Digital Approaches to the History of Science: a successful workshop

‘Digital Approaches to the History of Science’, the first of two planned workshops on this topic, was held at the History Faculty in Oxford on 28 September 2018. A total of nearly sixty attendees assembled to hear presentations from a selection of the most exciting current projects in this field from around the UK.

Professor Rob Iliffe, representing the Newton Project, addressed the ongoing challenges and complexity of digitizing and presenting the manuscript writings of Isaac Newton, and Alison Pearn spoke of the related issues faced by the digital side of the ongoing Darwin Correspondence Project. Lauren Kassell, of the Casebooks Project, introduced a very different type of material and spoke of the need to find new ways of representing, encoding and searching the mass of information contained in early modern medical-astrological casebooks.

After lunch two speakers discussed from complementary perspectives the opportunities represented by the very rich archive of The Royal Society. Louisiane Ferlier discussed the digitization of Royal Society journals and the work needed to clean and link the metadata about the articles in them. Pierpaolo Dondio described his work modelling and visualising the network of authors, editors and referees who controlled the content of those paper, and provided examples of the kinds of research outcomes such work can produce. A final talk turned to the use of digital humanities resources in the university classroom: Kathryn Eccles and Howard Hotson described the Cabinet Project, which has made a rich ecology of digital images and objects available to students on a growing list of Oxford undergraduate papers.

Rich discussions took place both around the individual presentations and over lunch and coffee, and this sell-out event has certainly stimulated interest and ongoing discussion about the distinctive opportunities for history of science created by digital scholarship and resources.

Reflections on discussion topics during the workshop by Pip Willcox

The event was supported by the Centre for Digital Scholarship (Bodleian Libraries), ‘Reading Euclid‘, The Royal Society and the Newton Project, and was organized jointly by the Centre for Digital Scholarship and ‘Reading Euclid’. The date for the second workshop will be announced shortly.

—Benjamin Wardhaugh, ‘Reading Euclid’

Top image credit: René Descartes, Principia philosophiae (Amsterdam, 1644), ‘Cartesian network of vortices of celestial motion’, p. 110. Bodleian Library Savile T 22. Edited in Photoshop by Yelda Nasifoglu.

Working with Spreadsheets: a workshop

Image of hand-drawn spreadsheet

What: Working with Spreadsheets: a workshop

When: 10:00—16:30, Tuesday 21 November

Where: Centre for Digital Scholarship, Weston Library (map)

Access: open to all members of the University

Admission: free

Trainers: Iain Emsley and Pip Willcox

Registration is required: please see below

This workshop is designed for anyone who works with spreadsheets and wants to learn how to explore that data more efficiently and consistently. No prior experience is required. The hands-on workshop teaches basic concepts, skills, and tools for working more effectively and reproducibly with your data.

We will cover data organization in spreadsheets and OpenRefine for managing data.

By the end of the workshop participants will be able to manage and analyze data effectively and be able to apply the tools and approaches directly to their ongoing research.

The workshop draws on lessons prepared by Data Carpentry and adapted by the trainers for use with Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership data.

The methods that you will learn will be applicable to work in any field that uses spreadsheets. The EEBO-TCP subject matter we will use may be of particular interest to people working with library or early modern data.

Registration

To register, please email Pip Willcox (pip.willcox@bodleian.ox.ac.uk) with:

  • Your name
  • Your ox.ac.uk email address
  • Your departmental affiliation

This workshop is run in collaboration with the Centre for Digital Scholarship and the Reproducible Research Oxford project.

For announcements about future workshops and related activities run by Reproducible Research Oxford, please see the project website, subscribe to the mailing list, and follow the project on Twitter @RR_Oxford.

Equipment

Participants are requested to bring a laptop. To work with with spreadsheets, you will need an application such as Microsoft Excel, Mac Numbers, or OpenOffice.org. If you don’t have a suitable program installed, you might like to use LibreOffice, a free, open source spreadsheet program.

You will also need OpenRefine (formerly Google Refine) and a web browser, and to have Java installed.

If you cannot bring a laptop with you, please let us know before the day.

Trainers

Iain Emsley works for the University of Oxford e-Research Centre on digital library and museums projects. Having recently finished an MSc in Software Engineering, he has started a PhD in Digital Media at Sussex University.

Pip Willcox is the Head of the Centre for Digital Scholarship at the Bodleian Libraries and a Senior Researcher at the University of Oxford e-Research Centre.

Image credit: Stockbyte/Getty Images.

Research Uncovered—Beyond reading: understanding the book through computer vision

Book tickets!What: Research Uncovered—Beyond reading: understanding the book through computer vision

Who: Giles Bergel

When: 13:00—14:00, Thursday 2 November 2017

Where: Weston Library Lecture Theatre (map)

Access: open to all

Admission: free

Registration is required

This talk showcases Oxford’s cutting-edge research at the intersection of book history and computer vision. It aims to make images of books as easy to search, compare and annotate as their texts.

The University’s Visual Geometry Group has a long track record of working with University researchers and collections, building tools to help researchers analyse everything from classical art to fifteenth-century printed books and English broadside ballads, as well as numerous applications in the sciences. Several of these tools have now been openly released for all to use and adapt.

The talk reveals how computer vision, far from detracting from understanding books as material objects, offers a fresh pair of eyes on what remains one of humanity’s most sophisticated inventions and richest forms of heritage.

Dr Giles Bergel is Digital Humanities Research Officer in the University of Oxford’s Visual Geometry Group. He works on printed books, printing materials and the history of the book trade. Find out more information.

Book tickets: http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/whatson/whats-on/upcoming-events/2017/nov/beyond-reading

Data Carpentry Workshop for Humanists

You are invited to join a free Data Carpentry workshop run by the Reproducible Research Oxford project. Registration is required.

 

Date: 26–27 September 2017 

Venue: Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, 64 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6PN

 

The workshop will cover data organization in spreadsheets and OpenRefine, data analysis and visualization in python, and SQL for data management, with a focus on humanities data. This is a joint effort with Data Carpentry to develop a (pilot) curriculum for the digital humanities. It is at an introductory level.

See the workshop website for details: https://rroxford.github.io/2017-09-26-oxford/

The workshop is free and open to any member of the University — researchers, staff, and students. It will be particularly relevant to people working with humanities data, though the methods are widely applicable.

 

Digital Approaches to the History of Science: two workshops

Book a place at the first workshop, 28 September! 

You are warmly invited to join us at day-long workshops on Digital Approaches to the History of Science. These workshops are supported and co-organized by the Reading Euclid project, the Newton Project, the Royal Society, and the Centre for Digital Scholarship.

Digital Approaches to the History of Science

—Life out of a coffin—

When: 10:00—17:00,  Thursday 28 September

Where: Faculty of History, University of Oxford, 41–47 George Street OX1 2BE (map)

Access: all are welcome—see below for information on travel bursaries

Admission: free, refreshments and lunch included

Registration is required for each workshop: register for workshop 1, 28 September

This pair of one-day workshops will showcase and explore some of the work currently being done at the intersection of digital scholarship and the history of science. Visualizing networks of correspondence, mapping intellectual geographies, mining textual corpora: many modes of digital scholarship have special relevance to the problems and methods of the history of science, and the last few years have seen the launch of a number of new platforms and projects in this area.

With contributions from projects around the UK, these two workshops will be an opportunity to share ideas, to reflect on what is being achieved and to consider what might be done next.

Workshop 1: Thursday 28 September

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Pierpaolo Dondio: Publishing the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
  • Kathryn Eccles: Cabinet Project
  • Louisiane Ferlier: The Royal Society Journal Collection: Science in the Making?
  • Rob Iliffe: Newton Project
  • Lauren Kassell: Casebooks Project
  • Alison Pearn: Darwin Correspondence
  • Anna Henry: Sloane’s Minute Books

Workshop 2

Details of Workshop 2 will be announced shortly, when registration will open.

We have taken inspiration from William Stukely’s isolation and seek to converse, as it were, out of a coffin:

in my situation at Stamford there was not one person, clergy or lay, that had any taste or love of learning or ingenuity, so that I was as much dead in converse as in a coffin

Travel bursaries

We are delighted to be able to offer travel bursaries to enable students and early career researchers (up to 3 years beyond the award of most recent degree) to attend. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please contact co-organizer Yelda Nasifoglu on yelda.nasifoglu@history.ox.ac.uk, providing:

  • Your name
  • Your institution
  • Your level of study/year of award of most recent degree
  • Travelling from
  • Estimate of travel cost

These workshops are organized by:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quotation:

Lukis, ed. ‘Family Memoirs’, vol. I (1882), p.109, cited in Michael Reed, ‘The cultural role of small towns in England, 1600–1800’, in Peter Clark, Small Towns in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: CUP, 1882), p.147, via Google Books.

Images:

Tycho Brahe, Tabulae Rudolphinae (Ulm, 1627), frontispiece. Bodleian Library Savile Q 14. Edited in Photoshop by Yelda Nasifoglu.

René Descartes, Principia philosophiae (Amsterdam, 1644), ‘Cartesian network of vortices of celestial motion’, p. 110. Bodleian Library Savile T 22. Edited in Photoshop by Yelda Nasifoglu.

Research Uncovered—Historiography at Scale: People, Places, and Professions in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

BOOK TICKETS!

We are delighted to co-host this Research Uncovered talk with Oxford University Press’s ODNB and TORCH.

What: Historiography at Scale: People, Places, and Professions in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Who: Chris Warren

When: 13:00—14:00, Friday 9 June 2017

Where: Weston Library Lecture Theatre (map)

Access: all are welcome

Admission: free

Booking: recommended

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, published initially in 2004, is the work of roughly 10,000 scholars, runs to 60 volumes in print, and is made up of more than 62 million words. So immense is the ODNB that one early reviewer complained, ‘reviewing it is like exploring a continent by rowing boat’: ‘If you were to read one life in the new DNB every day you would take 137 years to finish it.’  Information overload is not a new problem in the humanities, but Christopher Howse’s analogy helpfully suggests why an engine of some sort might be desirable in studying historiography at scale. In this presentation, Chris will use digital humanities methods to map the people, places, and professions of the ODNB in a new way.

Christopher Warren is Associate Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at Carnegie Mellon University, where he teaches early modern studies, law and literature, and digital humanities. He is the author of Literature and the Law of Nations, 1580-1680 (OUP, 2015), which was awarded the 2016 Roland H. Bainton Prize for Literature by the Sixteenth Century Society. With Daniel Shore, he is co-founder of Six Degrees of Francis Bacon, a collaborative reconstruction of Britain’s early modern social network. His articles have appeared in journals including HumanityLaw, Culture, and the HumanitiesThe European Journal of International LawEnglish Literary Renaissance; and Digital Humanities Quarterly. His current projects include work on anachronism and presentism in the history of international law and a “distant reading” of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Research Uncovered—Good vibrations: digital seismology with mammals, ocean noise, earth’s abyss, Marsquakes, sound, supercomputers and psychology

BOOK TICKETS!

What: Good vibrations: digital seismology with mammals, ocean noise, earth’s abyss, Marsquakes, sound, supercomputers and psychology

Who: Tarje Nissen-Meyer

When: 13:00—14:00, Tuesday 13 June 2017

Where: Weston Library Lecture Theatre (map)

Access: all are welcome

Admission: free

Registration: required

Seismology, the science of understanding elastic vibrations beneath the surface, is a considerably young discipline. However, it has already contributed to a wide range of research topics such as deciphering the deep Earth’s and Sun’s interior, natural hazard assessment and earthquake physics. Seismic methods also play a pivotal role in nuclear monitoring, hydrocarbon exploration and various forensic tasks.

Digital high-precision instruments and sophisticated computer models nowadays allow us to detect and understand ground vibrations at scales from microcracks to planets, thereby facilitating a seismic shift in the breadth of  applications. In this talk, I will present examples of this fascinating multi-disciplinary diversification such as using seismometers to hunt for extraterrestrial life, detecting remote landslides and glacier dynamics, unraveling vibration noise to infer ocean waves and hurricanes, listening to seismicity and earthquake waves, elephants’ use of seismic communication, simulating waves on supercomputers and conceding our human imprint to assessing our experiment Earth.

Tarje Nissen-Meyer is Associate Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth Sciences, and a Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Oxford. He is also an adjunct scientist at Lamont-Doherty Observatory, Columbia University, New York. His research encompasses computational seismology from global to local scales. He is the main author of the axisymmetric spectral-element method AxiSEM which is used by a number of groups around the world. Having moved from ETH Zurich in Sept 2013, he continues to supervise PhD students there, and collaborates with many other groups abroad.

Research Uncovered—OUP’s Interactive Academic Articles


What: OUP’s Interactive Academic Articles

Who: Richard O’Beirne and Martin Hadley

When: 13:00—14:00, Tuesday 6 June 2017

Where: Centre for Digital Scholarship, Weston Library (map)

Access: all are welcome

Admission: free

Registration: required

Access: please meet at 12.55 by the Information Desk in the Weston Library’s Blackwell Hall

As data becomes more integral to research publications, the question of how to display the data obviously but unobtrusively to the reader becomes more difficult. Academic Publishers are looking for technologies that allow them to bridge the data gap between publication and research data deposits easily.

In this presentation, OUP reports on a pilot project with IT Services to convert originally static data visualizations within publications into rich, interactive and explorative tools. The R web framework Shiny was used to allow researchers to develop the interactive tools themselves, negating the need for expensive dedicated web developers, and providing the ability to pull data directly from data repositories such as Figshare.

OUP will continue to build on the lessons learned from this project and hopes to work with more researchers to build interactive data visualizations to accompany their publications.

Richard O’Beirne is the Journals and Digital Strategy Manager (Global Academic Business) at Oxford University Press.

Martin Hadley is an Academic Research Technology Specialist at the University of Oxford’s IT Services.

Image credit: OUP University of Oxford IT Services Live Data Project.

Research Uncovered—The Role of Biographical Data in Digital Scholarship: Reassembling the Digital Self

Book a place!


What: The Role of Biographical Data in Digital Scholarship: Reassembling the Digital Self

Who: Paul Arthur

When: 13:00—14:00, Monday 12 June 2017

Where: Weston Library Lecture Theatre (map)

Access: all are welcome

Admission: free

Registration: required

Biography is only one of many disciplines that have been deeply influenced by advances in digital media and computing, and that have required new theoretical approaches to help understand the changes. Yet the digital revolution has arguably had a more profound effect on biography and life writing than on any other branch of literature, perhaps any branch of the arts. At the intersection of biography and digital humanities, key questions can be posed: In what ways does the Web act to co-shape our identities? Do we know ourselves, each other, or historical actors differently? How permanent are the digital records of lives that are being produced? Do we, or will we soon, remember differently? And, what are the research futures for digital biographical research?

Paul Arthur is Chair in Digital Humanities and Social Sciences and Director of the Centre for Global Issues at Edith Cowan University, Australia. He was previously Professor in Digital Humanities at Western Sydney University. From 2010–2013 he was Deputy Director of the National Centre of Biography at the Australian National University, and Deputy General Editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography. Recent publications include Migrant Nation (in press, 2017, ed.), Private Lives, Intimate Readings (2015, ed. with Leena Kurvet-Käosaar), and Advancing Digital Humanities: Research, Methods, Theories (2014, ed. with Katherine Bode).

Image credit: https://www.theengineer.co.uk/

Research Uncovered—Safety and Fairness on the Internet

 

 

 

 

What: Safety and Fairness on the Internet

Who: Helena Webb and Menisha Patel

When: 13:00—14:00, Tuesday 23 May 2017

Where: Weston Library Lecture Theatre (map)

Access: all are welcome

Admission: free

The internet is becoming an increasingly dominant feature of social life in the western world. More and more users rely on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google to receive news, communicate with others, share content and conduct everyday tasks. As this reliance grows, it is important to ask questions about how we ensure safety and fairness on the internet. For instance, how can we limit the spread of harmful content such as rumour and hate speech on social media? How can we ensure that the algorithms that filter much of the content we see produce results that are both accurate and unbiased? What can we do to protect vulnerable users online?
 
In this talk we describe two projects that seek to advance safety and fairness online. We report on the findings of the Digital Wildfire project, which investigated opportunities for the responsible governance of social media – in particular looking into how we might prevent and limit the spread of hate speech and rumour online whilst also protecting freedom of speech. We also introduce the UnBias project, which investigates the user experience of algorithm-driven internet services and the processes of algorithm design. This project focuses in particular on the perspectives of young people and involves activities that will 1) support user understanding about online environments, 2) raise awareness among online providers about the concerns and rights of internet users, and 3) generate debate about the ‘fair’ operation of algorithms in modern life.
 
 
Helena Webb is a Senior Researcher in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford. She works as part of the Human Centred Computing Group, which examines the inter-relationships between computing and social practices. She is interested in communication, organisation and the use of technology in everyday work and life. Most recently she has been working on the Digital Wildfire and UnBias projects.
Menisha Patel is a researcher working within the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford.  She is part of the Human Centred Computing Group, and her work focuses around both fine-grained and more systemic level social issues surrounding the design, development and integration of technologies into our world. She is interested in how we can use micro-level approaches, informed by ethnomethodology and conversation analysis, to understand and assess the design and use of technologies both in the workplace and also in prototype form.  Her recent work has been within the field of “responsible research and innovation” (RRI), where she has worked on projects concerning how we can integrate more responsible practice into the research and innovation procedures and processes, to engender more socially and ethically desirable innovation.