DHBenelux 2016 submissions

This year marks the third annual DHBenelux conference, which cycles through the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The third instalment will be held in Luxembourg, and as part of the local organisation and programme committee I get the chance this year to look at all the submissions. Inspired by Scott Weingart’s series on submissions to the annual ADHO DH conference (see his 2016 post on submissions here), I present you a first analysis of the submissions to DHBenelux 2016. Later posts will bring comparisons with the 2014 and 2015 editions, as well as a description of the steps taken to get to the figures below.

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Status

Standing on the shoulders of the Google giant

“Standing on the shoulders of giants” has long been the metaphor of choice to describe the scholarly workflow of discovering, reading, and citing literature. However, for the past decade this workflow has been influenced significantly by the availability of academic search engines. In this field, the search giant Google has come out as the discovery mechanism of choice. How does “standing on the shoulders of the Google giant” impact the scholarly workflow? This is a question I look into in a post on the LSE Impact of Social Science blog. Read the entire post here.

The Need for Tool Appraisal

Methodological Intersections, the Digital Humanities Autumn School organised by Trier University and University of Luxembourg was held this year from 28 September to 3 October. With four days of theoretical reflection in Trier, and two days of hands-on courses in Belval, this autumn school provided a great introduction to the Digital Humanities for PhD students.

This blogpost is not intended to provide a complete overview of the autumn school, but rather to show the discussion from my perspective. The main theme I will follow is the discussion of tools, and that there is a need for tool appraisal.

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DH in the US: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

In the first week of June, my supervisor Andreas Fickers and I went to the US to visit several Digital Humanities centres, specifically ones working on Digital History, in Boston (MA), Lincoln (NE), and Fairfax (VA). Since the University of Luxembourg will get its own DH centre soon, we went with the goal of learning how others set up their centre, how DH is incorporated into the curriculum, and how collaboration takes place.

This blogpost is an attempt to summarise what we learned during our visit to the US. The structure I will follow is not chronologically, but by the title of John le Carré’s novel: Tinker (building and making), Tailor (specific versus generic tools), Soldier (collaborations of people), Spy (digital literacy regarding online tracking and other subjects). At the bottom of the blogpost is a numbered list of the people we met; I will refer to sources of information using these numbers.

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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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Digital History as Trading Zone

Digital History signifies a transition wherein digital methods are incorporated in historical research. Digital History thus introduces techniques developed by computer scientists or engineers into the practice of historians, so that we can speak of methodological interdisciplinarity.[1]Klein, J. T. (2014). Interdisciplining Digital Humanities: Boundary Work in an Emerging Field (online). University of Michigan Press. doi:10.3998/dh.12869322.0001.001 ref-oa However, how digital methods affect the practices of History, in methodology as well as epistemology, remains unexplored. My PhD research aims to address this gap. This blogpost introduces some initial ideas and concepts that I will be investigating with an ethnographic study for which I hope to find interested historians, computer scientists, or other relevant actors of Digital History.

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References   [ + ]

1. Klein, J. T. (2014). Interdisciplining Digital Humanities: Boundary Work in an Emerging Field (online). University of Michigan Press. doi:10.3998/dh.12869322.0001.001 ref-oa
Aside

Backup Overleaf → Dropbox → BitBucket

I used to always write using MS Word. I actually like Word since Word2010, and have not really felt the need to move to the unusable Windows TeX editors that I have tried in the past. But since starting at the University of Luxembourg I also work on a Mac, and switching between Word on two different OS’s is quite annoying. In the meantime, Overleaf has managed to become a rather usable TeX editor, so I have been working with this for the past months and must say I have grown to rather like it.

There is however one caveat; Overleaf manages all files itself and integrating it with Dropbox is almost $100/year. I do not want to just trust Overleaf with my entire thesis, so I set out to automate backups of my work. Although Dropbox does versioning, it doesn’t show the exact changes like git allows, so I wanted to also backup to BitBucket, which allows private repositories for free unlike GitHub[1]I don’t need my entire thesis writing to be public yet.. This proved not a trivial task, so I will write here how I managed to create a workflow of automatic backups for Overleaf → Dropbox → BitBucket.

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References   [ + ]

1. I don’t need my entire thesis writing to be public yet.

DH funding in the US

Currently I’m following a MOOC on Information Visualization offered by Indiana University called IVMOOC. Each week a course is made available and thus far I’ve done the “when”, “where” and “what” modules. As an additional incentive, students gain access to the Scholarly Database (SDB) with which I have been having some fun.

A did a search in all NEH awards, for which the database contains 47,197 records from 1970-2012 [1]SDB NEH explanation: http://wiki.cns.iu.edu/display/SDBDOC/NEH+Awards. Do note the chart at the bottom showing the distribution of records..

SDB offers full-text search in titles and abstracts. I tried the following:

  1. “Digital Humanities” in titles: 20 records from 2001-2012
  2. “Humanities Computing” in titles: 0 records (to see if there was DH-related work before coining of the term “DH”)
  3. “Digital Humanities” in abstract: 82 results from 2001-2012
  4. “Humanities Computing” in abstract: 3 results from 2006-2008

In order to create an interesting visualisation, I wanted a nice bunch of result, so I made the searches broader by searching for digital OR computational in abstracts, resulting in 654 records from 1985-2012, with a total “original amount” of $95,248,977.4 [2]The data contains several figures, namely approved_outright, approved_matching, award_outright, award_matching and original_amount. I’m still figuring out a bit which figures I should focus on.

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References   [ + ]

1. SDB NEH explanation: http://wiki.cns.iu.edu/display/SDBDOC/NEH+Awards. Do note the chart at the bottom showing the distribution of records.
2. The data contains several figures, namely approved_outright, approved_matching, award_outright, award_matching and original_amount. I’m still figuring out a bit which figures I should focus on.

A Decade of Google Scholar

Today marks the tenth birthday of Google Scholar. In anticipation of this celebration, the Google Scholar team has been disseminating more information about what the idea behind Google Scholar is, and how they see the future. Since I wrote a blog post titled “What if Google killed Scholar?” a little over a year ago, an update with answers from Anurag Acharya himself is worthy of a new post.

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Talk of Europe Creative Camp Hilversum

From Monday 6 to Friday 10 October, the Talk of Europe project held the first creative camp at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum, the Netherlands. The goal of the creative camp was to create proof-of-concept applications that make inventive use of the ToE dataset, consisting of Linked Data about the European Parliament. Following a call for participation, five teams participated from the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Italy and the UK; ten participants (not from the ToE-team) in total.

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