Welcome to the VKS

The Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences (VKS), an initiative of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2005-2010, supported researchers in the humanities and social sciences in the Netherlands in the creation of new scholarly practices and in their reflection on e-research in relation to their fields. A core feature of the Virtual Knowledge Studio is the integration of design and analysis in a close cooperation between social scientists, humanities researchers, information technology experts and information scientists. This integrated approach provides insight in the way e-research can contribute to new research questions and methods. The VKS collaborated with the Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Erasmus Studio KNAW (in short: Erasmus Studio) based in Rotterdam and with Maastricht University in the Maastricht Virtual Knowledge Studio KNAW based in Maastricht.

The Book

Paul Wouters, Anne Beaulieu, Andrea Scharnhorst, Sally Wyatt (eds) Virtual Knowledge. Experimenting in the Humanities and the Social Sciences, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013

During its existence, the VKS conducted many innovative, empirical, reflexive studies of e-research in the making. The editors of the book created a collection that acknowledged the rich empirical detail of the case studies, but at the same time developed common themes in order to make a significant contribution to debates in Europe and elsewhere about the development and use of digital technologies in knowledge production. The book consists of seven chapters plus a substantial introduction. All chapters are co-authored by, bringing together junior and senior colleagues from different disciplinary backgrounds (seven women, ten men).

All contributors have some relationship to STS, but their disciplinary backgrounds are wide, including history, media studies, anthropology, geography, philosophy, physics, chemistry, economics, computer science, policy studies and sociology. This interdisciplinarity together with the richly detailed case studies makes this book different from other STS publications about digital humanities, or digital scholarship in general. It combines different roles: act as a critical and reflexive observer of novel trends in academia; use this reflexive capacity to counsel, support and moderate between disciplines in their innovative and interdisciplinary endeavours, and question the societal impact of new knowledge for society.

Virtual Knowledge exemplifies how those roles come to life in concrete projects, and does not ignore the tensions and open questions related to their execution. Balancing theoretical, generic and universal reflection with hands-on experiences in a period of innovation in digital humanities makes this book stand out as a contribution to understanding the humanities and social sciences.

Recent VKS Events:



Artful Encounters: A seminar on ethnography, art and conservation, 18 & 19 November 2010, Maastricht, the Netherlands

Artful Encounters wants to examine the interesting overlaps between academic ethnography on the one hand and artistic practice in its broadest sense – both its process and its conservation – on the other hand. The seminar has three aims: (1) to improve ethnographic research by sharing research experiences; (2) to explore overlaps and differences in ethnographic methods between two different but fundamentally connected positions: the artist as ethnographer and the ethnographer as artist; and (3) to investigate what the ethnographic research tradition could contribute to the field of artistic research.

Artful Encounters is organized by the Virtual Knowledge Studio (Sarah de Rijcke), the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University (Karel Vanhaesebrouck, Renée van de Vall, Vivian van Saaze), and the Research centre Autonomy and the Public Sphere in the Arts / Zuyd University (Peter Peters, Ruth Benschop). The organization is supported by Wilma Lieben and Linda Bouchoms. Registration closes after Friday 29 October 2010

eResearch Ethics

A workshop on ethics of e-research was held in Amsterdam on 12 October 2010. In the course of the afternoon, participants discussed and reflected on issues around ethics of e-research and the role of researchers in addressing them. Debate around these issues was initiated in Oxford in July 2010 and is ongoing on the eResearch Ethics website.


Modelling Knowledge Dynamics

In the frame of the COST action MP0801 ” Physics of Competition and Conflicts” an international workshop on “Modelling Knowledge Dynamics” took place at the VKS, October 9-10, organized by Andrea Scharnhorst. About 30 participants (from the Netherlands and abroad) discussed methods of mapping, measuring, and modelling processes of knowledge creation in the sciences. Remarkable was an increasing interest in applying available mapping and modelling tools as heuristic devices to study newly emerging field or phenomena at the border between different disciplines. Material from the workshop can be found here.