In my last blogpost, I mentioned a frequent resentment of humanists towards DH, namely the opinion that data-driven results are simply meaningless correlations. Where does this attitude come from? Maybe we could find a...
The other day, I started a poll on Twitter and asked the community the following question: Are the Digital Humanities an academic discipline or a collection of methods? Are they both or neither? The...
“Today, we have meatloaf with mashed potatoes and peas“ – Finding the Really Important Among 1000+ Unknown Letters
Some years ago, I visited the “Bibelhaus,“ a museum about the culture and environment of the Bible, in Frankfurt and took part in a guided tour. The guide showed us a ball of papyrus...
Back in my school days, I was not very good at learning new languages, but I had one goal: No matter what country I am in, I will not starve, because I will be...
„One can’t go wrong with this,“ I thought. Well – now I know better!
In an academic exercise, I presented some digital methods to teacher trainees. I wanted to enable them to use these methods deliberately later in school. The required tools were as simple as possible. It was important that they were quick to apply (as teacher’s time is very limited) and easy to use (so their pupils could work with them as well – without losing attention on the content of the lesson). Hereby, the content, not the technology, must be emphasized.
When I started my dissertation project a few years ago, I was looking for proper tools to transcribe handwritings like this:
Research about late antique women is often very difficult due to a glaring lack of sources. Letters addressed to women are rare, writings of women even rarer. The correspondence of the bishop of Hippo Regius, Augustine, written between 386 and 430 AD, is no exception. Despite 252 letters written by himself, only 17 are directed to all-female correspondents. Their responses are not extant.
Humanities tend to make things complicated. And that’s a privilege, because they have decided to describe and analyze their topic of research as exactly as possible. Skimming over complex issues leads to a loss of important details and, in doing so, to inaccurate argumentations. As humanists, our medium to transport insights and information is still a language and so – besides scientific research – we artfully string together words and produce rhetorical highly adorned sentences to convince our readers that our assumptions and arguments are unassailable. To describe details, we often need a lot of words (although sometimes we reduce a complex issue to a familiar technical term)!
“Digital church” (#DigitaleKirche) is currently much discussed. It’s inspiring (and sometimes amusing) to follow the debates about digital tools, social media, helpful apps, or the latest means of communication in all fields of ecclesiastical life. Thinking about “blessing robots,” “donation apps,” or “pastoring chat bots” is an important step to usher the church into the daily digital experience of their (potential) members. I think the church has to go that way for communicational and administrative reasons as long as digital technology supports pastoral tasks and doesn’t replace “offline” community. In this way, #DigitaleKirche is an esteem of the communicative fundamental structure of the church and, also, of the ways communication between people has changed.
(auch auf Deutsch!)
“I think, yes, it’s also available with Latin texts,” Ines Rehbein and Josef Ruppenhofer answered during a lecture in one of our InFoDiTex sessions on my request. Immediately, I was electrified – to me this was a magic moment, because in most of the digital humanities conferences and summer schools, I learned to know powerful and valuable tools for English or German text corpora. Yet, my corpus covers a bundle of 252 Latin letters written by St. Augustine around the beginning of the 5th century CE. At least in my experience, useful tools for Latin texts are quite rare (I know there are many more possibilities with some skills in programming, but in this context, I’m thinking of hands-on tools for less technical researchers to start with).
In the spring of 2016, two graduate students in theology sat together during a coffee break: One of them complained: “It is impossible to find the most suitable method to work with my digitized corpus.” The other nagged: “And I can’t find a theory which fits into my way of analysing sources statistically!”