Are we there yet? Functionalities, synergies and pitfalls of major digital humanities infrastructures

workshop / tutorial
  1. 1. Agiatis Benardou

    Digital Curation Unit IMIS - Athena Research & Innovation Center in Information Communication & Knowledge Technologies

  2. 2. Erik Champion

    Curtin University

  3. 3. Lorna Hughes

    University of Wales

  4. 4. Sally Chambers

    Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities - Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (University of Gottingen)

  5. 5. Costis Dallas

    University of Toronto

  6. 6. Alastair Dunning

    The European Library (Europeana) - Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB National Library of the Netherlands)

Work text
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This pre-conference workshop aims to bring together leading scholars involved in major digital scholarly infrastructure projects such as DARIAH, NeDiMAH, Europeana Cloud, ARIADNE, 3D ICONS, EHRI, DASISH, LARM, CLARIN, DiRT and DHCommons, in dialogue with practising digital humanists. Topics to be addressed include cultural heritage and digital media infrastructures, tools and services; the creation and curation of humanities digital resources; social and institutional issues of Digital Humanities infrastructures; and finally, lessons learnt from the role of digital humanities in pedagogy and academic curricula. It will provide an opportunity for humanists to find out about cutting edge developments on major digital infrastructure initiatives in Europe and beyond, and to make their views matter on future developments in this field.

The workshop aims to go beyond a description of project presentations. It will seek to provide an analytical framework that could contribute to a critical understanding of the current state of digital infrastructures vis-à-vis the potential of digital archives, tools and services for humanities scholarship, by addressing the following questions:

What are the objectives of each digital infrastructure project, and what are its intended users?
What are the functionalities and outcomes it aims to provide, and how do they serve the overarching goal of supporting and transforming humanities research?
To what extent were the needs of humanities researchers considered, and how is the digital humanities research community involved in the project?
Are there potential synergies, and actual collaboration, with other infrastructure projects? Conversely, are there any overlaps?
What are the main lessons learned from the life of the project so far? What are the pitfalls and potential failures, and what improvements could be achieved?
Workshop leaders
The workshop will be led by the following international team:

Dr Agiatis Benardou, a member of the research staff of the Digital Curation Unit, IMIS-Athena Research Centre, Artemidos 6 & Epidavrou str., GR 151 25, Maroussi, Greece; email:, tel. +30 210 6875425. She initially worked for the Preparing DARIAH - the Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities project. She also participates in the Greek Research Infrastructure Network for the Humanities (DYAS / DARIAH-GR). She has also worked on EHRI (European Holocaust Research Infrastructure). She is leading a Work Package in the project "Europeana Cloud - Unlocking Europe's research via the Cloud". The objective of her work in this Project is Assessing Researcher Needs in the Cloud and Ensuring Community Engagement.
Professor Erik Champion, School of Media Culture & Creative Arts, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia, email: Champion writes on virtual heritage (Playing With The Past, Critical Gaming in the Digital Humanities), and on game-based learning for history and heritage (Game Mods: Design Theory and Criticism). He was Project leader of DIGHUMLAB Denmark, and VCC2 co-leader at DARIAH. He is Professor of Cultural Visualisation at Curtin University, Australia.
Professor Lorna Hughes, University of Wales Chair in Digital Collections, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth SY23 3BU, UK; email: Hughes is the University of Wales Chair in Digital Collections, based at the National Library of Wales, where she leads a research programme in digital collections, researching and building projects that develop new digital content that addresses specific research or education needs, in partnership with academics and other key stakeholders in Wales and beyond. Her research focuses on the use of digital content in research, teaching, and community engagement. Her publications include the edited volumes Digital Collections: Use, Value and Impact (2011) and Virtual Representations of the Past (2008), and Digitizing Collections: Strategic Issues for the Information Manager (2003). She is Chair and (UK representative) on the ESF Network for Digital Methods in the Arts and Humanities (, and the PI on a JISC-funded mass digitization initiative The Welsh Experience of the First World War (
Sally Chambers, Joint Secretary-General for DARIAH-EU, the Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities, based in the Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities, Heyne-Haus, Papendiek 16, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany; email: She has extensive experience in the field of digital libraries, as Digital Research Manager at The European Library (TEL), Online Library Manager at the University of London Library, and Liaison Officer of Electronic Access to Resources in Libraries (EARL). Her work focuses on interoperability, metadata and technical project coordination, and her previous projects include Europeana Libraries, a project to establish a sustainable library-domain aggregation service for Europe, and ARROW, a project to establish a rights information management infrastructure to facilitate digitisation in Europe. She has been actively involved in the European digital library community, including the European Library Automation Group (ELAG) and the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. She is the editor of Catalogue 2.0: the future of the library catalogue, recently published by Facet Publishing.
Expected audience
The workshop will be of direct relevance to the conference topic of Digital Cultural Empowerment, as it aims to take stock and review critically the current state of play, and potential future developments, on digital make the voice of humanists heard on the subject of digital infrastructures for the arts and humanities, a potentially important empowering factor concerning digital humanities research. It is expected to be of interest both to those involved in digital research infrastructure work, and to digital humanists who may benefit from the use and contribute to shaping the plans for future developments of digital infrastructures, tools and services.

Structure and organisation of the workshop
The event will involve formal presentations by the organisers, and speakers who are developers and evaluators of current and future digital cultural heritage infrastructures.

The workshop organizers will provide summarized critical reviews to accepted submissions, and speakers will address generic leading questions from the organizers, and moderated dialogue with digital humanists present, so that we can provide meaningful experience to the participants. We hope that this format will allow participants to discuss and understand where mistakes are made and how to evaluate and redesign and improve their own infrastructures.

CFP: The CFP will be published one week after workshop acceptance, and authors will have 4 weeks for submission and will receive replies within two weeks of submission deadline.

Speakers in the workshop will be selected from a call, addressed to partners of major digital infrastructures in the arts and humanities.

The program committee consists of the workshop leaders: Dr Agiatis Benardou, Professor Erik Champion, Professor Lorna Hughes, and Sally Chambers.

In 2013 we ran a workshop on the subject of Cultural Heritage Creative Tools and Archives (, funded by the European Alliance of Digital Humanities, NeDiMAH, DIGHUMLAB, and the National Museum of Copenhagen (where it was hosted). The countries represented at this event included Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Norway, Romania, United Kingdom, and Canada. We were particularly pleased to have two invited speakers at this workshop who each have many decades of experience in cultural heritage infrastructures: Professor Julian Richards of York University, and Professor Sean Ross, Dean of the iSchool, University of Toronto.

From the two days of presentations we saw several issues reappearing in many of the presentations. Many EU institutes were duplicating (without realising) the work of others; there was little systematic evaluation of user needs (although several papers were exceptionally useful surveys of user needs before and after); and the lessons learnt from comparing the original aims and objectives with the final or posited audience needs were not always consistently followed through.

Program outline
For a half day, 3 hours plus breaks.

10 minute introduction and house rules.
120 minutes: 6 x 10 minute presentations (slides will have auto-timing), preceded by 3 minutes intro and summary of reviewers comments, presentation followed by 7 minute questions (so 20 minutes each presentation).
40 minutes open floor questions and facilitated discussion.
10 minute summation / wrap-up.
Total: 180 minutes; we will invite speakers to a restaurant dinner at own expense after the workshop.

Target audience: Digital humanists at large, including also archaeologists, heritage experts and historians, archivists, and those interested in cultural heritage infrastructures at European level. The 2013 CHCTA workshop had roughly 20 presentations and 40 in total attended.

Expected speakers: 8

Expected audience number: 30

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2014
"Digital Cultural Empowerment"

Hosted at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Université de Lausanne

Lausanne, Switzerland

July 7, 2014 - July 12, 2014

377 works by 898 authors indexed

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Conference website:

Attendance: 750 delegates according to Nyhan 2016

Series: ADHO (9)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None