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Bentham Hackathon, in partnership with IBM

By Lucy J Stagg, on 2 January 2018

The Bentham Hackathon took place between 20-22 October 2017; a partnership between the Transcribe Bentham team and IBM, along with the support of UCL Centre for Digital Humanities and UCL Innovation and Enterprise. UCLDH Deputy Director Tim Weyrich (Professor of Visual Computing, UCL Department of Computer Science) opened the event.

Prof Tim Weyrich speaking at the opening of the Bentham Hackathon

Prof Tim Weyrich speaking at the opening of the Bentham Hackathon

6 teams worked together to explore how digital tools could help research Bentham’s work. As the Transcribe Bentham blog explains:

The Hackathon took place over one evening and two full days between 20 and 22 October 2017 and brought together coders, developers, computer scientists, digital humanists, humanities researchers and some of the volunteer transcribers from Transcribe Bentham.

IBM’s Simon Baker said:

We are very grateful to the Transcribe Bentham Project for enabling us to be a part of the UCL Bentham Hackathon. Our digital assets were made available for the developers to gain access via the IBM Bluemix platform writing applications, back-end services and web interfaces. Many of the team used Watson Natural Language Understanding for concept extraction. The event was excellently run by UCL Innovation and Enterprise and produced very innovative and practical outcomes from the participants.

The Transcribe Bentham project is a highly innovative and novel attempt to aid the transcription of Bentham’s work. A digitisation project provides high quality scans of the papers, whilst an online “crowdsourcing” transcription tool allows volunteers to contribute to the transcription effort.

The Transcribe Bentham team are now considering the next steps in redeveloping their website and transcription platforms.

Optical coherence tomography of the first printed edition of Euclid

By Lucy J Stagg, on 2 January 2018

Adam Gibson, Professor of Medical Physics and a member of the UCLDH team, has been working with Tabitha Tuckett in UCL Special Collections to see if they can find any interesting features associated with the printed diagrams in the margins of the first printed edition of Euclid’s Elements. The printer, a man called Erhardt Ratdolt, had to work out a method for printing diagrams.

Adam has written a blog post, about his findings, where you can read more about:

how modern imaging methods might be able to cast light on Ratdolt’s 500 year old printing innovation.

Optical coherence tomography of the first page of Euclid’s Elements

Optical coherence tomography of the first page of Euclid’s Elements

Imaging the first printed edition of Euclid’s Elements

Seeking a Professor of Information Studies

By Lucy J Stagg, on 15 December 2017

UCL Department of Information Studies is seeking to appoint a world-leading scholar as a Professor of Information Studies. Various possible specialisations, including digital humanities are welcome. The job advertisement states:

The successful candidate will be required to carry out research at a world-leading standard in terms of originality, significance and rigour, and to publish in the most prestigious locations. S/he will also be expected to play a leading role in maintaining the research environment within UCL DIS, and engage in external activities that bring national and international esteem to both the department and UCL. S/he will also teach and supervise students at undergraduate, graduate and PhD level, and play a full part in the life of the department, UCL and the wider research community, including key administrative duties and the pastoral case of students.

Deadline to apply: 31 Jan 2018. See tinyurl.com/UCLDIS for more details

Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou

By Simon Mahony, on 2 December 2017

I was very pleased to be invited to represent UCL at the 2017 International Graduate Scholarship Fair in Beijing, organised by the China Scholarship Council. It is a really huge event with representatives from all the major universities worldwide. Together with a colleague from UCL Recruitment we had a continuous stream of excited students throughout the day, wanting to find out more about studying at UCL.

Image of graduate fair poster

2017 International Graduate Scholarship Fair

UCL representatives at the Graduate Fair

UCL representatives at the Graduate Fair

The trip to Beijing made possible other opportunities for networking with the growing Digital Humanities community in China. This, supported with funding from UCL Global Engagement, prompted a meeting at Peking University (PKU) where I gave a presentation about UCL and the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities. PKU is a strategic partner of UCL and I anticipate further connections being made with the DH people there over the coming year.

Giving a presentation at PKU

Giving a presentation at PKU

I was hosted by the PKU Library and met with staff from there and Tsinghua University.

Meeting at PKU

Meeting DH practitioners at PKU

The funding from UCL Global Engagement allowed me to extend the trip to Shanghai and Hangzhou. Visiting my contacts at the Shanghai Institute of Design coincided with their students’ sports day and I was invited to join in the prize giving.

Prize giving at SID

Prize giving at Shanghai Institute of Design

This was followed by a guest lecture at Hangzhou Normal University, introducing the students on their Digital Media Programme to UCL and to our Digital Humanities research and practice.

Hangzhou Normal University

Hangzhou Normal University

Group photo after the lecture

Group photo after the lecture

The visit to Hangzhou made possible a meeting and the start of building connections with the Digital Humanities group at Zhejiang University City College (ZUCC). I was hosted at a very impressive hotel by the Dean and Director of their Department of Visual Communication Design and discussed several of their projects. I have been invited back so expect more on this plus photos at a later date.

Книга “Defining Digital Humanities. A Reader” вышла на русском языке

By Melissa M Terras, on 17 November 2017

Melissa Terras, Julianne Nyhan, Edward Vanhoutte, and Inna Kizhner are pleased to announce the launch of the Russian edition of their book “Defining Digital Humanities“, published by Siberian Federal University Press. The Russian edition is a translation of the English edition and the text is freely available in Open Access (CC-BY), allowing anyone to take, share, download, reuse, and remix, in any way – as long as there is attribution. Please do circulate to colleagues who may be interested in the Russian edition of this book!

Гуманитарные науки проходят через период значительных изменений, когда объективность научных исследований, необходимость поддерживать выводы анализом данных становятся важной частью работы ученого. Цифровые гуманитарные науки делают важный вклад в развитие этих изменений. Важным этапом на пути становления цифровых гуманитарных наук в России стал перевод книги “Defining Digital Humanities. A Reader” под редакцией Мелиссы Террас, Джулианны Найхан и Эдварда Ванхута. Книга вышла в Издательстве Сибирского федерального университета и будет полезна ученым и преподавателям для оценки разных точек зрения на новое направление. Полный текст книги доступен для образовательных и научных целей, а также для некоммерческого распространения (лицензия Creative Commons BY – NC) по ссылке http://lib3.sfu-kras.ru/ft/LIB2/ELIB/b71/free/i-531505996.pdf

The Editors and Translators of the Russian edition of Defining Digital Humanities, at the launch at Siberian Federal University in September 2017.

The Editors and Translators of the Russian edition of Defining Digital Humanities, at the launch at Siberian Federal University in September 2017.

New publications: ‘Computation and the Humanities’ and ‘Digitally reconstructing the Great Parchment Book’

By Lucy J Stagg, on 17 November 2017

UCLDH are happy to announce two recent publications.

Computation and the Humanities book cover

Computation and the Humanities book cover

We have an open access version of the book Computation and the Humanities: Towards an Oral History of Digital Humanities, by Julianne Nyhan and Andrew Flinn, published by Springer as part of the Springer Series on Cultural Computing book series (SSCC). 

We also have an article on Digitally reconstructing the Great Parchment Book: 3D recovery of fire-damaged historical documents published in Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Volume 32, Issue 4, 1 December 2017, Pages 887–917.

Related to this, the Great Parchment Book blog recently announced:

an open access set of 326 XML documents containing encoded transcriptions of the individual folios of the Great Parchment Book is now available via UCL Discovery.

Finnish Visitation, 4 October 2017

By Lucy J Stagg, on 30 October 2017

UCLDH Academy of Finland Banner

UCLDH Academy of Finland Banner

On 4th October 2017 UCLDH were delighted to meet with over 15 delegates from the Academy of Finland’s DIGIHUM programme, with the aim of sharing the latest British and Finnish research in digital humanities, and strengthening collaborations between the two. DIGIHUM is a multidisciplinary four-year programme, described on their website as:

designed to address novel methods and techniques in which digital technology and state-of-the-art computational science methods are used for collecting, managing and analysing data in humanities and social sciences research as well as for modelling humanities and social science phenomena.

UCLDH presented on three projects:

DIGIHUM delegates gave presentations on the following projects:

Various shared areas of investigation came out of the meeting, including manuscript studies, text and analysis tools, big data and high performance computing, OCR challenges and the social aspects of digital humanities.

Prof. Tim Weyrich, UCLDH Deputy Director, speaking to the DIGIHUM delegates.

Prof. Tim Weyrich, UCLDH Deputy Director, speaking to the DIGIHUM delegates.

Prof. Melissa Terras leaves UCL

By Lucy J Stagg, on 11 September 2017

Our wonderful Director, Prof. Melissa Terras, is leaving UCL in October 2017 to take up a new position as Chair of Digital Cultural Heritage at the new Edinburgh Futures InstituteUniversity of Edinburgh.

melissa

Professor Melissa Terras

Melissa joined UCL in 2003; she was Deputy Director at UCLDH’s founding in 2010, and has been Director since May 2013. In that time UCLDH has become one of the most visible and leading centres in its field in the UK, according to the Times Higher and the National Library of France. [1] [2]

In her time at UCLDH she’s been part of many projects (including QRatorTranscribe BenthamThe Great Parchment Book and Textal), served as General Editor for Digital Humanities Quarterly, published a ton of stuff and served as Secretary for the European Association for Digital Humanities until 2013. She gave her inaugural lecture, ‘A Decade in Digital Humanities’ in May 2014.

Her passion for research, towards the work that we do in the department, and in academia overall, is contagious. If I were to sum Melissa up in four words, it would be something like this: Profound. Dedicated. Empowering. Dynamic. I couldn’t have asked for a better supervisor.” Kinda Dahlan, PhD. student

For me, Mel is the embodiment of Digital Humanities: a vibrant mix of creativity and technical expertise. It has been hugely refreshing to have a strong, loud and proud female academic role model.  UCLDH, and UCL, will not be the same without her.” Dr Claire Bailey-Ross, former supervisee

Melissa’s deep understanding of Digital Humanities, being a pioneer of this field herself, and her invaluable insight greatly benefitted, not only my PhD. studies, but also myself as an academic and a professional” Foteini Valeonti, Founder of USEUM and supervisee

Anyone who knows Melissa and would like to attend her leaving event on 10th October please email lucy.stagg@ucl.ac.uk and we will send the details on to you.

[1] “leading departments at University College London” (Times Higher Education: 2015)
[2] “Les plus visibles appartiennent au monde anglo-saxon : à Londres avec UCL” (Bulletin des Bibliotheques de France: 2012)

Learning disabilities and technology

By Lucy J Stagg, on 14 July 2017

UCLDH are delighted to announce one of our team members, Pete Williams, has won a grant from Brazilian funding body CONFAP – FAPIMEG (Conselho Nacional Das Fundações De Amparo À Pesquisa – Fundações De Amparo À Pesquisa Do Estado De Minas Gerais) to work in Brazil for a month to continue his British Academy Fellowship research on learning disabilities and technology and to give a small number of talks on his past work.

Visit to the IBM IT Heritage Museum at Hursley

By Simon Mahony, on 10 July 2017

Following an invitation at our last Industry Advisory Panel meeting, some of the UCLDH Management Team had an away-day to visit the IBM IT Heritage Museum and archive at the IBM research and development centre at Hursley.

IBM Hursley

IBM Hursley

We were given an amazing tour of the IBM Museum with many working models of old equipment, lovingly restored to working order through the efforts of the volunteers.

Punch Card and Keypad

Punch Card and Keypad

Exhibits were not limited to mechanical machines but also included early networked and stand-alone PCs, and portables with many being brought back to life. Hardware, logic chips, software and the all-important, and often overlooked middleware, that are so central to all online transactions are represented there too.

Museum exhibits

Museum exhibits

There is also the archive which consists of photographs (prints and slide transparencies), software and manuals, as well as books and an assortment of ephemera. Documents of all sorts, including schematic diagrams of circuitry are there.

Hursley library archive

Hursley library archive

Anything and everything ‘badged’ as IBM has a place in the various collections, including merchandising and publicity material. An interesting exhibit was the service engineer’s workplace with tools and spare parts.

Service engineer's workspace

Service engineer’s workspace

The day was concluded with a round table discussion, bringing in other colleagues and industry partners online, looking at possible ways to collaborate and progress things to the advantage of us all.