Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 257. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 2018-12-07 08:55:59+00:00 From: Max Kemman
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.252: influence of digital humanities Dear André, dear humanists, Thanks for this interesting exchange. My research concerns the more classical question of how DH influences historians, but in that pursuit I have interviewed information scientists, software developers, and computational linguists as well. So while my research did not concern their practices sufficiently that I can provide definite conclusions to your questions, I do have some findings that provide suggestions for further investigation or discussion. A significant influence is that computational practices are grounded in applied scenarios, rather than in theoretical/mathematical improvements. Consider much NLP research for example, which tends to employ perfect English ASCII data to test whether some algorithm works. In contrast, in DH, the data is much more messy and fuzzy, with incomplete OCR, incomplete fields, and different spellings or languages on the corpus or even document level. The challenge is that 'real-world' data is much more complicated than readily available data, requiring data cleaning and modelling. When results do come out, the question is transformed from "how much more efficient or effective is this" to "is this meaningful". For example, one computational linguist working on semantic drift complained that the most popular method is to just cut up a corpus in periods of 5 or 10 years, and run software for each period. Instead, he collaborated with historians to find meaningful moments when words might have changed meaning. These may not be so much theoretical or methodological changes, except the increased complexity of data modelling, but are significant enough that some of my interviewees said they would always collaborate with 'domain experts' from now on, while one even feared that he would have difficulty getting a position in a purely computer science group since his research had deviated so much already. One problem for a more thorough review of this might be the diversity of disciplines that are involved in DH. While the humanities is already a broad and ambiguous grouping, it is possible to provide meaningful results with respect to history or English departments as two dominant sub-communities. For the computational domains, there are commercial software developers, research software engineers, computational linguists, information scientists, and computer scientists (with all its subdisciplines: AI, information retrieval, database engineering, etc), which all have different incentives for participating in DH, and experience different influences. With kind regards, Max Kemman PhD candidate Centre for Contemporary and Digital History University of Luxembourg PhD: Digital History as Trading Zones www.maxkemman.nl _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: email@example.com List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
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