Keynotes

(1) The Digital Humanities and Open, Social Scholarship – Ray Siemens (University of Victoria, Canada)
This talk traces intersections of work in open access and open scholarship movements, the digital humanities’ methodological commons and community of practice, grassroots teaching and training initiatives, contemporary online practices, and public facing “citizen scholarship,” with a practice-oriented mandate.  Open social scholarship involves creating and disseminating research and research technologies to a broad audience of specialists and active non-specialists in ways that are accessible and significant to everyone. Those who subscribe to its practice engage it across research, service, and teaching activities — examples of which will be noted and considered.

(2) “Digital Dust of the Arabic Past”: Corpus-Based Research in Arabic & Islamic Studies –  Maxim Romanov (University of Vienna)
For the past two decades a great number of printed Arabic books have been digitized in the Middle East. Now scholars anywhere in the world—not only at universities privileged with rich Middle East collections—have thousands of fully searchable volumes of classical Arabic texts at their fingertips. Due to this development, research tasks that used to take years of hard work now can be completed within mere hours. However, the field of Arabic & Islamic studies is yet to realize the profoundness of this change. Almost a century and a half ago, with the appearance of printed editions scholars began to find increasingly more texts they could work with. At the same time, the shift in the form from idiosyncratic manuscripts to normalized prints introduced “distance”—a condition of knowledge, as Franco Moretti puts it—that allowed scholars to focus their attention on the deep analysis of multiple texts (close reading). The change in the field went hand in hand with the change in technology. Now we are living through yet another technological shift. Unlike libraries, machine-readable corpora fuse texts into qualitatively new entities and through that promise a new form of “distance” where we will be able to focus our attention on the deep analysis of all available texts (close and distant reading). The digital age also brings us new computational methods that allow us to engage with these machine-readable corpora in the most efficient ways. Text reuse identification methods offer us a novel view on how any text in a corpus is connected to all other texts and through that we can get a penetrating perspective on the complex of interwoven texture of the Arabic written tradition itself. Making possible the extraction of meaningful data from unstructured texts, text mining methods offer ways of modeling large-scale and long-term historical processes from myriads of bits of information scattered across a corpus. The lecture will highlight major developments and current results in the said areas and will conclude with the discussion of the issue of resources and infrastructure required for making such new research possible.

 

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