analysis, semantic encoding and infrastructural issues. An early highlight was a series of papers, introduced by Marilyn Deegan, on the ‘Academic Book of the Future’, which discussed the potential shape of academic outputs, and specifically monographs, as the move to digital and open access opens up new possibilities. Creating works with greater interactivity and engagement, that can link directly to open access source material, and provide insight through well-designed interactive visualisations and access to raw data were all high on the wish-list, with some intriguing experiments.
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