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

No tool can do all

DHBenelux 2015 (8-9 June 2015, Antwerp, Belgium), the second edition after 2014, demonstrated a nice growth from last year with 150 attendees, 62 presentations, plus seven more demos-only and three posters-only (some presentations were also presented as demo or poster): an acceptance rate of 90%.

This blogpost is not intended to provide a complete overview of the conference, but rather to show the discussion from my perspective. The main theme I will follow is that no tool can do all research for you.

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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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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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“Just Google It” Abstract

In the summer of 2012, we held a survey amongst scholars, inquiring about their online search practices. The results of this survey were presented in September 2012 at the Digital Humanities Congress Sheffield, titled “Mapping the Use of Digital Sources Amongst Humanities Scholars in the Netherlands“. This August, we hope to publish a (first) paper about the results of this survey in the then launching online journal Studies in the Digital Humanities. This journal will be Open Access, additionally we will make the manuscript available Open Access at the Erasmus University Library RePub, and will publish the survey data Open Access at DANS. I’ll provide the links later on the Publications page.
This paper was co-authored with Martijn Kleppe and Stef Scagliola. Below I provide the abstract we submitted, which undergo some modifications before publication.

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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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Oproep geestes- en sociale wetenschappers voor gebruikersevaluatie PoliMedia

As this call for humanities and social sciences scholars to participate in an usability study is aimed at scholars in the Netherlands, this call is published in Dutch.

Hoe gebruiken geestes- en sociale wetenschappers zoekmachines in hun onderzoek? Dat is een vraag die wij (ESHCC, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam) stellen in onze onderzoeksprojecten waarin wij zoekmachines ontwikkelen voor deze geestes- en sociale wetenschappers. Projecten hierbij zijn zoekmachines voor onderzoek naar politiek en media (PoliMedia project) en onderzoek in audiovisuele archieven (AXES project).

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Developing a new search system – PoliMedia progress

On Wednesday November 28th, the PoliMedia project team gathered to discuss our progress and decide about the future directions of the project. Each partner presented their achievements of the past 6 months, which is the first half of the project-timespan. An interface designer was invited to lead discussion about the interface and to develop wireframes.

The aim of PoliMedia is to enable analysis of media coverage of political debates, by linking the debates in parliament (Dutch Hansard) with newspapers (National Library), radio bulletins (National Library) and television programmes (Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision).

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