Manifesto for Digital Humanities, from THATCamp Paris

It’s THATCamp season, and while I can’t participate, I am following the twitter stream #thatcamp.

From THATCamp Paris, a manifesto for Digital Humanities (I translate from the French below, with a wee bit of a kickstart from Google Translate; I do not guarantee that this is a perfect or most accurate translation):

Manifesto for the Digital Humanities


We practitioners or observers of digital humanities (Digital Humanities) met in Paris at the THATCamp 18 and May 19, 2010.

During these two days, we have discussed, exchanged, reflected together on what are the digital humanities and we have tried to imagine and invent what they might become.

After these two days which are only one step, we propose to research communities and to all those involved in creating, editing, enhancement or preservation, a manifesto for “digital humanities”.

I. Definition

1. The computational turn taken by the society changes and examines the conditions of production and dissemination of knowledge.

2. For us, the digital humanities relate to all Social Sciences, Arts and Letters. The digital humanities are not a clean slate. They rely instead on all the paradigms, skills and knowledge specific to these disciplines, while leveraging the tools and the unique perspectives of the digital field.

3. The digital humanities designate a ‘transdiscipline’, embodying the methods, devices and heuristics related to digital opportunities in the field of humanities and social sciences.

II. Situation

4. We note:

– That there has been increased experimentation in the field of digital humanities and social sciences in the last half-century. What has emerged more recently – digital humanities centers- are, at present, prototypes or specific areas of application of an approach to digital humanities;

– That computational or digital approaches induce a stronger technical constraint and thus an economic one; therefore, that this constraint is an opportunity to change the collective work;

– There are a number of proven methods, known and shared unequally;

– There are multiple communities from special interest practices, tools or interdisciplinary approaches (encoding textual sources, geographic information systems, lexicometry, digitization of cultural heritage, scientific and technical web mapping , data mining, 3D, oral archives, digital arts and literature and hypermedia, etc..), and that these communities are converging to form the field of ‘digital humanities’.

III. Statement

5. We, the practitioners of digital humanities, are building a community of practice that is open, welcoming and freely accessible

6. We are a community without borders. We are a multilingual community and we are multidisciplinary.

7. Our aims are the advancement of knowledge, enhancing the quality of research in our disciplines, and the enrichment of the knowledge not just within but also beyond the academic sphere.

8. We call for the integration of digital culture in the definition of the general culture of the twenty-first century.

IV. Guidelines

9. We call for open access to data and metadata. These must be documented and interoperable, both technically and conceptually.

10. We support the dissemination, movement and free enhancement of methods, code, formats and results of research.

11. We call for the integration of training in digital humanities within the curriculum in Social Studies in Arts and Letters. We also want the creation of specialist diplomas in the digital humanities and the development of dedicated professional training. Finally, we hope that these skills will be taken into account in recruitment and career development.

12. We are committed to building a collective competency based on a common vocabulary, which is from the collective expertise of all working practitioners. This collective expertise is to become a common good. It is a scientific opportunity but also an opportunity for professional development in all sectors.

13. We want to participate in defining and disseminating best practices related to identified disciplinary and interdisciplinary identified. These are needs will be identified as they emerge from debate and consensus amongst the communities concerned. The fundamental openness of digital humanities nevertheless provides a pragmatic approach to protocols and visions, which maintains the right to coexistence of different approaches and competing for the benefit of the enrichment of the thinking and practices.

14. We call for the construction of scalable Cyberinfrastructures responding to real needs. These Cyberinfrastructures be built iteratively, based on the finding of methods and approaches that are proven in the research communities.

(errors of translation are my own)

2 thoughts on “Manifesto for Digital Humanities, from THATCamp Paris

  1. 15. We are professionals in telling the obvious and tend to spend our precious time we have together in producing manifestos instead of doing something really useful and nessecary.

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