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The Report of the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

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Presentation on theme: "The Report of the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Report of the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences

2 John Unsworth Chair, ACLS Commission, 2004-2006 Dean & Professor Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


4 “[The design of cyberinfrastructure] can benefit from the strengths of the humanities and social sciences—clarity of expression, the ability to uncover meaning even in scattered or garbled information, and centuries of experience in organizing knowledge…. These strengths are especially important as the volume of digital resources grows, as complexity increases, and as we struggle to preserve and make sense of billions of sources of information.” What H&SS Can Offer

5 What’s Different About H&SS "The social sciences and humanities are different from the physical and biological sciences in the variety, complexity, incomprehensibility, and intractability of the entities that are studied. Consequently, the physical and biological science models in the National Science Foundation’s report Revolutionizing Science and Engineering through Cyberinfrastructure do not directly apply” -- Henry Brady Survey Research Center and UC Data Center, University of California, Berkeley

6 Challenges Humanities & Social Sciences must overcome a number of challenges in order to build effective cyberinfrastructre, namely: 1. the loss, fragility, and inaccessibility of the cultural record 2.the complexity of the cultural record 3.privacy restrictions on the use of data 4.intellectual property restrictions on the use of the cultural record

7 5.lack of incentives to experiment with cyberinfrastructure in the humanities and social sciences 6.uncertainty about the future mechanisms, forms, and economics of scholarly publishing and scholarly communication more generally 7.insufficient resources, will, and leadership to build cyberinfrastructure for the humanities and social sciences Challenges (cont.)

8 Copyright Democratic digital access to our cultural heritage currently ends in 1923: all of Hawthorne is up on the Web, but most of F. Scott Fitzgerald is not. Copyright restrictions will limit the Library of Congress’s planned World Digital Library: because the project intends to digitize only material in the public domain, it will have to exclude most of the cultural works of the twentieth century. --from the ACLS report

9 Privacy "Social science data have generally been collected with an assurance to participants that their identities will be kept confidential. The more complex the integration of the data, the more individual the information... the greater the risk of disclosure. We need to learn how to manage these forms of integrated content so that they can be used in the future without doing harm to the individuals who were generous enough to share their experiences or their behavior with researchers.” -- Myron Gutman Director of the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

10 Why Bother?

11 Computer-Assisted Interpretation “Human interpretation is the heart of the humanities.... devising computer-assisted ways for humans to interpret more effectively vast arrays of the human enterprise is the major challenge. Contextual issues are part of that: time/age/period, theoretical model(s), topics, themes, preconditions for comprehension, helpers for comprehension, applications which use them, datasets associated with them, and so forth.” --Michael Jensen Director of Publishing Technologies, National Academies Press

12 Assembling Evidence “Much of history of slavery is fragmentary, but [the] web helps to assemble small quotes and pieces into larger bodies of evidence that can be used, worked, interpreted, etc. [This] accretion and accumulation function is critical for turning hard-to-use bits into significant history.” --Kathleen Hulser New York Historical Society

13 “Now I can speak with assurance on the relative rarity of certain diction, allusions, themes and titles, etc. in the Song poet on whom I am completing a monograph. This is important because I need to know when he is being innovative and whether there is any precedent for some of the things he does. The fact that at the same time I can search thousands of poets to figure out how a word or phrase was used is simply a (significant) expansion of my use of Chinese and Japanese print concordances.” --Stuart Sargent Colorado State University Identifying Innovation

14 The WordHoard project is named after an Old English phrase for the verbal treasure 'unlocked' by a wise speaker. It applies to highly canonical literary texts the insights and techniques of corpus linguistics, that is to say, the empirical and computer-assisted study of large bodies of written texts or transcribed speech…. It is a basic assumption of WordHoard that new kinds of historical, literary, or broadly cultural analysis will be supported through the forms of data access that are made possible when literary texts are treated in the manner of linguistic corpora. Text Analysis

15 Online Peer Review

16 Resource Portals

17 New Forms of Publishing

18 Standards Communities

19 How Do We Get There?

20 Requirements A robust cyberinfrastructure for humanities and social science must: accessible as a public good sustainable 3.provide interoperability 4.facilitate collaboration experimentation

21 Recommendations 1.Recognition that cyberinfrastructure is a strategic priority for the future of the humanities and social sciences 2.Coordination among representatives of universities, scholarly societies, national academies, and funding agencies

22 3.A commitment to re-examine practices in the light of this strategic priority 4.The allocation of resources into reward systems that encourage digital scholarship 5.The creation of national centers to support scholarship that contributes to and exploits cyberinfrastructure Recommendations

23 6. The cultivation of extensive and reusable digital collections 7. Public and institutional policies that foster openness and access 8. Open standards and the tools to use them Recommendations

24 Draft Comments “My fundamental criticism of the report derives from just this tendency to ‘blame the victim’ and to suggest solutions, particularly in the arena of copyright law reform, that do not take into proper account the way university presses are now compelled to operate in the market economy and that also could lead, at least in the short run, to an exacerbation of the problems of scholarly communication rather than to their amelioration.”

25 Draft Comments “ The point about the three economics in scholarly communication is very important. This is the clearest statement of this problem that I've seen anywhere. I would be happy to see it closer to the beginning of the report. University presses, libraries, faculties are all part of the same big system of scholarly communication, but because we operate with different economic models, the various players (publishers, libraries, faculties) are often working at cross purposes. I find this one of the most intractable problems we face, largely because no one segment of the system can effect change over the system as a whole. ”

26 Results



29 The 1st International HASTAC Conference April 19-21, 2007 Funding the Digital Future: Leaders from national agencies, private foundations, and industry discuss digital funding opportunities, initiatives, and visions. Meeting Room 108. Session Chair: Julie Thompson Klein, Wayne State University. Panelists: Brett Bobley, CIO and Director of Digital Humanities Initiative, National Endowment for the Humanities; Karl Brown, Associate Director, Applied Technology The Rockefeller Foundation; Jerry Heneghan, CEO, Virtual Heroes, and Chairman North Carolina Association for Advanced Learning Technologies (NCALTA); Gary Kebbel, Journalism Program Officer, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Matthew Rascoff, Strategic Services Analyst, Ithaka; Diana Rhoten, Program Director, Office of Cyberinfrastructure, National Science Foundation; Steven C. Wheatley, Vice President, American Council of Learned Societies; Constance M. Yowell, Director for Digital Media, Learning, and Education, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

30 Results


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