30 Oct 2012

Realising the opportunities of Digital Humanities Conference

Guest post by Jane Burns, Manager of Library Services at Children's University Hospital, Temple Street

Kicking off on Tuesday, October 23rd and running to Thursday October 25th 2012 this conference was jointly organized by the two major digital humanities national infrastructures (the DRI and the DHO), and the largest semantic web research Institute (DERI), together with a large-scale European digital infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH). The venues were in Croke Park in Dublin and at NUI Maynooth.

The goal of the event was to engage academia, industry, cultural institutions and public bodies to identify the key research challenges in digital humanities, and to further build the academic-industry partnerships that will enable adoption of digital humanities skills, technologies and tools. The impact of digital humanities technologies in the public sector demonstrating social benefit was explored in particular the project of digitization of the Irish census and the use of open linked public data.

The HEANet provided live streaming of the event so if you were unable to attend you can still view the fantastic presentation here.

I was only able to attend the conference on Tuesday and some of the highlights for me was when Sandra Collins, Director of the Digital Repository of Ireland, Royal Irish Academy announced the launch of the publication Digital archiving in Ireland: national survey of the humanities and social sciences authored by Aileen Carroll and Sharon Webb.

The speakers on the day were varied and interesting (see the program line up here). Curtis Wong, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research who has 25 years experience in the field of Digital Humanities presented a series of online demonstrations of a number of projects undertaken at Microsoft including the use of Rich Interactive Narratives.

Jon Purday, Senior Communications Advisor Europeana gave a fascinating demonstration of all the resources available on the website but also highlighted the social networking access to Europeana via Facebook and Pinterest.

Fiona Ross, Director of the National Library of Ireland focused on the challenges involved in developing Digital Humanities. She gave a practical and thought provoking presentation. Fiona highlighted the different areas of research and the support the National Library provides to the research/third level sector. The National Library provided three bursaries to students in the Masters in Digital Humanities & Culture course at Trinity College Dublin and provided access to the Mary Martin Diary which was used to develop an online Digital Scholarly Edition. The original diary is held at the National Library of Ireland. The diary is searchable for specific people and places, and can be read chronologically, or by a specific entry.

As part of the program at the seminar there were a number of demonstrators and one project was the Mary Martin Diary.

The Diary of Mary Martin
A Family at War: Mary Martin’s Diary, 1 January – 25 May 1916 is an online scholarly edition of the Diary of Mary Martin, a widow and mother of twelve children, living in the affluent Dublin suburb of Monkstown. Mary wrote the diary to her son Charlie, a soldier with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who went missing in action on the Salonika front, in the hope that one day he would return home and be able to read it. Set against the backdrop of the Easter Rising and the First World War, the diary chronicles the daily activities of Mary, her family, friends and relatives. 

I was part of the project team involved in the development of the on line Digital Scholarly Edition of the Diary. Other team members were SineĆ”d Moloney, Rachel Murphy, Gordon O’Sullivan and Patrizia Rebulla. We were students enrolled in the MPhil in Digital Humanities and Culture and PhD in Digital Arts and Humanities (DAH) taught by Susan Schreibman, Trinity College Dublin, Spring 2012. The online edition is a fascinating source for anyone interested in Irish history, military history, women’s history and genealogy.  The Diary includes 132 diary entries that were recorded from January 1- May 25, 1916. Each of these entries has been transcribed and compiled into a searchable database.

The seminar was an exciting and interesting event to attend and participate in. The Digital Repository of Ireland staff did a fantastic job of planning, organizing and supporting the event. Colleagues who were lucky to attend the events of the conference yesterday and today have reported equally positive experiences.  


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