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Marathon On Digital Humanities

Maratona DH: Eccellenza in testa

(Digital Humanities Marathon: Excellence ahead)

This conference report is being written live with all the challenges involved. I'm listening to talks in Italian and writing English notes which means that I will make all sorts of (amusing, I hope) mistakes. Email me with corrections.

I'm participating in a five-day "marathon" of digital humanities mini-conferences. Each day we will be in a different city hearing from/about digital humanities work at five different "excellence projects." Excellence projects are nationally funded major projects that are funded for five years. The five centres are:

  • Verona
  • Bergamo
  • Modena
  • Venice
  • Udine

This was organized by Paolo Frassi at Verona with the leads at the other four centres including Maria Grazia Cammarota (Bergamo), Marina Bondi (Modena), Franz Fischer (Venice), and Emmanuela Colombi (Udine). My fellow members of the advisory board of Verona were Roberto Roselli Del Turco and Marie-Claude L'Homme.

The program is at Marathon Program


The marathon opened in Verona in the fabulous Santa Marta complex which used to be the bakery of the Austrian army in northern Italy. They have restored and adapted the fascinating buildings keeping some of the infrastructure of massive baking.

Pro-Rector: Roberto Giacobazzi

Dr. Giacobazzi gave the opening welcome. He is the vice-rector and is from medicine and talked about how computing is a science of interpretation. He predicted that soon we will all program in the sense of working with machines. He pointed out that we already deal with machines daily.

Roberta Facchinetti

The chair of the department of Languages and Literatures

Digital humanities is not yet recognized as an autonomous discipline. Despite the institutional structures which hinder DH in Italy, they have been able to develop into a network of excellence projects like those we will visit today.

Marina Buzzoni: President of AIUCD

Dr. Buzzoni is the president of the Italian DH Association. She gave us a welcome and talked about the

She talked about what DH is not. First, it is not a short cut. They don't speed up work, but often make it more complex. They make it interdisciplinary. Second, it doesn't just involve computers, but brings in computational thinking. It brings in intellectual methods and tools, not just gadgets. DH has a value for knowledge. We can create new ways of knowing and new worlds ... worlds that are more inclusive and collaborative. The humanities have been solipsistic, DH can bring in collaborations across epistemologies. DH can also address a broader public. DH is an opportunity to make the world a better place.

Bruno Fasani

Dr. Fascini is the librarian (Biblioteca Capitolare) and talked about how contemporary society tends to think that culture is just a way to feed the economy. He congratulated us on animating the great river of classical thought. He quoted a writer (Ionio Donnigi) for whom we have moved from the literature of knowledge to the literature of power. There is no time for stories (history). He believes that the human sciences need to recognize how computing is not just an efficiency - there is a digital creativity or a creativity of digital. These are not just technologies, but ways in which the old ideas can be reborn. We in DH are the inheritors of the god of memory. The digital also needs some humility and it needs its memory or history (which the humanities can provide.)

We will be in the Biblioteca Capitolare this afternoon.

Paolo Frassi

Dr. Frassi, the project manager of the Verona excellence project, talked about the design of the marathon. The idea was to have thematic days, not just days of talking about what happened in one place. He then gave an overview of the project here in Verona thanking the various section heads.

Didactics and DH

Manuel Boschiero (Università di Verona), Per una didattica accessibile delle lingue straniere: esperienze e prospettive

Dr. Boschiero talked about inclusion and the digital humanities. He mentioned how the pandemic actually provoked us all to think about accessibility. This aspect of the project in Verona looked at building expertise in accessibility through hardware and software. They have been experimenting with Moodle plug-ins like Ally and ReadSpeaker.

They didn't just experiment with technologies, but they developed instructor training to help them think through blended learning as a way of delivering courses. They developed workshops and video tutorials to help colleagues.

They also developed research experiments; the first on an inclusive Russian course for sight-impaired learners. This then helped them design similar courses for other languages. They are now funded to develop courses and not just for university students.

They wanted to extend the culture of inclusion and accessibility so it wasn't just a matter for experts. They want to make it normal and sustainable. It has to be practicable in everyday teaching.

They learned that accessibility and inclusion is an important field for interdisciplinary research. You need the research to make inclusion sustainable. Blended learning is also important beyond the pandemic.

Inclusion can be difficult, not just for the instructor, but also for the students.

They have now made inclusion a strategic initiative. The next excellence project proposal is for "Inclusive Humanities." The digital humanities project evolved into an inclusive humanities idea.

Chiara Battisti (Università di Verona), Laboratori e Tirocini e corsi blended: formazione futuri insegnanti e aggiornamento insegnanti di ruolo

Dr. Battisti talked about research into how digital resources can be used to train language teachers who will teach in schools. They developed and delivered blended courses for French teachers. Accessibility and inclusion were also woven in. They will soon be rolling out continuing education courses that are fee based which should make them sustainable.

They also have a Teaching Lab: Methodologies, Technologies, and Practicum. This lab is open to all sorts of BA and MA students. It gives students an overview of teaching languages/literatures with a practicum in teaching in a school. What a great idea! They are now even involving international colleagues.

A student who took the course talked about how useful the Teaching Lab was. He talked about the structure of the course which had a theoretical part and a practicum. He talked about how challenging it is to start teaching with little experience and how helpful it is to have a practicum.

Giovanni Luca Tallarico (Università di Verona), Corsi blended per aziende ed utenti esterni

Dr. Tallarico talked about a project looking at communicative practices in businesses in and around Verona. They are bridging the academic and business aspects of language learning and communication. Verona gets lots of tourists and has a large international wine industry. They designed and delivered courses on professional communication. The courses they developed were delivered entirely online. They were free, but there was an attempt at a paid course. They wonder why they didn't get enough students. They needed new strategies for promotion and now they have had successful courses at a reasonable fee.

He played a video with interventions from students talking about their experience in the courses. Both students worked in local companies and wanted to learn specific language competencies.

Patrizia Anesa (Università di Bergamo). Online self-directed courses in LSP teacher training

Dr. Anesa talked about a TRAILs LSP Teacher Training Summer School. LSP is Language for Specific Purposes. LSP teachers often don't know much about the field or how others do it. There is a big gap between the literature and the real needs of teachers. The TRAILs project then designed a questionnaire for LSP teachers in different countries. She gave an overview of the results of the survey. Interestingly the teachers were often highly qualified (PhDs) but rarely got specific LSP training. Now they have developed a MOOC - self directed course.

Anna Cappellotto e Annalisa Pes (Università di Verona), Corsi di Studio di area umanistica con declinazione digitale: l’offerta del Dipartimento di Lingue e Letterature Straniere

Dr. Cappellotto talked about their new BAs in digital humanities and languages/literatures. Students learn foreign languages and literatures along with digital humanities labs. They learn text encoding, programming, web development and so on. They also have a neat internships at other DH centres. Students can go on to careers in archives, publishers, and so on.

Dr. Pes then talked about the upcoming new Master's degree in Languages, Literatures and Digital Cultures. The courses are in English. There is a section on languages and literatures. There is section dedicated to the study of critical methodologies and use of digital instruments for the interpretation, translation, critical analysis of text in a foreign language. It is a 2 year degree.

There are practical components both on the teaching of languages and in DH. The DH components are mostly focused on skills around text encoding and linguistic analysis with a web/social media component. They have a computational thinking courses which looks like a CS course for humanists. They don't seem to have a component that takes a critical/humanistic look at computing or digital culture though they have a Juridical/Ethical Issues course.

Again they are planning a internship component to go to other universities - something that is a great idea.

I'm struck how different DH is here in Europe. It is much more influenced by digital editing and philology. Nothing on video games (though they plan for a Digital Storytelling course.) Nothing on big data or AI. I'm tempted to call this "classical" DH and it makes sense given the strengths of the department and

Maria Grazia Cammarota (Università di Bergamo), Laurea Magistrale in Metodologie informatiche per le discipline


Dr. Cammarota talked about the Master's in Text Sciences and Culture Enhancement in the Digital Age. She talked about the politics, but I don't understand them well enough. Something about LM 43 (????)

Their program brings together digital humanities and translation. She talked about all of us have to deal with the digital as the pandemic showed us. We all need to make informed decisions about when and how to use digital methods and communications. This is true in museums, archives, language work, etc. Students want competencies in international work that include digital competencies combined with language/ translation skills.

They hope to attract international students and they have a collaboration with Riga (Latvia) for shared courses.

There is a common first year and then two streams, one more literary and one more digital. The Bergamo course list seems to be much more open to transmedia courses including courses on digital visual culture.

They are now creating in Bergamo a Research Centre on Digital Humanities and a network (like that of this marathon.) I must say that I'm pleased to see the consolidation of collaboration.

Gabriele Giacomini (Università di Udine), L5 Filosofia e trasformazione digitale

Dr. Giacomini came in from Udine to talk about Philosophy and Digital Transformation. This is a L5 (???) degree. He talked about the writers problem and the failure of technological solutions like Hugo Gernsback's The Isolator. Philosophy takes extreme cases to try to resolve them. Technologies have made real differences but aren't always solutions. They are hammers that see the world as nails. (Of course, philosophy could be accused of similar habits of "problem solving.")

The program at Udine will include the usual philosophy with a strong IT component including dialogue with technology experts, identification of technological and social trends, and understanding the uses of IT in organizations and companies.

Will there be a philosophy of science/technology component? Would they teach Ellul, Foucault, Feenberg, Winner, Agre ...

He then asked, why philosophy? He talked about the history of dialogue with other sciences. He talked about the vocation of principles, the systematic vocation, and normative vocation. It sounds like a strong ethics component. I felt that they were missing a component of historical ontology - Ian Hacking's repurposing of Foucault's work on understanding the evolution of concepts. Perhaps that is what he means about the vocation of principles - the unpacking of assumptions like the "speed" of technological change.

He talked about philosophy's role understanding other disciplines. This is a common theme in philosophy - that we think through the foundations of other disciplines, but is it really true? Probably, but it feels like a story we tell ourselves in philosophy in order to justify our existence. It deserves to be examined with the same rigour we use on the assumptions of others.

Debora Paci (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Master in Digital Public History

Dr. Paci talked about a MA in public history that has evolved into "Public & Digital History". Public history is about the uses of history outside of the academy. The field looks at the communication of history which is why the digital is now important. Citizen science is important. They are moving from the public square to the virtual public square. It aims to return to historians and history a central role in the public sphere. (Did it ever have a central role? Or is this another disciplinary vanity like those of philosophy?)

She talked about how PH reminds the historian of their commitment to public engagement. It is not a matter of trickle-down history, but reminding people of the need for rigorous analysis of histories. Huizinga talked about a shift to the visual. Public history doesn't start from the past, but from the present. For this reason we need to understand the shift to visual and now virtual. They are trying to combine a traditional training in methodology with understanding of digital communication, but are there assumptions built into our ideas of methodologies? Are we pouring old methods into new bottles?

She asked how we can dialogue with a public given the splintering of the public sphere? The CLAM are rich with materials that can be remediated.

She talked with passion about human-centred design and how we need to start from the user.

Franz Fischer, MA in Digital and Public Humanities

Dr. Fischer talked about the MA at Ca' Foscari, University of Venice. It is in English. He gave the example of archaeology - it includes archaeology by the public, public sector archaeology, open archaeology, ... The point is again that it is not the communication of history to the public but the involvement of publics.

He talked about how their MA may be a bit of a minestrone having been developed bottom-up. They have public art history components and heritage/archaeology components.

Literary and Philological Patrimony

We then switched to a new topic.

Paola Peratello (Università di Verona), Digital bibliography of Snorri’s Edda

Dr. Peratello talked about the Snorra Edda bibliography. The bibliography is an online database (in Zotero) that has a collaborative component. It will soon be available through the TEI Publisher with a powerful search interface that she demonstrated.

She talked about how PH reminds the historian of their commitment to public engagement. It is not a matter of trickle-down history, but reminding people of the need for rigorous analysis of histories. Huizinga talked about a shift to the visual. Public history doesn't start from the past, but from the present. For this reason we need to understand the shift to visual and now virtual. They are trying to combine a traditional training in methodology with understanding of digital communication, but are there assumptions built into our ideas of methodologies? Are we pouring old methods into new bottles?

She asked how we can dialogue with a public given the splintering of the public sphere? The CLAM are rich with materials that can be remediated.

She talked with passion about human-centred design and how we need to start from the user.

Franz Fischer, MA in Digital and Public Humanities

Dr. Fischer talked about the MA at Ca' Foscari, University of Venice. It is in English. He gave the example of archaeology - it includes archaeology by the public, public sector archaeology, open archaeology, ... The point is again that it is not the communication of history to the public but the involvement of publics.

He talked about how their MA may be a bit of a minestrone having been developed bottom-up. They have public art history components and heritage/archaeology components.

(I'm hoping that the Smithsonian Barbie letter is part of the curriculum.)

Literary and Philological Patrimony

We then switched to a new topic.

Paola Peratello (Università di Verona), Digital bibliography of Snorri’s Edda

Dr. Peratello talked about the Snorra Edda Online Bibliography. The bibliography is an online database (in Zotero) that has a collaborative component. It will soon be available through the TEI Publisher with a powerful search interface that she demonstrated.

She talked about converting the Zotero database to XML TEI so that the TEI Publisher could be used.

Matteo Al Kalak (Università di Modena), La Medialibrary Lodovico e il Centro DHMoRe

In Modena they have created a Centre for Interdepartmental Research on Digital Humanities. the "Enzo Ferrari" engineering department is a partner. Their objectives include "encouraging the start-up of cultural ... initiatives".

Lodovico is a digital library with 90,000 digitized pages that has 10 participating cultural institutions. The pandemic actually accelerated things in terms of digitization.

The challenge of Lodovico is the federated treatment of cultural heritage. They can gather manuscripts that are separated. They can mix and merge works from different institutions. They hope to encourage unforeseen paths of research. (I wonder if they have seen Nines and the way they let people publish new trajectories through the materials.

Lodovico has a neat feature that shows you not only items in their database, but also searches an open catalogue. In turn their data should show up when others search the open catalogue.

They have a collaboration to train hand writing algorithms as they have a lot of data and have played with reversing the poles to generate new writing by authors.

After lunch

We then shifted to the Biblioteca Capitolare which is supposed to be one of the oldest libraries in the world.

Stefano Neri (Verona) Progetto Mambrino BD Bibliografico

Dr. Neri talked about one aspect of the Progetto Mambrino, namely the database. In a later day we will hear more about the project. The PM is digitizing a corpus of Italian romances of chivalry originally in Spanish. There have been a set of cycles of translations, sequels, and so on. The romances are full of magic, adventure and so on. They have about 350 different editions.

They talk about world literature as the books circulate all over the Renaissance world in translations, new sequels and so on. The PM is focused on the Italian editions. They have a complex of collaborations around the bibliographic database, the semantic database and the digital editions.

He showed the web site including the bibliographic database which has a faceted browser. Then he talked about advanced features they hope to add including visualizations, data exchanges and a multi-lingual interface.

Valerio Nardoni ((Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Per una antologia multimediale della poesia spagnola

Dr. Nardoni talked about a project to video tape Spanish poets. He would ask them the same questions including who he should interview next. The interviews are similar in structure and yet have a character due to the idiosyncrasies of each poet. From this came a book.

Of course the next step was to digitize the hours of video and create a web site. He talked about a minimal collection that he created of poetry by the poets interviewed.

Valeria Averoldi (Università di Verona), DUBI: The Du Bellay et l'Italie project

Dr. Averoldi talked about the project DUBI which looks at the works of the Du Bellay family that are from the Frrench 1500s. They have created a database of all the works by Du Bellay in Italian libraries. They have collaborators who do book history or 16th century French literature. At the moment the data is in Zotero which will be exported in TEI to another platform. Their database has information about book bindings, the provenance, and so on to understand the circulation of books.

She talked about publications and collaborations.

Anderson Magalhaes (Università di Verona), The poet and his books: the digital library of Joachim Du Bellay

Dr. Magalhaes then talked about the project DUBOE “Du Bellay A L’Oeuvre”. This project is reconstituting the library of Joachim Du Bellay. The then library has been dispersed and now they are trying to reconstitute it. They have an inventory that is complete that lets us study what a humanist’s reading would be.

Emanuel Stelzer (Università di Verona), Classical and Early Modern Paradoxes in England

Dr. Stelzer talked about the CEMP (Classical and Early Modern Paradoxes in England. They have been doing research with open and closed sources to find paradoxes and similar work. They are then publishing critical editions and presenting papers on their work.

Felice Gambin (Università di Verona), BiDialogyca

Dr. Gambin’s project is contributing to a bibliographic database of Spanish dialogues. He talked about the definition of the corpus. Dialogues and colloquia and miscellany, many translated into Italian.

They have gathered a first census of the editions of dialogues. They are networking with libraries, archives and other cataloguing centres. They are trying to then acquire digital scans of the works. And now they are starting case studies.

He showed screenshots of a web site. It was hard to tell how much is done. The project feels like it is still in a “having fun networking and thinking about what to do” phase. May we all spend our academic lives imagining what could be.

Sidia Fiorato and Anmol Deep Singh (Università di Verona) Mapping literary wor(l)ds

Dr. Fiorato started by talking about settings in English novels. They are mapping spaces following Moretti. To do this they are geoparsing to identify place names and then assigning a coordinate. They use close reading to identify locations. Places are cultural symbols. The geographic maps generate mental maps. Fiorato showed a map of London as marked by the novels they chose. She interpreted the way some novels start in certain parts of London to move to the centre. From the margins to the centre.

She then talked about Benjamin’s idea of the “flaneur” or the man walking, alone, drifting in the streets.

Singh then talked about another map that show two sides of London. Then he talked about Maurice, a novel about finding a place for a queer community. Where to put an imaginary place?

Laura Colombo (Università di Verona), L’indexation de la Gazette des Femmes, entre histoire, ‘inclusion’ et modernité au XIXe siècle

Dr. Colomba talked about her project to create a database of a woman’s journal. She is creating a database of articles. She has taken scans of many pages. She is working out all the pseudonyms used by authors. The editorial politics are also interesting. She talked about the interesting types of interventions. The journal is an important witness of the period. It commented on and contextualized women’s art and literature.


Tavola Rotonda: Manoscritti ed edizioni nella trasformazione digitale.

The first round table was coordinated by Adele Cipolla (Università di Verona) with interventions by Maria Grazia Cammarota (Università di Bergamo), Emanuela Colombi (Università di Udine), Franz Fischer (Università di Venezia), and Roberto Rosselli Del Turco (Università di Torino).

Cammarota talked about the importance of philology; how it makes our historical texts interpretable and brings interdisciplinary facets. She talked about the opportunities of digital editions.

Colombi asked why, if the scientific world is welcoming digital editions, the paper edition is still common. She asked what changes in digital editions. The digital needs more than gadgets. She talked about the need of the user to be able to read in whatever form they want, both the original or modern editions. She talked about how philology is one of the most important things to pass on.

Fischer talked about how an edition should be prepared to suit a network. He sees the scientific edition as a digital edition of which the printed edition is just one output. The digital is the living resource. Print is a dead “end” that we may want to read in hand, but it does not support the science.

Rosselli Del Turco talked about the lack of knowledge of what critical editions are and philology. He talked about the interface of the digital which is not as easy to read. Again, the digital is a superset that can be used to generate print.

There was an exchange about the labels. Is there a difference between digital and traditional philology? Rosselli Del Turco seemed to argue that there is not difference other than that of the tools used. I would argue that philology is a label for set of practices and that many of those practices have been rearranged in other disciplines.

Fischer argued that there is a big difference between digital and traditional philology. Perhaps for Italian philologists with a strict view of the critical text there is no difference. For Fischer the scientific edition is a very different sort of edition from the digital.

For me philology is a tradition of practices that are important in Italy, but in other countries the practices are not necessarily gathered the same way. It could be that the practices are still important, but they may go under other labels. For example they may be called curation? Or textual editing. I want to ask the old question of whether we are in the business of transportation or the business of horses and buggies.

Tavola Rotonda: l ruolo delle biblioteche, degli archivi e dei musei nella trasformazione digitale.

The second round table was coordinated by Anna Bognolo (Università di Verona) with interventions by Daniela Brunelli (Biblioteca Universitaria A. Frinzi, Università di Verona), Fausta Piccoli (Musei Civici, Verona), Timothy Leonardi (Biblioteca Capitolare di Verona), and Francesco Lo Monaco (Università di Bergamo).

Bognolo asked about how libraries are protagonists. She asked what digital initiatives have your institutions embarked on? What challenges and successes have you encountered? How can we encourage collaboration between researchers and libraries?

Brunelli talked about the role of the researcher in the economy of journals. Libraries have to sustain the costs of journal publication which are beginning to become unsustainable. In fact the library has to continually cut subscriptions. As researchers we need to think about publishing more in open access venues. We need to do open science instead of paying to the big publishing houses. She then talked about how students, the so-called digital natives, are not actually proficient users of digital resources. As a result they have to run all sorts of workshops to train students to use the resources.

Piccoli talked about museums. She talked about a recent show that has multimedia elements integrated. They created apps that explained the shows and games for kids. The app will be brought back to the museum and adapted to new uses. There seems to be a national aspect to this. (I can’t help thinking that they will find that maintaining an app is expensive.) She mentioned something about adapting the app to show the locations of Juliet.

Lo Monaco started by saying that his perspective is one of a medieval philologist. He talked about really large text databases like the Internet Archives and Google books. We have incredible access. Some countries have ambitious projects that are digitizing everything. The Italian situation on the other hand is tragic. There are so many rich libraries that are doing nothing. We need coordinated projects that make possible scientific work.

Leonardi talked about how his library lost decades when they didn’t accession key works. Now they are trying to catch up. They had to set up a private foundation with an entrepreneurial aspect which is helping them look at digitizing. They seem to have a number of church obligations that commit them to certain paths. Now they are forming partnerships for the study of their manuscripts. What is interesting is that they are successful at fund raising. He talked about their aims and investments to get there.

Brunelli talked about how U of Verona are working with the Biblioteca Capitolare.

And that was the end of day 1 of the marathon.

Day Two: Bergamo

On the second day we were at the University of Bergamo in the lovely old walled town on the hill. This day was hosted by the Progetto di Eccellenza Studi sulla traduzione e Digital Humanities (Excellence Project, Studies on Translation and Digital Humanities.)

Linguistics, Translation and DH

Laura Gavioli (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), L’interpretazione dialogica – verso un archivio digitale

Gavioli talked about a project developing a corpus of healthcare dialogues that involve translation. There are very few such corpora. Everyone expects speech recognition to deliver any day. We need authentic dialogue to properly train translators. She showed oral dialogue in ELAN, a tool for transcription and analysis.

She talked about the ethical consent process involved in gathering and transcribing the data. They want to anonymize the data so that it can shared for training. They hope to also analyze it using Clarin tools.

Elisa Sartor (Bergamo) Tra Occidente e Oriente

Sartor talked about the creation of a corpus for the study of relations between France/Hispanic countries on the one hand and China on the other. They are creating the corpora with texts from 1850 to 1939 - texts of key events around the relationships between West and East. (Second Opium War, Boxer Rebellion, Beijing Treaty...)

Nicoletta Armentano (Università di Verona), Corpora DIACOM-fr, DIACOM-es e NEOTUR

Armentano presented about the creation of three corpora that focus on the study of trade terminology in French and Spanish. They have gathered academic texts, press, corporate documentations in various subfields.

NEOTUR is a bit different, it is around the domain of tourism. It has press, websites, papers, institutional texts, but no tourist guides.

These corpora all them to then extract terms specific to the domain. Then they can create domain specific term databases. They can figure out the variety of senses of the terms and so on.

She showed a video of a neat semantic web tool a bit like the Voyant Links tool, but with the ability to show definitions. You can wander from term to term. They are building a social network of words.

Giovanni Garofalo (Università di Bergamo), Traduzione, qualità e strumenti digitali

Garofalo talked about the relationship between technology and translation. Machine translation (MT) has changed the role of the translator. What are the new quality standards imposed by MT?

In the 1990s the model was computer aided translation (CAT). Now we have neural machine translation. The results are extremely satisfactory. He showed a set of translations and challenged us to pick the one by a human.

He showed a funny video of a machine going on and on about a translation. The point was that the system didn't know when to stop.

He talked about how the translator may end up spending time on pre-editing and post-editing for MT. They will handle the local context while the MT handles the work of translation.

Larissa D’Angelo (Università di Bergamo), UNIBG Eye Tracking Lab

D'Angelo has developed an eye-tracking lab to study, for example, how children read children's books. She talked about why this would be interesting. She talked about how we see and build a perspective.

She showed some of the neat tools they have to track gaze, to create heat maps, to also watch the reader's faces to track affect, and so on. They have a traveling kit with glasses that can be set up in schools. Finally they have a HTC Vive Pro Eye VR system to look at

Some of the research includes studies of how children read picturebooks, how reading and learning in museums, measuring emotional impact of blind and visually impaired users, and teaching effective academic poster design. Finally, there is a project titled, "Masculinity Laid Bare: Stripping Playboy and the Metadiscourse of Softcore Photography."

Tommaso Pellin (Università di Bergamo), La traduzione audiovisiva

Pellin talked about work for the audiovisual world - dubbing, subtitling, audio description, localization of videogames, fansubbing, and automated subtitling. Courses on these subjects seem to be very popular.

He talked about fan groups subtitling Japanese anime. He showed how a Chinese streaming site has tools for fansubbing. He talked about some of the software used and showed some tools where you can scrub the video and translate/subtitle. This gives students a taste of the challenges around getting subtitles right (both the translation and duration.)

Gabriella Carobbio (Università di Bergamo), Comunicazione turistica digitale e traduzione: il progetto “Museo poliglotta”

Carobbio talked about the issues around the translation of important cultural experiences into the languages of the tourists. Tourism is important and translation of information can make a real difference.

The MUeSLI (Musei e Scenari Linguistico-culturali ?) project is an applied research project working with various museums. They are bringing students together over social media with tourists. (Did I get it right?) Students would meet with museum staff and crate videos for Instagram.

Doctoral Research

Manuel Garrobo Peral (Università di Verona), Towards a digital database of chivalric festive motifs: AMADIS LUDENS

Peral talked about his plans for a database of motifs built on TEI XML. He walked us through his XML template for motifs in chivalric literature.

Stefano Rozzoni (Università di Bergamo), The cyber-pastoral: posthuman trajectories in contemporary digital

representations of the environment

Rozzoni talked about how the pastoral goes beyond the rural/urban contrast. It can be a way to discuss climate change. Technology progress often comes at the cost of technological pollution. We need to understand the ethical challenges of the virtual. The Digital Humanities could provide us a framework for approaching the ethics and social impact of technology. He uses the cyber-pastoral to challenge technological classifications. He prepared three cyber-pastoral trajectories. It can be interesting to see the pastoral in metaverse(s).

Simone Abbiati (Università di Bergamo), Towards a Computational Geocriticism: the space of IRA and ETA in contemporary fiction

Abbiati is trying to use computational linguistics applied to literature with attention to politically debated spaces. He discussed how computation can help us understand human phenomena like literature. He traced discussion of literary spatiality back to Bakhtin and Bachelard. He then talked about how text analysis and visualization techniques can force us to rethink texts.

Serena Bellotti (Università di Udine), La battaglia dall'Astico al Piave (IT, 1918): infrastruttura per un’edizione critica del film

Bellotti is working on restoring and editing a historical film. She is applying philology to a film. The digital will let her create a scholarly edition. She showed an interface for the web site for the critical edition. She has different witnesses and is examining them. It was fascinating to see the phases of analogue restoration, digital restoration and so on.

I was chair next so can't take notes.

Massimo Riva, Shadow Plays: Virtual realities in an analog world

Riva talked about his recent project Shadow Plays taking us on a tour of how he got to the point of publishing an innovative digital book. His digital monograph was supported by Mellon. It had to be fully interactive, portable across reader applications, capable of supporting metrics while respecting and so on. He quoted Drucker's discussion of the "book" of the future.

For Riva, each digital monograph is its own combination of form and content. His is about a prehistory of virtual reality. The book is about the early peep-show boxes like the Mondo Nuovo painted by Tiepolo - a travelling entertainment of the 18th century. The Mondo Nuovo was also a Goldoni play.

His digital monograph includes 3D models and virtual simulations in Unity of the different optical systems. He wanted to not just model what you saw, but also the user experience of approaching the boxes and then looking in. He also wanted to show the technologies of digitization and modelling.

He used Scalar to then combine the multimedia into a digital book. He commented on how in-person travel and virtual travel were interwoven in the Grant Tour.

The project should be archived both at Stanford and Brown.

He then showed some of the other projects funded by Mellon. One included music.

For Riva this is the end of the isolated humanist. It is future of collaboration.

Day 3: Modena: University of Modena and Reggio Emilia

The director of the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Studies opened and talked about the ritual of opening remarks. For this marathon we are actually getting opening remarks each day from a different chair or pro-rector.

Marina Bondi

Bondi began the day talking about the excellence project at Modena. She is the project manager.

This excellence project is dedicated to "digital communication and digital analysis". They have developed digital resources for "traditional" humanities, but also support new media and support new themes around digital communication.

They have a center DHMoRe (DH for Modena and Reggio Emilia). This center is joint with engineering and even law.

Their doctoral curriculum is around Digital Communication and DH. They have organized summer schools on the subject.

She talked about the DH marathon as a great way to see what different places are doing and to build a network of relations with nearby universities.

Session on Linguistics, Translation and DH

Michele Mannoni: Chinese language and law projects

Mannoni introduced the network of projects around Chinese issues, including linguistics, culture, and law. They have created a number of corpora starting with a Chinese Law Corpus which has about 500 representative texts of law language. A lot of web pages cleaned. They created a spreadsheet with metadata. The second corpus is on international relations.

He then talked about post-tagging of Chinese data. He talked about the challenges of Chinese and how they decided not to introduce POS tagging. There is also a problem with tokenization.

Then there is a question of copyright clearance. Original they only downloaded copyright free texts, but the Italian law has changed so they can now download political speeches.

Stefania Maci (Università di Bergamo), Corpora e software in ambito linguistico

Maci talked about what a corpus is in linguistics - naturally occurring language that are machine readable and authentic. Why use corpora? They let us see how language is used in action.

For gathering data they use Social Bearing, Twitter Archivist, and Octoparse. She talked about tools for analyzing like Word Sketch and LancsBox. She talked about Voyant but complained that you can't save the corpus. (You actually can - it is automatically cached, but it may not be clear.)

She gave a series of examples of what they can do with their corpora and tools.

Adriana Orlandi (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Progetto MUST

Orlandi presented on a project that built a corpus of student translations and the mistakes they make.

J. J. Nocella and Matteo De Cristofaro (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Corpora del progetto CAP

Nocella talked about a corpus of professional and academic communication. It is useful for teaching students. The focus is web communications. The corpora include one on railway CSR reports and then one on health and safety communication. Then they have one that has texts about the cathedral here in Modena (?). It has English and Italian texts. They have images and videos.

De Cristofaro talked about the MoreThesisCorpus which has about 4000 theses over 10 years. They are tagged with "Modest XML". The metadata came from the catalogue cards. They also used a python module to tag paragraphs by language.

I wonder if the license allows for this sort of corpus creation? It is probably a "fair use" for research, but could they then turn around and make the corpus available to others?

Davide Mazzi: Corpora as a digital resource for historical discourse analysis

Mazzi talked about the Irish Newspaper Archive ( which has news from the 18th century. He drew on this to create his corpora.

He wanted to address questions about the representation of "gaeltacht" in the news. What aspects of Irish identity are highlighted? How are the journalists engaging each other and the public? Are different visions of Ireland argued through the news?

He also has a corpora to study the constitution and how it was discussed. It includes news, editorials, letters to the editor. He also is studying O'Connell as a figure and how he was assessed by the print media. Was he a hero or a secret agent of the Vatican?

Finally he has a corpus of letters to the editor that he is starting.

Chiara Preite (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), "Sapori locali": Glossario multilingue sul prodotto tipico

After a pre-covid food fair in 2015 in Milan, they developed a food glossary of typical foods from Emilia. the fair focuses on typical agri-food products that are important to the region. These foods and their business are important to the region and about the region. These bring in issues of the environment and sustainability. The terminological dictionary is in multiple languages. The terms are all related to DOP, DOC and so on.

This is potentially useful to specialists and companies. It can help communicate the specifics of regional foods (like Balsamic vinegar.) Some translations:

  • Ciccioli = Pork cracklings (EN), Cretons (FR)
  • Cappello del prete = Beef clod

They talked about the challenges in translation and implementation in WordPress. The glossary is at

Silvia Cavalieri (Università di Verona), Exploring ESP in the digital arena: InterDiplo, PolDisc and TaLitE

Cavalieri talked about three projects for English for Special Purposes. The first (InterDiplo) was about the spoken language used by diplomats. They collected interviews, and then transcribed with Happy Scribe, and then tagged in XML. They added POS tagging and tags for speeches, questions and answers (in interviews.)

In PolDisc are gathering political texts and studying using critical discourse analysis. They have speeches by Trump, Boris Johnson and so on. They also have tweets, press conferences, debates.

TaLitE is a corpus on travel discourse that focuses on the Western gaze on China. How is China perceived.

Anne Kruijt (Università di Verona), The VinKo Corpus: audio data of the dialects and minority languages of the Triveneto

The VinKo project is a neat project that is using crowdsourcing to study language varieties spoken in Trentino-south Tyrol and Veneto. There are Germanic and Romance varieties. They take audio data through on online site. She showed/played some examples. They have an open map.

They have a public outreach element.

Now they have a subproject called VinKiamo where they have partnered with a local high school. High school students come to the uni and learn about multilingualism and how to be research assistant. The students then go out and talk to elders where the older community members provide language expertise. They get a lot more participation in areas where there are students going out.

They are archiving with the ERCC repository.

This is really one of the most sophisticated projects among those we heard about.

Francesco Zuin e Diego Sidraschi (Università di Udine), Archivi digitali sulle lingue minoritarie

They talked about their observatory on linguistic minorities. They talked about various archives for minority languages. They talked about the purposes of their work. It sounded like they have both research purposes, but also community purposes. The corpora are being built.

The communities they are documenting are small and remote.

Ulrike Kaunzner, Lisa Bardek (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Corpus presentazioni accademiche (tedesco L2)

This project has a collection of 450 student presentations in German. I wonder if they had the choice to be videotaped? It feels problematic to use students to create research corpora.

They then have questionnaires to assess the student presentations. They want to see if the presentations improve and how to give feedback.

Cinzia Spinzi (Università di Bergamo), Digital tools in Audiodescription

This project has been creating audio descriptions for museums. The audio descriptions help people with disabilities. Spinzi has a small lab.

They want to develop professional profiles for audio descriptors. What competencies do they need. She talked even about tactile description (of, for example, a painting.)

How do you describe a cubist painting for someone who is disabled? How do different languages handle analogues (comparisons to analogue things that a listener would know.) "It looks like a bottle ... "

She showed examples of descriptions of art that sounded like wine descriptions with no real connection to the actual image. More abstract similes.

Roundtable on Linguistic Corpora in the Digital Age.

Coordinated by Marina Bondi (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia) with Marie-Claude L’Homme (Université de Montréal), Roberta Facchinetti (Università di Verona), Daniela Capra (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia)

L'Homme started talking about how intuition is not a good guide for terminologists and so they need to build corpora. It used to be that terminologists would build one corpus for a domain. Now they often create multiple corpora or complex corpora that let them compare things within a domain. Specialized corpora become part of the study of knowledge in a domain.

Now terminologists are starting to look not just at text examples, but also oral speech and other sources of knowledge.

They also need to think about copyright.

Facchinetti talked about discourse communities and the discourse of negotiations. Mediators in negotiations are supposed to be neutral. She talked about how the language of diplomats is changing - becoming less neutral and more confrontational.

I ran out of steam and stopped taking notes for a bit.

Nicola Riccardi (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Digital Patriots: The new wave of far-right conservatism in Spain (2013-2021)

Riccardi has a very cool project on the right in Spain. He is using CrowdTangle which seemed to give him some cool tools.

Federico Corradini (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Multimodal Interaction in Online Video Gaming

Corradini is looking at how games are getting professionalized. He is looking at multi-player games as a digital social interaction. He looks at the semiotic resources players have. He is looking at this using multimodal conversation analysis. He wants to take multiple player perspectives.

He is recording player's video and audio in Battle Royale videogames like Fortnite. He uses video editing to merge three views with split screens that are synchronized. Then he uses Elan to annotate the video.

Leonardo Sanna (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Social Media Analysis using word embedding: Exploring echo

chambers and filter bubbles

Sanna is asking of filter bubbles and echo chambers exist and how we can study them. It is hard to study filter bubbles. He is trying to develop an experimental protocol. He had two groups that were progressive and conservative. They were then followed as they watched videos and their behaviour is tracked.

Husnain Raza (Università di Verona), Propaganda Detection in Ukraine-Russia War Tweets: A CDA and Computational


Raza is interested in studying tweets about the Ukraine-Russia war and how they are propaganda. He wants to develop python code to automatically classify propaganda.

Maria Sophia Falcone (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Climate Change in the discourse of GenZ

Falcone talked about gathering data from 3 environmental youth associations. Her corpora included web sites, social media and so on. She had clearance from the associations. She used SketchEngine to analyze data.

The Gen Z seems to be more action oriented. How does her research compare to the sociological literature.

Ilaria Iori (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Framing China in the Covid-19 pandemic.

She is creating a comparative corpus to study how China is represented. There are dehumanising metaphors in discourses about China. "Yellow-Peril language too. It is the metaphors she wants to follow. She gets her content from newspapers including Australian papers.

Day 4

Franz Fischer opened day i3 in Venice. We heard from the pro-rector at Ca Foscari. We were in the Ca Foscari Zatteri (rafts) "Cultural Flow Zone" a conference room in a lovely library with wooden ceilings right on the water.

Marina Buzzoni also talked about how there is a local wing of the CNR Istituto di linguistica computazionale "Antonio Zampolli" (ILC) (Institute of Computational Linguistics). At dinner the night before I had a chance to talk with some of the folk associated with this national research centre and was very impressed by their work.

Franz Fischer (Venice), Introduction to the Centre

Fischer introduced the Venice Centre for Digital and Public Humanities ([ve]dph). They have established an MA programme, a summer school, lots of workshops, and seminar series. They have research in software engineering in collaboration with the CNR-ILC. They have an international journal on Digital and Public Humanities and are a CLARIN Knowledge Centre for Digital and Public Textual Scholarship. They have lots of fellows and visiting professors.

Alas, Fischer mentioned that the excellence project will come to an end and they need to find funding to continue operations at the level they are at.

Above all they have supported all sorts of projects in digital textual scholarship, which includes computational linguistics, and public history, and art history, many of which will be presented.

They have a new MA in Digital Public History.

Musisque Deoque: Martina Venuti (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia) e Angelo Mario Del Grosso (CNR-ILC/Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)

Venuti talked about work on a corpus of Latin poetry. It is a collaborative project that includes not just ancient poets, but also more modern (Renaissance) poets who wrote in Latin. She showed the Galassia MQDQ - a discovery "mask" for finding materials. The critical apparatus is also searchable. Their goal is to reconstruct the poetic memory and the business of the writer of the latin poets. They hope this can be of interest not just to students, but also to the public. She ended by talking about the collaboration with the Zampolli institute and CLARIN that is crucial to sustainability.

Del Grosso has been working on the workflow for the project. They have been looking at the data representation and then updating the databases and tools. He showed how they used a form of markdown (a DLS) created for the project can be previewed in real time. This can be then translated into TEI-XML. The markdown is more efficient for entry. They also have GUI interfaces for annotation. They also have a wiki-like history system for undoing mistakes. Finally, they are building an API for searching the database.

Venuti talked about the issue of credit when you have a large collaboration. How do students get credit for their work.

Adele Cipolla (Università di Verona), Digital Alexanderlied

Cipolla presented a project to create a digital edition of the Tristan from the 13th century. The manuscript has both text and images which poses challenges. It is written in different hands and annotated later. The manuscript is poorly preserved and seems to have been strangely distributed over the quires. There are loose sheets that come from later.

They are trying to analyze the illustrations in terms of visual elements or a graphic novel. They have superimposed texts. There are texts/quotations that are like punch lines for the illustrations.

They are building a system for searching the images/texts. They have XML notes about the content of the images that can be searched. It includes zones on the images that connect to the metadata. The interface uses the XML to provide pop-ups in addition to letting you search.

What she showed of the interface looks really interesting. I can't tell if it is finished and usable.

Anna Cappellotto (Università di Verona), Edition of Alexanderlied

Cappellotto talked about the Digital Alexanderied that is a documentary edition that is about to be published. There is a general information and metadata. There are images of the text and a manuscript description that is detailed. They used a hotspot technology to provide annotations right on the images. They did paleographic work mapping characters to standardized characters for the reading text. They had to create at least one glyph for a new character.

Every line on the images is aligned with the transcription. They also added an interpretative layer. They added named entities and you follow people/places through the text.

Stefano Bazzaco (Università di Verona), La world literature del Rinascimento: Progetto Mambrino Biblioteca Digitale

Bazzaco continued the presentation from Stefano Neri on a previous day talking about two other aspects of the Progetto Mambrino. The works of chivalric Renaissance fiction that they are working with were best-sellers of that time. They are integrating the digital editions with the research studies on the texts. The goal is creating a digital portal that integrates all sorts of related materials. The Pilot is to look at one cycle of novels. There is a bibliographic database, the digital scholarly edition, the summaries and open linked data.

He demoed the site with digital editions. They have a three column design with the page image on the left, the transcription in the centre and then notes/indexes etc on the right. You can also download all the xml and an epub of the page images.

They have annotated indexes of people and places. You can find a person and then see a summary of where they appear.

One thing I like is that there is a human written narrative to the summaries and index items. You don't just get a list of people in a chapter, but a summary of the chapter with names in it which link to the index entry.

For the future they hope to integrate a database of motifs. They want to create a metasearch engine for all the Mapping Chivalry projects. Then a migration to Linked Open Data format. Finally, migration to the department's servers for sustainability.

Massimo Salgaro (Università di Verona), La stilometria come panacea della teoria della letteratura

Salgaro talked about stylometry . He collaborates with Simone Rebora to operationalize theoretical questions into quantitative methods. They try to find statistical means to answer theoretical questions. Salgaro's work is on German literature. One project is studying a German review called Heimat. They want to figure out who write the articles in Heimat? Other critics have attributed 107 articles to Robert Musil (an author of interest.) There is little substantiation of these claims. Stylometry can provide evidence. He talked about the different experiments. They are also studying reviews to do "social reading". They have developed a tool that can be used to distinguish a professional from an amateur reviewer.

Andrea Bocchi (Università di Udine), Cinico e Pegolotti: esperienze e desiderata di un filologo digitale

Bocchi showed a digital edition in TEI-XML of a work by Cinico. It was clean and functional. He then talked about how Italian texts are not being published and some projects risks disappearing. He called for a publishing project to publish well designed critical editions that follow best practices. A marathon is fine, but we need venues that maintain data.

This raises the question of whether there are any repositories for Italian digital work.

He then talked about mercantile practices from the 13th century. He talked about how one could created a social network from it. He is using a mapping tool on an old Mac that hasn't been updated. I wasn't sure what the issue was.

Lorenzo Calvelli and Daniele Fusi (Università di Venezia), Epigraphic Collections

They talked about epigraphic manuscripts that describe inscriptions that have disappeared. The manuscripts thus preserve the original inscriptions. They are working with the Europeana Eagle Project which is an archive of Greek and Latin epigraphy. Here they are working on a manuscript here in Venice by an antiquarian who drew and recorded 43 inscriptions in Venice. This helps us undestand antiquarian studies at the time (17th century). It lets them study epigraphic collections. They can also study inscriptions that haven't survived.

They then talked about scraping a Packard database (of inscriptions?) He talked about figuring out the hierarchies in the databases and then matching trees as graphs. They are unleashing the power of networks.

Paola Corò e Arianna Traviglia (Università di Venezia), LIBER project

Coro talked about a project about machine learning and computer vision applied to scribal marks on cuneiform tablets.. The project is called "LIBER: The King's Librarians at Work." They are not studying the clay tablets or the text, but trying to study "firing holes" in the clay tablets. These marks or holes were put in the tablets. There is a debate as to their function. Were they to help with drying or firing of the tablets, or forms of decoration, or meant to avoid interpolation or a form of support. They are studying a sample from the Ashmolean for an experiment to study the patterns of holes. They want to connect to the text to see if there is a relationship. They are using a Convolutional Neural Network to do hole detection.

They hope to extend this work to study patterns in layout of scribal work.

Maria Chiara Rioli (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Storie e archivi di migrazioni: il progetto Horizon Ithaca

Rioli talked about the EU funded Ithaca project which is a sort of superarchive that is a large collaborative project about migration. They have all sorts of subprojects around migration from oral history to policy.

Fabrizio Nevola (University of Exeter/Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Hidden Venice

Nevola talked about an app that can be used to discover the city of Venice. He wants to use the affordances of cell phones to show people their cities and its histories. He is interested in how people used to live in city. He has a book titled "Street Life in Renaissance Italy." His first app was for Florence and then got a grant to do other cities including Exeter, Hamburg and so on.

He tries to populate the apps with "history of below" or everyday people that guide one. It brings microhistory and critical fabulation. Nevola showed a bit of video that showed Hidden Florence.

The project was developed in collaborations with museums. A continuation project about Exeter with students told the story about the reformation. His book "Hidden Cities" talks about the methodology.

His latest project is a 3D project lets you superimpose art that is elsewhere back into where it was. You use an iPad or iPhone and hold it up to see what a church used to look like and so on.

Anna Clara Basilicò (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), I graffiti dell’inquisizione

Basilico is working on a project on graffiti in jail. She talked about the problems of preservation of graffiti and digitization. Then one needs to think about how to publish a scholarly edition.

They use CADMUS which is a tool created by Daniele Fusi and designed to gather, organize and share information on graffiti.

The graffiti she is gathering are complex objects - palimpsests with relationships to other texts and signs. Their location might matter. Her model is to have items that have parts and all sorts of metadata.

Tiago Gil (Universidade de Brasília/Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Oxoce

Gil talked about a search engine that could search for themes in not just library card catalogues, but also theses and so on.

Gil was imagining a process that would download PDFs and extract text and then extract names/places etc. You could narrow a search by date ranges or part of the world.

Flavia Bruni, Early Modern Broadsheets Online

Bruni started gathering broadsheets meant for posting on walls and then expanded to include sheets folded and distributed as pamphlets. Venice was one of the main centers of printing in the early years of print.

She wants to study the layout and the visual elements. The materials are hybrid which means they aren't always found in libraries; sometimes in museums and galleries. They often aren't described in a standardized way.

Alessandra Ghisalberti (Università di Bergamo), Digital Humanities e Abitanti: il VideoDigitalLab per la governance urbana

Ghisalberti had a very different project. It is a project to try different communicative forms for governance. This is to further conversations around culture, urban regeneration, international collaboration and so on. So many people in cities could be working elsewhere and not feel connected.

There Video Digital Lab have experimented with video, webmapping and events.

She talked about how this can help with public engagement mandate (terza missione) of a university. It can teach students by doing. It can involve community researchers.

Session on Infrastructure

Riccardo Del Gratta (CNR-ILC/CLARIN-IT), Progetti DH ospitati da ILC4CLARIN

Del Gratta talked about CLARIN services. They seem to make good use of docker. He showed a inverted pyramid showing the stack of technology types in infrastructure like a search/discovery centre. At the bottom are tubs, then hardware, then software, then data, and then users. Infrastructure research is different than other types as you are supporting researchers who themselves are doing research WITH your infrastructure. The users' requirements guide the research by the infrastructure team.

Francesca Frontini, CLARIN-IT e le DH in Italia

Frontini started by playing a short video on CLARIN. "Broaden your perspective ... Discover CLARIN today."

Frontini then spoke on behalf of Monachini about CLARIN in Italy. The CNR ILC Zampoli leads the Italian connection, but it includes all sorts of other universities. Their centre gathers data (metadata and full data) from Italian projects. She game an example of a doctoral student who deposited her digital edition of operas recently. Now her project will be visible to others. This sort of repository is essential for the sustainability of digital projects.

There is also a book at

Marco Rospocher (Università di Verona), Spazi e piattaforme digitali DiLLS@UniVR

Rospocher described the spaces and infrastructure developed at the U of Verona for the excellence project.

They set up a bunch of rooms including one lab with 50 computer stations including an accessible one. They have some "bring your own device" rooms that are smaller. They have micro teaching rooms for teaching teachers.

They have a number of accessible workstations for people with special needs.

The digital platforms start with the DiLLS |web site. They have a OJS installation to support digital journals. They have Moodle for e-learning and have accessibility plug-ins.

Then they have various tools/platforms like Alfresco and KonText which are connected. They are using TEI publisher for publishing digital editions. For bibliographies they use Zotero and then have a scripts to scrape the data to go to TEI Publisher which works well.

They are using Microsoft Azure but will move to an internal solution run by the University.

Daniele Fusi e Tiziana Mancinelli (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Ecosystems for Textual Scholarship

Fusi talked about CADMUS that seemed a very sophisticated ontology, editing pipeline. It allows one to model the phenomena, then manage ontologies that then allow people to enter different types of data following the models. The data can be edited and then output in different forms (TEI, RDF.) Resources can be maintained over time and as new technologies come along.

Mancinelli talked about the politics and philosophies of models, data and projects. The "open" should be part of a ethics of knowledge. She talked about how we need to share models in communities of practice. We need to think about digital objects enter into relationships. We need to move between thinking of objects to thinking of services. This is the thinking behind a digital library that will create not only standards for digital heritage, but an understanding and cultural transformation.

She showed the national plan for digitalization. There is a vision and a strategy component. There are 5 guidelines to guide the different aspects of the digital for humanities knowledge.

Alessandro Casellato (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), L’Archivio per le fonti orali

Casellato is creating an archive of oral works. He inherited a collection of tapes of interviews following the evolution of Italian in South America. He talked about how researchers gather data, use it for their publications, and then forget about the data. He talked about the issue of how to open the oral data - how to give access to it due to privacy issues.

Emmanuela Colombi(Università di Udine), Il Polo MediaLab

Emmanuela Colombi talked about the Polo Media Lab in the Lab Village of the University of Udine which has a bunch of mostly STEM labs. The idea of a group of innovation labs brought together seems like a neat opportunity for the digital humanities to interact with other labs in the sciences.

Roundtable: Quale Sostenibilita (What sustainability?)

Coordinated by Tiziana Mancinelli (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia) with interventions by Francesca Frontini (CNR-ILC/CLARIN ERIC), Marco Rospocher (Università di Verona), Mario Verdicchio (Università di Bergamo), Olga Tribulato (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Daniele Fusi (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Angelo Mario Del Grosso (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia/ILC-CNR)

Frontini talked about the important role that CLARIN can play with its distributed infrastructure. If one centre stumbles there are others. One country could step down, but another come on board. There is overlapping funding. There are central plans including plans to decommission infrastructure. She also talked about the importance of assessing the impact, including the public impact. This will be an existential challenge.

Rospocher talked about some lessons learned.

  1. Maintain a small number of tools if you want to really understand them
  2. Reuse open code
  3. Informatics NOT as a Service
  4. Development is only part of the job
  5. Take care of personelle
  6. Review your funding models

Verdicchio (I think) talked about how fragile the sustainability of a stack of technology is. Compared to how few you need to maintain paper information, digital data is a global ecology from mines in Africa to cables under water that depends on too many people. It isn't sustainable and parts could collapse easily. If we couldn't get processors in Canada for a couple of years what would happen?

Tribulato talked from the perspective of a traditional scholar. Their resource, the Digital Encyclopedia of Atticism is a project of the ERC Purism in Antiquity. It is just a collection of philological articles. She talked about all the challenges and limitations that she faced. Her initial budget was too small as she had no experience. There is fragmentation between partners and operations. There is no local university infrastructure which means that she can't guarantee sustainability. There are open access and copyright issues. There are also cultural issues in that some colleagues just don't feel comfortable with digital tools.

Fusi had an interesting graph of suggestions for sustainability. He suggested, among other things, that things should be modular, distributed and layered, containerized. Provide interoperability and recover legacy recovery. Embrace change. Build content on content.

I can't help think that this is advice from someone who is a brilliant programmer. For a content person I would say KISS (keep it simple and (technologically) stupid.) Minimal computing is the way to go. Avoid layers. Avoid server solutions.

Del Grosso tried to define sustainability. Capacity to satisfy the needs through a system both in the present and future (both short, medium and long term.) Some things that are needed in the scholarly culture include:

  • Humanists need to recognize the content/systems as relevant in the future
  • The academy needs to recognize the work as scholarly - if we want to be sustained our disciplines need to value our work and not just need a technician
  • We need to be careful about the need for interdisciplinary skills. Is it really sustainable for a discipline to need others without in some way absorbing the competencies. You also need to pay competitive rates for the skills you need.
  • Data and methods and tools need to be open (FAIR)
  • We will be sustainable if our services continue to be available and useful.
  • The infrastructure needs to be trustworthy, secure and robust.

I can't help thinking it is time to find ways to bury our data in ways that could survive a thousand years. Parchment? Stone tablets? Digital printers writing plastic tablets?

Day 5: Udine

The day opened with opened with thanks from the research lead of the university. He mentioned how it may not be a marathon but a relay race. We got a video greeting from the rector in Iraq where Udine has an important archaeological dig. One of the. archaeologists showed a relief from the 7th century BC carved into the wall of a canal. The scene showed the king of Assyria before the seven principal gods and their animals.

They are creating one of the first archaeological parks in Northern Iraq and the rector will open this tomorrow (Oct. 16th).

We also had a nice greeting from the city that talked about how our work is of interest to the city.

A representative from the museum sector talked about the need for collaboration.

Emanuela Colombi, the head of the DH programme on "Digital Humanities and Heritage Science" here in Udine, thanked us and introduced the other who managed the project, Stefano Magnani e Francesco Pitassio. They talked about the design of the project which has 15 labs, 4 research centers, and 8 sections (?). There is a strong applied research component. A strong component is the restoration and archiving of cultural heritage including databases. There are experiments in AI and attention to an inclusive society. Finally there is a public engagement focus and the development of a memory landscape aspect (attention to territory, land, nature.)

Then they talked about the future. They are planning to collaborate with other units in the university looking at using NLP and AI to study archives and manuscripts. they want to do visual computing and study rights (intellectual property?) and cultural property.

We were in the lovely Palazzo Antonini Maseri of the University of Udine.

Session on Cinema, Video and Virtual Reality

We then moved to another building which seemed to be another lovely palazzo.

Simone Venturini e Gianandrea Sasso (Università di Udine), Patrizia Cacciani e Fabrizio Micarelli (Istituto Luce), La battaglia dall’Astico al Piave

The first presentation was about the restoration and digitization of a diary of a battle. The "Battle of Astico al Piave" is a documentary film from 1918 that they are restoring, digitizing and building a web site around. This work is partly funded by a foundation for the preservation of the history of the war. They made the case that a film should be preserved and not just documents. They are producing a critical edition of the film with an apparatus, marginalia and so on that would pop up next to the video window.

If I understood things, they have multiple sources for the film. There are different edits/versions along with all sorts of documentation. There may be rough takes. There are photographs of scenes. They plan to offer an interface where one can compare fragments from different witnesses.

At the moment their interface (that they showed us) is only a mockup.

Francesco Pitassio, HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area)

Pitassio talked about the HERA which is supporting humanities research and public outreach. ViCTOR-E is a project from Udine on Visual Culture of Trauma, Obliteration, and Reconstruction in Post-WW II Europe. ViCTOR-E wanted to see how non-fiction cinema depicted the trauma of the war. This was comparative involving other countries. They also wanted to see of media studies could contribute to better awareness of shared European history. He talked about the databases they have created of materials.

Julia Welter (Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum, Frankfurt/M), Frames of Reconstruction. Realities and Visions of Recovering Europe. Documentary Film in Postwar Visual Culture

Welter continued on the ViCTOR-E project. She is an archivist who did a lot of work gathering the materials. They had to clear rights for both research and educational reuse. They needed to give different entry points into the data, to provide exhibitions that gathered and interpreted the data. Welter then showed the web site. They had personal testimony, maps, timelines etc.

Cosetta Saba (Università di Udine), Alessandro Russo e Mary Comin (La Camera ottica, Università di Udine), Sergio Canazza (Università di Padova), Dagma 2.0

Dagma 2.0 is a web application connected to a database managerment system for the Camera Ottico Lab (Optical Camera Lab). The lab is involved in the retauration of audiovisual materials from U-Matic, Betamax, Video8, and so on. They work with all sorts of outfits to digitize and preserve video and needed a documentation system.

The technologies used for the software included were introduced by the spin-off company that developed the database. Canazza talked about a confusion of standards for different media. This project let them try to implement ideas. The interface is minimal so it can be used on different devices like tablets. He talked about the dangers of vendor lock-in. It seems there is a regulation that any research project that commissions software needs to make sure that the data is made open source.

The software is not just for saving the metadata. It is also for following processes. He showed some of the paper forms of the Camera Ottica and the software implementation.

They talked about future plans that include AI analysis.

Digital Storytelling Lab

We then got to visit the Digital Storytelling Lab where we saw some of the spaces (and a van) and projects.

Simone Dotto told us about the project MMC - Modi, Memorie e Culture of the Italian cinematographic production. Then the Atlante MMC 49 to 76 project and finally a catalog of trade press (of the film industry). The trade press scans were OCRed so they could be searched.

Each project was on a screen on one wall. Dotto talked about the Atlante which is a history of cinematographic production. He talked about how created visual essays (digital storytelling) with different visual elements from animations to visualizations to video and text. He showed a Tableau interface to soundstage data.

Giacomo Vidoni then talked about the data visualization and types of queries one could make. It seems they are using Tableau panels embedded into their essays to make them dynamic.

They then invited someone from the state archives who has coordinated bringing together projects and data around the Italian cinema. He talked about how the state archives hold data about movies that are treated as "Italian" (and perhaps try to get subsidies.) This data that dates from 1945 to the 1990s is being entered by Udine students and could be a tremendous resource for studying Italian film

I get the feeling that Udine, working with Roma Tre, are leaders in developing research resources on Italian film history.

Andrea Mariani ed Eleonora Roaro (Università di Udine), Alessandro Passoni (Creative Director e Co-founder Virtew), Sensing Dolce vita

A team then presented a VR work of recreation of the Odeon (of Udine?) in 1939 when Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was shown. I took the VR tour and it was an impressive use of VR. They showed some news reels of the time being shown before the movie. They had a soundscape, but the chairs were empty (and there was no cigarette smoke.) Why are VR recreations always so empty? We need some noisy smelly ones too, but I'm guessing it is hard to render.

Vittorio Iervese (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Immersi nelle storie. Il virtuale come spazio della memoria

Iervese talked about Augustine's ideas about memory as a space and then about memory palaces. Memory is multimodal. They are working with people around triggering memories with objects/photos. Then he talked about a famous graphic novel from the New Yorker from 1989 that showed a house over time. They did some sort of virtual . He talked about Notes on Blindness (2016) and then Anne Frank VR.

I missed the opening of this intervention.

Final sessions

We then shifted to the Chiesa di San Francesco Largo Ospedale Vecchio, a decommissioned church. The space was spectacular.

Massimo Capulli (Università di Udine), Tecnologie digitali per la conoscenza e la tutela del patrimonio culturale sommerso: il caso di Grado

Capulli talked about under water archaeology and the challenges. There is the question of pressure, the issue of exhaustion and temperature under water. For that reason they have developed techniques that allow them to gather as much data as quickly as possible. Very impressive.

Eleonora Delpozzo, Strumenti Digital Per La Mappatura Di Spolia Veneziani

Delpozzo talked about the stones of Venice. They are measuring and mapping the spoils of various wars that are in Venice. Venice brought all sorts of stuff back from places as spoils that were used and reused in other buildings.

How does one study a work that is out of its original place? They have been taking measurements of the sculptures. They are now building an interactive map so you can see what is known about the different spoils.

I wonder if they have thought of returning some of the objects?

Carlo Beltrame ed Elisa Costa (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Archeologia digitale in acque profonde

Beltrame and Costa gave a very interesting presentation on deep water archaeology. They talked about a sunken boat that was carrying blocks of partly roughed out stone including a block of 100 tons or so. They have created a 3D model using photogrammetry. They can then try to estimate sizes and weights.

A second site has amphora and tiles. They can bring up some of the amphora and one of the tiles.

For these digs they use remote devices that go down deep and take pictures and pick up some smaller objects.

Giovanna Gambacurta (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Venetic Iron Age Necropolis: Mounds and Graves

Gambacurta studies pre-Roman necropoli of the Veneto. They are studying two necropoli that have similar features. They are reconstructing these burial mounds in 3D. They have an interdisciplinary team that includes experts on architecture and construction.

The planimetry is palimpsestic - there are traces of many constructions and changes.

Maurizio Forte e Nevio Danelon (Duke University), Federico Boschetti ed Elisa Corrò (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Luca Ticini (Webster Vienna Private University), Alexander Kafkas (University of Manchester), I leoni dell'Arsenale di Venezia: un approccio cyber-archeologico

Elisa Corro talked about the influence of the lions of Venice. They have been doing eye tracking to see how people look at them. This is mix of archaeology and neuroscience.

Then Nevio Dandelon talked about the project NeuroArtifact which looks at how the experience of seeing the lions leads to more or less knowledge. They also used EEG and VR to see how people navigate virtual cities and how emotions play out when looking in day or night.

I can't help wondering again, if they have thought of returning the lions or learning more about their origins. What if they showed people what they might have looked like before bring brought to Venice as spoils.

Lisa Dieckmann (Universität zu Köln/Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia). The Farnesina Project

Dieckmann is involved on The Farnesina Project that is looking at protocols for spatial interpretation.

She talked about a choreography of art and rooms. The designer meant for us to pass through rooms in a certain order. Some rooms would have been more private and for the more privileged guests. Sequence of rooms correspond to power and importance of guests. The Villa Farnesina painting continues the logic.

She showed an ontology or model she is developing. She will hopes to apply the model to other buildings. She is building on a database that lets her do linked open data. Then she wants to reference all the links and references using HyperImage.

Note I had to prepare for my roundtable at the end so I stopped taking notes. I did listen to the talks, but also wrote notes for what to say.

Tavola rotonda: Una piattaforma informatica per la ricerca e la didattica

Organized by Donata Levi e Martina Visentin (Università di Udine) with interventions by Paolo Omero (Infofactory), Federico Giubbolini, Marco Mozzo (Direzione Regionale Musei della Toscana), Elisa Penserini, Cecilia Prete (Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo), Roberto Viale

This roundtable was organized by a cool contento management system developed for museums and archives. They talked about the technology and then example projects using the technology. One project (Penserini and Prete) is looking at documentation about exhibits. One is about a famous Italian art historian, Barocchi.

Tavola rotonda: Quale etica per le Digital Humanities?

Organized by Luca Taddio (Università di Udine) with interventions by Geoffrey Rockwell (University of Edmonton), Elena Bougleux (Università di Bergamo), Mario De Caro (Università di Roma Tre), Paolo Benanti (Gruppo Esperti MISE - Ministero per lo sviluppo economico - sull’Intelligenza Artificiale)

I was part of a final roundtable on the ethics of technology. I couldn't hear the others that well, hut it was interesting.

And that was the end!



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