DH2015. Recap, Day 4

Well, well, well. The fourth day of DH2015 was packed with intensively discussed debates, which must be taken into consideration in following editions of this fine event.

Actually, the discussions on the diversities and marginalia in this conference had already begun some time ago, when Scott Weingart released his analysis on accepted papers and acceptance by gender in his blog. The outcomes of his analysis did show that women did have a harder journey to DH2015 than men. Another wave of disappointment was raised in Twitter yesterday, when it was discovered that Frontiers in Digital Humanities had a new(?) all-male editorial board. This morning Deb Verhoeven opened the discussion publicly up and asked the while male persons (within DH) to step down from the privileged positions. Even though this is my first time in DH-conference, I have sensed that here is quite a bit of frustration in the air over the current order of things, so I reckon Verhoeven’s speech as needed, wanted and necessary, but on a brighter note, the situation can’t be as bad as at FIFA, UEFA or IOC?

Another issue that has been on the agenda is the language question. Well, this is an international event and there are certain guidelines, but this conference is almost totally focused on the Anglophone-world research, presented mostly by the people from UK, US and Australia. Ok, they might be the spearheads in this field, and yes, I am well-aware of the fact it just happens to be English that rules the waves as a language of academia, but something disturbs me here. Maybe it is the geographic division of speakers? I can’t really argue this properly, but maybe some diversity is needed here as well? Maybe it should be the privileged English-speaking (men and women) who need to step down from their privileged positions? I really hope that the ADHO listen the concerns and work ahead, as they’ve promised.

That’s all about nagging! The keynote of this morning by Genevieve Bell from Intel (Making life: The Art & Science of Robots) was inspiring indeed. If it will be available online later on, it is worth of listening, but if you want to get a good idea on her speech, you may watch at her keynote at NYC Media Lab summit in 2014.

After morning “coffee” (it is de-caffinated, I believe) went to my own session to have my long paper via coffee shop to have a cup of espresso to appease the lack of a central nervous system stimulant called caffeine.

The first speaker of the session, Michael Popham, had a paper on Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership (Text + Creation + Partnership: Whatever Happened to the Best Laid Plans of EEBO-TCP?). EEBO-TCP’s goal is to create a fully-transcribed and searchable XML-coded edition of all works published in English. EEBO-TCP material, Phase I, which consists of the first 25,000 texts transcribed and encoded by the TCP from 2000-2009, were was released in January 2015. Popham summed up the stages, obstacles, working process in making the material available for the public. Maybe he was too modest in highlighting the importance of their work, but I have learned that the released material has raised quite a bit of interest from here and there, so maybe this could be a place for an applause!

James Smithies and Chris Thomson of University of Canterbury, New Zealand: (Building Post-disaster Social Capital: A Current State Report on the UC CEISMIC Digital Archive) had also a presentation of a project, where people were engaged with the project. CEISMIC programme was established in 2011 with the aim of preserving the knowledge, memories and earthquake experiences of people of the Canterbury region in the South Island of New Zealand between 2010 and 2012. Pragmatic, engaging, directed also for the greater audience, ie. exactly what the DH should be at its best.

And then it was my turn. Slides of my presentation can be retrieved from here, but if I want to sum my paper up and set it into the context of this conference, I would argue that our practices could contribute to the ongoing discussion over the crowdsourcing, since many issues which I wanted to highlight in my talk, were also debated later in this panel.

First of all, in my opinion, their is too much emphasis on the data quality instead of practices and social affinity. What we have tried to executive in the Digitization Project of Kindred (Uralic) Languages is a certain level of interplay with the crowd. From our perspective of, it is essential that altruism plays a central role, when communities are involved in crowdsourcing. Our goal with crowd(niche)sourcing is to reach a certain level of interplay, where the minority language communities (in our case they are transcribing the texts in various Uralic languages) would benefit from the results too. Not only the researchers. For instance, the corrected words in Ingrian will be added to the online dictionary, which is made freely available to the public and the society can benefit from it as well. In outsourcing there’s no such a reward.

It is getting late, so I need to skip the report on the plenary, Indigenous Digital Knowledge, which was not but a touching. DH people, please, learn from this plenary, you have a mission, don’t you?

Yours &c.,


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