ADHO Chair Neil Fraistat Welcomes DH 2014 Participants

Neil Fraistat, chair of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO), delivered the following welcome during the opening ceremony at Digital Humanities 2014:

Bienvenue mes amis! I’m Neil Fraistat, the Director of MITH, the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. In my capacity as Chair of ADHO’s Steering Committee, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to DH 2014 on behalf of our 6 constituent organizations:

  • EADH: The European Association for Digital Humanities
  • ACH: The Association for Computers and the Humanities
  • CSDH/SCHN: The Canadian Digital Humanities Association
  • aaDH:  The Australasian Association for Digital Humanities
  • centerNet, the international network of digital humanities organizations
  • JADH: The Japanese Association for Digital Humanities

This has been an extraordinary year for ADHO on multiple fronts: most notably, in continued changes to our institutional structure, our technical infrastructure, our relationship with members, our publications, and, of course, our annual conference.

Here you are, along with over 700 participants at DH 2014. Those of you who have had a chance to review the full program know the kind of intellectual feast that awaits you this week, beginning with our opening keynote today from Bruno Latour.  For this, we are all greatly indebted to the remarkable job done by our international program committee, which has been chaired so masterfully and tirelessly by Melissa Terras. This group has been hard at work behind the scenes for two years preparing for this week, and they have further built upon last year’s program committee’s successful experiments with key elements of our submission and review process to make it more welcoming, open, efficient, and rewarding for all concerned.  Melissa and company, would you please stand up.  We owe you our deep gratitude and a rousing round of applause!

I’m sorry to say that due to a death in the family, Bethany Nowviskie won’t be able to be here to deliver her keynote in person, but Melissa has kindly agreed to present Bethany’s text and slides. I know our community’s thoughts are with Bethany.

One new element to this year’s conference is an attempt to facilitate informal and voluntary translation by distributing buttons people can wear indicating what languages they are willing to talk or otherwise assist in. This effort is the result of a collaboration between ADHO’s Global Outlook Special Interest Group and our Multilingualism and Multicuturalism Committee. Please be on the look out for the “I Whisper in  . . . buttons,” and offer to wear one yourself if you are fluent in a language other than English.  They can be found near the registration desk. We are especially grateful to Elika Ortega, Dan O’Donnell, and Alex Gill of GO::DH for helping to organize this effort.

ADHO has been growing exponentially: we now have over 850 individual members and this trend has no end in sight. We on ADHO’s Steering Committee continue to recognize that our largest challenges in the coming years involve how well we welcome, enable, and promote the accelerating global and disciplinary growth of DH across the range of our activities. To this end, we have been engaging in what so far has been a year-long strategy process focusing on three areas we believe to be most in need of fundamental rethinking: ADHO’s governance, funding, and membership. The results of that strategy process, when coupled with ADHO’s newly established status as an independent legal entity in the Netherlands, promises to be the most systematic and wide-ranging resituating of ADHO to date.

Meanwhile, our inclusivity working group, which was established last year under the auspices of Bethany Nowviskie, continues to assist our committees in examining their governing documents, public communications, and evolving customs to help develop or refine policies, protocols, and informal practices meant to welcome more diverse constituencies to ADHO and to strengthen the organization through their involvement.  A major step in this direction and directly relevant to all of us here, was our development this year of a Conference Code of Conduct, which lays out broad principles to foster a safe, welcoming conference environment that is respectful of personal, cultural, and linguistic differences. This Code of Conduct can be found within your conference programs and on the Websites of DH 2014 and of ADHO.

Among ADHO’s accomplishments this year has been the establishment of low membership-only rates for our Constituent Organizations, without the cost of journal subscription. Our first Special Interest Group, Global Outlook, has been joined by several other new or proposed ones, including a proposal in progress for a DH and Social Justice SIG, coordinated by Lisa Nakamura and Jentery Sayers. We expect that many of our SIGs will be based on new approaches, collaborations, and disciplinary concerns—and we encourage you to propose one. Last year we chose Sydney Australia as the conference venue for DH 2015, the first time ever that the conference will be hosted outside of Europe and North America. This year, we have adopted a new three-year regional conference rotation ensuring that an opening for such venues will be regularly available, and we have selected Krakow, Poland as the site of DH 2016.  

We invite you to learn more about the activities and initiatives of ADHO’s Constituent Organizations in the lunchtime members meetings that will be held by EADH, ACH, ADHO and centerNet over the course of this week. The ACH meeting tomorrow will include its justly celebrated annual Job Slam and the joint ADHO/centerNet annual meeting on Friday will include short presentations about DH in Russia, Israel, and the Caribbean, as well as a DH Commons Project Slam. Best of all, the first 45 people to arrive will receive a free lunch!

One of ADHO’s ways of welcoming promising new members into our community and celebrating the achievements of those already working in the field is the presentations of prizes. We are delighted to say that we’ve been able to offer a record of student bursaries to DH 2014. And, as you may know from the conference schedule, the Zampoli award will be presented this Thursday to one of the DH community’s most widely respected and foundational figures, Ray Siemens.  At the banquet and in the closing session on Friday, you will hear more about the other prizes. One of these is the Fortier Prize, which will be awarded to the young scholar giving the best presentation at this conference. The Fortier Prize honors the memory of Paul Fortier, who lived from1939-2005. Paul had a keen ear not just for new voices, but also for the newness in what those voices had to say. In 1993, Paul was awarded the honor of University Distinguished Professor by the University of Manitoba, where he had taught at the rank of Professor since 1979 in the Department of French, Spanish and Italian.

The winners of last year's Fortier prize were Courtney Evans and Ben Jasnow, both from the University of Virginia, for their paper, "Mapping Homer's Catalogue of Ships.”

This year's carefully selected shortlist features:

  • Marie Saldana:  “An Integrated Approach to the Procedural Modeling of Ancient Cities and Buildings”
  • Anthony Durity & James O'Sullivan: “On Reusability and Electronic Literature”
  • Jérôme Jacquin & Xavier Gradoux: “IMPACT : un dispositif de transcription et de commentaire de l'oral, pour l'enseignement et la recherché”
  • Jill Belli: “Unhappy? There's an App for That: Digital Happiness, Data Mining, and Networks of Well-Being”

One of these will receive the Fortier Prize 2014, to be handed out during the closing session--we hope that many of you will be there.

Finally, ADHO is especially pleased to be holding this year’s DH Conference on the splendid campuses of UNIL and EPFL, in recognition of the distinguished work in digital humanities being done here. We thank you for welcoming us so warmly! Our special thanks, of course, go to Claire Clivaz and Frederic Kaplan, our local co-organizers and their hardworking staff, most especially the indispensable Kevin Baumer, who have done so much to make this conference possible. Let’s have a heartfelt round of applause for them all!