EPFL’s College of Humanities (CDH) and Laboratory for the History of Science and Technology (LHST) welcome visiting scholar Pierre Mounier for the academic year 2021-2022. Mounier will give an inaugural talk on September 28th on the topic, “Governing digital infrastructures: exploring a key issue at the crossroads of digital humanities and open science.”
The talk will be followed by a Q&A. In addition to in-person attendance on the EPFL campus (BC 410), the talk can also be attended via Zoom.
The development of digital technologies as ubiquitous tools for both computing and communicating represents a challenge for research in the social sciences and humanities (SSH). On the computing side, the digital humanities can be considered as the new set of methods and questions that the humanities adopted to analyze the vast new troves of data generated by digital technologies. On the communication side, open science is a way for those disciplines, amongst others, to take full advantage of the new opportunities offered by the Internet for sharing, disseminating, and connecting research.
The way research in the SSH is reconfigured by digital technologies under both aspects — digital humanities and open science — is rarely considered. My proposition is to explore this question using the underpinning concept of “digital infrastructure” as a key to further the understanding of what is at stake in this reconfiguration.
Most of the current discussions about the role of digital infrastructures to support research in the digital environment revolve around the two interlinked issues of sustainability and governance. In that perspective, the major question is not only how to grow infrastructures in general in an open environment, but more deeply how to design infrastructures that are themselves open and fit for the specific purpose of supporting research in the SSH.
Because it comes from other fields of research such as natural sciences and engineering, the term “infrastructure” seems, at first sight, to be rather alien to the social sciences and humanities, although SSH research always relied on libraries, archives, and other research tools such as indexes, bibliographies, etc. Today, research in SSH is supported by platforms, databases, software, standards, and corpora. What does it mean and what are the consequences of considering them as “infrastructures”, particularly in the digital and open context? From this point of view, the challenge at hand is to renew an old humanistic tradition by devising the new infrastructures that will eventually underpin contemporary open humanities.
About Pierre Mounier
Pierre Mounier is ingénieur de recherche at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS, Paris) and strongly involved in the development of scholarly open access platforms as deputy director of OpenEdition, coordinator of OPERAS, and co-director of DOAB. He is the author of a number of books on digital humanities and open edition. His last work entitled Les humanités numériques. Une histoire critique (2018) is available in open access. For further information, see https://pierremounier.net.