The READ project visited Sweden last week for the second Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries conference. The conference was hosted by the University of Gothenburg and organised by the Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries association, which was founded in 2015.
The conference kicked off with a morning session of workshops where attendees could get to grips with new software, tools and techniques. Maria Kallio from the National Archives of Finland and Louise Seaward from the Bentham Project at University College London delivered a workshop during this session to demonstrate the Transkribus platform for Handwritten Text Recognition.
Around 15 participants were introduced to the READ project’s aim of transforming access to historical documents. Working on their laptops, they learnt how to use Transkribus to produce training data for Handwritten Text Recognition. Representatives from all of the Nordic countries took part and there was much interest in using Handwritten Text Recognition for all sorts of languages, from people working in archives, libraries and universities.
Once the workshop was over, we were able to enjoy the rest of the conference! It was a packed few days with around 200 participants and nearly 60 presentations, plus keynotes, workshops and a poster slam. We found particular inspiration in the panel on crowdsourcing and collaboration. We heard how the Arthur Prior project at the University of Copenhagen has been recruiting academics to transcribe papers written by Arthur Prior, the philosopher and founder of temporal logic. We also saw how the Latvian Folklore Archives experienced huge success with a well-publicised crowdsourcing campaign targeted primarily towards school children, which resulted in the transcription of nearly 15,000 pages in only 71 days! The READ project will be following these projects with interest as we continue to develop a new open source crowdsourcing platform, where users can transcribe documents with the assistance of Handwritten Text Recognition technology.
You can catch up on some of the conference goings-on over on Twitter. We are already looking forward to the 2018 conference in Helsinki, which the National Archives of Finland will be helping to organise!