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The Digital Future of Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences

What follows is an open letter of invitation written by Mike Fortun in connection with an upcoming meeting of the Digital Practices in History and Ethnography Interest Group of the Research Data Alliance. All interested parties are invited to engage with the RDA and the DPHE IG.

Dear colleagues,

We hope you can join us in a discussion about the digital future of research in the humanities and social sciences (HASS), particularly history, anthropology, folklore, and related fields in which researchers generate and interpret qualitative data to understand historical, social, and cultural phenomena.   The conversation is being led by the Digital Practices in History and Ethnography Interest Group (DPHE-IG), part the Research Data Alliance (RDA), an international alliance working to making research data more open and accessible, which will host its 7th plenary meeting in Tokyo 1-3 March.  Our DPHE-IG session is scheduled for Wednesday, 2 March from 11:00-12:30 in Conference Room 3 at Hitotsubashi Hall (National Center of Sciences Building).

Together, we will assess the current state and challenges of these fields, in different national and cultural contexts, and how enhanced digital research infrastructure can vitalize them in coming years.  Among the topics on our agenda are:

  • How can digital infrastructure animate the work of HASS researchers in coming years?
  • What are the opportunities and challenges for HASS researchers in different national and cultural contexts?
  • Strategies for increasing access to basic tools and infrastructure for sharing primary data, for collaborative analysis, and for collaborative publishing (especially in an experimental vein).
  • Developing digital infrastructure to support greatly enhanced collaboration between HASS researchers, both locally and internationally, and between HASS researchers and researchers in the physical sciences, engineering, medicine and other professions.
  • Reconfiguring or extending digital infrastructure to support the particular needs of HASS researchers (consent forms and human subjects committees, metadata standards, well-designed research and exhibition platforms, citizen science and community involvement, collaboration governance processes, repositories and data nets, etc.)

You are welcome to join the RDA at this link, where you can then join our interest group and learn about our past and planned activities. If you would like more information about attending the session, or are unable to attend the session but would like to learn more about our work, please [be in touch] and we will be happy to continue the conversation. And please feel free to forward [share] this [post with] anyone else you think might be interested in this.

We hope you’ll consider joining the discussion!

Best regards,

Mike Fortun (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
Jason Baird Jackson (Indiana University)
Kim Fortun (RPI)

Co-chairs, RDA Digital Practices in History and Ethnography Interest Group

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jason … I think this is brilliant and necessary work. I don’t quite have your institutional and strategic vision, but I can speak to how surprised I’ve been by how little we as folklorists have moved in terms of creating an infrastructure through we can share data/information not only with each other but also with a wider world.

    I’ve written to Tim and Lorraine about organizing something at this year’s AFS on the topic. I had a discussion about TEI in mind, if only because of the co-meeting with ISFNR. It’s something I’ve talked about now with a variety of individuals within folklore studies — the folks at the AFC, Andy at the VFC, etc.—and I broached the topic with the Jason Rhody of the NEH’s Office for Digital Humanities, who are amenable to funding something that moved folklore in a direction of its own choosing. (We could, for example, get funding to bring together a group of folklorists with a group of TEI experts to discuss how to develop a TEI for folklore studies … and I’ll happily put pen to paper to make that happen.)

    I know you’ve got a lot on your plate, but can we throw a few ideas about next steps back and forth?

    February 25, 2016
  2. Thanks John. I am very interested in these matters, of course. I hope that we can touch base on them in March.

    February 25, 2016

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