Monday, 19 October 2009

CREW goes Digital

CREW recently co-organised the annual Digital Resources in the Humanities and Arts (DRHA) conference along with Queen's University, Belfast and the Digital Humanities Observatory (DHO), Royal Irish Academy, Dublin. CREW was also working in partnership with the National Library of Wales (NLW) which provided generous financial support.
DRHA 2009 took place in September, in an unusually sunny Belfast. Because of the organisers' Welsh-Irish background there was a particularly strong 'Celtic' flavour to the conference. One of the keynote speakers was Andrew Green, the Librarian of the NLW. NLW was an early practitioner and advocate of digitisation and remains at the cutting edge of digital technology and policy. Appropriately enough, Andrew Green talked about the future of digitisation in a world post-google and speculating on the perhaps more sinister side of 'big digitisation' by commercial companies. The full text of his talk is available here.

Queen's Keith Lilley presented on Mapping Medieval Chester (a project led by Swansea's Catherine Clarke). Dafydd Johnston and Alexander Roberts gave a talk on the Dafydd ap Gwilym digital edition which was created at Swansea.

Not only did Lyn Lewis Dafydd (NLW) give a cutting-edge paper on metadata, he also treated a packed lecture hall to a performance of the 18th century ballad, 'Mochyn Du' - an unexpected and memorable way of presenting the Welsh Ballads project . Culturenet Cymru, Lampeter and Cardiff also contributed (a full programme is still up on the conference website).

The DHO emerged from the conference as the true, if financially endangered, heroes of the digital humanities scene under the formidable and inspiring leadership of Susan Schreibman. As Jane Ohlmeyer, our final keynote, passionately and persuasively argued: what we need in the Digital Humanities is a sustainable infrastructure supported by a national policy, delivering a trusted digital repository and ensuring digital content can be accessed and shared beyond individual digital silos.

Wales, with it's particular educational, cultural and political institutions, seems extremely well placed to develop such an infrastructure. Watch this space.
Some rather dark conference pictures: James Cummings and Hugh Denard; Susan Schreibman introducing Jane Ohlmeyer and Marie Wallace; Kirsti Bohata indulging in a well-earned drink; poster and drinks reception in the Great Hall, Queen's.

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