More pictures! and: The flowerpot

Some pictures have been added to the Flickr-site: Tomorrow even more photos will follow. If there is a certain one you like (or don’t like or want to tell something about) leave a comment on Flickr.

But the “best” of all pictures I want to show you right now and here. I call this photo-artwork “A photographer desperately fighting with a flowerpot”.

(click for original size)

This ugly thing was really driving me crazy. No matter from which perspective I was trying to take pictures of the speakers, the flowerpot was always in between. Almost as if it was walking around on the conference table to intentionally prevent me from shooting anything else.

And… you noticed theses litte… “antennas” growing out of it?! I don’t find a better word – I’m sorry, my english vocabulary doesn’t contain a word that matches these purple things. I don’t even find one in my mother tongue. What for god’s sake is that? If a biologist is reading this by chance, please leave a comment and help us.

Whatever it is, the florist seems to have a special sense of humour (:

Or.. could it be… small purple-haired aliens hiding in the flowerpots to spy on our conference o:


Translator’s visiblity

There’s no use denying that this entry is going to be a bit biased and subjective. It must be so. That’s what ths blog is for.

Besides, a person who had to get up early every Monday morning to be present, fresh and active durng classes on which students had to look for the translators’ touch in novels through the analysis of the most frequent words, certainly has a right to have her say. I just want you to listen to a story about two translators, one book and a curious researcher with a fancy software on his computer.

Almost 100 years after Viginia Woolf’s Night and Day was published, one of the Polish publishers decided to commission the first translation of that book into Polish. Anna Kołyszko took up the challenge, however, sadly enough, she died before finishing the translation. Another Polish translator, dr Magda Heydel (notabene, my lecturer), took the translation over and finished the job, as well as edited the rest heavily. Thus, the joint translation was published in 2010.

When dr Rybicki (the one who forces his students to make consensus trees on Monday mornings) from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, heard about that unusual history, he called his colleague to get the digital version of the translation with authorship attribution experiment on his mind. Using his and Maciej Eder’s script [click for more information], he managed to find the exact chapter in the book where Kołyszko finished translating and Heydel took over.

Yesterday in the afternoon some of the DH2012 participants had a chance to have a peek at a history of that stylometric Eureka. During the presentation titled The Stylometry of Collaborative Translation [the abstract can be found here], dr Rybicki explained step by step how he arrived at the right conclusion and, what is facinating, what was dr Heydel’s reaction to the success of his detective-like investigation. A short, surpised “yes.”

It would be perfect if every research on translator’s visibility ended like this. Usually there were not so many clear conclusions on Monday mornings, but perhaps that’s because of lack of coffee;)

Dagmara H. (#dkh)

A love for sounds

One of the presentations of yesterday morning was “Citygram One: Visualizing Urban Acoustic Ecology” [find the abstract online], by Alex Marse, who is a graduate research assitant for Citygram, a research project that focuses on “visualizing acoustic ecology and computationally inferring meaningful information such as emotion and mood”. Alex is also a graduate student at Georgia State University in Atlana, USA, and one of the international student assistants here at #dh2012. We had a quick chat with Alex today, seating outside the building, and listening to Hamburg’s noise! So, here we share three questions for Alex about Citygram and his work:

Q. You are a graduate student, pursuing a M.M. in Music Composition with a focus on Music Techology and Computer Music. How does your own research project relates to Citygram?

A. I haven’t started writing my MA thesis yet, but I would like to research in the field of recognition of animals sounds, like sounds of birds and whales. There are of course research projects going on in this area, and a great reference is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in the University of Cornell, in New York State, and although they are more concerned with protecting the environment and the health of birds, it has a lot to do with Citygram, because the techniques are the same, and the kind of sound data we could have with Citygram could also subsidize environmental issues, as noise pollution control. So, I would like to address questions like these in my own research, bird call recognition, animal sound recognition, and other sound data related to animals that could help observe how animals behave, their life conditions, whether they are endangered or not. For now I have been studing music composition, but from next semester on I will be more envolved with music technology and will have time to dedicate to the sound of animals.

Q. Alex, you mentioned how cameras are everywhere in the cities, and Citygram being aware of the importance of privacy protection, for example Citygram prevents human speech of being understandable. What other issues could come up from the relation between capturing urban sounds and surveillance?

A. Yes, there are cameras all over the city, and they are mainly used to prevent crimes. But Citygram doesn’t want to go in that area, and the project is not associated to any governmental agency, so we are not providing and we don’t plan on provinding the unscrambled conversations for that purposes. On the other hand, I think it would be great to know what people talk about in certain areas of the city, what exactly they are saying, what words are used. That would be great cartographic data! But some people don’t want their speech or conversartions to be recorded, and the privacy issue comes up. So we are not able to do that, and we like to respect that. But personally I don’t mind having my own voice recorded, I don’t feel I am being surveilled if I am not doing anything ilegal.

Q. When it comes to poly-sensory cartographic data, what other sensory data, apart from sound, Citygram plans on bringing to the project, maybe on a latter estage?

A. I think it would be great to have data about electromagnetic fields in the urban space. Cell phone towers and electronic devices that emit electromagnetic waves are everywhere, and it is passing through our bodies and the spaces we are in, and it would be great to measure that, incorporate it to cartographic data, and see if it tells us anything about certain areas of the cities. We could also analyze humidity, temperature and other avisual energies, that could provide information about a city’s hot spots, number of people, number of cars. And we can do a lot with sound alone. We could count how many cars are passing in a street just by analyzing sound, or try to make noise pollution better by detecting the causes of noise pollution. Sounds are cool!!!

Thanks for sharing your love for sounds with us Alex! And let’s enjoy the buzz of Digital Humanists in Hamburg!


Why is a net the favourite picture in modern society?

I once read that (fictional) readings are not meant to be listened to the whole time, but intended to inspire your mind to great creativity: you pick up a topic, a sentence, a subtext, a vibe, and let it take you from there, transform it into something else. This mornings panel session on Social-Dokument Networks is similar to that: As it goes on, questions pop into my head, answers and half-answers, that only relate to the speakers marginally.

As Daniel Pitti starts to explain the meaning and function of social-document graphs, showing an example of a digital tool serving to illustrate ties and relations between different people in his network-project, I find myself wondering, why is it, that the most used picture in modern society – wheather in the humanities, the natural and social sciences, or (as I like to call it) advertisement pseudo science (You know, the guy on TV wearing scrubs, explaining how glucose supposedly improves your brain-work), is this one: a net.

Pitti’s document-networks are archival records, designed to document people living in their individual, social environments and in relation to others. Each personal entry shows several forms of a person’s name, all their lifedates, gender, country of origin, and a description. Each person can also be displayed within a circle of all the people they’re associated with. Clicking on one of the connections, that name will be the centre of another circle, with her or his personal contacts.

I’m thinking of a net with knops and connections between the knops: a simple metaphor used everywhere: connections between people, connections between knowledge, between atomic elements, different pillars of a strategy, forms of energy. Or, naming the obvious: the interNET.

Agnès Simon‘s, our second presentor’s project, contains a similar network-idea: not providing new research, but a new gateway to access research quickly, is an important issue for her and her colleagues work. By gathering and reorganizing information on essays, books and people of authority, they’re creating a semantic web, providing connections and links to other entrys and sources. Finally, Kerstin Arnold, who works for the Archives Portal Europe, introduces to us a network system linking archives, providing and making usable archival data as well as connecting archive professionals for multi-level improvement of archives.

„How can these projects be connected“, an attendant of the panel session wants to know. Maybe, I figure, the whole net-metaphor has to do with it, after all. Or, more nicely phrased by Daniel Pitti: „What does all cultural heritage have in common? – People! People are the key piece to this.“ If that is true, myspace, facebook, twitter & co. are the greatest achievement of modern society. He also finds: „It is a long held human dream to go in one place and find anything there is to know.“ Come to think about it, that really is something I desire. So is that it, the answer to my original question? Is it the amount of knowledge, the many knops in the net, that make it such an effective, overused picture? Or rather the connections, thin ties that help us understand the links between all of this? And is it that nets catch things, or do they let slip important information?

Some early morning thoughts…






Voyant Keeps Eyes Wide Open on Text

The second day of the conference turned out to be a very sunny and warm with the occasional clouds but they didn’t manage to cover the rooms of Digital Humanities 2012 in Hamburg. A warm, friendly and sunny atmosphere was reigning inside on the workshop by Geoffrey Rockwell and Stéfan Sinclair from Canada “Introduction to distant reading with Voyant Tools, Multilingual Editions.”

Geoffrey Rockwell and Stefan Sinclair in the Main Foyer

The name of the tool “Voyant” tells much about it – that it helps observe the text. The first name of the tool was actually Voyeur but due to its dubious meaning the creators decided to change the name to Voyant.

The collection of tools operate on different languages – English, French, Italian and Spanish. The picturesque presentation of Voyant functionalities that combine beautiful visual figures and graphs with the sound of bubbles rotating and crashing amused the audience. Although the features of the program are very advanced there were lot of questions in the room concerning the security and privacy of the

information. Rockwell and Sinclair explained their devotion to the principles of secure information uploading without saving it for the long period of time.

After mastering the program it’s not a big deal for the user to study digital texts, to track correlation and coincidence of the words, their semantic role and impact within the meaning of context. Voyant opens the eye on text analysis in a playful style – you can watch the text without hearing any words.

Try it yourself at:

Elena Dergacheva and Regina Weidmann

The (Re)Birth of the Author

After the two very inspirational talks on integrating sounds into technologies as well as inter-medial argument-structures, and after a quick coffee-to-go, we dive right into an essential question in the humanities: Todays second round of long paper presentations by Mike Kestemont, Maciej Eder and Joseph Rudman introduce us to the many problems plus three particular solution-approaches to authorship attribution.

The first speaker, Mike Kestemont, choses an approach similar to the work by Koppel et al. pointing out structural and topical distinctives in texts by one specific author. His analysis shows: texts by the same author show few structural differences, whereas texts by different authors have many distinctives. So far, so good. What noone in the room would’ve come up with: his interesting application of these findings: for instance, we could statistically analyse suicide letters to identify fakes written by murderers. The problem with that, according to Kestemont: „One text is probably the only suicide letter a person has ever written.“ Followed by laughter from the audience. – What seems hilarious leads us to an actual problem: Is author-identification possible cross-genre?

„What about cross-language?“, one of the attendants wonders. With the given structural features, it might be hard to compare novels in English and French by the same author. Speaking of language differences – very juicy becomes a discussion on the nature of „genre“: Can „theatre“, with its wide range of variety, be called a „genre“? Some of the conference-participants disagree. In German, however, there are two sorts of classifications: „Gattung“ (meaning class/ category/…), which is more broad, and „Genre“, which is more specific.

The next talk by Maciej Eder is more about potential error sources researchers have to deal with in authorship attribution: Errors with corpus-work can occur if either the corpuses are untidily prepared, or because of the text-inherent problems: His experiment shows, how contaminated texts (with wording- or spelling-errors), have an influence on reearch-results in different language. As Eder goes into detailed graphs showing the impact in different languages, the audience seems to quite enjoy themselves. I have a hard time comprehending all, but I do understand what’s so funny about it. „Polish – boring again“, Eder states (like he expected, the more contaminated the corpus is, the worse the results) – laughter from the attendants. Then, a surprise; the Latin graph: „This is the picture that made me apply for the conference: In the Latin language, even 40% of all words total replaced do not have an impact on the results!“

Last but not least, Joseph Rudmans lecture on “The Twelve Disputed Federalist Papers“ gives us a good practical example of the use of statistical author authentifcation and how collaboration and non-traditional research can contribute to detect authorship clearly. Since several of the papers were attributed to the wrong authors, every text must be unedited, de-edited and edited. This includes removing quotes and anything else that changes the authors original style, in order to be able to detect the author of the essay.

Kestemont’s, Eder’s and Rudman’s paper presentations have made it clear, that, however many problems there still are to be dealt with, it is possible to use computers to attribute texts from anonymous sources to certain authors – is it yet too soon to call out the „Rebirth of the Author“?


A successful UnConference before the official opening of the DH2012

Yesterday was a long and very important day for german Digital Humanities. Up to then there has not been an official association of german speaking Digital Humanists. The DH2012 should be the place to change that. On this account an UnConference meeting was convened to take place the day before the official opening ceremony of the dh2012. Besides the official founding of an association of german speaking digital humanists, there should be enough time to meet and greet each other as well as to learn about projects there are. Not wanting to gather the “usual suspects” once again, the organizers especially emphasized the presentation of projects of young scientists.

Two Slamming Fireworks

To make it less formal and more fun, the presentations were organised as a science slam. Each scientist had not more than five minutes to show the best side of his or her work. Afterwards there should be time left for informal discussions and small talk over a cup of coffee next to a poster-presentation. The youngsters were to start and they “slamed” as if it was a battle. Not a single presentation lasted more than the given fife minutes, some did it in even less time. They showed an inspiring mixture including textanalysis, -edition and visualization, a blog project and the relationship of statistics and literature. My personal highlight was a project planning a digital scrapbook – that should be the end of endless numbers of sheets of papers flying through scientists offices. After these fireworks of digital humanities projects there was a nice chat in the first coffee break which lasted one hour instead of half an hour because our youngsters were so fast.

After this informal meeting everybody gathered again for the second slam. Not quite as fast as the youngsters, the scientists of these project gave an equally enjoyable overview of their work. Less concentrated on the work with texts, this session included the new founded association for digital history of art, some institutions of different subjects and what is the most important for scientists of all disciplines: an organisation for financial support of sciences. Afterwards there was a lot of chatting again before the dinner was served.

Official Founding

It lies in the german history that a german association for digital humanities never could be concentrated on scientists from Germany. Austria is a german speaking country, switzerland is a german speaking country but there are also regions in which french or italian are spoken, in Luxembourg there are also people speaking german… This problem was the first to discuss during the official founding of the german dh association as it will be important for its name. DH Germany surely will not do. The other big question on this founding meeting was the relationship to the international dh organisation ADHO. It would be a given infrastructure one could easily integrate into but it also is depending on the “Oxford University Press” which follows a closed access publishing strategy. The german speaking dh community rather follows the idea of open access publishing – a sereous problem which could not be solved on this short meeting. Anyhow we were quite happy everybody basically agreed that there should be a german dh organisation whatever name it will have and however to solve the institutional problem. So finally the foundation could be undertaken.

by Savita Wagner

by Savita Wagner

Panel Discussion

Finally we could concentrate on content again. Prof. Elisabeth Burr (Leipzig), Dr. Sebastian Drude (Frankfurt), Prof. Erhard Hinrichs (Tübingen), Prof. Fotis Jannidis (Würzburg), Prof. Jan Christoph Meister (Hamburg), Prof. Claudine Moulin (Trier), Dr. Heike Neuroth (Göttingen), Prof. Manfred Thaller (Köln) were to discuss what digital humanities should be about and which difficulties there still are. Dr, Wilhelm Krull from the VolkswagenStiftung which helped to finance this important day for the german speaking dh community moderated the conversation. Central controversies were the relationship of humanities and the – as Prof. Manfred Thaller said half-joking – absolutely “insignificant” natural sciences, the question how to finance digital humanities projects and how to communicate about new tools. If you missed the possibility to come to this important founding event, you have the possibility to watch the discussion here:

Lecture to go UnConference Panel Discussion

by Savita Wagner

The german dh community proudly presents its board of directors

After the discussion the names of the board of directors was presented to the audience. As diversity is one of the most important characteristics of the digital humaities, the directors of an german dh organisation should best be from different disciplines as well. Finally Claudine Moulin, Jan Christoph Meister, Peter Gietz, Elisabeth Burr, Thomas Stäcker, Malte Rehbein, Joachim Veit and Michael Stolz were elected so that there are philologists, literature scientists, a culture scientist with profound knowledge in informatics, a librarian, a music scientist and next to scientists from Germany one director from switzerland who takes care of the interests of german speaking scientists of other countries than Germany. At the end of a day everybody seemed to be quite happy about this successful UnConference.

NeDiMAH Workshop


(photo 1: the workshop during the presentation of John Bradley, King’s College London)

The half-day workshop Network for Digital Methods in the Arts and Humanities (NeDiMaH) that took place in Room 122, West Wing was more of a short paper session than an actual (interactive) workshop: nine presentations by eleven lecturers provided a broad overview over different projects using ontology based annotation of digitized data like texts or audio and video files.

The workshop was organized by Emil-Christian Ore (University of Oslo), Sebastian Rahtz (University of Oxford), and Øyvind Eide (University of Oslo). Emil-Christian Ore was chairing the workshop, monitoring the tight schedule and coordinating the discussions after every presentation.


(photo 2: Emil-Christian Ore, one of the organizers)

Between 9 a.m. And 12.30 p.m., the following topics where addressed in ten-minute-presentations:

  • The Open Annotation Ontology: Applications in Textual Scolarship by Robert Sanderson (Los Alamos National Laboratory)
  • Annotation Collaboration (AOC) Data Model by Jane Hunter (University of Queensland)
  • RDF for a Dymnamic Literary Studies Collaboratory: A Pragmatic and Incrementalist Approach by Susan Brown and Mariana Paredes-Olea (University of Alberta)
  • Annotation and Ontology in Most Humanities Research: Accommodating a More Informal Interpretation Context by John Bradley (King’s College London)
  • Criss-crossing Wittgenstein’s Nachlass by James Matthew Fielding (Université Paris I)
  • Ontologies in Digital Humanities: Without Limitations? by Amélie Zöllner-Weber (University of Bergen)
  • The Hellespont Project – Integrating Different Sources for Ancient History in a Virtual Research by Agnes Thomas and Francesco Mambrini (University of Cologne)
  • Using Centrality-Analysis for Keyword-Graphs by Josephy Wang (University Innsbruck)
  • Towards a New Kind of Research in the History of Science: Annotation of Ampère’s Corpus by Marco Segala (Universityof L’Aquila)

Abstracts of the presentations can be found under

The participants of the workshop were able to get an impression of (the collaboration between) organizations concerned with developing ontologies and programmes for structuring and analyzing digitized data, problems that developers of ontologies may be confronted with, as well as some particular projects that use ontology based annotation for different purposes.

(Although the room, in which the workshop took place, provided enough space for the participants, the room layout could have been better: due to the position of the beamer, one third of the participants were not able to follow the Power Point Presentations properly. Regarding the technical side though, everything worked perfectly smoothly – credits go out to Gurpreet, who took care of connecting the lecturer’s notebooks to the projector.)


(photo 3: Gurpreet, taking care of the technical devices)

CATMA: Voice within the text

Tagging of the text is something more than meets the eye, it’s not just the technological operation, it can be a form of text understanding and interpretation. CLEA/CATMA project presented at Digital Humanities 2012 conference in Germany helps to grasp the meaning hidden between the lines by creating, recreating and analyzing the tags. How do the tags add value to narrativity line especially when it concerns music and conflictology? Marco Petris, Evelyn Gius and Lena Meister from the University of Hamburg give voice to the texts using advanced CATMA technology.

The workshop “Crowdsourcing meaning: a hands-on introduction to CLEA” shed light on the new paradigm in the semantic markup with the potential to analyse both the object data and the metadata. Built on Java with SQL database repository CATMA program gives you the way to work collaboratively while tagging the texts and analyzing them. And the most important thing is the ease of use that the program offers, according to the feedback of the users. The user creates any possible query to track the “behavior” of the words, phrases, their interconnection and influence on the context as a whole. Among various functionalities there are tools for the automation of such processes as data collection, correction and automation; text reviews and many others.

The illustration of CATMA success can be narrativity of conflict and song lyrics, the research UofH presenters are doing. The creation of special narratological tagsets within CATMA helped researchers to investigate the chronological order and logic of conflict, interpretation of the object and subject’s stand points, speech representation – the way conflicts are quoted, narrated and transposed. CATMA also succeeded in the musical dimension or narrativity of song lyrics to be more exact. The research goes round the two tagsets “narrativity” (textual level) and “musical discourse” (musical level), their dialogue or “conflict” and its influence on the perception of the song. Like a friendship of nice text and music in any good song the combination of cute mind and technology leads to new discoveries in the digital humanities. CLEA/CATMA is a good example of such combination.

Interested in crowdsourcing? Follow this link to get a full picture of CLEA/CATMA  

Elena D.