TekstLab and Community Building

Representing TekstLab and the Huygens Institute Ronald and I are attending the ‘Interedition’ (www.interedition.eu) meeting on ‘Current Issues in Digitally Supported Collation’. Ronald and I have been presenting CollateX, a digital text collation tool that was well received by this scholarly community. Discussions were also on how larger infrastructures supporting scholarly work (or humanities in general) could be successfully conceived and implemented. The meeting yielded a number of main focuses or target areas that any infrastructure initiative should take seriously into account. They’re a sort of ‘usual suspects’ but still I think they’re also relevant to Alfalab as a sort of ‘check list’, are we paying enough attention to:

  • Institutional backing for organizing, networking and dissemination
  • Continued funding possibilities
  • Community building
  • Teaching
  • Open, light weight and distributed technological solutions for machine interfaces
  • Tangible user interfaces

I think viable infrastructure will only arise if all those topics are tended to sufficiently. But in this case I draw special attention to teaching. It’s very clear from this meeting that at least this community lacks possibilities to carry its very valuable knowledge on computational solutions over to the next generation of scholars (current students). For me that feels like all that gained knowledge and experience on computational possibilities is not finding enough momentum in a very important part of the community: the future researchers. Indeed I got some worrying signals from early stage researchers that they only got to know about initiatives like these (and Alfalab?) when they all but reached the level of post doc applications.

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