THATCamp British Library Labs 13 February 2015, British Library Conference Centre Fri, 13 Feb 2015 07:20:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 BL Labs Competition – Tips, Advice and Looking at BL Data Fri, 13 Feb 2015 07:14:54 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

The new British Library Labs competition for 2015 is live and closes on 29 April 2015. The competition encourages anyone to come up with an idea of what you might do with British Library digital content. We will choose 2 ideas by May 29th 2015  and you will work from June to October 2015  as ‘researcher in residence’ at the British Library (expenses paid up to £3600) and showcase your work on November 2, 2015 where you can win a first prize of £3000.

Previous winners have included:

  • how to make statistically representative samples from our book collections (Pieter Francois’s Sample Generator)
  • applying the intuitions of a DJ to working with digital collections (Dan Norton’s Mixing the Library, Information Interaction and the DJ)
  • linking digitised handwritten manuscripts to transcribed texts in visually appealing way (Desmond Schmidt and Anna Gerber’s Text to Image Linking Tool)
  • finding Victorian jokes in our digital archives, creating a database of Victorian humour and attempting to make Victorian jokes funny again over social media (Bob Nicholson’s Victorian Meme Machine)

This workshop will include an overview of the competition, give advice and tips on the application process with a question, answer and discussion ‘clinic’.

This will then be followed by a look at some of our digital data we have available to either shape your ideas or inspire you to come up with a new exciting one whether or not you want to enter our competition. What we have learned more than anything is that people’s idea’s change once they see the digital content we have.

So if this session is chosen, we will give you wireless access to our shiny new, mini Network Area Storage device with around 8TB of data on it. We will give you a walk through of what’s on there and then you will have a chance to explore and investgate it and more importantly grab what you want! Our NAS box contains:

  • 3 million catlogue records from the British and Irish national library catalogues
  • 107,000 Digitised playbills from 1602 – 1902
  • 1 million images from our Flickr release, including metdata, user generated tags for around 70,000 images, over 3000 georeferenced maps, OCR text from all the books (22 million pages)
  • Metadata from Image, Sound, Media, Electronic journals collections.
Look to see what's on our shiny new mini-nas

Look to see what’s on our shiny new mini-nas!

Don’t miss this opportunity, so make sure you vote to have this session!




VOX: Voices Of eXperience Wed, 11 Feb 2015 12:40:28 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

What does it happen when Humanists & Technologists work together? What are the challenges and opportunities of cross-field and interdisciplinary collaborations? What is your personal experience?

This Talk session proposes to listen to the voices of Humanists and Technologists involved in cross-field and interdisciplinary collaborations in order to understand what are the main constraints and the main benefits of those collaborations. What works? What doesn’t? Can we identify common problems and strategies to overcome the obstacles?

This proposal arises from the Digital Humanities & Arts Praxis project at the University of Nottingham. DHA Praxis aims to create a space for conversation around interdisciplinarity and to produce recommendations to facilitate the convergence of different fields and disciplines into shared practices.

So, THATCamp at the British Library seems the perfect event to discuss and exchange (Voices Of) experiences and suggestions.





Show, Tell and Ask: Tools, Tips and Data Tue, 10 Feb 2015 21:51:45 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

In a rapidly evolving field it is difficult to keep up with all the available tools, techniques and data sources available and being used. This session would offer a space to share experiences – good and bad – of various tools and data sources that people have used to do data cleaning, data analysis, named entity extraction, text analysis, visualisation and any particular experiences of using data sources (either specific sources, or types of interfaces)

This session isn’t intended to deliver an in-depth view of any particular tool or data source but to take a cook’s tour based on the experience of the attendees.

Beyond the Text: Teaching DH with visual sources Tue, 10 Feb 2015 19:29:40 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

With one foot firmly in corpus linguistics, Digital History has often been about finding, collecting, collating, manipulating and linking textual information.  However, just as historians have learned to move beyond the text in traditional historical research, so too do we need to move beyond the text in our undergraduate DH instruction. What can we do with digitised images, with our students, beyond merely viewing them.  How can we manipulate or otherwise analyse them with basic software (cloud or downloadable) tools in a way that is both ‘play’ and assists in developing in core learning outcomes.

I propose a “make” session in which we collaborate to great a seminar-ready package of

  • Freely accessible historical images
  • A basic historical or humanities framework in which to understand the image collection (blurb text!)
  • An undergraduate-friendly activity that students can undertake with minimal software or hardware requirements but which encourages active use of the digital environment for understanding material, visual or audio-visual sources.

I would advocate putting it up on Github at the conclusion of the session to allow for re-use and further development via forking.

Visualising European Crime Fiction Tue, 10 Feb 2015 18:50:06 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

A follow-up of the workshop held on February 12 in the frame of the Data Curation Conference ( ), and in particular in connection with the topic and objectives of the AHRC-funded project Visualising European Crime Fiction (, the proposed session aims at working with datasets collecting bibliographical and biographical information on a few thousands of crime novels and novelists. The data have been collected from the Paris Crime Fiction Library (; the catalogue of the British, French, Italian, and Hungarian national libraries; from and from numerous other bibliograhical sources.

With the help of an expert Tableau professional user, Chris Love (, and the expertise of the scholars involved in the project (Dominique Jeannerod, Andrew Pepper, and Federico Pagello from Queen’s University Belfast; Loic Artiaga; University of Limoges; Sandor Kalai, University of Debrecen), the session will allow the participants to explore the potential of Tableau public to visualise data in a number of different ways.

Big Data for Musicology Mon, 09 Feb 2015 12:47:36 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

Digital music libraries and collections are growing quickly and are increasingly made available for research. We feel that the use of large data collections need will enable a better understanding of music performance and music in general, which will benefit areas such as music search and recommendation, music archiving and indexing, music production and education. However, to achieve these goals it is necessary to develop new musicological research methods and in addition to create and adapt the necessary technological infrastructure, to find way of working with legal limitations and to collect large scale data. Most of the necessary basic technologies exist, but they need to be brought together and applied to musicology.

We would like to talk about challenges from a digital humanities perspective and  discuss methods and solutions that can enrich music research and make good use of existing and new data collections.

In that context we would like to present for discussion our ongoing work in our AHRC projects with the British Library (Digital Music Lab with data visualisations and ASyMMus) and the Spot the Odd Song Out game.


Getting experienced Thu, 05 Feb 2015 14:20:56 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

Digitised literature gives us the opportunity to explore how people experienced the past. However, if extracting tangible things from texts such as names and places can be tricky, consider the challenge of extracting something intangible such as an experience.

If the author has been kind to us, we can set our computer to look for keywords in the text such as ‘read’ and ‘listen’. We can use those words as cues to locate the description of an experience. For example, an officer in the Western Front trenches might describe the solace he finds when he reads Jane Austen; but what if his diary simply states that he grabbed Austen from his pack for some solace? How can we program a computer to extract that as an experience from the text, regardless of how the sentiment is expressed?

In this session, we would like to explore the challenge of extracting experience, in whatever form, from digital texts. Can we afford to have our valuable humanists wading through reams of data before they can get to grips with the real purpose of their study, or can we get the computer to tackle the issue of finding candidate experiences that merit close reading?

While our own immediate interests lie in historic literature, we believe the underlying challenge is equally applicable to extracting experiences from other digital sources up to and including contemporary social media.

The primary aim of the session is to discuss the challenge, and from that seek to establish some general principles to automate the identification of ‘experience’ in digital texts. We can initiate the discussion drawing from our own work with reading experience ( and listening experience (

If we make good progress with the discussion, and if time permits, we can extend the session to try out some of the ideas and any tools that may already exist. We will bring along some of our data and a suitably powerful laptop to start the work off, but we would love to see more and varied data, and to see any existing tools, to progress addressing this challenge.

Gamestorming for DH Wed, 04 Feb 2015 22:34:14 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

I would like to propose a gamestorming session to playfully combine technologies and applications, guided by current DH research questions.  The session can start with sharing the (technical and subject-matter) skill-sets, interests and data sources of the participants, then move on to brainstorm ideas, following by the rapid refinement and peer rating of these ideas.


We can use some of these

The outcome will be potentially viable research/development project ideas, which participants could either sign up to for further collaboration post-camp – or just use as personal food for thought.

Enriching digitised archival content Tue, 03 Feb 2015 16:19:30 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

Over the past year I have been project managing the content workstream of the British Library’s flagship digitisation programme with the Qatar Foundation, now launched and live on a bilingual free-to-use portal at

This service offers a unique resource on the history of the Gulf region, drawing on primary collections at the British Library including the India Office Records, visual arts, digitised sound collections and the maps collections. You can learn more at

My interest in this session is to riff with some digital tools proposed by the group for enriching the content without any further development to the portal. For example, that might mean:

Or many other ideas besides. I do hope you’ll join and contribute. Here’s a video to help you decide:

Explain to a Newbie: Digital Research in the Humanities – What’s the Question? Fri, 16 Jan 2015 15:00:51 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

The Challenge:

Can you explain in plain English what digital research methods in the Humanities allow folks to do that they couldn’t do before?

Some Discussion Topics:

  1. What new sorts of research questions can be asked?
  2. What new concepts or hypothesis can be tested?
  3. What new research and public audiences might be interested in the these approaches outside of the Digital Humanities?
  4. How can Digital Humanities researchers best articulate why they do what they do to them?

Session suggestion from a newbie (biomedical researcher knows about  digital research technologies but not about humanities research) which might appeal to other DH experts or newbies alike.