Collaboration: Digital Humanities And Computer Science

I have now wrapped up my conference report on the Digital Humanities And Computer Science symposium. At the end I was on a panel on collaboration between the digital humanities and computer science. In many ways the DHCS symposium is an example of collaboration and how to build it. Below are the quotes and theses on collaboration that I spoke to.

Artists see science; they don’t understand it; they think it is brilliant. Scientists see art; they don’t understand it; they think it is dumb. (Beyond Productivity, p. 52)
  • Collaboration has to be built on respect, which is not politeness. Respect can come from dialogue, which involves listening to the other as they chose to present themselves.
The marked contrast between compensation levels for computer scientists and for artists, other things being equal, is significant for the intersection between IT and the arts inasmuch as it affects collaboration and education. Across organizations, and even departments in a university, compensation levels affect patterns of time use, expectations for research and for infrastructure, and so on. (Beyond Productivity, p. 53)
  • Collaboration is political. It is no easier than any other gathering and it is rarely between equals.
  • Collaboration is easier when supported externally. What entities on campus support interdisciplinary ventures? In my experience it is administrators above chairs. Chairs try to defend the disciplines, deans try to encourage interdisciplinary activities.
the arts establishment sometimes regards technology suspiciously, as if it lacks a worthy lineage or is too practical to be creative. This attitude was evident in early committee discussions, coming out most strongly in contrasting perspectives on the potential for creative practices within industry. (Beyond Productivity, p. 53)
  • In the humanities we are tempted to believe in a hierarchy of value to the disciplines where pure scholarship is set over applied and applied research is set over the corruption of industry. Our fear of corruption and belief in the purity of our critique are a hindrance to collaboration with disciplines that believe they are enriched by applied research and interaction with industry.
  • Collaboration takes time. What are you not going to do? How important is it to collaborate? Pick carefully and be prepared to invest over time.

How should the pursuit of knowledge be organized, given that under normal circumstances knowledge is pursued by many human beings, each working on a more or less well defined body of knowledge and each equipped with roughly the same imperfect cognitive capacities, albeit with varying degrees of access to one another’s activities? (Fuller, “On Regulating What Is Known”, p. 145).

  • Collabortation is easier where the stakeholders share interests and goals. Two areas that seem to me to have promise are visualization and game design.
  • Collaboration is the norm. The question is how to manage it?