The Arts, directed as they are to the study and preservation of languages, cultures and cultural memory as well as to the translation between cultures represent the most serious challenge to the information and communication technologies (ICTs). The data the Arts habitually use are after all diffuse and much more complex than those handled by the sciences, which automatically come to mind when ICTs are spoken about.
To date the potential that the Arts in general – in the sense of the Humanities – and the digitalisation, description and analysis of humanities content and artefacts in particular possess for the further development of the information and communication technologies, is scarcely taken notice of, if not looked down upon by the Computer and Engineering sciences, and this despite the fact that they could most certainly profit from interaction with it. The fact is, the Arts possess a large number of areas in which computational methods, software and hardware systems can be applied.
But also the Arts themselves in the majority of European countries are still sadly unconscious of the fact that their strength and significance lies among others in the contribution they can make to technological development through challenging the Engineering and Computer Sciences to develop hard- and software solutions for the processing and analysis of the Arts' intrinsically diffuse and complex data. Further, the enormous scope for development which better use of the possibilities offered by the employment of the new technologies for their own purposes would open to them, has up to now entered the consciousness of the Humanities in Europe far too little, with the exception perhaps of Great Britain.
An additional strength of the Arts which is consistently overlooked is that precisely those students are following Arts degrees who are so eloquently absent in IT and engineering departments: female students. The Arts themselves make little of this potential and prefer to watch as, from all sides, female students are coaxed and encouraged to desert the Arts in order to take up their studies in the natural sciences and technology. The real task of the Arts, however, ought rightly to consist in tackling this so-called Gender Divide in a more sensitive and farsighted manner, by integrating IT content into degree courses and enabling / empowering students to employ computational methods in their studies. The Arts would in this way be able to contribute convincingly to the breaking down of the division between supposedly 'hard' (male) and 'soft' (female) academic disciplines, rather than continuing to sustain such an artificial divide by default.
It is true that during the last three decades a discussion around computer applications and computational methods has developed inside the humanities on a whole, but they are nevertheless hardly ever included in study plans. Furthermore, the question of what happens at the intersection of computing tools with cultural artefacts of all kinds, of how computational methods and tools are used to create new knowledge, of how the objects of study challenge these methods and tools and of how questions have to be formulated if they are to be analyzed by applying computational methods, is rarely asked.
Last but not least, there is still hardly any dialogue between the disciplines although the use of computers or digitalization processes and needs, as shown by Humanities Computing and the Digital Humanities,question more and more the traditional borders between the disciplines, between theory and practice, between technological implementation and research considerations and ask not only for specific tools but also for trans-disciplinary methodologies.
This lack of consciousness, of inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches, as well as the missing teaching of future-oriented and sustainable patterns of thought and methods has negative effects above all when it comes to young scholars, not only in the Humanities but also in Engineering and Computer Sciences.