Centre staff at popular Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School

Centre staff at popular Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School

Several Oxford e-Research Centre staff presented at the popular Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School from 4-8 July.

The Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School is the largest in Europe (and second largest in the world). It is organised by colleagues across the University, led by co-directors James Cummings (IT Services) and Pip Willcox. It aims to encourage, inspire, and provide the skills for innovative research across the humanities using digital technologies, and to foster a community around it. The summer school offers training to anyone with an interest in using digital technologies in the Humanities, including academics at all career stages, students, project managers, and people who work in IT, libraries, and cultural heritage. Delegates select one week-long workshop, supplementing their training with expert guest lectures and a busy social programme.

"The summer school aims to encourage, inspire, and provide the skills for innovative research across the humanities using digital technologies, and to foster a community around it," explains Pip Willcox, head of the Centre for Digital Scholarship at Oxford University.

Social Humanities

Centre Director Professor David De Roure convened the Social Humanities workshop – Citizens at Scale in the Digital World. The widespread engagement of citizens in the digital world brings new scales of interaction, democratization, and empowerment. Citizen science has engaged millions of people in the process of discovery, with the Zooniverse project delivering projects across a diversity of disciplines. Meanwhile, social media and digital editing come together in the notion of social editions, like Wikipedia, which challenge established notions of expertise with the wisdom of the crowd. Aimed at researchers of all backgrounds and the professions that support them, the workshop explains how to design and study these systems, which we see as Social Machines—processes in which people do the creative work and machines do the administration, and where the ability to create new forms of social process is given to the world at large.

Professor De Roure also presented in the Humanities Data: A Hands-on Approach workshop, talking on Provenance, Reproducibility, and Research Workflows.

Watch Professor De Roure convening a panel on Digital Transformations, with panellists Lucie Burgess of the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, Tim Crawford, Computing Department, Goldsmiths, University of London, Andrew Prescott, University of Glasgow, and Jane Winters, Institute of Historical Research, University of London.

Digital Musicology

Dr Kevin Page, Senior Researcher, convened the Digital Musicology workshop.

A wealth of music and music-related information is now available digitally, offering tantalizing possibilities for digital musicologies. These resources include large collections of audio and scores, bibliographic and biographic data, and performance ephemera -- not to mention the 'hidden' existence of these in other digital content. With such large and wide ranging opportunities come new challenges in methods, principally in adapting technological solutions to assist musicologists in identifying, studying, and disseminating scholarly insights from amongst this 'data deluge'. The workshop provides an introduction to computational and informatics methods that can be, and have been, successfully applied to musicology. Research Associate Dr David Weigl also lectured during the Digital Musicology course and provided assistance to delegates with the hands-on practical sessions throughout the week.

Linked Data

Dr Page also presented on Linked Data for Musicology in the workshop on Linked Data for Digital Humanities. The work of a digital humanities researcher is informed by the possibilities offered in digital resources: in their ever increasing number and their distribution and access through the Internet. In this context, the Semantic Web can be seen as a framework to enable radical publication, sharing, and linking of data for, and by, researchers. The workshop introduces the concepts and technologies behind Linked Data and the Semantic Web and teaches attendees how they can publish their research so that it is available in these forms for reuse by other humanities scholars, and how to access and manipulate Linked Data resources provided by others.

The workshop was convened by former Centre Post-doctoral Research Associate Dr Terhi Nurmikko-Fuller and our Technical Lead for Humanities Project John Pybus, who between them presented on the ElEPHãT project and ontologies, chaired a discussion group and led hands-on sessions (along with Research Software Developer Graham Klyne). Senior Research Fellow Professor Donna Kurtz presented in a session on the institutional approach to Linked Data, discussing how the University of Oxford, in collaboration with the Mellon-funded ResearchSpace project, is linking and sharing academic research data with data from museums and libraries.


Introduction to Digital Humanities

The Introduction to Digital Humanities workshop provided an overview of the theory and practice of Digital Humanities, drawing on the expertise and library collections of the University of Oxford:

• Digital Humanities Coordinator Ruth Kirkham co-presented a lecture on project management: Pipedream to Project: Planning digital research projects in the humanities. Ruth explored some of the potential avenues for digital research projects, and offered guidance on how to undertake effective planning of such projects, from interpreting themes in funding calls to anticipating the hidden costs that come with digital research.

• Senior Researcher Dr Ségolène Tarte presented Working with Digital Images, covering the basics of what digital images are and what can be done with them in terms of useful image processing techniques for applications in the humanities. Each technique was illustrated with examples of digital images of textual artefacts ranging from clay tablets to papyri.

• Bodleian Liaison Pip Willcox, as well as convening the workshop, also presented Beyond the Academy: Engagement, education, and exchange, an introduction to the practice and practicalities of public engagement, drawing on Pip's experience to explore means and methods of widening access to the humanities to foster dialogue and participation. Pip holds a research position at the Oxford e-Research Centre and heads the Centre for Digital Scholarship at the Bodleian Libraries.

• Research Associate Dr Alfie Abdul-Rahman delivered a lecture on ViTA: Visualization for Text Alignment, presenting a web-based visual analytics approach for detecting similarity between texts. ViTA is a web-based visual analytics approach that allows domain experts to construct and modify a text alignment pipeline by visualizing the tools and connections for a specific method in conjunction with testing inputs and outputs. Dr Abdul-Rahman also gave an Introduction to Visualization in the Introduction to Digital Humanities workshop. You can see a podcast of Dr Abdul-Rahman's presentation here.

• Dr Kevin Page gave an introduction to the Semantic Web, which offers significant opportunities for publishing, referencing, and re-using digital research output. He will introduce the principles and technologies behind Linked Data, illustrated by examples from the humanities.

See a slide show of selected images from the week: