IANUS

IANUS is a German initiative which addresses the question of longtime preservation of digital data. It is aiming at providing a repository for digital data in Classics, which will be independent from the research institutions generating and analysing the data. This involves also thinking about standards, best-practises and training-opportunities for scholars/students to get acquainted with the minimal requirements ensuring longtime preservation.
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I was invited to take part in one of the working-groups of this IANUS-project. We were focusing on the teaching infrastructures which may be necessary for the dissemination of knowhow about digital methods and tools relevant to the fields of Classics and the preservation of its quality. One of the results of the first meeting was, for me, the perception of a gap between the requirements in the study-programmes taught at University and the skills necessary for the collaborators of some of the current research-projects. A further interesting element was introduced by some of the participants who showed the different degrees of how Digital Humanities could be integrated in the more traditional fields. The steps can vary from the simple offering of some courses in traditional programmes to an entirely independent domain of Digital Humanities linked to no specific content. The aim in the IANUS-project was defined as something inbetween these to extreme positions, where precisely the boundaries between the two domains ‘Classics’ and ‘Digital Humanities’ have to be discussed and where the amount of each of them may vary according to the different needs and research-questions formulated by the several fields of Classics.

Finally it was striking to see the different perspectives between fields like Archaeology and thoses based more on texts and languages. This was in particular visible with regard to the usage of GIS tools. Having attended last November a workshop on GIS for the Humanities, I got some insight about how GIS analyses could be applied to studies on texts. I did not realise back in November, how surprising it was that the archaeologists were almost absent from this workshop. One of the reasons may be that the concept of Humanities itself can be understood in different way, which has as its consequence that the fields do not get the same weight in those different perceptions of Humanities. The French distinction between ‘lettres’ and ‘sciences humaines’ may provide the labels for the differences, as more or less weight may be given in ones definition of ‘Humanities’ either to ‘lettres’ or to ‘sciences humaines’.

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