Exciting news! CLARIN-BE has joined the CLARIN European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) for the Social Sciences and Humanities focusing on Language Resources and Technology. Within CLARIN ERIC, CLARIN-BE will focus on the inclusion of tools and resources which are not yet present in the CLARIN infrastructure.
More specific, CLARIN-BE will increase knowledge on:
Digital Text Analysis Dashboard and Pipeline
Benchmarking of NLP tools for natural language understanding
Integration of NLP tools in Digital Text Analysis Dashboard and Pipeline (DTADP)
Tools for linguistic preprocessing for Dutch, English, French and German
Tools providing automatic annotation for tokenization, lemmatization, part-of-speech tagging, syntax parsing, chunking and named entity recognition.
Tools for natural language understanding (sentiment analysis, emotion detection, document similarity clustering, topic modelling, stylometry)
Tools for parallel data (sentence and word alignment)
The CLARIN-BE consortium will fulfill its role by organizing user involvement sessions at Belgian humanities faculties, CLARIN courses at Summer Schools, or a more specific CLARIN training event. Furthermore, sessions about using CLARIN infrastructure will be included in several university courses.
CLARIN-BE also ambitions to work in close cooperation with CLARIAH-NL and will continue its contribution to K-Dutch, the CLARIN Knowledge Centre hosted by the IVDNT (Instituut voor de Nederlandse Taal).
Although our ‘CLARIAH-VL: Advancing the Open Humanities Service Infrastructure’ project started in February 2021, it wasn’t until Friday 10th of September that we were finally able to organize our internal launch meeting. Obviously we have had many virtual meetings in the past months, but we were all looking forward to seeing each other in person, to reflect on the work that has been done so far and to look ahead to the many challenging tasks that are planned in the coming months and years.
We chose the KBR Royal Library of Belgium as the location for our launch meeting. KBR is the national scientific library and preserves, manages and studies more than 8 million documents. Before starting the actual meeting, the project team was happy to catch up over a cup of coffee in the beautiful Consilium meeting space.
As a starter, an interactive group exercise was planned to think about how we want to demonstrate the value of our integrated Open Humanities Service Infrastructure by the end of the project in December 2024. To introduce new members to the project and to reminisce ourselves of the working plan, we discussed the following issues: What do we need? What do we hope our infrastructure will look like? How should we brand our services? How can we improve our communication? Every team member approach and thought about these questions from the perspective of their own service infrastructure components (SIC’s):
Aggregating Humanities Research Data Sets
Linked (Open) Humanities Data Tool Suite
User-driven platforms for data enrichment
Digital Text Analysis Pipeline
Outreach, Uptake & Sustain
After a short break, we discussed the next steps based on the output of the interactive group exercise and decided on the agenda for our next team meeting. Then it was time to welcome two guests for a European Intermezzo: Franciska de Jong (Executive Director of CLARIN-ERIC) and Toma Tasovac (Director of DARIAH-ERIC). Both stressed the importance of the work of the CLARIAH consortium in Flanders, and also the potential to collaborate within the European context.
We concluded this launch meeting with a small reception at the Albert Bar, a rooftop terrace at KBR, and with the promise to see each other soon during our collaborations in the next phase of the development of the CLARIAH-VL services.
Our CLARIAH-VL Consortium has received funding for the project “CLARIAH-VL: Advancing the Open Humanities Service Infrastructure” from the International Research Infrastructures programme of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) for the period 2021-2024.
At the universities of Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent and Leuven as well as the Dutch Language Institute, researchers of the CLARIAH-VL consortium will implement a modular research infrastructure embedding high-quality, user-friendly tools and resources into the workflows of humanities researchers.
Offering an open infrastructure which facilitates public humanities will ensure the accessibility and relevance of the humanities to the general public, specific (heritage) community groups and policy makers. It will make it technically possible to share knowledge, including sharing and co-creating knowledge with non-specialist users, such as facilitating citizen science and crowdsourcing projects.
According to annual custom, we attended the yearly DH Benelux conference from 3-5 June 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 7th edition of this event that was supposed to take place at the University of Leiden as a physical event was rescheduled to June 2-4 2021. Luckily several stakeholders took the initiative to organize a virtual alternative (DHBenelux 2020 #GoesOnline) in order to allow the DH community to present and discuss some of their latest research findings and to demonstrate tools and projects.
Now that we are a few months further into the pandemic we have gotten more or less used to participating in online calls, meetings and workshops. In the beginning of June 2020 when the online DH Benelux Conference took place, however, it was quite a challenge for the organizers to find ways to make meaningful interactions possible without actually being in the same room. Nevertheless, the organizers succeeded in their plan, making clever use of Zoom (and its breakout rooms) and an interesting and varied 3-day program was prepared, with the conference welcoming more than 150 registered participants.
During the first day, in the Late-riser Session moderated by our own Sally Chambers, our DARIAH colleague Erzsébet Tóth-Czifra demonstrated the use of the OpenMethods as a metablog where a collaborative knowledge hub for Digital Humanities tools and methods is built. After the (virtual) lunch – and a nap for some – among others, we were presented with a demonstration of the Open Data Kit (ODK) for mobile linguistic metadata entry. The Graveyard Session, chaired by our colleague Mike Kestemont, highlighted some tools making use of lexica and dictionaries, for example in the research of historical Dutch.
On day 2 the late–riser session focused on the combination of Digital Humanities and pedagogy (for instance, in DH Master programmes or with aggregators such as DARIAH Campus). The second After Lunch Nap and Graveyard sessions provided more interesting talks, from advances in Digital Music Iconography to using signing (with pose estimation) as input for Sign Language Dictionary Search.
Day 3 offered a variety of topics: Mike Kestemont & Folgert Karsdorp kicked off with their amazing estimation of the loss of Medieval texts using methods from ecodiversity, after lunch many very interesting insights about OCR and HTR were shared with the Zoom audience. Also on this final day Sara Tonelli gave a very keynote lecture on the today more than ever relevant issue of Abusive language detection and more specific on where we are and what we still need to do. Finally, during the Graveyard session (chaired by another CLARIAH-VL colleague, Julie Birkholz, the participants enjoyed some state-of-the-art Linked Open Data tools and best practices and showed their interest once again by asking tons of questions – as throughout the whole conference, even in breakout rooms during the breaks – and helping the presenters with useful suggestions.
At a physical conference the golden rule is ‘no work without pleasure’ and normally we would conclude each day in a more informal way that may or may not be accompanied by something to drink or eat. Finding an alternative for this part of the conference was probably even harder than for the more formal part. Nevertheless the organizers tried and came up with the idea of so-called Vampire Sessions were intended as the ‘social event’ for the conference. Like true vampires we came together when the sun went down during ‘bar-like’ sessions with a DH Theme, each day organised by another country. The Netherlands ended day 1 with a very thoroughly enjoyed combination of work and pleasure: the ‘DHBenelux Drunkenness Ontology’ proved to be only 1 of the many ways to create a proper DH ‘Intoxication Ontology’. Badges and customized Zoom backgrounds were rewarded for all the participant’s efforts and well earned at the end of an interactive event. On the second day our colleagues from Luxemburg had created a lively and above all, very musical, quiz to test everyone’s knowledge. From metal songs to proper classics, all participant’s heads were buzzing after this late night session. The cherry to the cake was the final vampire session in which our Belgian team organized an actual DH quiz. From CLARIAH-VL – no, we didn’t ask about the acronym – to questions about long-forgotten DH heroes, in the end everyone was a winner (although we did hand out a few prizes to the best contestants).
If this DHBenelux 2020 #GoesOnline event demonstrated one thing, it’s that the DH community in our respective countries are more than capable of adapting to the challenging times we’re experiencing at the moment. Even a global pandemic cannot prevent us from effectively sharing our DH research, helping out each other and still finding ways to participate interactively in social events from behind a computer screen. Let’s hope that next year we will have the opportunity to meet up again in person (and in beautiful Leiden) for DHBenelux 2021, but if not, we will definitely learn from all the very good – and some a little less good – experiences of this first DHBenelux online event!
Unlocking the scientific potential of digital research in the Arts and Humanities in Flanders and beyond
This blog is intended to be the project website for the CLARIAH Flanders project funded by the Flemish Research Foundation (FWO). It is intended to provide updates about project results for the funding agency, but primarily details of our data, tools and services, including events, workshops and training materials for (digital) humanities researchers in Flanders, Belgium and beyond. CLARIAH-VL is the Flemish contribution to the European research infrastructures DARIAH and CLARIN.