Summit on Digital Tools for the Humanities

Summit Announcement

This summit will bring together scholars from diverse disciplines of the humanities to discuss issues surrounding digital tools and the underlying cyber-infrastructure that

•  Enable new and innovative approaches to humanistic scholarship;

•  Provide students deeper and more sophisticated access to cultural materials, thus changing how material can be taught and experienced; and

•  Facilitate new forms of collaboration of all those who touch the digital representation of the human record.

The summit will assess the state of development of digital tools for humanities research, as well as the effectiveness of the supporting and integrating cyberinfrastructure. Tools serve many purposes: analysis, creative development of new material, education, presentation, as well as productivity enhancement. Text-based tools are perhaps the most widespread and familiar among humanities scholars, but the summit will address textual and non-textual media (audio, video, 3-D and 4-D visualization).

In the past, collections of scholarly and creative materials were found mainly in libraries and museums, and these organizations developed tools for access and analysis. Today, individuals can export their creative works to a broad audience. Individuals and small groups of scholars are able to build tailored collections, as well as digital tools to support those collections, and to make them widely and inexpensively accessible. Cyberinfrastructure has dramatically democratized access to materials and resources used by humanities scholars and students. But it has not brought with it sufficient tailored tools needed to use those resources in sophisticated ways. It is this phenomenon that gives rise to the need for this summit.

Digital tools in the humanities are for the most part in their infancy. The summit will address issues that derive from the state of tool design and development. This includes the proliferation of new data formats; effective markup language annotation; integration of multiple modes of media; tool interoperability, especially when tools are shared across multiple disciplines; open source for shared and evolving tools; tools with low (easily mastered by an untrained end user) and high (usable only by expert personnel) thresholds of usability; data mining, representation, and visualization of data in the geo-spatial framework; measurement; game technology; and simulation.

We seek participants from a broad community spanning such disciplines as history, anthropology, literature, archaeology, linguistics, classics, philosophy, and psychology, together with some social scientists and computer scientists who work with these communities.


The summit will meet from September 28-30, 2005. It will begin on Wednesday evening, September 28, with a keynote speech and discussion. Discussions will continue on Thursday and end mid-afternoon Friday. Discussion topics and the structure of the sessions will be determined based on the issue papers submitted by participants.


The Organizing Committee will produce a final report, which will give an overview of the opportunities, challenges and recommendations raised during the summit sessions. It is our hope that the summit will produce charettes for new tools as well as recommendations that will attract funding sponsorship, and that new and existing interdisciplinary collaborations will be facilitated by the summit to build a more effective community focused on the challenges of cyberinfrastructure and digital tools.


Participants will be housed at the Darden Business School and in local hotels. Local meals and lodging will be paid by the summit sponsors. Limited support for travel costs is available upon request.



Final Report (pdf)

To apply

Getting Here





Participants only