Last year, a working group was set up under Strategy AV21 within the Memory in the Digital Age programme. Its task was to define basic objectives in the area of development and application of tools for work with information sources of institutes in Research Area III of the CAS. As the subtitle of the article shows, the main task of the working group is no less than to initiate innovations in the way secondary sources are made accessible, with a view to new scientific queries brought about by the digital humanities science discipline, a discipline already established abroad, using computation tools in humanities and social sciences.
Digital Humanities portal
The first tangible outcome of the above-mentioned group’s efforts was the creation of a publicly accessible online Digital Humanities portal, the objective of which was to provide access to information sources of institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences from a single location, and further, to create a shared environment offering the user easy orientation in various information sources in the area of research in social sciences and humanities in the Czech Republic.
A database of information sources created and managed by institutes of the CAS in Research Area III constitutes a key part of the new portal. The overview of individual institutes includes a list of own sources with links to more detailed information. The database is sorted alphabetically but the sources on display can be narrowed down using several criteria: accessibility (online/partly online/offline/not in electronic form), source type, discipline and keywords. The information part of the portal reflects current developments in digital humanities abroad, both with regard to scholarly events, pending projects or new publications which may be inspiring for the development of this field in the Czech Republic. A far from negligible side benefit is the clarification of the status of processing of information sources of individual institutes and facilitation of the choice of a suitable joint action for the building of an interdisciplinary research infrastructure in the area of social sciences and humanities.
Třešť, February 8-9, 2016
At the beginning of this year, a two-day meeting was held at the academic center in Třešť in order to create the basic organizational structure and to seek key common themes and worthy research queries. The field so defined will serve as a basis for future cooperation between academic institutes, as well as a theoretical basis for the preparation of joint project proposals.
One of them is the pending (C)ERIDAH project focusing on excellent research in the area of digital humanities. The preparation of the joint project draws on the outcome of the meeting in Třešť and a number of related gatherings held in the course of March 2016. At those meetings, the basic thematic areas were defined and points of intersection between professional interests of the individual institutes sought. Information gathered for the purposes of the above-mentioned portal was also beneficial for the planned development of institutional infrastructure. As regards the implementation of outputs in the virtual environment of the internet, cooperation was established with selected institutions outside the academia, specifically, representatives of Charles University in Prague who have been working in field of digital humanities for an extended period of time, have ample experience in the field and can boast satisfactory scientific results and successful executions.
Although the field of digital humanities can be viewed as a fairly new discipline in the Czech Republic, it can obviously be very useful precisely for the presentation of scientific results, in particular in disciplines in Research Area III; however, it needs to be stressed that it can bring new research queries, scientific approaches, and a fundamental change of the paradigm of work involving large volumes of data found in the information sources of the institutes, where the processing of such data using the traditional method would not only require an inordinate amount of labor and time, but could not provide answers to certain questions in any case.