User Required? User Research in the Digital Humanities

The development of tools plays an important role in the Digital Humanities. For the recent DHBenelux conference, I found that the word “tool” was used almost a hundred times in all the abstracts, not counting my own. Still, the actual adoption of all these tools by the target audience, the humanities scholars, does not always reach its potential. [1]Claire Warwick, M. Terras, Paul Huntington, & N. Pappa. (2007). If You Build It Will They Come? The LAIRAH Study: Quantifying the Use of Online Resources in the Arts and Humanities through Statistical Analysis of User Log Data. Literary and Linguistic Computing, 23(1), 85–102. http://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqm045 ref-closed (OA version ref-oa) In a recently published paper by Martijn Kleppe and me, titled User Required? On the Value of User Research in the Digital Humanities, we look into how Digital Humanities scholars might address this problem.[2]Max Kemman, & Martijn Kleppe. (2015). User Required? On the Value of User Research in the Digital Humanities. In Jan Odijk (Ed.), Selected Papers from the CLARIN 2014 Conference, October 24-25, 2014, Soesterberg, The Netherlands (pp. 63–74). Linköping University Electronic Press. ref-oa

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References   [ + ]

1. Claire Warwick, M. Terras, Paul Huntington, & N. Pappa. (2007). If You Build It Will They Come? The LAIRAH Study: Quantifying the Use of Online Resources in the Arts and Humanities through Statistical Analysis of User Log Data. Literary and Linguistic Computing, 23(1), 85–102. http://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqm045 ref-closed (OA version ref-oa)
2. Max Kemman, & Martijn Kleppe. (2015). User Required? On the Value of User Research in the Digital Humanities. In Jan Odijk (Ed.), Selected Papers from the CLARIN 2014 Conference, October 24-25, 2014, Soesterberg, The Netherlands (pp. 63–74). Linköping University Electronic Press. ref-oa
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Presentation on user requirements in DH at CLARIN Annual Conference 2014

This week from Thursday to Saturday, the CLARIN Annual Conference will be held in Soesterberg, the Netherlands. This conference is by invitation, and has the goal to discuss how CLARIN (Common LAnguage Resources and technology INfrastructure) can further progress an infrastructure for Digital Humanities. Martijn Kleppe and I have written an extended abstract about the difficulties of user-centred development in Digital Humanities projects, with as a research question: do humanities scholars know what they want from computational tools?

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Abstracts for DHBenelux 2014

This year the first edition of DHBenelux will be held 12 & 13 June in the Hague, the Netherlands; a conference for Digital Humanities in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. I’m glad a local conference is being organized to promote DH (easy travel!). Obviously I didn’t want to miss out this conference, so we’ve submitted two abstracts that were both accepted. Below are the abstracts for presentations on Talk of Europe and Oral History Today that I’ll be presenting.

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Oral History Today demo at SUEDL 2013

OHT-logoAs I will be attending Theory and Practice of Digital Libraries (September 22-26, Valetta, Malta) to present two posters, I was keen to attend the workshop on Supporting Users Exploration of Digital Libraries (short, SUEDL2013) as well. We (i.e. yours truly, Franciska de Jong, Stef Scagliola and Roeland Ordelman) submitted a demo paper titled Research Environment for Exploring Oral History Collections. In this paper we describe the fundamental principles underlying the Oral History Today interface, which we are developing to improve exploration in oral history collections.

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Searching in Oral History collections; perspectives and user wishes

In an earlier blogpost, I described a call asking for scholars interested in being part of a focus group in the development of an Oral History (OH) search interface. This call was also sent by email to 113 scholars in our network, after which fifteen people responded to our e-mail (13.2% response-rate, not bad), and one more scholar responded after being tipped by another scholar. In the past two weeks, I’ve interviewed these fifteen scholars via Skype and phone.

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How to search Oral History collections?

OHT-logoOral History provides a specific type of data to be explored. Unlike general audiovisual collections as researched in AXES, Oral History collections contain interviews with people who experienced a certain historical event. For example, the collection for the Interview Project Dutch Veterans contains 1,000 interviews with Dutch veterans who’ve served in wars ranging from the Second World War to the war in Afghanistan. Such interviews can be analysed by historians to learn not only what an event meant on a macro level, but how it was experienced by the people undergoing these events.

Oral History collections as these provide an interesting perspective for research, as the collections are sizable, have a clear theme, usually decent metadata, and sometimes transcripts of the full interview. Researchers can use these interviews to pick fragments to provide quotes as illustration to a point, or can search to analyse how different people perceived an event; do men and women talk differently about it, what did it this event mean for common people?

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CLARIAH – Building tools for structured, textual and audio-visual data

On Tuesday March 11th, the CLARIAH project organized a kick-off meeting at the Meerten’s Institute in Amsterdam to present the five chosen projects.

CLARIAH is a contamination of DARIAH and CLARIN, combining the goals of the two projects. Although CLARIAH did not receive the funding it requested, it did receive a million euros of ‘seed capital‘ to keep the proposal going and build a showcase of why CLARIAH is of importance. To achieve this, five projects will build demonstrators to showcase the aims of CLARIAH, as well as show the technological possibilities pursued. Although the presentations were short, filled with acronyms and the projects are still in their infancy, I’ll try to write a short summary of what the projects were about.

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