Rome offers a very good starting point to explore the field of Digital Humanities, as projects dedicated to this city and its heritage cover all kinds of areas within this field: digital text editions and annotations in different languages, ‘distant reading’, classical reception, spatial humanities, virtual heritage, cultural heritage collections, social networks etcetera.
Moreover, it seems that a central characteristic of most of these projects is that they combine two or more of these areas. As a result an overview of these projects is very likely to give a representative view on what is happening in Digital Humanities today. At the same time, the proliferation of digital humanities projects – with regard to Rome as well as in other fields – also incites us to reflect on the state and the (near) future of such initiatives, both in their relationship towards each other and to ‘traditional’ scholarship.
The issues that call for consideration range from very academic – questions, methods of publication, transparency – to very technical / computational – data management, visualization, sustainability. Beyond this lingers the issue of fragmentation: if so many projects revolve around a similar topic, clearly a lot could be gained by collaboration – both when it comes to exchanging best practices, and exchanging data. But how could this we envision such collaboration? And how do we know what’s out there?
Also in that sense Rome could be a great example – since the projects, even though they may have a different focuses on text or image, antiquity or later ages, almost all have some common ground to depart from. This means that making them easily available and finding ways to link the data as much as possible, would contribute enormously to research in this field. And this is exactly what the web portal and collaboration network Digital Roman Heritage aims at.
Read more about the background of the e-Rome workshop at which the DRH network was established.