Cross-disciplinarity fuels imagination

Digital Humanities Hackathon, an intensive course organized by University of Helsinki in Finland on 11-15 May 2015, brought together students and experts of different fields. The course was a taster for a new minor subject in digital humanities that will be offered by the University, starting in fall semester 2015.

‘We hacked away at a crazy pace. You won’t learn to code properly during the week but instead you will get an understanding about what kinds of opportunities DH offers’, describes Arja Karhumaa, a doctoral student and lecturer of graphic design at Aalto University in Finland.

The mix of participants on the course was exceptionally diverse. In addition to degree students, we had exchange students, doctoral students, post-docs, as well as lecturers looking to learn new things. Besides humanists and computer scientists, there were people with backgrounds in arts, social sciences, etc.

Those different backgrounds enabled participants to share their skills in a complementary way.

‘I was transforming our data into time series when I noticed a significant peak in the results. The history student in our team could them explain which historical event the peak was most likely related to. Such moments were the most fascinating for me’, explains Eric Malmi, a doctoral student in computer science, also from Aalto University.

‘Cross-disciplinarity opens your eyes and mind, and promotes imagination in research’, says Salla-Maaria Laaksonen, a doctoral student at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki.

The course participants engaged in research projects in four groups. They presented their results in the end of the week on 15 May in a seminar that was a head start to the international Day of DH.

Text by Anni Aarinen, Communications Officer at the Department of Modern Languages, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki

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