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Un interview avec Claire Warwick, Directrice du Centre UCLDH

RudolfAmmann8 February 2011

Corinne Welger-Barboza, rédactrice en chef de L’Observatoire Critique, une publication en ligne dédiée à l’étude des ressources numériques pour l’histoire de l’art, vient de poser quelques questions à Claire Warwick au sujet de la création du Master Digital Humanities à University College London:

How do you argue the necessity of a MA degree: is it the very responsibility of the D.H. Centres to assume this kind of courses? Is this part of a strategy that aims to foster an interdisciplinary field? Is the aim to supply to the technological gaps in the Humanities disciplines?

As a university UCL believes that leading researchers in all disciplines should teach and pass on their knowledge to the next generation of potential scholars. Thus we feel that students should be able to benefit from UCLDH’s unique interdisciplinary approach and not just academic researchers. So it seemed obvious to develop a teaching programme that is highly interdisciplinary and allows students to call on the very diverse subject areas in which UCL has expertise. Students may indeed be from a humanities background, seeking more technical content, but we also envisage that some of them will be technical people who might like to work in a humanities or cultural heritage context.

L’interview complète

Transcribe Bentham makes the New York Times

SarahDavenport27 December 2010

UCLDH’s very own Transcribe Bentham project gets written up in the New York Times:

Starting this fall, the editors have leveraged, if not the wisdom of the crowd, then at least its fingers, inviting anyone — yes, that means you — to help transcribe some of the 40,000 unpublished manuscripts from University College’s collection that have been scanned and put online. In the roughly four months since this Wikipedia-style experiment began, 350 registered users have produced 435 transcripts.

These transcripts, which are reviewed and corrected by editors, will eventually be used for printed editions of the collected works of Bentham, whose preserved corpse, clothed and seated, has greeted visitors to the college since 1850.

Other initiatives have recruited volunteers online, but the Bentham Project is one of the first to try crowd-sourced transcription and to open up a traditionally rarefied scholarly endeavor to the general public, generating both excitement and questions.

Read the full article.

Claire Warwick on "culturomics"

RudolfAmmann17 December 2010

Claire Warwick gets quoted in The Guardian on a new project in which Harvard University and Google open millions of digitised books to quantitative analysis:

Claire Warwick, director of the Centre for Digital Humanities at University College London, said that humanities researchers had been using the word-frequency techniques being described by Michel and Aiden for several decades. But the sheer size of their dataset marked it out from the usual tools. “What’s different is that this allows people to not just look at several hundred thousand words or several million words but several million books. So the overview is much bigger. That may bring out some hitherto unexpected ideas.”

The database of 500bn words is thousands of times bigger than any existing research tool, with a sequence of letters that is 1,000 times longer than the human genome. The vast majority, around 72%, is in English with small amounts in French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Russian, and Hebrew.

“In science, huge datasets which people have used super-computing on have led to some fascinating new discoveries that otherwise wouldn’t be possible,” said Warwick. “Whether that’s going to be the same in the arts and humanities, I don’t know yet.”

The scanned books can now be mined for cultural trends with very little effort using Google’s Ngram Viewer:

“One of the ways to use this is to suggest ideas,” said Warwick. “You can look at something like this and say, how fascinating that a certain term seems to occur so commonly and I wonder why that should be.”

On 17 March, Claire will deliver a public Lunch Hour Lecture at UCL on Twitter and Digital Identity.

Wikipedia article on UCLDH

RudolfAmmann5 August 2010

Hot off the press: Wikipedia has an article on UCLDH now, which we hope to bulk up over time.

While starting the article, we also introduced the new Digital Humanities Centers category, a short but hopefully growing directory of DH Centres represented on Wikipedia. If your institution isn’t listed, add it!

UCLDH (and DH) in the news

AnneWelsh15 July 2010

Times Higher Education today carries a report on UCLDH Deputy Director Dr Melissa Terras’s closing plenary speech at DH2010 on Saturday.

Reporter Sarah Cunnane focuses on Mel’s call for members of the DH community “to sharpen up on the web or lose out” (THE).

This was only one aspect of the 40-minute long plenary, which used the Transcribe Bentham project as a vehicle to highlight achievements and challenges faced by Digital Humanists in the last decade as well as in the future.

The first time the Digital Humanities conference invited a member of its own community to give the closing keynote, the speech received a tremendous response from those present at the time and from those who read Mel’s notes on her blog and / or watched the video on arts-humanities.net You can read the tweets at #dh2010

The issues raised by Mel in her plenary will also be the topic under discussion at the next Decoding Digital Humanities meeting.

Image: Simon Mahony, originally posted to arts-humanities.net