PhD-candidate in Luxembourg!

With great excitement I can now write that I have acquired a position as PhD-candidate at the University of Luxembourg, starting November 1st, 2014. Under Prof. Dr. Andreas Fickers, Professor for Contemporary and Digital History, I will get the chance to further investigate the development and consequences of digital technology for the field of History. Of course, moving to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg with my wife is quite a step (on such short notice!). But this is a really wonderful opportunity for me to continue working embedded in the History department (as I have done at Erasmus University Rotterdam), under the supervision of Fickers who has been asking questions in recent papers and keynotes very close to my own (see e.g. the slides for his keynote „If content is king, context is its crown“ (PDF) at the AVinDH workshop I happened to have co-organized at DH2014). Fickers will be heading a Digital History Laboratory, and I will be collaborating with him to develop this lab and investigate the possibilities for the profession of History with digital tools.  Continue reading


To Save the Humanities, Click Here (book review)

morozovDuring the summer holidays I decided to read Evgeny Morozov’s To Save Everything, Click Here: Technology, Solutionism and the Urge to Fix Problems That Don’t Exist. My main reason to start reading this book was due to Morozov’s concept of solutionism, i.e. the urge to fix problems with (digital) technological means, even when unnecessary or unhelpful. Is this concept relevant for my research, or for the Digital Humanities? I’ll try to answer that question in this book review.

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Grasping Technology

dhbeneluxWith all kinds of digital technologies becoming available, the uptake of digital research methods by the humanities might have been inevitable. How the humanities can incorporate digital tools, and contribute to the development of technology aimed at the humanities were questions central at the DHBenelux conference (12&13 June 2014, The Hague, the Netherlands). Around 180 attendees met to discuss research projects presented in 50 presentations, 16 posters and 10 demo’s.

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 of the humanities grasping technology; referring to 1) taking technology, 2) embracing technology and 3) coming to an understanding of technology.

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Searching for Answers and Actions: Competition in Semantic Search

A while back ago I wrote that linking collections is the way to go for digital libraries. Indeed, we see that digital libraries are moving in this direction. For example, Europeana’s plan for 2014 is to shift their priorities from portal to platform. Besides the ability to develop tools on top of linked data platforms, this shift introduces the possibility of semantic search, where the search engine has a certain level of understanding about the concepts in the search query. Thus far, search engines such as Google and Bing have worked by indexing text in webpages without a real understanding of what they mean. Now both are working on semantic search, but in very different ways.

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New research project: Talk of Europe

The below is cross-posted from the Talk of Europe blog.

In 2014-2015 the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), VU University Amsterdam (VUA), DANS and Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (NISV) will collaborate on the Talk of Europe – Travelling CLARIN Campus (ToE-TCC) project. This project, an initiative of CLARIN ERIC and CLARIN-NL made possible by NWO and OCW support, is a follow-up on the PoliMedia project in which these partners collaborated previously.

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The Future of Libraries Is In Linking

With all digitization efforts of the last decade, researchers are no longer only concerned with libraries, but with digital libraries. How does this transform the distribution of information? At the conference Theory and Practice in Digital Libraries (22-26 September 2013, Valetta, Malta) researchers and librarians discussed the current state-of-the-art as well as the future directions for digital libraries.

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What if Google killed Scholar?

Ever since Google demoted Scholar from the products bar, people have become anxious as to whether this is a sign that it will be discontinued. This feeling has only strengthened since the demise of Google Reader, which proved that Google is not afraid to discontinue services with (pretty) large and devoted audiences. Why would Google discontinue Scholar, and what would be the consequences?

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The value of keywords for papers

At the Digital Humanities congress 2013, 159 papers and 52 posters will be presented. All abstracts have been made available online, but fortunately it’s possible to browse the material by several metadata elements conference-related such as room and date, or paper-related such as author and affiliation. I was particularly interested in the browsing by keyword, as I hoped to gain an overview of the papers available, as well as gain quick access to material interesting for my research.

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eHumanities Workshop Soeterbeeck: More Digital Than Humanities

On 13-14 June the Radboud University Nijmegen and the eHumanities group from KNAW co-organized the eHumanities workshop Soeterbeeck. This very nice mid-sized workshop with under 50 participants staying in the beautiful monastery Soeterbeeck in Ravenstein included very interesting invited-talks as well as a nice postersession where we presented the PoliMedia project. However, the workshop also demonstrated that so far the Digital Humanities is more Digital than Humanities.

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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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