Humanities in the Digital Age: From Sectoral Informatics to Digital Humanities

Abstract

The project aims to study current trends in the humanities who actively use the potential of information technologies for research tasks whose solution is of fundamental importance for determination of the potential scope and impact of digital technologies.

As one of the perspective areas of the humanities in the digital age is considered Digital humanities.

Digital Humanities are considered in the project as an interdisciplinary field of research that combines methods and practice of humanitarian, social and computational sciences to explore the possibilities of the application and interpretation of new digital information and communication technologies in the humanities and education.

Scientific novelty of the project is that it combines the research of methodological foundations of digital humanities development, the conduction of the scientific analysis of new directions of research and development in the field of Digital humanities in Russia and in the world, the use of applied computer science methods to present the results of the analysis and model application of the number of methods of computer science in the humanities researches.

The research will consider the digital humanities as a natural continuation and extension of the traditional sphere of the humanities, and not the replacement or abandonment of the traditional humanitarian requests, will identify perspective directions for the development of digital humanities.

The project “Humanities in the digital age: from sectoral informatics to digital humanities” is aimed at one of perspective directions of humanities development in the digital age – Digital humanities (hereinafter referred to as “DH”). DH is defined in the project as an interdisciplinary field of research that unites methodology and practices of humanities, social and computational sciences.

Onrush of DH is accompanied by an increase in the number of research performed (S. Wyatt, D. Millen, M. Taller, K. Schürer, A. Volodin, I. Kizhner and others), building new structures responsible for science and education in leading universities all over the world.
In the course of the project in 2015 the following results have been achieved:
Empiric material concerning 107 DH new centers has been collected and verified. That enabled broadening the idea of their spread over the world and adding the list of centers by 323.
The sources of information such as official websites, scientific monographs, papers and reviews have been verified. Several applied methods of digital humanities (statistical data processing, content analysis, elements of gis-technologies) have been used for presenting the results.

18 the most widespread activities in DH centers have been allocated. They are not only about using digital tools but studying their influence on transformation of cognition in humanities and social sciences. These activities are as follows: education programs and courses in DH, data handling, visualization, analysis, modeling, computerized text analysis, managing digital archives, collections, libraries, human-computer and human-robot interaction, digital technologies influence on human, digital culture and art. Applied developments have become matter-of-fact.
DH methodology bases are the information theory and information approach. We have studied information interactions in DH that enables defining the key trends in DH and their influence on the development of modern humanities. It has been shown that DH network infrastructure development goes along with growth in information interactions between specialists from different DH centers over the world.

The main participants and communication channels, issues of information interactions, their intensity and effectiveness measurements have been analyzed that helped to reconstruct DH information environment. International conferences and scientific journals that are reviewed in Scopus and Web of Science databases have been examined as well and proved the idea about high intensity and effectiveness of international cooperation in DH. At the study Lasswell’s classic communication model has been used.
The study has showed that using digital tools and methods lets scientists broaden a research base in humanities; apply up-to-date computer methods and technologies in science and an elaborated methodology demonstrates how it could be done.

A release version of an interactive 3D map “Digital humanities world centers” has been created: http://huminf.tsu.ru/nir/dh/map.htm. The DH structures that have been studied are reflected on the map with a description including a name, a short intro into the center activity, date of foundation, address, the head’s name and contacts, a link to the web site. The project results have been reflected in a new education course «Humanities in the digital age» in a new Master’s degree program “Digital humanities” (http://huminf.tsu.ru/dh/). They have been worked out in Tomsk State University and have been included into the learning process at TSU humanities departments.
The following steps of work have been defined to identify perspective directions of DH.

The results have proven that DH should be considered a natural continuation of traditional humanities and not their substitution or rejection. Among the most perspective directions there are computational and cognitive linguistics, digital storage for documents, social robotics and others.