January 2021 from funds of Hightech Agenda Bayern
Topic of the Department
The extensive datafication and algorithmization of nearly all aspects of contemporary social coexistence and culture are fundamentally reshaping the human condition and thereby presenting unprecedented challenges and opportunities for an emergent digital paradigm in both research and learning. The Department of Digital Humanities and Social Sciences responds with a strong focus on materialities, codifications, expectations, patterns of interpretation, practices, traditions, language, and other systems of communication and representation in the contemporary digital context.
Our research and teaching address these challenges and opportunities with a two-fold emphasis on methods for the analysis of data and data-based artefacts and their instantiations and consequences within culture and society. This approach places an integrated technical and social-theoretical focus front-and-centre in the broader digital-epistemological transformation.
The department combines profound technical-algorithmic expertise in computer science with epistemological expertise in the humanities and social sciences. The department practices close integration with existing established disciplines in the humanities and social sciences as well as with the Department Computer Science. In this respect, it explicitly sees itself as an integrator.
The department deliberately positions itself across boundaries in terms of organizational structures and profiles its professorships along interdisciplinary problem classes. It is managed collegially and works with common resources that are accessible to all scientific positions according to need; it deliberately refrains from subdivisions into “chairs”. The doctoral phase is also to be reformed as a pilot project and made more interdisciplinary.
The department follows up on the successful work of the Interdisciplinary Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences: The collaboration of the actors has shown how horizontal transdisciplinary networking between the faculties and the interplay of research subjects can work. In this way, questions from the Conditio Humana can motivate application-oriented research in the technical sciences and vice versa. This joint commitment has been certified in various evaluations as having high visibility, demonstrated interconnectivity, and great potential.
Integration into the research and teaching contexts of FAU
The comprehensive university FAU is shaping a cross-disciplinary research focus on Digital Transformation and Data Analytics. Together with its HTA sister Department Data Science of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, as well as the Department of Artificial Intelligence in Biomedical Engineernig of the Faculty of Engineering the Department DHSS develops a strong nucleus in this field.
All 3 departments will move into one building together.
The department was developed and proposed by
- Prof. Dr. Peter Bell, Digital Humanities focus on Art History (Phil)
- Prof. Dr. Stephanie Evert, Computational Corpus Linguistics (Phil)
- Prof. Dr. Georg Glasze, Cultural Geography (Nat)
- Prof. Dr. Svenja Hagenhoff, Book Studies, esp. e-publishing and digital markets (Phil)
- Prof. Dr. Michael Kohlhase, Knowledge Representation and Processing (Tech)
- Prof. Dr. Andreas Maier, Machine Intelligence (Tech)
- Prof. Dr. Heidrun Stein-Kecks, Art History (Phil)
Cross-disciplinary problem areas for the new HTA professorships
Research-oriented Data Management in the Humanities
Data sets in the humanities are highly complex because they are divergent in their formal nature (text, images, sound, digits, geo references, entire models) and ambiguous in their semantics; storage in relations and analysis via SQL statements is usually unsuitable. What is needed are concepts for dealing with these data sets along the entire data life cycle.
Computing Images & Objects in Cultural Heritage.
Computing Images & Objects in Cultural Heritage
Image media and objects are entities with a highly complex attribute structure, which as real-world objects materialize and bind culture and create social structures through their nature and symbolic capital. Their computer-assisted analyzability, digital representation/reconstruction, and image-scientific reflection are fields of work with interdisciplinary benefits.
Computing Text and Language
AI and computational linguistics are making impressive progress in automatic language processing using highly complex neural networks, but these are opaque end-to-end systems. Such methods must be interpretable in order to make them useful for the humanities. Automatic and semi-automatic methods for hermeneutic text interpretation and connections between statistical neural methods of language processing and formal knowledge representations are innovative fields with broad application potential.
Analyzing Geo- and Social Data
More and more social processes are being datafied. This new “social data” is available in real time, activities and people can be spatially localized. The resulting possibilities for insight into spatial structures and social dynamics go far beyond established statistics: the new forms of controlling social processes need to be understood and assessed in terms of their power to change society.
Human Computer Interaction
The German Informatics Society has identified ubiquitous HCI as one of the major challenges for the Digital Age: the usability of systems decisively determines people’s success and participation in social subsystems, and people’s behavior is influenced by the fact that more and more communication with applications takes place. The adequate design of user interfaces in the process of system development is thus becoming increasingly important.
Governing of Data Economies
Data and data-based digital artifacts are resources that form the basis of interests and business models (“data opec”) of very different actors. The result is a field of tension between the design of exploitation opportunities, protection interests and sovereignty goals, both at the level of organizations and citizens and with regard to the geopolitical-economic-legal framework.