I missed this announcement while I was on the road but back in April, the Chronicle of Higher Ed reported that the NEH Office of Digital Humanities is sponsoring a grant program that will offer 100,000-hour bits of supercomputing time at the Lawrence Berkeley National laboratory. The plan is to get humanities researchers joining chemists, physicists and mathematicians developing research projects that require high-performance computing.
My first reaction to this was “whoa, cool.” My second was, “we’re so not there yet.” At least if the “we” is scholars of the material world. Unlike text-driven scholars, our stuff simply isn’t digitized in large quanitities yet. On the other hand, some of the relevant documentary materials ARE digital, like historic census and probate records, city directories, etc.
Brett Robley, director of the ODH, points out that scientists, too, had to learn about supercomputers before devising projects that could take advantage of them. The official announcement is here.
The mind reels.