Conference Agenda

Session Overview
Wednesday, 25/Jan/2017:
11:30am - 1:00pm

Session Chair: Elisabeth Burr
Location: Aula Levi


A Trilingual Greek-Latin-Arabic Manuscript of the New Testament: a Fascinating Object as Test Case for New DH Practices

Sara Schulthess, Claire Clivaz, Anastasia Chasapi, Martial Sankar, Ioannis Xenarios

Vital-IT, SIB, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Lausanne (CH)

The aim of the project HumaReC (2016-2018, is to inquiry how Humanities research is reshaped by the research and publication rhythm in the digital age and to test a new model of continuous data publishing for Humanities. The edition and study of a New Testament manuscript, Marciana Gr. Z. 11 (379), will be the test case for the development of these new practices.

HumaReC will be developed on an online research platform, with at its core a manuscript viewer with a digital edition of the text. A blog with regular postings will share first results and encourage discussions with the public. Nonetheless, the writing of a long well-structured text belongs to the scientific production in Humanities. Since a paper monograph is not adapted in our case, we need to develop a format that offers possibility to link to the data available on the website and that can be continuously updated. We will investigate a new editorial format, provided as a web book, in collaboration with a scientific publisher, Brill. The project is inscribed in the spirit of the initiative, in collaboration with the diverse partners like the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, computer scientists and international board of scientific experts.

The object we choose for this digital inquiry is particularly adapted for this new model of research, because the Marciana Gr. Z. 11 (379) is challenging on many perspectives. Marciana Gr. Z. 11 (379) is the only trilingual Greek, Latin and Arabic manuscript of the New Testament that we know about. It was most likely made in Sicily in the 12th century and is a product of the ‘Norman-Arab-Byzantine’ culture.

First of all, the multilingual aspect of the manuscript makes is worth treating in a digital edition, which can offer many features that are not present in a printed edition. Among them are the visualization possibilities, as the manuscript presents three columns in the three languages. The manuscript viewer, developed based on the open source visualization tool EVT (, will allow to display the edited texts according to the reader interest and to link the texts to the manuscript images.

We will also use our close working with this trilingual manuscript to experiment the Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) tool of the platform Transkribus, an EU-funded project ( It will specially be interesting to try HTR with Arabic, HumaReC being the first project working with Transkribus with Arabic.

Finally, a digital research, open and interactive, makes sense for such an multicultural object that connects to several controversial issues in contemporary research. We can mention here the situation of the Arabic biblical manuscripts which were neglected by the Western research for contentious reasons, the apologetical use of images of New Testament manuscripts by religious groups on the Internet or the question of the influence of the Arab world in medieval Europe, that still is a debated topic among scholars.

Analyzing poetry databases to develop a metadata application profile. Why each language uses a different way of modeling?

Patricia Garrido

National University of Distance Education

This lightning talk is a description of a work-in-progress which explains my collaboration in the POSTDATA project where I am working as a student in practices, contributing with my knowledge in philology, and learning how to use DH tools and methodologies to analyze traditional philological problems.

The project consists of several work packages and we are developing the first part, which deals with the development of a metadata application profile. It is a reverse engineering process, as we analyze the logical models of different databases and create particular conceptual models in order to create a final and common conceptual model to all previous ones. At the moment, I am working in specific repertoires of latin poetry as Pedecerto and the Corpus Rhytmorum Musicum supported by the University of Udine and the University of Siena. And also, in other repertoires in different languages.

First, it is necessary to analyze the logical model of each database in order to understand the concepts that are represented by each table making a description of the different terms that were chosen by the designers. An example of this procedure can be well explained using Pedecerto as a case study, a digital instrument for the analysis of latin verses. This repertoire is composed by different databases, sending user information from both of them. For example, the word “sistema” appears in the model without any contextualization and it becomes difficult to interpret it. For that reason, it is necessary to go back to the website and look for disambiguation.

A similar phenomenon happens to the Corpus Rhytmorum Musicum, which is a musical and textual philological database of the earliest medieval Latin Songs. This one is more related to music and manuscripts, so I find terms referring to this field.

It is necessary to build an abstract model in which the terms used for describing general concepts have identical or very similar meaning across the different databases. There is a second phase, which consists of the analysis and grouping of the controlled vocabularies from each different literary tradition, which are collected by the search tools of the repertories. The study of controlled vocabularies can be focused from different perspectives, but we first classify the term looking later for groups and hyperonyms. The execution of this task is very positive for the review of the previous one, since we find terms that must not appear in the conceptual model. As many databases do not show a regular work on controlled vocabularies it is sometimes not easy to identify and work in their terms and keywords. In this sense, ReMetCa Project, which aims to create a digital metrical repertoire of Castilian medieval, is a repertoire of special relevance, as it has developed a great effort to study controlled vocabularies using external tools.

So, this Lightning Talk will describe all these methods to compare and analyze poetry databases, but also will reflect on the idiosyncrasy of classifying poetry and the differences of conceptualization among the different languages, literatures and traditions.

DiMPO - a DARIAH infrastructure survey on digital practices and needs of European scholarship

Claire Clivaz1, Costis Dallas2,3, Nephelie Chatzidiakou3, Jurij Hadalin4, Elena Gonzalez-Bianco5, Beat Immenhauser6, Maciej Maryl7, Gerlinde Schneider8, Walter Scholger8, Toma Tasovac9, Ingrida Vosyliute10

1Swiss Institute of Bionformatics, Switzerland; 2Faculty of Information, University of Toronto, Canada; 3Digital Curation Unit, IMIS-Athena Research Centre, Greece; 4Institute of Contemporary History, Slovenia; 5Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Spain; 6Swiss Academy of Social Sciences and Humanities, Switzerland; 7Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland; 8Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Austria; 9Belgrade Center for Digital Humanities, Serbia; 10Vilnius University, Lithuania

In 2015, the Digital Methods and Practices Observatory (DiMPO) Working Group of DARIAH-EU conducted a European survey on scholarly digital practices and needs, which was translated into ten languages and gathered 2’177 responses from humanities researchers residing in than 20 European countries. A project website is in preparation: (opening in January 2017). The summary of the main results is to be launched at the end of 2016 in a highlights report, presently being translated into the diverse languages of the team (French, German, Greek, Polish, Serbian, Spanish and perhaps more). The survey, the first of its kind in Europe, is a perfect case of multiculturalism and multilingualism, as well as transcultural and transnational collaboration and communication, in full alignment with the 2016 topic of the EADH day. In the next edition - scheduled for 2017 - we envisage the incorporation of questions specific to certain regions or countries so as to address the diversity of different cultural contexts.

Our presentation will also underline the main results of the survey with the aim of encouraging debate on the current state of digital practice in the humanities across Europe, and to get vital feedback for the preparation of the next survey. The survey questionnaire consists of twenty-one questions designed to be relevant to researchers from different European countries and humanities disciplines. The main focus is on of specific research activities, methods and tools used by the researchers. After filtering and normalizing the dataset, the results were statistically analyzed using descriptive statistics, although simple tests of two-way association were also performed, to assess the relationship of particular responses to the respondents’ country of residence, discipline, academic status and other relevant factors. In addition to the consolidated European results, six national detailed profiles have been produced, namely for Austria, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, Serbia and Switzerland. The findings suggest that the use of digital resources, methods, services and tools is widespread among European Humanities researchers. Used across the scholarly work lifecycle from data collection to publication and dissemination. Results add to our understanding of how users of digital resources, methods, services and tools conduct their research, and what they perceive as important for their work. This is important to ensure appropriate priorities for digital infrastructures, as well as activities and strategies for digital inception, which will shape future initiatives regarding the diverse communities of researchers in the arts and humanities.

Ultimately, the analysis of digital practices can provide original data and information to strengthen our understanding of how humanists work, and of Humanities proper. Stanford University defines the humanities “as the study of how people process and document the human experience. Since humans have been able, we have used philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language to understand and record our world”. Understanding the needs of humanists, the main purpose of the DiMPO European survey, is a sine qua non condition to ensure that the fundamental purpose of the arts and humanities continues to be served in the digital era.

EVILINHD, a Virtual Research Environment open and collaborative for DH Scholars

Elena González-Blanco

UNED, Spain

Virtual Research Environments (VREs) have become central objects for digital humanist community, as they help global, interdisciplinary and networked research taking of profit of the changes in “data production, curation and (re‐)use, by new scientific methods, by changes in technology supply” (Voss and Procter, 2009: 174-190). DH Centers, labs or less formal structures such as associations benefit from many kinds of VREs, as they facilitate researchers and users a place to develop, store, share and preserve their work, making it more visible. The focus and implementation of each of these VREs is different, as Carusi and Reimer (2010) show in their comparative analysis, but there are some common guidelines, philosophy and standards that are generally shared (as an example, see the Centernet map and guidelines of TGIR Huma-Num 2015).

This lighting talk presents the structure and design of the VRE of LINHD, the Digital Innovation Lab at UNED (, and the first Digital Humanities Center in Spain. EVILINHD focuses on the possibilities of a collaborative environment for (profane or advanced) DH Scholars.

The platform developed offers a bilingual English-Spanish interface that allows users register, create new projects and join the existing ones. Projects are shared by teams and created and published from the beginning to the final publication on the web without exiting the platform. Three types of projects may be created: 1) digital scholarly TEI-based editions using eXistDB, TEIscribe and TEIPublisher, 2) digital libraries using Omeka, and 3) simple and beautiful websites using Wordpress. There is also a customized option which allows to create projects combining all of these ingredients or part of them.

Once projects are finished, the environment offers the possibility of publication in LINDAT repository, the infrastructure for deposit data and projects, as LINHD is part of the Spanish Clarin-K Centre (Bel, González-Blanco and Iruskieta, forthcoming). To publish projects into the repository, additional metadata are requested following the TADIRAH DH classification created by DARIAH. Once projects are published in LINDAT, they get permanent identifiers provided by Handle and they are harvested by the Virtual Language Observatory.

The environment combines open-access free software tools well-known and widespread in the DH communities, and also some proprietary developments, like the TEIScribe visual XML cloud editor, developed at LINHD. All of them are integrated in a single log on environment based on Ubuntu and covered with an architecture of web standard technologies (such as PHP, SQL, Python and eXistDB).

DH infrastructures, a need, a challenge or an impossible?

Elena González-Blanco

UNED, Spain

The growing need of shared collaborative and web-based projects has increased the need of using cloud infrastructure to develop and support DH research. However, the access to these infrastructures is not easy for three reasons: 1) economic issues, 2) academic structure and 3) not enough knowledge of the possibilities available.

Concepts that are widely spread in the industry, such as IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) or SaaS (Software as a Service) are starting to reach some of the biggest DH infrastructures. Examples like EGI for managing cloud research space and virtual hosting or EUDAT for data storing are IaaS, Textgrid for working digital editions and Zooinverse for creating collaborative digital projects are PaaS and web-based tools, such as Voyant Tools or IXA Pipes might be considered as SaaS.

However, how are these resources used by DH scholars and groups? The existence of big coordinated infrastructures, such as DARIAH and CLARIN at European level plays an important role for helping researchers to know and enjoy these platforms and tools, but reality is still far from been homogeneous and differs a lot between the different countries.

The challenge proposed is: how could we approach DHers and communities of researchers to discover, use and disseminate these tools?