Webinar Series: Digital Humanities Virtual Discussion Group for ECRs in Belgium Fall 2021 Edition

Are you a Digital Humanities student or early career researcher in Belgium who would like to discuss DH with other early career researchers in the Belgian DH community? If so, you might be interested in joining the DH Virtual Discussion Group for ECRs! This series is jointly organized by the KU Leuven Libraries Artes DH Commons and the Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities. This Fall 2021 edition follows a successful first year of the series and marks the third edition.  

While the last year and a half has proved challenging for so many of us in diverse ways, the DH Virtual Discussion Group was a testament to the benefits of technology, allowing many people all over Belgium who are interested in digital tools or methods to come together and learn from one another in a safe virtual space. As a result, we were not only able to obtain a better overview of the diverse DH activities being undertaken in Belgium, but we were also able to bring this dynamic community into contact and to network in ways that were otherwise impossible. We hope the third edition of this series will serve to further foster this network by continuing to provide a virtual space to share knowledge and skills and to welcome new researchers into the Belgian DH community.  

Our three sessions this fall will continue the “Under-the-Hood” format, which entails a volunteer from our community providing a thirty-minute overview of a digital project which implements a given tool, approach, or platform. This is not meant to be a research presentation, or to present findings or results, but rather to give our community a behind-the-scenes look at how decisions were made and why specific tools were chosen or developed. The hope is also that this presenter will give attendees some ideas about how to get started implementing a specific tool or workflow, and that they can also answer questions about other, related ongoing projects that are implementing similar functionalities. This “Under-the-Hood” session format will allow us to have focused discussions around a specific project where we can learn from each other in an informal way. In addition, by implementing this format we can maintain the low threshold for contributing and engaging in the conversations. It also allows us to learn about the diverse projects being done in the Benelux region related to digital humanities! (An added bonus!)   

The following sessions are planned for the Fall 2021 semester:  

1 – Monday October 25 from 15h – 16h30 CEST 

Sven Lieber from the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR), whose presentation is titled “Harvesting Social Media Heritage,” is the first volunteer from our community. As Sven’s talk will highlight, public discourse in the twenty-first century takes place on the web. Social media can be collected as high-quality structured data and analysed by using your favorite data science tools. In Sven’s session he will first introduce the BESOCIAL project of the Royal Library of Belgium KBR, which aims to develop a sustainable social media archiving strategy for Belgium. He will present tools that exist for social media harvesting and discuss which tool they have chosen to use at the KBR and why. The second hands-on part of the session will include a demonstration of how you can use the tool Social Feed Manager to schedule automatic harvests from a user-friendly user interface and export collected data for further use. 

2 – Monday November 22 from 15h – 16h30 CET 

Speaker: Joren Six from Ghent University
Title: “Demystifying Deep Learning: Automatically Labeling a Corpus of Field Recordings”
Abstract: During the last decade learning based algorithms have improved significantly. Advances in computer vision are the prime example. These advances offer tantalizing prospects also for DH research. Unfortunately it is hard to apply these techniques, even if your DH research problem falls well within the capabilities of these algorithms. In this talk the aim is to demystify these techniques and how advances in image recognition can be used in practice for automatically labeling corpora.  More concretely I will focus on an application to label short fragments of field recordings into ‘speech’ ‘solo singing’ ‘group singing’ or ‘instrumental music’.

4 – Monday December 13 from 15h – 16h30 CET 

Speaker: Rudy Jos Beerens from KU Leuven
Title: From Archival Source to Structured Data: A Practical Introduction to Project Cornelia’s (Slow) Digital Art History”
Abstract: In this session, Rudy Jos Beerens (KU Leuven) discloses how Project Cornelia – an ongoing digital art history project led by Koenraad Brosens (www.projectcornelia.be) – translates messy archival sources into structured data suitable for computational analysis. This will be done in three parts. In the first part, Jos will briefly present Project Cornelia’s mission to come to a more inclusive understanding of early modern Flemish “art worlds”. In the second part, he will discuss how the Cornelia relational database was developed to accomplish this mission and take a closer look at how this database translates written archival records into usable and structured data. Finally, in the third part, Jos will demonstrate how the collected data can then be analyzed using existing tools such as MySQL and Gephi and the custom-build tool NAHR.

Some practical matters and registration: 

All of our sessions will again be held on Zoom, and you will receive the link to the virtual meeting room on the day of the discussion.  

There are an increasing number of conferences and workshops in DH, and we would like to ensure that you are aware of these opportunities. We will start every session in the future with a moment for individuals to share news about upcoming lectures, workshops, seminars, and conferences; and we will include an extra box on the Padlet (a link to the Padlet will be communicated in the email before the session) where you can also post these.  

If you would like to register or invite other colleagues to join, please fill out the registration form for the mailing list here. Please note, if you have already received email correspondence about the Fall 2021 series, it means you are already on our mailing list. In that case, there is no need to register again—you will receive the emails with the Zoom link and any additional materials on the day of the session. Additionally, you will also receive updates on upcoming sessions including further details about speakers and the “Under-the-Hood” presentation topics. 

How can I present my own work? 

For those of you who would like an opportunity to share your DH ideas and projects, we hope you will consider volunteering for one of these sessions. You do not need to be an expert to present: you can be the PI, a researcher, a PhD candidate, or a master’s student. Please use this as an opportunity to present your work at any stage. ALL are welcome to share and receive feedback. We want to stress that these projects should be given and received in a welcoming environment where we do not judge each other harshly, but rather provide encouragement, advice, and on-topic questions. If you would like to support our community by giving a presentation about a tool, project, or workflow that you have used or developed, please get in touch (leah.budke@kuleuven.be, margherita.fantoli@kuleuven.be, or julie.birkholz@ugent.be) and let us know you are interested. 

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