Computers and the Internet have drastically improved access to information, and within the humanities to primary sources, to edited editions of texts, as well as to secondary material. But this has also brought a new set of problems that researchers in the humanities are only just beginning to confront — that we lack the sophisticated tools to help us find and assess relevant material amid all of this ‘data’. How easily or successfully are the insights of ‘artificial intelligence’ being applied to research problems in the humanities while allowing us to remain true to the core of humanities disciplines, and what will the skill-set of the humanities researcher need to be in 10 years time? This talk will assess both the benefits and problems posed by the digitization of archives for researchers, assess the current state of tools for accessing and analysing them, and suggest some of the areas that need the most urgent research and improvement.
Dr Nicholas Cole is a Senior Research Fellow at Pembroke College Oxford and the director of the Quill Project, which examines the negotiation of constitutions and other texts written by groups of people in formal settings.