Archive for February, 2010

“Building the Humanities Lab”: Alfalab at DH 2010

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Alfalab’s submission to the Digital Humanities 2010 conference, which will be held at King’s College London, has been accepted with highest scores.

“Building the Humanities Lab: Scholarly Practices in Virtual Research Environments”, written by Charles van den Heuvel, Smiljana Antonijevic and Joris van Zundert, received 98, 94 and 89 points (out of 100) from three peer-reviewers, based on evaluation of content, significance, originality, relevance and presentation. Such a score made our submission selected in a competition that the organizational committee described very high, given that only one third of all the submissions were accepted.

Considering academic rank and significance of Digital Humanities annual conferences and the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King’s College London, the Alfalab team should be very content about this achievement.

Cultural Heritage Online Conference Proceedings Available

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

The official Conference Proceedings of an international conference Cultural Heritage Online – Empowering Users: An Active Role of User Communities are now available online, at

The conference was jointly organized by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage, the US Library of Congress, and the Foundation Rinascimento Digitale, and it brought together renowned scholars in the field of digital humanties, such as Dan Cohen,  Laura Campbell, Daniel Teruggi, John Unsworth, and many others.

At the conference, Alfalab team member, Smiljana Antonijevic, presented her work on trust in online interaction, now also available in the Conference Proceedings.

Towards infrastructure

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Here are two (new) considerations, one from above, one from below.

Above: the Computational Humanities Programme (to be) is interested to expose parts of the existing collections of the KNAW institutes to computations that might reveal higher level patterns. This kind of research tries to aid human interpretation of materials by spotting patterns, starting by very local, low-level patterns, and climbing up to ever more semantical patterns.

Below: the BIGgrid is actively stimulating humanities people to express use cases and whishes for using the GRID. Also DANS is actively pondering how we can get hooked on the power of the GRID.

AlfaLab seems to be in the middle, where both ends may come together.


By including an abstraction layer where the following concepts operate with each other:

* physical data files

* user identities

* workflows

If every AlfaLab application will use this layer, and does not create its own data logic, we make miles in creating a KNAW collection infrastructure with added value.

Rich Internet Applications

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Today we are listening to Leen Breure who’s presenting his ideas on Rich Internet Applications (RIA). A quick and dirty description might be that RIAs represent the academic multi media and multi modal publication of research data and results. Put in buzz words a RIA is a Web 2.0 ready publication of research, instead of the same old text and picture journals we know. The reason for creating RIAs could be to enhance insight in the research and data by giving the reader? user? viewer? (Interestingly it’s hard to simply denote what a person engaging a RIA should be called.) RIAs offer a richer interface to the research.  At the same time in the process of creating concrete visualizations of the research results, the researcher tends to generate new research questions. A RIA is not the primary research tool, but it’s an interesting way of offering others the possibility of explore the research results. Some examples: The Genographic Project, Theban Mapping Project.

Aspects of the RIA do seem to resemble what is being showcases in publications of the Vectors Journal.

(Leen Breure’s slides are attached here)

The Computational Turn

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

As a combined effort of six authors related to Alfalab (Joris van Zundert, Smiljana Antonijevic, Anne Beaulieu, Karina van Dalen-Oskam, Douwe Zeldenrust and Tara L. Andrews) a paper submission was made to the workshop titled “The Computational Turn”, a one day workshop to be held on March 9, 2010. Today we got message that the paper was accepted for presentation. Smiljana Antonijevic and Joris van Zundert will present the paper at what hopefuly will be an interesting workshop.