New possibilities with digitalization on the agenda
Digitalization gives us new possibilities to analyze literary texts, images, and art. "You can’t avoid seeing that digitalization is on the agenda everywhere, in the civil society and in the politics", said Pam Fredman, Vice Chancellor at the University of Gothenburg at the opening ceremony of the conference Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries, arranged by the Centre for Digital Humanities. This year it gathered 193 scholars from around the world.
"Digitalization has side effects such as integrity, legal aspect, functional disabilities, and we must provide knowledge to the civil society", Fredman said.
Marie Demker, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, said that digitalization represents a global challenge for people in the modern society.
"Who would have known that more and more accessible information would make us more vulnerable? We can’t yet see the consequences of digitalization and we need more research", Demker said.
Smart tools for analyzing corpuses
The first key note speakers were Peter Leonard from Yale Digital Humanities Lab, and Timothy Tangherlini from UCLA Scandinavian Section/Asian Languages and Cultures. They presented a tool for uploading corpuses for commercial plagiarism detection.
"Intertextuality tools expose the latent relationships between texts, even those we think we know", said Leonard.
The tools allows choosing text and modeling them in order to find different search criteria, such as finding the most frequent words and phrases. It also allows comparing of opposite words, words that are similar or are associated in other ways.
"Are roses treated differently in poetry and prose? There are many interesting questions", said Tangherlini.
Works for images as well
Peter Leonard has so far scanned 27 000 images (of circa 80 000) of persons from the 19th century. He demonstrated how by clicking on an image you are able to other images of people posing the same way, wearing the same hairstyle and so on.
"There are amazing collections in Scandinavia. We need universal access to these texts, but we also must be able to trust our data. We want to be able to work cross-disciplinary and have the possibility to share our results", said Timothy Tangherlini.
Art becomes digital
Images was also the subject for the art historian Katja Kwastek from Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam who demonstrated how art could be an actor within the digital humanities. She compared traditional exhibitions at museums and galleries with large scale reproductions tat allows studies of small details in a work of art, or large collections of magazine front pages allowing us to see the development of graphic design.
Art today can be video, sound, and 3D productions. Lately art projects based on social media have emerged. One example shown by Katja Kwastek was 144 days in Kyiv, a work of art showing pictures of revolution slogans mixed with images of everyday life.
During the conference, shorter lectures were held addressing topics from comics art to analyses of online poetry communities.
This was the second edition of the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries Conference, held in Gothenburg. The first conference was held in Oslo last year.
Read more: Digitalization brings us closer to nature
The association Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries (DHN) was founded in 2015. Its aim is to further and strengthen digital humanities research, education, and communication in the Nordic countries including the Baltic States. DHN wants to provide a platform for collaboration and make the Nordic Digital Humanities more visible internationally. DHN favours a broad, inclusive definition of Digital Humanities.