Can bigdata analytics rewrite history?

On May 30th the Kule Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Alberta is hosting a live-streamed Around the World Symposium on Technology and Culture, a forum that will bring together scholars from around the world to talk about digital culture. Imagine a 24-hour conference that winds its way around the world bringing together leading institutes in the digital humanities. Trinity College Dublin is one of the institutes contributing to the event and I’m excited to be joining their panel discussion. I will be talking about my two favorite topics; analytics and history :-) The title and abstract of my contribution to the discussion is below:

Can bigdata analytics rewrite history? A long time before there was IBM Watson there was Father Busa, credited with being the father of digital humanities, challenging IBM founder Thomas J. Watson to build a computer program that could understand text (Roberto Busa and the invention of the machine-generated concordance). Sixty years later IBM is again being challenged by a humanist. This time it was Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Modern History at Trinity College Dublin. She not only wanted us to understand ancient historical texts (1641 Depositions), but to piece together the facts extracted so that we could effectively undercover the truth hiding behind the story. Using a combination of content, semantic, and social network analysis, we were able to build a more complete picture of the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and help historians better understand a complex and troubled period in Irish history.

Trinity’s panel discussion will take place in the Trinity Long Room Hub from 2.00pm – 4.00pm GMT and will also be live-streaming across the world. The event is free, but seating is limited, so make sure you arrive early to grab your seat. If you are interested in joining the conversation virtually, then you can follow the Twitter hashtag #UofAWorld or check out the live-streaming on the Alberta website.

2 Comments to “Can bigdata analytics rewrite history?”

  1. Thanks for the link Craig, fascinating project. That’s exactly where I feel analytics and the humanities can really do something interesting together, and its very complementary with what we are doing to solve current challenges like those in law enforcement or intelligence. It’s just connecting the dots on material that happens to a wee bit old :)

    Great link, thanks for sharing.


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