The Humanities Informatics Lab brings together scholars at UVA working on questions arising from the management, control, and flow of information in both historical and contemporary contexts. The Lab addresses the ways in which data structures and the actual computation of data inform the various histories of humanistic cultural production, human scientific endeavors, and studies of the evolution of human life itself. Through active collaboration with traditional humanities research and disciplines such as library science, engineering, mathematics, statistics, computer science, neuroscience, and bioinformatics, the HumanitiesInformatics Lab leverages UVA strength in humanistic-oriented research and information sciences and takes a leadership role in global academia for the university in innovative research, creative teaching, and public engagement in the field of humanities informatics.
The transformative nature of this initiative lies in the way it brings a contemporary perspective on the impact of information sciences together with an examination of the intellectual and cultural histories of information that have largely gone unacknowledged within information studies, as well as epistemological and ethical questions of how structures of information have shaped knowledge and values within society. As an interdisciplinary endeavor, informatics may be defined as the practice of information management, which consists of the storage, retrieval, processing, and communication of information, as well as its technological applications. Informatics has taken on renewed significance in recent times, not least because of the rise of the so-called ‘information society’ and increasingly intrusive surveillance technologies. The application of informatics has ranged across myriad domains of human activities such as war, security, environment, finance, health, media, and culture. It has also opened up new frontiers in our understanding of the ‘human’ through its work on genetics and artificial intelligence.