Quill project wins Vannevar Bush paper award at JCDL conference

Quill project wins Vannevar Bush paper award at JCDL conference

The Centre's Dr Alfie Abdul-Rahman recently won the Vannevar Bush paper award at the JCDL conference as co-author on a paper on the Quill project.

The JCDL (Joint Conference on Digital Libraries), held in Toronto, Canada from 19-23 June, is a major international forum focusing on digital libraries and associated technical, practical, and social issues. The Vannevar Bush Best Paper Award is presented to people who have made outstanding contributions to this field. 

Dr Abdul-Rahman, along with fellow Quill project members Dr Nicholas Cole and Grace Mallon (both Oxford University Faculty of History), won the Vannevar Bush paper award for ‘Quill: A Framework for Constructing Negotiated Texts - with a Case Study on the US Constitutional Convention of 1787’. Quill is a platform for the study of negotiated texts, focusing especially on the creation of constitutions, treaties, and legislation.  The JCDL paper describes a new approach to the presentation of records relating to formal negotiations and the texts that they create. It describes the architecture of a model, platform, and web-interface that can be used by domain-experts to convert the records typical of formal negotiations in to a model of decision-making (with minimal training). The model has implications for both research and teaching, by allowing for better qualitative and quantitative analysis of negotiations. Dr Cole is seen here collecting the award. 

The Quill project also came runner up in the Oxford University OxTalent awards this month, in the Data Visualization category.  The judges commended the ‘secretary’s desk’, which visualizes what the desk of the committee’s secretary would have looked like at the end of each day of the  Constitutional Convention of 1787, which wrote the Constitution of the United States. The judges were also impressed by the range of visualization options, which took into account the wide range of viewers, from academic historians to a general audience. 

Centre researchers Dr Kevin Page and Dr David Weigl also presented a paper relating to the FAST project (Fusing Audio and Semantic Technologies), with co-authors Sean Bechhofer, Georgy Fazekas and Thomas Wilmering: 'Realising a Layered Digital Library: Exploration and Analysis of the Live Music Archive through Linked Data'. The paper follows a Linked Data approach to build a layered digital library based on content from the Internet Archive Live Music Archive. Starting from the recorded audio and basic information in the Archive, a layer of catalogue metadata is deployed which allows an initial - if imperfect - consolidation of performer, song, and venue information. A processing layer extracts audio features from the original recordings, workflow provenance, and summary feature metadata. A further analysis layer provides tools for the user to combine audio and feature data, discovered and reconciled using interlinked catalogue and feature metadata from layers below.

Drs Page and Weigl presented a 2nd paper at the conference with Peter Organisciak and J. Stephen Downie, entitled 'Information-Seeking in Large-Scale Digital Libraries: Strategies for Scholarly Workset Creation'. The paper, which relates to the WCSA+DC project, examines whether existing models of users' information-seeking behaviour can sufficiently articulate the emergent user activities of scholarly investigation as perceived during the creation of worksets. Large-scale digital libraries such as the HathiTrust contain massive quantities of content combined from heterogeneous collections, with consequential challenges in providing mechanisms for discovery, unified access, and analysis. The researchers demonstrate that a combination of established models by Bates, Ellis, and Wilson can accommodate many aspects of information seeking in large-scale digital libraries at a broad, conceptual, level, and go on to identify the supplemental information-seeking strategies necessary to specifically describe several workset creation exemplars.