I conclude my “holiday of DH” diary with a reflection on a potential research opportunity that I have encountered. The Biblioteca Panizzi, my hometown’s excellent public library, is building a resource called Biblioteca Digitale Reggiana, where it presents high-quality scans of its most precious manuscripts, including Piero della Francesca’s De Prospectiva Pingendi and the manuscripts of scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani . Yet this is all they are, scans with some metadata but no transcription or encoding. As such, their utility for DH research is rather limited. Yet Spallanzani was a central figure in the scientific debates of the eighteenth century. The writings of his kinswoman and teacher Laura Bassi, professor of experimental physics in Bologna, have just been digitised by Stanford in collaboration with the Archiginnasio Library in Bologna. Surely our Lazzaro deserves the same treatment? Time to find a funder when I am back at work…
I started this Day of DH thinking I would provide a summary of my numerous discussions with friends and family on the topic of Digital Humanities, but the demands of said family and the frustrations of blogging from a mobile device have forced me to reconsider.
I’ll reflect briefly instead on the Digital Humanities projects, ideas and opportunities that I have encountered so far during my trip in my native Emilia-Romagna. I am reminded of Alastair Dunning’s insightful blog post of early 2012, The Digital Humanities Surrounds You. Indeed, DH is there and is becoming more pervasive here in provincial Northern Italy as well.
My first DH find is the “geoblog” Percorsi emotivi, a platform where users can pin their messages describing the emotions they felt when visiting a specific part of the city of Bologna. It’s been going on since 2009, so I should have noticed it before! It came to my attention when visiting the excellent Museo della storia di Bologna, where visitors can contribute to the project by sticking post-it notes to a map of Bologna. The results of this content stream are then shared through a Flickr page. I am curious to see what the organisers of the project, the Mappe Urbane laboratory, run by the Fondazione Gramsci Emilia Romagna, will make of the rich data they are collecting. They are calling it an experiment in “polyphonic digital urban storytelling”, and are already producing the first thematic maps based on user contributions.
Time to get back exploring now…
- What does a digital humanist do?
- What does a digital humanist do at The Open University?