Deputy Mayor’s Speech

Speech by the Deputy Mayor of Utrecht

Tuesday 8 July, 2019

Dear all,

Participants of the 2019 Digital Humanities Conference,

Welcome to Utrecht. Welcome to the beating heart of the Netherlands. A city literally in
the centre of Europe. I heard  that one of the local organizers  of this conference loves cartography. And he discovered that, if you draw a line from the most southern tip of Europe to its most northern point, the geographical centre is just a few kilometres from where you stand. This week, Utrecht is the centre, not just of Europe but of the world. The digital world…

It is a great honour for our city  to host this conference. Fifty-one countries are represented here. People from all over the world, from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Oceania and Europe. To me, this is a clear proof that the Digital Humanities community  is a global community. A community, gathered  in Utrecht this week.

Dear all,

Like you, the City of Utrecht sees the digital society as a truly exciting development. I remember that, as an International Law student, I read my textbooks the old-fashioned way. At that time, we were standing on the threshold of the digital revolution. Now, our society is becoming even more digital. But also more complex…

We all know that the human brain is the most complex piece of machinery we can imagine. Computers can read books, but it is difficult for them to recognize irony, for instance. But computers are getting smarter and smarter. And perhaps one day they can appreciate texts as well as the human brain does. This is interesting stuff…

Digital humanities can contribute to citizenship, social cohesion, identity, inclusion and digital literacy. All this…in the context of big data and large-scale digitization. I heard that many of you are committed to using the digital humanities to increase social and cultural diversity and inclusion. You can well imagine that the City of Utrecht is very interested in the outcomes of this conference…

Dear all,

Again: welcome to Utrecht. I wish all of you a splendid conference and an unforgettable stay in Utrecht, which for three days will be the centre of the digital world.

Thank you very much.