February 28th: a date to remember. What I remember is that when we chose that date, it was so abstract that it did almost not exist. I always have to wonder about the process of choosing dates for workshops or conferences when you organize them. You have a rough idea of the season, or the month, that would fit. And then, often randomly, you pick one, that then becomes the deadline of all deadlines. And you keep wondering: “Why did I choose that date again?” when it starts becoming really real.
We chose February 28th, because March was a month already filled with DH events requiring the Einstein Circle’s attention (or at least the attention of part of its members): the iConference “Breaking Down Walls” (March 4-7) , the I-D-E Spring School (March 10-14), the IScience Day of the FH Potsdam (March 19-20), the first DHd Conference in Passau (March 25-28). We did not want any earlier date, because – well, the semester is only ending now, and other events before the 28th were on the agenda already: the workshop on Wikis & Scholarship on the 20th and the congress of German Editors in Aachen between the 19th and the 22nd – see this pdf of the program.
And so it was there: February 28th. When we talked about the workshop back then (in the fall), we wanted it to be big. And big it will be, bigger than anything I ever organized so far. An interesting new experience, although I am somewhat worried about not being able to anticipate all important details. On the other hand, this is the definition of new experiences. So: let the surprises come!
The workshop goes by the humble title of “Crossing Boundaries – Digital Humanities today and tomorrow” (think big!) and you are warmly welcome to register here (the precise program can be found on the registration page).
Although we spent a lot of time dealing with material aspects of the organization of the workshop, I could observe this week how the question we want to address has evolved. At first, there was mainly a lose wish to get all of Berlin’s DH together. What moves us has now become a real, precise, burning question: How can we work together in the future? This “how” contains all the uncertainties about the economic situation of Berlin in general and its universities in particular. It also addresses the lack of orientation emanating from the gap separating those who are actually realizing what DH are in Berlin (there will be no less than 58 posters of projects, tools and institutions, all from Berlin – apart one from Potsdam) and the decision takers. Another “how” concerns the fact that while some of the DH activities are hosted in Academic research institutions, many are not. And even if you consider only the Academic area: there are four universities in Berlin (if you include the University of the Arts), each one pursuing its own agenda – how do we get them together on a digital agenda?
I have my doubts as to whether we will get a real answer to that (politically and economically) no so plain question. But the simple fact that we can ask that question out loud – and really loud – is worth all the efforts.