Professor Jane Winters, director of the School of Advanced Study’s Digital Humanities Research Hub, introduces a selection of articles that consider access to digital resources and technologies through the lens of digital humanities.
It is more than a decade since a report submitted to the Human Rights Council by Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, acknowledged that ‘the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realising a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating human development’.
La Rue recognised, however, that there was much progress to be made in order to overcome the ‘digital divide’, that is, ‘the gap between people with effective access to digital and information technologies, in particular the Internet, and those with very limited or no access at all’ (La Rue, pp. 16, 17).
This issue of Talking Humanities considers different aspects of access to digital resources and technologies through the lens of digital humanities. In the Long Read (‘Low-tech’ offers wider take-up and sustainability for the digital humanities), Dr Christopher Ohge considers whether minimal computing, ‘a set of practices that aim to reduce barriers to access and engagement’, may provide a solution, and one which will also help to reduce the impact of global digital access on the environment.
Dr Usama Gad (The digital divide and how to challenge the Eurocentric ‘exclusion zone’) warns of the dangers of trying to build inclusive online spaces without taking full account of historical – and contemporary – exclusionist practice. Dr Emmanuel Ngue Um (When ideologies we live by stand at odds with the digital humanities) explores the factors that contribute to the marginalisation of African languages in digital spaces.
Finally, School of Advanced Study PhD student Jessica BrodeFrank (Trust is the key to crowdsourcing search terms for museums) discusses her research on making museum collections online more inclusive and accessible through crowdsourcing metadata.
Jane Winters is professor of digital humanities and director of the new Digital Humanities Research Hub at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. She is a co-investigator for the Towards a National Collection discovery project Congruence Engine. Professor Winter’s research interests include digital history, born-digital archives (particularly the archived web), the use of social media by cultural heritage institutions, and scholarly communication. She has published most recently on non-print legal deposit and web archives, born-digital archives and the problem of search, and the archiving and analysis of national web domains.