Digital Humanities and Digital Communication: Challenges and opportunities of interacting with and through technologyModena, June 3rd-7th

The digital world in which we live opens up numerous opportunities, but also challenges and risks. In recent years the impact of technology has been profound and far-reaching and the speed at which innovations have been introduced has radically changed the landscape of research and communication. New forms of media have transformed our working and social habits and the dynamics of interpersonal relationships. Digital technology has also facilitated the production, storage and access to information. Research, especially in the humanities, has benefited from increasingly complex digital archives, the flexibility and the multimodality of digital publishing, the wealth of tools for the compilation, annotation and analysis of corpora etc. The object itself of research has changed, often including digital data or focusing on digital communication and user-generated content in particular. Dissemination of knowledge has expanded its potential with the use of augmented reality and gaming. Indeed, generative AI is opening the whole field of the humanities to new methods and new research questions.

However, these trends often pull in opposite directions, creating paradoxes and contradictions. For example, whilst an infinite amount of information is guaranteed, the reliability, trustworthiness and source of that information is unknown, with AI in the background and the legal issues associated with it (data leaks, misrepresenting information, unintended uses etc.). Access to global systems of communication bring potentially an infinite number of people into contact, but at the same time, alone with our computers or mobile phones, we can become detached and solitary. Contemporary forms of communication have blurred the distinction between what is real and what is virtual. What kind of demands do the new forms of technology pose on researchers in the humanities? What role does literacy play in fostering ethical understanding and critical thinking in today’s technologically evolving society? Is there a risk of undermining the active role of human agents with AI? May too much trust be placed on the machine?

The summer school will try to discuss the challenges and opportunities of interacting with and through technology, considering new fields of study, new tools and resources, new forms of collaboration in research, while at the same time allowing participants to explore some of the recent advances in the field of digital humanities in hands-on workshops.