OpenMethods Spotlights showcase people and epistemic reflections behind Digital Humanities tools and methods. You can find here brief interviews with the creator(s) of the blogs or tools that are highlighted on OpenMethods to humanize and contextualize them.
The conversation below is a special, summer episode of our Spotlight series. It is a collaboration between OpenMethods and Humanista: The Podcast, in which Alíz Horváth, owner of the Humanista podcast series and proud Editorial Team member of OpenMethods, is asking Shih-Pei Chen, scholar and Digital Content Curator at the Max Plank Institute for the History of Science about the text analysis tools LoGaRT, RISE and SHINE; non-Latin scripted Digital Humanities, why local gazetteers are goldmines to Asian Studies, how digitization changes, how it broadens the kind of research questions one can study, where are the challenges in the access to cultural heritage and liaising with proprietary infrastructure providers… and many more! Enjoy!
Below the soundtrack, you can find fragments from the conversation as written teasers and if you prefer to read only, you can also find the full transcript downloadable.
|Alíz Horváth received her PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and digital humanities from the University of Chicago in 2019. She is currently Assistant Professor in East Asian history at Eötvös Loránd University. She applies hybrid methods (philological and digital) to East Asian history, a still largely underrepresented area in digital humanities, and is an avid advocate of non-Western perspectives in DH. he speaks English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Finnish, French, Italian, and Swedish, and her mother tongue is Hungarian, so she is particularly happy to contribute to the OpenMethods project’s mission to promote multilingual DH.
See here full OpenMethods profile here: https://openmethods.dariah.eu/aliz-horvath/
|Shih-Pei Chen received her PhD from National Taiwan University as a computer scientist with a focus on digital humanities. Her dissertation, “Information Technology for Historical Document Analysis”, explores ways of analyzing digital full texts of historical documents using information technologies. After her PhD, Shih-Pei conducted her postdoctoral research at the Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences of Harvard University and managed the China Biographical Database (CBDB), a digital database that collects biographical data for figures of historical China. Shih-Pei joined MPIWG in January 2014 as the digital content curator at MPIWG where she works with historians in order to develop digital tools that can open up new methodologies of conducting historical research in the digital age.
LoGaRT is a shorthand for Local Gazetteers Research Tools. So Local Gazetteers is a very unique genre in Chinese history. It is the main genre ever since, I believe, the 10th century, for all the localities like the counties, the protectors or the provinces, and in some cases for the entire empire to record all the information that is from local or the localities.
But just imagine this that right now, in this digital era, what we scholars are facing, or we humanities scholars are facing is that we have many different kinds of databases. But in the meantime there are also stand alone research tools. For example, the ones that they do visualisation or text mining tools and et cetera, et cetera. There seems to be a gap between the contents that we’re using and the tools that we want to use to analyse our content. And one of the problems is that someone of the contents, some of them are in commercial databases, some of them are probably public, but in a practical matter that you always have to retrieve those contents by yourself. You might need to go to this website A, to download ten text and then go to another website to download another text. And then after you’ve done all those, then you can think about what you want to achieve with them. And there are for example, text mining tools out there or mapping tools out there that you want to immediately create a map out of your resources that you have been curating for so long. But there is a gap that basically leaves the humanities scholars by themselves that they need to figure out all the technical nitty gritty things among all these things, from the source to the tool. And then finally, after you are able to feed your contents into the tools, finally you are going to see something. But that is a really long stretch, a really long process and many people, they encounter all kinds of technical problems. So they just stop in between and then they just cannot continue. Yeah, and that’s why we started to have this idea about Rise and Shine.
We’ve learned a great deal about these tools and methods and in general, the kind of approach that you have when it comes to digital humanities, I think it’s very important. And this is what the series is about, especially Spotlights on OpenMethods. So it’s about introducing the human beings behind these methods and tools just to further humans, since we’re talking about Digital Humanities, to further strengthen the Humanities part of it. So I think this was a great opportunity to just do just that. So thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. Well, thank you. And thank you for listening to us.