DARIAH Annual Event 2019: Keynotes are online

The DARIAH Annual Event 2019 was held on May 15-17 in Warsaw, Poland, both in the beautiful Warsaw University Library and the Polska Akademia Nauk. The  theme of this year’s event was humanities data.

A short walk-through of the annual event

Wednesday May 15

The first order of day was Working Group Meetings. Later, in the afternoon, there was a full house at the plenary opening session with Professor Maciej Duszczyk, Vice-Rector for Research and International Relations, University of Warsaw), Mateusz Gaczyński from the Ministry of Science and HE, and Professor Aleksander Bursche from the DARIAH-PL Consortium Board. Currently, the Polish consortium has an impressive 12 working groups in operation.

After the opening speeches, there was a panel session with the DARIAH Board of Directors: Jennifer Edmond, President of the Board of Directors of DARIAH EU, Toma Tasovac, Director of DARIAH EU, and Frank Fischer, Director of DARIAH EU. The board of directors answered questions from Sarah Kenderdine, member of the Scientific Board, and Agiati Benardou, co-Chair of DARIAH VCC2 Research and Education.

The Board of Directors were invited for an equally amusing and informative round of “DARIAH vocabulary”, explaining acronyms such as EOSC (European Open Science Cloud), STRAPL (DARIAH Strategic Action Plan) and DESIR (DARIAH ERIC Sustainability Refined).

After the panel, there was a breakout session with workshops covering a wide range of digital humanities topics and finally, a welcome reception for participants to catch up and network.

Thursday May 16

The second day of the DARIAH Annual Event was kicked off by Sally Wyatt who delivered an inspiring keynote lecture entitled “What Are We Talking about When We Talk about Data in the Humanities?” One key takeaway from her keynote was that data are not the new oil or gold, data are never given, data never speak for themselves, and data are always plural – grammatically, epistemologically and ontologically.

Sally Wyatt: “What Are We Talking about When We Talk about Data in the Humanities?”

“Data as a term is too flat an ontology for the kinds of things that we are all dealing with. It reduces people, events, objects to things, bits, to be imagined as impersonal, scientific and neutral. Also, the use of the word ‘data’ tends to assume that everything is digital. This is wrong.”

Sally Wyatt is Professor of Digital Cultures at Maastricht University, The Netherlands. Between 2011–2017, she was the Programme Leader of the eHumanities Group of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

For many years, she has been doing research about what digital technologies mean for the production of knowledge in the humanities and the social sciences.

After the keynote, an impressive lineup of DARIAH Themes presented their work in a session entitled “Reflections on the DARIAH Theme call: past, present and future”. Among the presenters was Marianne Ping Huang from Aarhus University, Co-Head for DARIAH Research and Education, who gave us all fascinating insights into the project “Archives that matter” on digital infrastructures for sharing unshared histories in European colonial archives.

After these reflections, Francesca Morselli, the DARIAH-EU Integration Officer and coordinator of the working groups, gave an overview of the DARIAH-EU Working Groups and Funding Scheme 2017-2018 followed by presentations from working groups such as “The Community Engagement Working Group” which explained barriers and pathways to reaching the right audience.

Around noon, the poster session was launched, offering several inspiring posters with a diverse range of projects from all over Europe. After this, once again, all “DARIAHns” reconvened for a plenary session with short invited ignite talks that gave a glimpse of the afternoon sessions to come.

Friday May 17

On the final day of the event, working group meetings on for example the DH Course Registry and Artificial Intelligent and Music were taking place in the beautiful and inspiring rooms of the Polska Akademia Nauk.

The final day was closed by a keynote lecture from Lev Manovich entitled “What Does Data Want?”. Lev Manovich posed a thought-provoking question about the biggest challenge in studying contemporary culture with data science: the choice between focusing on what is common (a statistical paradigm) and what is infrequent between a number of objects.

Lev Manovich: “What Does Data Want?”

Many academic disciplines use data science to analyse contemporary culture. The question is: Shall we continue to aggregate big cultural data and reduce it to a small set of patterns? Or shall we refuse this dominant paradigm instead and focus on diversity, variability and differences (including tiny ones), i.e., work on big cultural data without aggregation and with attention to what is infrequent and outliers?

Dr. Lev Manovich is a Professor of Computer Science at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and a Director of the Cultural Analytics Lab that pioneered analysis of visual culture using computational methods.