The Blur of InterFace

The Committee

For the past year we have been planning for InterFace 2011; a symposium and networking opportunity for post graduate researchers in technology and the humanities.  It’s less formal than a conference, more formal than an unconference, which aims to stimulate collaborations and new research directions between researchers who wouldn’t normally meet each other.  Despite plans being put in motion for over a year, the start of InterFace came with increasing speed and all of a sudden crept upon on us. The 27-29th July is a blurry mess. Now it’s over, I think I can speak for the whole committee; we are battered, bruised, knackered and broken.  But boy was it worth it.  Fitting so much into 2 and a half days was a challenge, but I think it showcased just how much the bridge between humanities and technology is growing and transforming what is possible by mixing disciplines together.  It was fascinating to see such a varied range of research interests and how they related to each other.

InterFace can be split into 4 key components:

  • How to Sessions to provide hints and tips about different aspects of the PhD and Research process; including looking user studies; how to get published and how to get funding.
  • Workshops to provide hands-on experience of key methodologies in the Technologies and Humanities.  This year we looked at Visualisations, Network Analysis, Cultural Heritage and the Semantic Web and GIS and Spatial Tools.
  • Idea Generation/Social Side – I have to admit the speed dating event at the first reception I was very sceptical of, but it actually worked really well. Although it was a tad too noisy.  It was a great way to get to meet people quickly, and familiarise yourself with who was who and doing what at the conference.
  • And Lightning Talks. This was a core component of the programme, where each attendee gave a quick fire two-minute presentation on their research. The session was fast paced, lively and dynamic.  Two minutes might not seem like a lot, but you can actually shoehorn a lot of your research direction and key ideas into that time frame. We had brief introductions to so many fascinating topics including: BioArt, Musicology, Infographics, Procedural Modeling, Interactive Poetics, Mobile Web, Network Analysis, 3D Documentation and much much more.  Such a diverse group of attendees came, many of which didn’t know of Digital Humanities as a discipline, or whether or not they fitted into the new wave of DH or indeed whether it was worth being between two disciplines of humanities and technology.

What I really enjoyed (despite not being able to talk to as many people as I would have liked) was expanding my own understanding of what the new generation of Digital Humanities is going to be like in a few years time when all of the current InterFace delegates will hold doctorates and will be out in the big bad academic world.  I love that it is going beyond linguistics and textual analysis and now dealing with complex issues of sound, light, location, objects and people.  The next few years are going to be incredibly interesting with such a range of research interests scrabbling for attention.

A big thank you goes out to all of the attendees for entering into the spirit of InterFace, where everyones ideas are important and just as valid as the next.  Particularly for everyone who managed to stay to the end and remain articulate!   To all the speakers who gave their time and expertise, we really appreciate all the hard work they put into their presentations.  Special thanks go to Melissa who delivered an excellent keynote whilst being on maternity leave.  To our three fabulous volunteers who kept me and the rest of the committee sane…ish.  Also to my fellow orgainsers;  Alberto, Alejandro, Andreia, Matteo, Raffaele, and Richard.  Finally to Leif, who stepped in at the last minute to deliver a workshop and for coming up with the idea of InterFace in the first place.  Thank you

One thought on “The Blur of InterFace

  1. Hi Claire, as a fellow InterFace organizer I share the mix of pain and pleasure that we experienced in setting up and going through the conference. It’s been a pleasure working with you and the others!
    I have some thoughts about your sentence: “I love that it is going beyond linguistics and textual analysis and now dealing with complex issues of sound, light, location, objects and people.” I love this as well. Digital Humanities as a discipline should be able to deal with anything humanities and not just text. It is essential that we work together to make this happen. However, DH has not simply been about text for a long time now. I can’t help but notice a tendency for a futurist definition of “new wave”, which promotes itself as more inclusive by the exclusion of the “old ways”. This just seems contradictory to me. I work with text documents (more precisely, music notation) and owe much to the digital humanists that for years have been working with text. Looking into the future I don’t see obsolescence, because texts will still be central to many humanities disciplines. Rather, I see evolution.
    I am warning, I guess, against the risks of marking boundaries instead of expanding boundaries.

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