Opening Lecture: Siemens

DH Summer School Switzerland 2013: Opening Lecture Ray Siemens from on Vimeo.


Collaborative notes taken by paricipants of the DH Summer School Switzerland:

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Ray Siemens(@RayS6): Understanding and Responding to (Inter)Disciplinary Change

“Do you mind if I’m informal ?” …Bearded guy from Canada 😉
1. Humanities 2.0
has some resonance in Nothern america, cf papier by Davidson : promise, perils, predictions of humanities 2.0, PMLA, vol. 23/3:
Series of article of the New York Times under the label “Humanities 2.0” :
Big tent version of DH…
2. Envisioning the Digital humanities
R. Siemens presents a general overview of DH fields of application (humanities disciplines, various digital techniques, etc.) and international organisations (ADHO, NEDIMAH, ALLC, etc)
Difficulty to draft an all-encompassing definition
Ref: S. Schreibman, R. Siemens, j. Unsworth, A companion to Digital Humanities, Blackwell, 2004. Online:
Ref: S. Schreibman, R. Siemens, A companion to Digital Literary Studies, Blackwell, 2007. Online:
3. Defining & determining actionable model
Manifesto style thinking is difficult to implement… But is there a need for a specific disciplinarity?
Steps that could be taken :
Mapping the methods : Mapping the methodological commons onto extent structures around us => to bridge what’s important (
4. Engaging key trends
Future is hard to predicts, but we can look at the directings it seems to be going
– Content modeling of data (representation)
– Process modeling with tools (analysis)
– Communication / dissemination
– Access to large data – in usable formats
– Crowdsourcing -> [comment]: Crowdsourcing is a largely myth. Successfull crowdsourcing projects like Wikipedia or Transcribe Bentham rely on a very limited number of very productive and dedicated users. Ask a million to
– More softwares, and easier to use
Willard Mc Carty, The “methodological commons”:
5. Responses ?
Institutionnaly, administrative and community changes as consequences of DH
This could result in some reluctances against DH because it implies all these changes
Example of good practices:
The future of the book of the perspective of its past:
6. Discussion
Discussion about the wordcloud Prof. Siemens showed in his lecture (wordle done on a MIT conference’s abstract book texts, byt the organizers). Function words are gone, are kept only content words.
Top 50 is visualized.
Why are Library, Archive, and Museum absent ? Then the discussion switches to what is the algoritm beyond it ?
Some possible biais :
– you can talk about something without using the word.
– ?
Then what is the usefullness of such wordcould if the algorithm beyond it remains hidden ? Except being good looking. Digital is very big but what does it tell us ? Not much!
Remarque intĂ©ressante de Claire Lemercier : “Not as trivial as expected,” ne pas se focaliser sur les Ă©lĂ©ments qui apparaissent Ă©videmment au premier plan, mais s’intĂ©resser aux marges.
Really interesting discussion, “very productive & engaging”, “can only happen with digital humanists”, says Prof Siemens \o/
Outil alternatif conseillé sur Twitter :
Question from E: Pierrazzo: Is “Big Tent DH” a good or bad thing ? Are we dilluting our specificities ?
Siemens: Did DH stops where humanities stops ? or is the “big tent” bigger ?
Is the Merging of Social Sciences and the Humantities inevitable in the digital age (beyond the age of the book) ?