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7th BL Labs Symposium (2019): 08_An update on the ‘Living with machines’ project

  1. Our Partners Our Funders Living with Machines update AKA what a difference a year makes! Dr Mia Ridge, Co-Investigator, British Library @mia_out
  2. This time a year ago… Details of the project were still under embargo, waiting for a governmental press release We were recruiting via vague descriptions like ‘Seeking researchers to work on an ambitious data science and digital humanities project at the British Library and Alan Turing Institute (London)’ But now...
  3. “Living with Machines represents a hugely exciting and innovative development in arts and humanities research. The collaboration between historians and data scientists, exploiting the remarkable growth of digital archives, will open up dramatic new perspectives on the well-known story of the industrial revolution and the history of society’s relationship with machines and technology since the eighteenth century.” Prof Roey Sweet Former Director of Partnerships and Engagement Arts and Humanities Research Council
  4. Living with Machines: the headline figures • Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) • £9.2 million (overall) from September 2018 to March 2023 • Aims to ‘rethink the impact of technology on the lives of ordinary people during the Industrial Revolution’. Focusing on Britain c.1780-1918 • Sources include digitised newspapers (British Newspaper Archive); Ordnance Survey maps (National Library of Scotland); census, birth, death and marriage records; digitised books; other digitised sources (got an idea? Get in touch!)
  5. The team Kasra Hosseini, Michael Jackson, Amy Krause, Federico Nanni
  6. Living with Machines aims to: • Generate new historical perspectives on the effects of the mechanisation of labour on the lives of ordinary people during the long nineteenth century. • Support the wider academic and cultural heritage sector in using digital methods to answer historical questions. • Create new tools and code that can be reused and built upon • Develop new computational techniques for working with historical research questions. • Enrich the British Library’s data holdings for the benefit of all. • Advance public awareness of how digital research in the humanities can enhance understanding of history.
  7. Benefits for the cultural heritage sector • Provide models for research collaboration and partnership • Enhance GLAMs reputation for leading digital innovation • Improve working with large scale digitisation, digital content, and data: digitisation workflows, data processing for analysis, ingesting enhanced metadata • Better incorporate learnings and outcomes of research projects • Grow digital collections • Increase understanding of and ability to apply advanced methods • Increase awareness of data science and digital history • Develop a coherent model for mixed-rights access to items and datasets • Incorporate digital content and data in the exhibition programme
  8. Results so far... exploratory data analysis
  9. Results so far… exploring biases in digitisation Newspaper titles metadata: place of publication or coverage Newspaper press directories: circulation of newspapers
  10. Results so far… meta-visualisations
  11. • People, Organisations, Places, Events, Artefacts • Re-purposing of the PREMIS Agent-Event model • Extended Date Time Format for expressing temporal uncertainty • Proposal: model places as 2D probability distributions over geographical coordinate system to capture two types of uncertainty Results so far... modelling key concepts e.g. named entities
  12. Results so far… public participation Launched a crowdsourcing task to find industrial accidents in Victorian newspapers
  13. Results so far… work on toponym resolution Poole & Dorset Herald(November 23, 1882), British Newspaper Archives Eastern Morning News(September 7, 1889),British Newspaper Archives
  14. But wait! There's more... • Lexicon expansion: automatically generating lists of terms from a small seed list (e.g. words about machinery) • Questions of agency: were machines assigned agency over human affairs in the language used about them? • Structural and semantic parsing of historical text • Using active learning to link historical newspaper titles • Modelling growth of regional cities based on census data • ...and lots of reflective work on tackling a project of this size and complexity
  15. Thank you! Questions? Dr Mia Ridge, Digital Curator, British Library • Email: • Twitter: @LivingWMachines • Lots and lots more on the project website: • Crowdsourcing site:

Hinweis der Redaktion

  1. How representative is the digitised press of the 19C press as a whole? Contextual information can create confidence in the claims we make.
  2. Newspaper Picker tool was designed to help the historians pick newspapers to digitise; needed to get from 2500 newspaper titles to about 50. Visualisation weights longer runs of newspapers (more sustained readership), under-represented areas and audiences