Since the German Ministry of Research issued a call for applications specific to eHumanities with two types of funding (junior research group and center) in January, not a week goes by that I don’t hear of a new application. The call has two deadlines, one by the end on this May and one in May 2014.
The fact that so many people are rushing on this call came to me in the first place as a surprise, especially regarding the amount of projects competing for the title of “center”. After two months, some kind of resignation took over the surprise. And now, not even two weeks before the first deadline, I am tending to curiosity. With so many applications even on the first deadline, how will the ministry manage to find enough competent reviewers that will not be, in some way, involved in one project or another, and which will be the selection criteria?
This is certainly a sign that the call for applications was the answer to a real need: there are obviously a lot of people evolving in the field of DH, coming from different disciplines. But it is also the sign of situation of concurrence in a field that is not so easily definable. (yet again: would it help if DH were a discipline and not just a transdisciplinary toolbox? I am even tempted to think that it would, in the actual situation). What is more, the combination of infrastructure and research as it is presented on the call for eHumanities centers does not seem to solve, in the practice, the basic question of the balance between technique and research. It proves difficult to connect services and research questions in a way that does not reduce the technical aspects to purely ancillary services.
Which brings me to DH Aphorism number 2: In DH, not everything is in the cloud.