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  1. 1. Big Data Requirements in Artsand HumanitiesAndrew Prescott,King’s College LondonMichael Takeo Magruder, Data Flower (Prototype One), 2010
  2. 2. Is there big data in the arts andhumanities?Letter of Gladstone toDisraeli, 1878: BritishLibrary, Add. MS.44457, f. 166The political and literarypapers of Gladstonepreserved in the BritishLibrary comprise 762volumes containingapprox. 160,000documents.
  3. 3. George W. Bush Presidential Library:200 million e-mails4 million photographs
  4. 4. Big Data Types in the Humanities• Strong cross-over with social science data needs:retail, transport, utility, government data all likelyto be useful – particularly important is theconcern over time (historians want very old data)• Humanities will contribute to creation of big datasets across disciplines e.g. Old Weather• Long-standing engagement in some disciplineswith big data eg linguistic corpora, library andarchive catalogues
  5. 5. Big Data Types in the Humanities• Book scans: Google, Internet Archive. But bigdata in humanities not just text.• Image data – ranging from Rembrandt to borndigital• Sound• Moving images• Cartographic data increasingly important(again historical dimension important)
  6. 6. Big Data Types in the Humanities• Complex data objects will become ofincreasing importance and will pose verychallenging issues• 3-D archaeological reconstructions• Virtual environments• Games• Social media• Digital artworks
  7. 7. Michael Takeo Magruder, Data Sea (2010):
  8. 8. Fabio Lattanzi Antinori,The Obelisk (2012): Open Data Institute:
  9. 9. Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway, Most Blue Skies, 2010:
  10. 10. Mark Hansen + Ben Rubin, Listening Post(2002-6)
  11. 11. Big Data Issues in Arts and Humanities• There has been a strong engagement with curationissues, but limited achievement with infrastructure• Data objects are likely to be complex in character (e.g.artworks, virtual worlds) posing curation issues• Digitised material still significant (family history,newspapers, multi-media), so IP/proprietary issuessignificant• Infrastructure issues: skills at all levels, access toequipment and network, culture of lone scholar andlead academic
  12. 12. Big Data Issues in the Arts andHumanities• Complexity deluge rather than data deluge• Awareness of the issues posed by provenance of data• Need to investigate layers of data (complicated by need toexamine data across time)• Methodological uncertainty: need to drill down seen as justas strong as looking at wider picture• No tradition of data-driven research• Where does probability and prediction fit in?• Worries aboout completeness and accuracy (small datamentalities)• But on the other hand, arts and humanities bring a range ofcritical tools to bear
  13. 13. Big Data Opportunities in the Arts andHumanities• Use data to identify problems that we hadn’t seenbefore• Use new types of data in a more interactive fashion egfilm, moving image, sound – this raises new types ofresearch question• Open up non-canonical material• Digital arts can help create new types of interface andvisualisation: reconnection of arts and sciences• Tim Sherratt: ‘It’s about transformation. It’s abouttaking cultural heritage collections and changing them.Changing what we can do with them. Changing how wesee them. Changing how we think about them’.