Big Humanities Data: Description

The Workshop on “Big Data for the Humanities” was held in conjunction with the 2013 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (IEEE BigData 2013), which took place between 6-9 October 2013 in Silicon Valley, California, USA, and which provided a leading international forum for disseminating the latest research in the growing field of “big data”.

The workshop addressed applications of “big data” in the humanities, arts and culture, and the challenges and possibilities that such increased scale brings for scholarship in these areas.

The use of computational methods in the humanities is growing rapidly, with the increasing quantities of born-digital primary sources (such as emails, social media) and the large-scale digitisation programmes applied to libraries and archives. This has resulted in a range of interesting applications and case studies, and at the same time highlights the interpretative issues raised by applying such “hard” methods for answering subjective questions in the humanities.

Moreover, the questions and concerns raised by the humanities themselves have consequences for the interpretation in general of “big data” and the uses to which it is put, and the challenges of producing quality – meaning, knowledge and value – from  quantity. The workshop thus also addressed complementary research that uses the humanities and its methods to provide a critical appraisal of “big data” in other areas, both inside and outside academia.

Research topics covered:

Suggested topics covered by the workshop included, but were not restricted to, the following:

  • Text- and data-mining of historical and archival material.
  • Social media analysis, including sentiment analysis
  • Cultural analytics
  • Crowd-sourcing and big data
  • Cyber-infrastructures for the humanities
  • Relationship between ‘small data’ and big data
  • NoSQL databases and their application, e.g. document and graph databases
  • Big data and the construction of memory and identity
  • Big data and archival practice
  • Construction of big data
  • Big data in Heritage

Paper Submission:

Full-length papers were accepted through the online submission system. Full papers could be up to 9 pages in length, and were submitted as a PDF formatted according to the IEEE Computer Society Proceedings Manuscript Formatting GuidelinesLaTex Formatting Macros.

We also encouraged submission of short papers (up to 4 pages) reporting work in progress.

All papers accepted for the workshop were included in the Workshop Proceedings published by the IEEE Computer Society Press, which was made available at the Conference.

Important dates:

  • July 30, 2013 Extended to 6 August 2013: Due date for submission of full workshop papers
  • August 20, 2013: Notification of paper acceptance to authors
  • September 10, 2013: Camera-ready versions of accepted papers
  • October 8, 2013: Workshop

Program Chairs:

  • Dr. Mark Hedges, Centre for e-Research, Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, UK.
  • Dr. Tobias Blanke, King’s College London, Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities, UK.
  • Prof. Richard Marciano, Sustainable Archives and Leveraging Technologies (SALT) lab, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA.

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