Monday, January 26, 2009

Spatial Technologies and Methods (Charlottesville, 28-30 June 2009)

I learned, by way of Bethany Nowviske, that the topic of the next Mellon-funded Scholarly Communication Institute at the University of Virginia has just been announced:

The upcoming session, SCI 7, will be held in Charlottesville, Virginia, June 28-30. It will focus on spatial technologies and methodologies—the specific modes of working they favor, the scholarly practices they enhance, and the infrastructure they demand to achieve scale and significance. Technologies that analyze and represent space and spatial relations—notably geospatial and mapping technologies—have gained widespread use both through sophisticated Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) software (commercial, like ESRI Arc Globe, and open source, like GeoServer/GeoNetwork) and through vernacular applications such as 2-dimensional mapping (Yahoo Maps), 3-dimensional globes (Google Earth), and virtual worlds (Second Life). We will also consider visualizations such as virtual modeling and concept mapping, as appropriate. SCI 7 will bring together accomplished scholars from the humanities and social sciences, as well as leaders in information technology and data stewardship, to explore the range of these technologies and their promise to advance humanities scholarship.

SCI is designed to frame a set of meaningful questions that lead to a plan for further action. Participants will convene for two full days in plenary and small group discussions, with ample occasion for informal discussions and to include time in the University of Virginia Library’s Scholars’ Lab to explore key methodical questions in the context of ongoing research projects. The meeting will result in an action agenda, and SCI leadership will follow up over the following 12 months to advance activities identified by the participants.

Participants will include scholars who are working in imaginative and innovative ways with geospatial, mapping, and visualization technologies, including leading figures from historically-grounded disciplines such as geography, archaeology, and history that engage methodological questions posed by spatial relationships in their work. We will also involve leaders from research centers that could support possible follow-up activities. Individuals with expertise in libraries, advanced technologies, and publishing will join us to help us think through the implications of scholarly practices we discuss for the full cycle of scholarly communication, from
research and discovery to analysis, presentation, dissemination, and persistent access.

In the months preceding the Institute, SCI will consult with leaders in a variety of disciplines to identify the key challenges and opportunities to use of spatial technologies in the humanities, with special attention to the critical methodical questions that these new ways of representing spatial and temporal relations pose to researchers. What are the implications for such scholarly practices as comparison and contextualization, temporal analysis and causality, study of global phenomena, and the possibility of new fields emerging from these?
Participation seems to be by invitation only; participants have not yet been publicly announced on the SCI website.

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