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DIGIWARMEMO
A Digital Humanities approach to re-use the
First World War online archives
Daniel Alves (New University of Lisbon, PT)
David Bodenhamer (Indiana University, USA)
Paul Ell (Queen’s University Belfast, UK)
ICARUS Meeting #20, Madrid, October 2017
Introduction
• The Web as a “natural archive” for the First
World War memory
• The project DIGIWARMEMO
• The research consortium
• The proposed methodology
The First World War on the Web
• A world wide memorial event
• Many different resources: digital libraries and
archives, institutional repositories, academic
research projects, memorials and other
commemorative sites, both official and folk
• The International Internet Preservation
Consortium recently estimated more than
1,600 websites in 13 different languages
covering 25 countries
The First World War on the Web
• Much of this digital material, whether in texts,
images, places and objects, and monuments
of memory, among other records, are
unstructured, disconnected and poorly
contextualized
• And they exist on different platforms and in
different formats, in several languages, and
refer to very broad times and spaces with
different scales
The First World War on the Web
• We could call it “big data” but we could also
call it “hidden data”
• Because of its complexity, its lack of context,
its missing linkage it could be extremely hard
in the future to access, analyze, and preserve
this information
• The concept of “natural archive” could apply
here if we can find a way to deal with those
deep roots of memory that remain “silent” in
the (online) sources.
The First World War on the Web
• Some examples (British, German and
Portuguese) of the sources available
• Military records, lists of casualties, pensions,
photos, diaries, memorials, newspapers
The project DIGIWARMEMO
• David Bodenhamer, Paul Ell and Daniel Alves started
working on the idea of the project in May 2016 to
apply to the Digging into Data Challenge
• The project was then titled Geographies of Death
• Seeking to link and mine a variety of data sources,
both administrative (census, military, etc.) and
popular (newspapers, photo collections, local
repositories, etc.) to discover spatial and socio-
economic patterns about soldiers and the local
memories created about them
The project DIGIWARMEMO
• A specialist workshop was carried out on January
2017 in Lisbon to prepare a proposal for a H2020 call
• The project grown, with a consortium including
researchers from 9 European countries and the USA,
and 13 universities or research centres
• The project was named Geographies of loss,
geographies of memory: accessing, mapping and
preserving our digital heritage about the First World
War
• Acronym: DIGWARMEMO
The project DIGIWARMEMO
• The project was not selected for the second phase of
the H2020 call, on May 2017, but got very good
reviews from the evaluation panel
• With exploratory grants from Belfast University,
Passau University and New University of Lisbon the
team get together again on June in Belfast and will
have a third specialist workshop in November in
Passau
• The goal is to apply to another H2020 call on March
2018
The research consortium
• Austria: University of Graz
• Belgium: University of Ghent
• France: Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté
• Germany: University of Passau
• Netherlands: Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van
Wetenschappen (DANS-KNAW)
• Poland: Uniwersytet Pedagogiczny w Krakowie
• Portugal: New University of Lisbon (PI) and FCCN
• UK: Queen’s University Belfast, Goldsmiths, Lancaster
University and University of Chester
• USA: The Polis Center Indiana University, Indianapolis
The research consortium
• Combination of computer science, data archiving,
digital humanities and historical expertise
• A complementary network of expertises:
– computer science, information science, semantic
computing, text mining or digital preservation
– spatial methodologies
– historical research
– digital humanities
• Strong connections established between several
partners of the consortium on past projects
Proposed methodology
• The project will gather, link and compare multiple
digital records about soldiers
• Will try to achieve reliable and comprehensive data
that will facilitate the development of transnational
histories
• Such data will then be linked to the place of origin of
those soldiers to examine the effects of the War
• Data on memorials and newspapers will also be used
to track processes of memory across time and place
Proposed methodology
• Develop an ontology of memories of loss
• Make use of linked open data that can be shared in a
common format and semantically contextualized
• Use of the CIDOC-CRM standard to create the data
model of the personal information
• Build specific algorithms to automatically scan
different kind of sources and extract information
using Convolutional Neural Networks and NLP
• Connect all the data with its spatial dimensions
trough geographic ontologies, historical gazetteers
and GIS
Ambition of the project
• We hope that with this approach it will be
possible to extract meaning from all of those
sources to better understand, for instance,
both the life paths of a generation of soldiers
and the impact their loss had on communities
both then and later, allowing us to
comprehend major cultural, social and
economical influences of the War in Europe
Thank you!
alves.r.daniel@gmail.com
@DanielAlvesFCSH

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ICARUS-Meeting #20 | The Age of Digital Technology: Documents, Archives and Society - Daniel Alves, David Bodenhamer and Paul Ell: DIGIWARMEMO: A Digital Humanities Approach to Re-Use the First World War Online Archives

  • 1. DIGIWARMEMO A Digital Humanities approach to re-use the First World War online archives Daniel Alves (New University of Lisbon, PT) David Bodenhamer (Indiana University, USA) Paul Ell (Queen’s University Belfast, UK) ICARUS Meeting #20, Madrid, October 2017
  • 2. Introduction • The Web as a “natural archive” for the First World War memory • The project DIGIWARMEMO • The research consortium • The proposed methodology
  • 3. The First World War on the Web • A world wide memorial event • Many different resources: digital libraries and archives, institutional repositories, academic research projects, memorials and other commemorative sites, both official and folk • The International Internet Preservation Consortium recently estimated more than 1,600 websites in 13 different languages covering 25 countries
  • 4. The First World War on the Web • Much of this digital material, whether in texts, images, places and objects, and monuments of memory, among other records, are unstructured, disconnected and poorly contextualized • And they exist on different platforms and in different formats, in several languages, and refer to very broad times and spaces with different scales
  • 5. The First World War on the Web • We could call it “big data” but we could also call it “hidden data” • Because of its complexity, its lack of context, its missing linkage it could be extremely hard in the future to access, analyze, and preserve this information • The concept of “natural archive” could apply here if we can find a way to deal with those deep roots of memory that remain “silent” in the (online) sources.
  • 6. The First World War on the Web • Some examples (British, German and Portuguese) of the sources available • Military records, lists of casualties, pensions, photos, diaries, memorials, newspapers
  • 7. The project DIGIWARMEMO • David Bodenhamer, Paul Ell and Daniel Alves started working on the idea of the project in May 2016 to apply to the Digging into Data Challenge • The project was then titled Geographies of Death • Seeking to link and mine a variety of data sources, both administrative (census, military, etc.) and popular (newspapers, photo collections, local repositories, etc.) to discover spatial and socio- economic patterns about soldiers and the local memories created about them
  • 8. The project DIGIWARMEMO • A specialist workshop was carried out on January 2017 in Lisbon to prepare a proposal for a H2020 call • The project grown, with a consortium including researchers from 9 European countries and the USA, and 13 universities or research centres • The project was named Geographies of loss, geographies of memory: accessing, mapping and preserving our digital heritage about the First World War • Acronym: DIGWARMEMO
  • 9. The project DIGIWARMEMO • The project was not selected for the second phase of the H2020 call, on May 2017, but got very good reviews from the evaluation panel • With exploratory grants from Belfast University, Passau University and New University of Lisbon the team get together again on June in Belfast and will have a third specialist workshop in November in Passau • The goal is to apply to another H2020 call on March 2018
  • 10. The research consortium • Austria: University of Graz • Belgium: University of Ghent • France: Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté • Germany: University of Passau • Netherlands: Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (DANS-KNAW) • Poland: Uniwersytet Pedagogiczny w Krakowie • Portugal: New University of Lisbon (PI) and FCCN • UK: Queen’s University Belfast, Goldsmiths, Lancaster University and University of Chester • USA: The Polis Center Indiana University, Indianapolis
  • 11. The research consortium • Combination of computer science, data archiving, digital humanities and historical expertise • A complementary network of expertises: – computer science, information science, semantic computing, text mining or digital preservation – spatial methodologies – historical research – digital humanities • Strong connections established between several partners of the consortium on past projects
  • 12. Proposed methodology • The project will gather, link and compare multiple digital records about soldiers • Will try to achieve reliable and comprehensive data that will facilitate the development of transnational histories • Such data will then be linked to the place of origin of those soldiers to examine the effects of the War • Data on memorials and newspapers will also be used to track processes of memory across time and place
  • 13. Proposed methodology • Develop an ontology of memories of loss • Make use of linked open data that can be shared in a common format and semantically contextualized • Use of the CIDOC-CRM standard to create the data model of the personal information • Build specific algorithms to automatically scan different kind of sources and extract information using Convolutional Neural Networks and NLP • Connect all the data with its spatial dimensions trough geographic ontologies, historical gazetteers and GIS
  • 14. Ambition of the project • We hope that with this approach it will be possible to extract meaning from all of those sources to better understand, for instance, both the life paths of a generation of soldiers and the impact their loss had on communities both then and later, allowing us to comprehend major cultural, social and economical influences of the War in Europe