New data paper and datasets from crowdsourcing on Living with Machines

After lots of hard work by me, Nilo Pedrazzini, Miguel V., Arianna Ciula and Barbara McGillivray, we have a data paper in the Journal of Open Humanities Data: Language of Mechanisation Crowdsourcing Datasets from the Living with Machines Project.

And huge thanks to the thousands of Zooniverse volunteers who annotated 19th century newspaper articles to create the datasets we've published alongside the data paper!

Abstract: We present the ‘Language of Mechanisation’ datasets with examples of re-use in visualisations and analysis. These reusable CSV files, published on the British Library’s Research Repository, contain automatically-transcribed text from 19th century British newspaper articles. Volunteers on the Zooniverse crowdsourcing platform took part in tasks that asked ‘How did the word x change over time and place?’ They annotated articles with pre-selected meanings (senses) for the words coach, car, trolley and bike.

The datasets can support scholarship on a range of historical and linguistic research areas, including research on crowdsourcing and online volunteering behaviours, data processing and data visualisations methodologies.

The two datasets described are at:

2024 – an overview

In January 2024 I presented with Kaspar Beelen at a virtual Research Colloquium on Digital History at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. I also gave a talk online for the Home Office's Data & Information Week with Karen Tingay (Head of Data and Methods, Office for Statistics Regulation).

I was in Australia (Melbourne, Ballina, Brisbane) in February-March. In February 2024 I took part in a panel on 'The Machines looking back at us' at the Future of Arts, Culture & Technology Symposium (FACT 2024) at ACMI, in Melbourne, Australia.

The videos from ACMI's FACT symposium are up on their website, with automatic transcripts for each session. My presentation is here in the longer panel session; you can also watch Jessamy Gee's graphic notation from the session being created in real time.

Graphical notation drawn during a conference session by Jessamy Gee. Points include 'our role is to help people answer questions'

I presented at the State Library of Victoria for a 'Digital Salon' on 'Technology & Experimentation: From the Lab to the Library’ on February 19.

On Feb 27 I spoke online at AI4LAM’s Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand chapter webinar on ’Models for Collaboration – GLAM and ML/AI Technologies’.

The video of my keynote, 'Evolutionary Innovations: Collections as Data in the AI era' for Making Meaning 2024 at the State Library of Queensland in March is now online.

Straight into work when I got back to the UK for our British Library / Guardian collaboration on 'Safeguarding Tomorrow: The impact of AI in media & information industries'. I was on a panel on 'messy data in the age of “intelligent” machines' at Jisc DigiFest (online) the same week.

In April I gave a keynote on 'Machine Learning for Collections' at the University of Cambridge Cultural Heritage Data School, and had a great time talking to the students and staff there. I'll also spoke at an event for the Association for Manuscripts and Archives in Research Collections (AMARC).

In early June I travelled to Dundee, Scotland as one of the CILIPS Annual Conference 2024 keynotes. A brief immersion in the world of Scottish libraries was a refreshing diversion from the ongoing issues at work.

'Enriching lives: connecting communities and culture with the help of machines': my EuropeanaTech 2023 keynote

Panorama lit by natural light of a seaside town
The video for my opening keynote on 'Enriching lives: connecting communities and culture with the help of machines' for the EuropeanaTech 2023 conference is now online.

The EuropeanaTech 2023 conference was held in The Hague, the Netherlands and online from 10 – 12 October 2023. My slides are online.

My abstract: I’ll begin with an overview of current developments in AI and machine learning, then present work with crowdsourcing from the Living with Machines project to think about what AI means for online volunteers and communities around digital cultural heritage. I’ll share new thinking on ‘volunteer enrichment’ – participation in crowdsourcing that not only enriches and enhances collections records, but also enriches the lives of volunteers. How can we embed GLAM values when we apply AI and machine learning tools in our work?

In preparing my keynote I revisited my keynote for EuropeanaTech 2011, and reflected on work on crowdsourcing, data science and AI at the British Library, the Collective Wisdom project and Living with Machines since then.

2023: an overview(ish)

January began with a bang, with the publication of a collaboratively-written book by Cambridge University Press's Elements in Historical Theory and Practice. Collaborative Historical Research in the Age of Big Data: Lessons from an Interdisciplinary Project by Ruth Ahnert, Emma Griffin, Mia Ridge and Giorgia Tolfo.

In February I had a chapter, Scaffolding Collaboration: Workshop Designs for Digital Humanities Projects by me and Eileen J. Manchester in Digital Humanities Workshops: Lessons Learned, edited by Laura Estill, Jennifer Guiliano, another open access publication. I was also invited to India to do a keynote on libraries, AI and machine learning at the Library Technology Conclave 2023.

In April I was invited to give a lecture at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Library, School of Humanities & Social Science, and spoke on Facing the Future: Machine Learning and AI in Libraries, Archives and Museums. My abstract: 'Every week brings a new headline about AI, or ‘artificial intelligence’. Major search engines and social networks are competing to integrate AI, despite serious concerns about inaccurate results from AI chat bots.

In the last year alone, significantly improved AI, machine learning (ML) and data science tools have changed how information is processed and generated. ML and data science methods have the potential to connect library collections,  and to enable better discoverability and support innovative research. But libraries, archives and museums (GLAMs) face challenges in finding resources to meet AI-hyped expectations, and in implementing new forms of information provenance and digital preservation. How will changes in AI externally change expectations about GLAMs? And how can we build on what we already know about the role of technologies in cultural organisations to think strategically about integrating AI into GLAM wor

I also wrote a position paper ahead of the Collections as Data Summit in Vancouver: Toddlers to teenagers: AI and libraries in 2023.

In May I put together a workshop on 'AI and historical newspapers' with Beth Gaskell and the Living with Machines team.

In June I chaired a session on 'ChatGPT, AI, and the future' in a packed tent at the British Academy's Summer Showcase with Tim Gordon (Co-founder, Best Practice AI) and Hetan Shah (CEO, British Academy).

I was at DH2023 in Graz in July, speaking on 'Challenges, opportunities, and recommendations for the future of crowdsourcing in cultural heritage: a White Paper' with Meghan Ferriter and Sam Blickhan. Our session was 'Engaging the public'.

In August I took part (remotely) in the CAS 2023 Summer Symposium on Harry Shearer's "Le Show" at Penn State University. I've blogged 'Resonating with different frequencies' – notes for a talk on the Le Show archive. My slides for 'Resonating with different frequencies… Thoughts on public humanities through crowdsourcing in a ChatGPT world' are online at Zenodo.

In September I gave a keynote, 'Hype and hope: machine learning, AI and special collections', for CILIP's Rare Books and Special Collections Group's 2023 'Old Hands, New Ideas' conference.

I was on a panel on what's 'needed for public sector organisations to make text data more accessible for analysis' at DataConnect23. I also blogged, asking Is 'clicks to curiosity triggered' a good metric for GLAM collections online?.

In October I was in Den Haag to give the opening keynote at EuropeanaTech's 2023 conference, and took part in a panel on Keeping pace with technology: A discussion on copyright and AI .

I also spoke at the Open and Engaged conference at the British Library.

In November I spoke at events in London, including CILIP's Libraries Rewired event, discussing lessons in implementing AI in libraries from Living with Machines and travelled to Vancouver to do a solo paper and two workshops for the Fantastic Futures conference. My blog post about the conference is Fantastic Futures 2023 – AI4LAM in Vancouver.

I also blogged about 'Finding Digital Heritage / GLAM tech / Digital Humanities jobs / staff'.

Forthcoming: a chapter 'The Minimum Research Outcome: A Mechanism for Generating and Managing Projects in Labs' with Giorgia Tolfo, Emma Griffin, Mia Ridge, Ruth Ahnert and Kaspar Beelen in Digital Humanities and Laboratories: Perspectives on Knowledge, Infrastructure and Culture.

I'm also working on a chapter on 'accidents involving machinery' for Living with Machines' final collaborative book. This will bring together our work on crowdsourcing, data processing and analytics, visualisation and natural language processing (NLP).


2020: an overview(ish)

A very incomplete page, this time for obvious and less obvious reasons.

Projects

Living with Machines

Collective Wisdom: The state of the art in cultural heritage crowdsourcing. I was awarded funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as Principal Investigator for an AHRC UK-US Partnership Development Grant. The proposal title was ‘From crowdsourcing to digitally-enabled participation: the state of the art in collaboration, access, and inclusion for cultural heritage institutions’, AH/T013052/1.

Talks and teaching

Blog posts

Publications

Other