I attended the Digital Humanities conference for the Benelux, held at the IISG in Amsterdam, 7–8 June. This was my first DHBenelux conference and my second DH conference overall.

During DHd2018 (for the German-language area, held in Cologne) I got the hang of tweeting out my conference and that’s the way I’ll discuss what I saw this year. I couldn’t tweet everything I saw, so please look at the conference program to see what the other tracks talked about.

First conference day, 7 June

Currently, I’m working on a project that works with Linked Open Data, CTS and CapiTains, so this presentation was a great opener. CTS and CapiTainS enable the easy integration of canical texts (like from Greek or Latin literature) in a website, that work with unambiguous passage identifiers and web APIs.

The slides were published afterwards.

The fragility of web resources is something that comes back time and time again in this field. Just as I’ve given a guest workshop to a group of Archiving students, the example server broke. I saved some pages from my cache, but it was less than ideal to demonstrate to a group of students.

Trismegistos was presented as a great base to link data for the ancient world. It creates stable IDs for items that partner institutes give to them. There is however no API available, no data downloads and no clear license.

Above tweets came from a round table discussion about the role of libraries in DH and data science research. The live polls were a nice touch to not only involve the audience passively, but also have a point to start talking about in the discussion afterwards. The questions asked and the propositions by the presenters were strongly-worded to spark discussion.

The conference dinner concluded the first day of DHBenelux.

Second conference day, 8 June

This round-table “Applying DH techniques to a cultural heritage environment” was a really nice one. I saw examples of projects working with Sparql and RDF, that first provide an API, on which other institutes, projects and people can build. This seperation of concerns helps the sustainability of the data (a recurring issue even in this report :laughcry:).

This session about Linked Open Data gave some clear examples how the Open aspect of LOD enables cross-referencing between projects.

Next came the poster and software demo session. It was unfortunate that the demos were in a side-room and that I had too little time to talk about all posters (e.g. the one about Syriaca).

Nevertheless I saw a demonstration of ‘Example Based Search’, a way to search through text corpora by means of an target sentence. That target sentence is parsed and the user indicates what parts of that sentence are relevant to the query: the part-of-speech, the literal word, the case or nothing at all. I think it’s an inspirational way of searching through data, that especially makes searching in text corpora easier.

Oh wow I can only say the closing keynote blew my mind. Unfortunately, what was presented was still under wraps, so all I can say is: I had no idea that [REDACTED] was possible to this extent. At the Lowlands music festival, both presenters will show off their rap flow work for a live audience. Go and see that!

Closing

I’ve met a lot of people working in the Benelux digital humanities area, which was exactly the reason I came to DHBenelux. There were really cool presentation, both professionally useful for me and simply technologically amazing. The food was good, I made some friends and I can’t wait for the next (DH2019 in Utrecht?).

Other people

Many other people have also tweeted with the official™ hashtag #dhbenelux. Take a look at those for the other tracks, as well as the blog posts about the conference below. If there are more, please let me know.