Computational Humanities Lab

Summer 2012 Hackathon Institute

Humanities Hackathon: Expanding Campus Perspectives from Wisc Institute for Discovery on Vimeo.

On a wall in a darkened room, a single word flashed: divide.

David Krakauer, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID), explained to a roomful of humanities scholars that for too long, the disciplines of math and science have been growing apart from the study of art, music, philosophy and literature.

"It's a loss on both sides," he says. "That's why we're here."

"Here" was a teaching lab in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery building, where Krakauer helped introduce the Humanities Hackathon, a weeklong course in late July designed to bring math and science experts together with humanists.

The goal: to explore emerging computational techniques for analyzing works of art, literature and music. With millions of texts (and other works) online, it is now possible for humanists to study "cultural quantities" using some of the same data-processing techniques that scientists use to study genomes, for example, or cells.

"We encourage radical cross-fertilization of ideas," says Sara Guyer, director of the Center for the Humanities, which collaborated with WID on the short summer course. "By bridging the two cultures of science and the humanities, scholars can engage more fully around the question: What is human?"

Read more.  And stay tuned for updates:  WID plans to host monthly, informal hackathons where faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduates can explore computational techniques with computer science experts.