Data Modeling in the Humanities

The Centre for Digital Editions in Würzburg and the Brown University Center for Digital Scholarship are convening a symposium entitled “Knowledge Organization and Data Modeling in the Humanities: From relational databases to RDF”, to be held in Providence, Rhode Island on March 14-16, 2012.

This event, sponsored by a generous grant from the DFG/NEH Bilateral Digital Humanities Program, brings together digital humanists, humanities scholars, and information theorists to consider how digital methods of knowledge representation in the humanities have developed during the past thirty years. It will also explore how the various models now available to us shape and inflect the research objects we create and the research we undertake with them. The symposium will include theoretical papers, case studies, and discussion (including remote participants via twitter).

To frame the presentations and discussion we will also keep in mind a set of larger theoretical and strategic questions, which will be the focus of the white paper arising from the symposium:

  • Why do certain ways of modeling humanities data feel natural to us, and what hidden assumptions (about texts, artifacts, usage, and scholarship) do they reflect?
  • Do data models reflect real information structures or create them?
  • What are the practical and strategic advantages of specific models in specific contexts?
  • What are the latent or explicit politics of knowledge representation systems?
  • What do we learn from changes in representational models over time?
  • What new developments in information modeling might hold value for the humanities?
  • What are the most urgent and compelling research questions in information modeling for the humanities? where are these being addressed?
  • Where are information modeling issues visible in the work of digital humanities scholarship? what is their practical impact and where can insights into information modeling improve the effectiveness or quality of these projects?
  • How do information models and humanities scholarship intersect, and where do we see them exerting mutual pressure on one another? what can information modeling learn from humanities scholarship and vice versa?

The white paper and a detailed record of the event and its presentations will be published online. More information on how to participate remotely will be posted closer to the time. Save the date and plan to join us!