People will remember Switzerland during this Conference.
I am in this very moment in the founding session of the Association Digital Humanities Deutschland. The big auditorium of the main building of Hamburg university is filled with more than 200 participants. The discussion is focusing on the future name and affiliations of this association.
People are notably protesting against the affiliation with Oxford University Press, publisher of JLLC – Journal for Literary and Linguistic Computing. As you know, Oxford is NO Open Access Publisher, and they publish only in English. And this is when Prof. Stolz from the University of Bern stood up, followed by Prof. Haber from the University of Basel and Prof. Claudine Moulin from the Universities of Luxembourg and Trier, to declare that the Digital Humanities in Europe should be multi-lingual, and not adapt themselves to the total dominance of English language, and nor should they openly support a commercial publisher like Oxford University Press.
Prof. Stolz even said that the title Digital Humanities Deutschland is problematic, because it does not acknowledges the other German-speaking countries, and among them Switzerland. An alternative would be DHDR = Digital Humanities Deutschsprachiges Raum. Prof. Stolz is also a candidate to be member of the to-be-elected committee of the Association. We’ll see how it goes. Anyway, how comes that Switzerland has become so secure of its place in the DH community ?
The power action of Switzerland began on Sunday afternoon, when Prof. Clivaz and Prof. Kaplan from Uni. Lausanne presented the application of University of Lausanne to host the Digital Humanities Conference in 2014. With all due modesty, I think it was my initiative to suggest to the Lausanne DH team to invite the Conference in Lausanne in 2014. And we won. The steering committee was convinced by the proposal – including a boat tour on the lake, a visit in a chocolate fabric and of course a visit to the CERN, where the web was first invented in 1989 !
To make it even better, the same day came the piece of news that the Swiss Polytechnical School of Lausanne (EPFL) is opening a Digital Humanities Lab, headed by Frédéric Kaplan, an artificial intelligence engineer with strong interest in the humanities. This brand new DH Lab will have two PhDs students and a postdoctoral fellow, and will be affiliated to the College des Humanités de l’EPFL. And they are starting their activities already in the coming weeks. Newly nominated Prof. Kaplan is currently choosing the new hardware to equip his laboratory, hesitating between a fully-automated book-scanner or a 3d object modeler. As the EPFL is not exactly a poor institution – he will probably have both. Hopefully for once the humanities sector will benefit from the financial wealth of the Swiss Polytechnical School. The research program of the DH Lab is not fixed yet, but will definitely deal mainly with history !