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Research workshop on humanities

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Alex Poulovassilis co-chaired with Filippo De Vivo a workshop exploring research intersections between the Humanities, Social Sciences and Computing. Speakers from the Birkbeck Knowledge Lab and Birkbeck’s School of Arts and School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy presented interdisciplinary research in three sessions:

  • GIS and digital mapping
  • Digital archives and Cultural heritage
  • Text mining, social media and analytics

In the first session Matthew Davies talked about digital mapping of London’s history, Jennifer Baird and Rebecca Darley discussed the curation of archaeological digital images, and Andrea Ballatore presented spatio-temporal modelling and analysis of Futurist cultural activity in Italy.

In the second session, Filippo de Vivo discussed the challenges of digitising historical archives, utilising the indexes and inventories created by the archivists at the time, Luciana Martins presented the Digital Amazon Research programme and Brodie Waddell described the challenges of digitising and cataloguing tens of thousands of documents comprising several hundred years of petitions and supplications, and the potential of crowd-sourced transcription and text mining.

In the third session, Martyn Harris described the SAMTLA digital infrastructure that provides domain-independent tools for search and textual analysis of digital text data, Scott Rodgers discussed mixing big data analytics and “small data” qualitative analysis for topic and sentiment modelling, and Alessandro Provetti discussed techniques for automated analysis of online readers’ reading, sharing and reviewing patterns.

After each session a plenary discussion was co-chaired by Alex Poulovassilis and Filippo De Vivo, at which common threads between our disciplines were identified and discussed, focussing particularly on the challenges of digitising information in ways that allow it to be effectively searched, analysed and visualised so as to extract value and insights.

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