InterFace’11: good event, surprised by the Digital Humanities positioning

I had the pleasure of attending InterFace’11 last week. It first ran two years ago in Southampton, so it was interesting to return two years on:  This year it was an ambitious 2.5 days event, with a range of activities including things I’d seen at InterFace’09 (lightning talks, ‘speed networking’, keynotes) but also workshops, ‘how to’ sessions and an unconference. I had to duck out of much of the second day, but what I did see was good! There was a good diversity of lightning talks from participants — the ones I caught covered topics from the ancient world to tangible interaction to maps as narrative.

Kicking off the unconference

I particularly enjoyed the keynote from Stephen Scrivener (self-described Computer Scientist and Artist), who spoke about design practice and research. The other keynote was Melissa Terras, who among other things remarked that we can define digital humanities until the cows come home (I paraphrase) — this reminded me of similar conversations in the Web Science community.

I was surprised by a comment by one of the organisers in the closing session: I forget the exact phrasing, but they referred to InterFace as a digital humanities conference, which really isn’t how I perceive it. (There was a strong focus in the area this year, but it wasn’t solely DH.) As I know a couple of the people who were involved in its inception two years ago, I promptly started rummaging around… 🙂

My understanding is that InterFace was originally positioned to avoid being Yet Another Digital Humanities Conference. However, I gather that none of this year’s organisers had attended a prior InterFace (and they also happened to largely be ‘digital humanists’) so almost certainly weren’t exposed to that ethos.

Despite being surprised by the DH-specific positioning, this was certainly an engaging event with plentiful learning opportunities! The organisers did a stellar job, so much kudos to them.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Some good points being made here Clare. When you say ‘yet another DH Confernce’ there is an assumption there are lots oif them. There is only one that I know of; perhaps 2 if you could DRAH.


  2. Thanks for the comment, Craig! I must say that I’m not really familiar with DH conferences in general. The ‘yet another DH conference’ comment came from one of the folks involved in InterFace’s inception, so I’m not certain what other events they were thinking of there. Hm!


  3. […] when I remarked upon my surprise about the ‘digital humanities’ positioning of InterFace to a colleague, her response was “well it isn’t Web Science is it?” (This seemed […]


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