The virtual knowledge studio for the humanities and social sciences
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The Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Paul Wouters. From Info to Question?. new research questions reformulating old questions new ways of combining data new types of data new ways of communicating new forms of collaboration. Central idea VKS.

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From info to question
From Info to Question? Sciences

  • new research questions

  • reformulating old questions

  • new ways of combining data

  • new types of data

  • new ways of communicating

  • new forms of collaboration

Central idea vks
Central idea VKS Sciences

  • Changes in information and communication create new possibilities

  • But how can these be used by researchers in hum/soc sc?

  • Engage with and reflect on e-research

Key elements of e research
Key elements of Sciencese-research

  • sharing computer resources

  • access to distributed, hybrid, and massive databases

  • digital platforms for communication and collaboration

Promise versus risk

More detailed knowledge of natural and social processes Sciences

Acceleration of knowledge creation

More inter-disciplinarity

Higher productivity

Improved access to and use of knowledge

Imposing one-sided model of research to all fields (explicitly or implicitly)

Less inter-disciplinarity

Unrealistic promises (see history AI/ICT) may backfire

Increasing capital intensity, higher research costs

Decreased variation of epistemological cultures

Promise versus risk

Promises of e-science: Risks of e-science:

Mission method

design and conceptualisation new questions & practices Sciences


travel across disciplines

grasp dynamics knowledge creation

demonstration and exploration

bring researchers together

pool resources, methodologies and techniques

interrogate both old and new

Mission Method

What the vks is not
What the VKS is not Sciences

  • changing the humanities and social sciences to fit a particular e-model

  • creating ICTs for researchers

  • responding to scholarly needs

  • knowledge is central, not technology nor the user

analytic center Sciences

virtual ethnography

web archiving





construction platform

Example web archivist project
Example: Web Archivist project Sciences

  • what is the basic unit?

  • stability of the Web problematic

  • selection problem

  • archiving the Web new theoretical and practical challenge

  • need for annotation and preservation

  • Web Archivist: Foot and Schneider

Web sphere

New sites are continually discovered by searching previously collected materials and the Web.

Links between pages are more relevant to defining Web spheres than the “boundaries” of a site.

Web Sphere

A collection of dynamically defined resources spanning multiple Web sites bounded temporally and by relevance to a central theme, event or concept.

Web sphere analysis
Web Sphere Analysis collected materials and the Web.

  • Social/political/cultural relations between Web producers and users as mediated by Web sites, texts & links

  • Co-production of features, pages, sites and through links

  • Studied through observation & annotation of live & archived Web objects & interviews/surveys of Web producers/users

Retrospectively analyzable web sphere
Retrospectively Analyzable collected materials and the Web.Web Sphere

  • Enables developmental analyses over time

  • Requires an archive with annotation of (approximate reproductions of) pages from any point in time

    • Context: Must include pages representing entry and exit points (links)

    • Periodicity: Collected in time-aware database (not just a snapshot or snapshots)

T collected materials and the Web.1


Link across base URLs



Starting with the same base URL

Link across similar URLs

Collecting multiple impressions of the “same” site over time


Preserving bits content experience
Preserving bits, content, experience collected materials and the Web.

  • …bits – “retain the exact bit sequence of the original.”

  • …content – “retain the content (e.g., the words in a text or the appearance of an image) but not the full interactive nature of a Web site.”

  • …experience – “retain the entire experience of interacting.”

Source:Arms et al, 2001: Collecting and Preserving the Web: The Minerva Prototype

Reflexive instrumentality
Reflexive instrumentality collected materials and the Web.

  • interrogate e-research by study/play

  • interrogate that play itself

  • interrogate this interrogation

  • shape e-research by deconstruction and reconstruction