#beyondDH: The sudden but consequential rise of the Computational Humanities

This week, something happened. Something that I did not expect, at least not so fast and not with so much momentum. But now that it happened, it feels a bit like things fell into place that have been sitting at the edge for a while. So what did actually happen? This post is my very personal and limited view on the events that lead to the emergence of the Computational Humanities community that will have a conference and very likely a journal.

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The ʿAyn al-Naẓar – A minimal computing edition

A while ago, Walter Young and I published our digital edition of the Kitāb ʿAyn al-Naẓar fī ʿIlm al-Jadal by Shams al-Dīn al-Samarqandī (d. 722/1322). We also published the source code that powers it, but without much explanation. I was since asked to describe how we approached the edition, especially since Arabic and non-LTR scripts are a bit of a challenge. Here, I’ll basically only document what I explained via email.

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A new publishing workflow for Entangled Religions

As part of our push towards Open Access publishing, CERES created the online journal Entangled Religions. It is a peer-reviewed platinum Open Access journal with a focus on religious contact. It started as a simple OJS journal, with a lot of manual editing and typesetting (in Adobe InDesign). In the end, there was just a PDF download for the articles.

For some time now, we wanted to update both the editorial process and the reading experience. The first step towards that goal was the migration to OJS 3 and a new design. However, the editorial process remained the same. We have larger plans for the future, but we did not want to stick with our old process for so long, so we decided to implement some changes that were possible within the current framework. As a result, we’re now introducing a new editorial workflow and typesetting process.

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Digital Teaching at CERES

Recently, Ruhr University Bochum set up an interning funding scheme for digitization in teaching. I found this to be a welcome opportunity to enhance our efforts to include digital technology in our religious studies programs. The university’s scheme, however, was quite vague in its scope and aims, so we used one of our regular “Teaching Fridays” to discuss how we want to continue in this area. Here I share some thoughts that I presented at that occasion.

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#DHfromScratch: Die Fachforschung erreichen

Auf der Tagung DHd2019 fand das Panel Digital Humanities „from Scratch“ statt, das sich mit der Rolle und den Herausforderungen von DH-Koordinations-Stellen befasste. Es hat mich wahnsinnig gefreut, für dieses Thema angefragt zu werden und in solch illustrer Gesellschaft etwas beitragen zu dürfen. Ich finde es richtig, dass damit die Digital Humanists etwas in den Blick geraten, die außerhalb der großen Zentren tagtäglich damit befasst sind, digitale Geisteswissenschaften an ihrer Institutionen zu vertreten und zu praktizieren. Und das Interesse an dem Thema zeigt sich auch auf Twitter unter #DHfromScratch. Im Rahmen dieses Panels gab ich einen Input zum Thema „die Fachforschung erreichen“.

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A Belter’s Life

What’s the motivation for this new blog? In my role as digital humanities coordinator, my work is often quite pragmatic: I help colleagues identify suitable digital methods and tools for their work, I teach digital methods, and I try to build networks for exchange on digital methods in the humanities. And while I also do research which results in published papers, much of my work is below the threshold of academic publishing.

Nevertheless, I feel that I am missing a venue where I can publish random thoughts, practical solutions I came across, or inform about my ongoing work. We did have a blog for the SeNeReKo project, and I am active in the |Marginalia blog. In contrast to those, this blog will serve as a spot for irregular posts not strictly related to any one project, but to my work as a whole.

The title and the theme of the blog draw from the SciFi series “The Expanse”. Not only do I like it personally, also plays Ceres, the dwarf planet located in the asteroid belt, a major role. This combination of science fiction and a celestial object that shares a name with our Center for Religious Studies seemed like a good fit.