Research Data, the Humanities, and the First Four Centuries of Print

Research Data, the Humanities, and the First Four Centuries of Print
Gregory Crane (
(Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Digital Humanities at Universität Leipzig & Professor of Classics and Winnick Family Chair of Technology and Entrepreneurship at Tufts University)

November 2014

I am writing about the critical importance of research data as a topic for humanists — we cannot flourish in a digital age unless we are able to understand and to manage the data that we need for our research, our teaching and our overall contributions to intellectual life of society as a whole. My ultimate goal is to analyze, as precisely as I can, what infrastructure has been developed in Europe and North America, especially from the large European projects and upon which humanists can actually build — when projects set out to produce infrastructure, it can be difficult to distinguish the language of the proposed infrastructure from the infrastructure that has actually been produced. The use case for this exploration will be the challenge of moving not only the Perseus Digital Library but also more than a dozen other established projects on Greco-Roman culture, from both Europe and North America, into a shared, computational space that can support hundreds of thousands of users and analysis of Greco-Roman cultural influence in millions of digitized sources.

I have chosen, however, to publish this essay first, because I think that, before getting into the details of particular infrastructure projects in both sides of the Atlantic, I would like to consider the potential benefits that the transnational Research Data Alliance (RDA) offers humanists and to suggest  a concrete, tangible, practical and transformative effort that RDA could foster: creating a transatlantic collection of scanned books printed through c. 1875 (and thus clearly in the public domain) and then placing this collection in at least one computational space in both Europe and North America.

For the full essay, see

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