Digital Humanities Hackathon (DHH’15), 11.-15.5.2015

Five-day intensive activity

Time: Monday 11th to Friday 15th of May, 2015
Place: University of Helsinki, City Center Campus (exact locations will be announced later)
Credit points: 2 (or 4/5 if a follow-up report or some other form of continuation is included)
Organizers: Mikko Tolonen, Eetu Mäkelä, Timo Honkela and theme leaders
Registration: Sign-up for the event by 17.4.2015 using the online form:

Background and motivation

This course aims to bring together students and researchers of humanities, social sciences and computer science, for a week of active co-operation in groups under the heading of Digital Humanities.

Digital Humanities, as understood here, is the use of computer science to aid research in the humanities and social sciences (e.g. in fields like linguistics, literature, art, culture, history, sociology, and language philosophy). Currently, data of interest to researchers in the humanities is increasingly available in digital form. However, often the tools and understanding needed to turn that data into relevant conclusions are still lacking.

Here, collaboration across disciplines is essential. People in the humanities and social sciences have an in-depth understanding of their field, and are able to pose challenging research questions that could in theory be answered by digital collections. Computer scientists on the other hand are needed to solve the complex theoretical, algorithm and tool development challenges that currently stand in the way of such research.

Hackathon in practice

The idea of this hackathon is to offer students and researchers from different backgrounds an opportunity to approach digital humanities through hands-on practice. In particular, the hackathon will focus on asking and answering research questions based on the following materials:

1) A dataset of 18th-century letters and associated metadata from the Research Unit for the Study of Variation, Contacts and Change in English (e.g. studying the sociolinguistic evolution of the English language through text mining and statistical analysis)
– Tanja Säily, University of Helsinki,
– Jukka Suomela, Aalto University,

2) A dataset containing the full text and metadata for all newspapers published in Finland between 1771-1910 from the Historical Newspaper Library (e.g. studying how the meaning of a particular word changes in time through context clustering)
– Tuula Pääkkönen, National Library of Finland,

3) A multimodal dataset of 2000+ double-page spreads from bilingual in-flight magazines (Finnair’s Blue Wings) (e.g. for studying how language and image interact in documents using computer vision)
– Tuomo Hiippala, Centre for Applied Language Studies, University of Jyväskylä,

4) A dataset containing text and metadata for Finnish technical and engineering journals 1880-1910 (Teknikern & Tekniska Föreningens i Finland Förhandlingar), from the Historical Newspaper Library (e.g. for studying changing technoscientific content and transnational connections, influences and interests during Finnish industrialization)
– Mats Fridlund, History of Industrialization & Innovation group (HIIVA), Aalto University & lecture on topic modeling the industrial breakthrough
– Petri Paju, University of Turku,

Preliminary timetable

Monday 11.5.: Short introduction to digital humanities, introduction to the hackathon working mode and the concept of respectful communication, introductions of the participants, brainstorming and theme elaboration in groups, evening program
Tuesday 12.5.: Topic presentations, group formation, topic refinement in groups, topic presentations, constructive feedback
Wednesday 13.5.: Group work, social program
Thursday 14.5. (Ascension day): (Short presentations of intermediate results), group work
Friday 15.5.: Group work, pDigitalHumanitiesHackathonreparation for final presentations, presentation of results for course participants, supportive evaluation of project results by external visitors


Sign-up for the event by 17.4.2015 using the online form

4 thoughts on “Digital Humanities Hackathon (DHH’15), 11.-15.5.2015”

    1. Yes, especially students with computing skills also from other universities than HY encouraged to participate. Approving of study points needs to be negotiated with one’s own teachers, however. But we are happy to help in this so that students get their credit regardless of what university they are from.

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