Thoughts on the DH Summer School in Bern

30.06.2013 by Julia Ganitševa in Conferences & Workshops

The First DH Summer School in Bern, Switzerland took place from Juni 26th to June 29th . IBR project members Martin Unold and Julia Ganitševa had used the opportunity to attend this event, absorb new information and occasionally pick up some new ideas for our project.

The First DH Summer School in Bern 2013
The famous Grocers Alley
The Opening Session on Wednesday
Lecture on "Non-linear text"

While Martin Unold (i3mainz, IBR project software developer) and I were sitting in the train going back to Mainz, we were sharing our impressions and reflecting on the events of the First DH Summer School in Switzerland.

Together with us, another 100 participants from 20 countries gathered for the Summer School to learn about the developments and implementations, and to discuss the current challenges in the multidisciplinary area of the Digital Humanities.

Over the four days the participants had a choice of 12 workshops, 7 courses and 7 democratically organized unconference sessions to attend. Moreover, during the Participants Project Slam on Thursday the attendees were given a chance to step forward and introduce their projects and research interests.

On the first day, thanks to the Deutsche Bahn, we managed to arrive with a two-hour delay right in time for the second coffee break and the following course by Susan Schreibman on History and Future of the DH. We found our places in the auditorium and sat down ready and excited to discover all about what the world of digital humanities is up to these days. And it turned out to be quite a lot.

As someone who is coming from a technical background I found several “technical” courses especially interesting. Here are some of my favourite courses that caught my attention:

  • Thursday course by Elena Pierazzo on Digital Textual Editing, where she was talking about the changes in the editorial world, texts representations and document encodings.
  • Friday morning course by Claire Lemercier, about Quantitative methodology and The Spaghetti Monsters of Network analysis.
  • And the afternoon sessions by Frederic Kaplan about the reconstruction and recreation of the past and about his project Venice Time Machine.I found it especially interesting, because his idea to use semantic encoding for connecting the objects in space and time is coming very close to the goals of our IBR project.

The four days of the DH Summer School were full of courses, workshops and coffee-break discussions with many, but one main challenge to solve: How to form a successful symbiosis between technological developments and humanities endeavours? How to communicate across different disciplinary backgrounds? Is there really a need for historians to learn coding? And what one shall learn to become a digital humanist?

Although now I have more questions in my mind than before, there is also a happy feeling about how much I have learned about the Digital Humanities during the four days of the Summer School and how well our multidisciplinary team is actually working together in this complex area.


Notes from the DH Summer School can be found in a collaborative notepad here: