London, September 24, 1999.
Steering Committee members present at the meeting: Daniel Apollon, Dino
Buzzetti, Harold Short, Koenraad de Smedt (chairman), Maddalena Toscano.
Administrator and secretary: Eldbjørg Gunnarson.
Minutes of the fifth meeting
The minutes of the fifth meeting are approved
after a minor typo correction.
Report on year 1998-1999
The project report for 1998-1999 (http://www.hit.uib.no/AcoHum/report99/)
is under preparation. The Steering Committee suggests minor adjustments
in parts 2.2 and parts 2.3. These adjustments will be made before the report
is sent out.
The report for 1997-1998 has been approved in the spring of 1999, but as
of September 20, the remainder of the EU subvention for that year has not
been received yet.
Current TNP activities and publication status
The final drafts for the book have been written. Production with respect
to typographical editing and printing is under way. Distribution is expected
to start in the second half of October 1999.
Evaluation of the network
Looking back on three years' activities, the Steering Committee has a positive
overall impression of what the project has achieved. The conference and
book publication can be considered as major outcomes of the project. The
project has provided a much needed platform for discussion and has allowed
actions which otherwise probably would not have taken place. The project
started in a vacuum and succeeded to fill the need, although perhaps just
temporarily; it is unclear how universities can be mobilized to take on
the problems in the longer range.
The Steering Committee regrets that the financial support to the project
has been very low in proportion to the budget. With just a little more
money, the project would have achieved much more, left a richer legacy
and obtained a significantly higher visibility. Under better circumstances,
the conference papers could for instance have been published and a better
involvement of the many partners would have been achieved.
Some dissemination and exploitation strands which received little attention
will be picked up in the fourth year, e.g. training and retraining issues,
contacts with other projects and contacts between the CL and NEL working
groups, the latter of which suffered from definitional problems regarding
Although the project has been formally evaluated, it is hard to measure
the effect on the many different institutions in Europe. A broadening of
participation could have been achieved with more meetings in different
places with a wider audience and actions on a regional basis. Still, we
find that the landscape for collaboration has expanded after the past three
The project has shown not only that computer science extends the potential
of the humanities, but also vice versa. The project could afford to focus
only on a limited number of pilot areas and has not covered the whole ranges
of the humanities.
Organizational strategies were satisfactory, but could have benefited
from better bottom-up strategies with actions defined by the partners.
However, lack of initiative from the majority of institutions showed that
they have no reliable mechanisms for mobilization. It has proved difficult
to obtain efforts from teaching staff without substantial rewards. The
project has not been in a position to provide such rewards.
Fourth year activities
A proposal (http://www.hit.uib.no/AcoHum/renewal99)
was submitted aimed at a special extension for dissemination and exploitation
in the fourth year. The evaluation procedure for proposals under
this call is delayed in Brussels. Consequently, at the time of this
meeting it is not known whether the project will continue, although the
project year has already started.
In the event the proposal is approved and the subvention is awarded,
some dates in the workplan must be postponed. Action 6 in the workplan
should include making scenarios for sustainability. The ALLC meeting in
June endorsed the role of the ALLC in the workplan.
Proposals for future thematic network projects
For reasons internal to its organization, the HIT programme at the University
of Bergen will for some time not consider submitting proposals for future
thematic network projects aimed at humanities computing. Bergen is nevertheless
aware of the fact that new proposals are important for the humanities field
and will therefore pass on useful experiences in the role of a potential
partner - rather than a coordinator.
The Steering Committee wants to stimulate suitable organizations and
institutions to consider submitting proposals before the 15 November 1999
deadline for expressions of interest for new TNPs in the academic year
2000-2001. Especially the ALLC together with King's College London, who
are expressing an interest in being coordinator of a future TNP, are encouraged
by the Steering Committee to pursue this possibility.
Among the new issues to be considered in the next project, the following
As to organizational approaches, the current modular structure in working
groups has proved practical, but their organization should be geared towards
more flexible roles; expertise specific to tasks must be brought in and
representatives of both 'providers' and 'users' of methods and technologies
should participate. It is important to have clear responsibilities for
the institutional contacts. A paid management and support team of at least
three full-time persons at the coordinating institution is seen as necessary.
gather requirements for retraining actions that can also be integrated
in regular curricula;
specify at which level computing should be integrated in humanities curricula;
reformulate the concept of humanities computing as specifications for earlier
levels of education;
gather requirements from employees of humanities computing graduates (esp.
in the cultural heritage sector);
gather specifications for interdisciplinary and bridging courses (e.g.
text coding for librarians and publishers);
address questions of accreditation of courses;
identify best practice with respect to digital resources in teaching;
define criteria and procedures for assessment of humanities computing programmes;
make recommendations for developing reusable course materials;
survey and evaluate the organization of infrastructures for humanities
analyze the impact of humanities computing outside of universities and
gather requirements for change in society.
As to the partnership, it would be desirable to include the cultural
sector, publishers and existing centres of expertise. Clear commitments
from the partners for the execution of specific tasks is required. The
project should try to establish close contact with the partnership by having
national or regional contact points and by national or regional events
organized by local partners.
September 27, 1999
Koenraad de Smedt