V. NEXT STEPS:
Michael Joyce summed up roundtable sentiment by emphasizing
the need to maintain dialogue while also constructing a knowledge
representation that could perpetuate the roundtable's deliberations.
While there might always be uncertainty about what to discuss regarding
the collaboration of the humanities and computing sciences, such a
representation could help frame future discourse, rendering the issues
more coherent and tractable. It could be complemented by
information tracking the propensity of humanists to assimilate different kinds
of technologyavoiding the risk (noted by Michael Neuman) of
over-generalizing, given the differences across the humanities in terms
of willingness and ability to experiment with new technology.
TALK FIRST TO SELECT ACTIONS BETTER
Willard McCarty asserted that further discussion is needed for its
own sake and to support two additional objectives. First is the need to
"clarify and communicate the nature of what is going on in humanities,"
to disseminate examples of the collection of data and the creation of
access (such as an international effort to search out, catalog, and maintain
a database). Second is the need for institutional models to illustrate
current and future possibilities for collaboration among computer scientists
Several participants urged additional work on existing projects as
well as broader sharing of knowledge about ongoing projects. That
broader sharing should be extended in particular to humanists fairly new
to computing. Bruce Schatz argued that "[t]he main thing to do is
to undertake a project or a series of projects that make it clear
that humanities computing really works. . . . The best project would be
one that the general public really cares about."
In summary, the roundtable participants offered the
following suggestions in response to Dr. Wulf's original question about what
CSTB might do to help foster a better understanding of the human record.
They highlighted a series of activities that might perpetuate the rich
and complex dialogue on the convergence of humanities and
- Publish a summary of the day's proceedings. One summary
might be published by CSTB; another might appear as an
American Council of Learned Societies' Occasional
Paper; a third venue might offer a summary on the Web, with appropriate links to
the projects mentioned.
- Organize focus groups to explore over time: methods and
methodologies in the humanities and computing sciences, areas
where collaboration between humanists and computing scientists
might be most effective, and the potential influence of technology
- Organize and help fund a conference or conferences that
would cover multidisciplinary demonstrations of technology in teaching
and research; presentations of existing institutional models
for teaching and applying technology; exploration of the uses of
technology in the humanities, and how these applications
benefit society as a whole; discussions of current standards (what
has proven successful, what is needed for greater
interoperability); exploration of the ways the business sector could be
more integrated in supporting technology in the humanities, and
means by which greater advocacy on the part of the business
community might be achieved; presentations of case studies that
highlight interdisciplinarity and shared taxonomies, including projects in
the K-12 area; and a review of current debate on intellectual
property, copyright, and the determining legal and economic
phenomena relating to these areas.
- Organize and help fund a one-day meeting of humanities
scholars to identify important collection material appropriate for
digitization, and to foster coordination of digitizing projects in the
- Sponsor a longer-term project to coordinate digital library
initiatives in the United States with those of foreign libraries and nations.
- Establish discussion groups that would continue deliberations
on themes relating to accessibility, including: bandwidth, rural
access to digital resources, and wireless technology.
- Establish a body to continue discussions on the organizing themes
of the roundtable: methodologies in the humanities and computing
sciences, institutional and economic issues, and standards.
Other observations and recommendations included:
- Promulgating the roundtable's themes at existing conferences
and venues, such as the Coalition for Networked Information, Association for Literary and
Linguistic Computing, Association for Computers and the Humanities,
the various humanist professional society meetings, the digital
library conferences, and SIGGRAPH and other professional
computer science conferences that focus on approaches to
presenting, representing, finding, organizing, and sharing information.
- Encouraging greater awareness of the importance of
humanities computing, and more integration of humanities applications
in future Digital Library Initiative competitions. That the
Digital Library Initiative was singled out is symptomatic of a lack
of frameworks for "pushing" the frontiers of computing and
the humanities. Whether that particular initiative may be expanded
to embrace more humanities projects is less important than that
some initiative or program exist to foster computing and the humanities.
- Exploring ways to reward more programmatically the creation
- A formal endorsement by CSTB of the importance of
humanities applications, and publication of a report on recommended
outcomes of the collaboration of the humanities and
I. Introduction and Background
II. Toward a Common Language: Methods and Context
III. Software and Standards Development
IV. Economic and Institutional Issues
V. NEXT STEPS: TALK FIRST TO SELECT ACTIONS BETTER
Notes | Appendices