Invitation to our project workshop

On Thursday 21 June we are going to hold an afternoon workshop for historians interested in using digital tools for research. It will be held in Senate House, London, and will run from 2pm to about 4.30.

The project team will discuss the work we’ve done on Histore to date. Then there will be talks on semantic markup and text mining, followed by a break-out session for group discussion of different techniques. Attendees are encouraged to bring digital project ideas to discuss during the break-out. There will also be an opportunity to discuss your projects with us one-to-one, if you’d like to.

This workshop is free but places are limited. If you’d like to come to the workshop, or have any questions about it, just drop me an email at jonathan.blaney@sas.ac.uk.

Deciding on the topics for training courses

In the rapid analysis phase of the project we looked at what tools are available to historians for digital research in the five areas we are concerned with (visualisation, text mining, linked data, cloud computing and semantic data) and tried to decide which we thought would be most useful to historians as the focus of introductory training courses.

In the end we decided in favour of text mining and semantic data. Visualisation was a strong candidate but we felt that cloud computing was somewhat nebulous as the subject of a training course: if we could do it at all, it seemed to us, it would essentially be training people to use particular tools rather than general techniques – which isn’t what the project has undertaken to do.

As it happens I am currently working on a JISC-funded linked data project, Liparm, which will use linked metadata to create a union catalogue of UK parliamentary material. This will be a good proof of concept for linked data in a historical context and I have already learned a lot about linked data from working on the project. But the point of Histore is to address the lack of take-up of digital resources by historians, and linked data already assumes (doesn’t it?) that those digital resources have been, or are being, created by historians. Linked data looks like a next step, rather than the kind of intial impetus that Histore seeks to provide.

That was our conclusion, but readers might disagree. We’d be keen to hear your thoughts.