Contact Information

    Fabianinkatu 24 (P.O. Box 4)
    00014 University of Helsinki

    Tel. +358 2 941 24466



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The intention of the symposium is to bring together researchers from the humanities and social sciences to find common ground around the theme of big data and to encourage interaction and continued cooperation between analog and digital humanities in such a way that will benefit both approaches. The typical qualitative landscape of our disciplines has been rapidly changing because of the increasing availability of massive digitized corpora and the application of sophisticated computing methods. We believe these disciplinary changes are bound to continue and it is therefore in the interest of humanists and social scientist to build a common ground around these themes regardless of the researchers’ expertise in computing.

Our aim is also to shift the focus of big digital research from the mere exploration and representation of patterns to the modeling of historical change. Many unexplored possibilities exist for furthering big digital approaches in this area, such as mapping the spread of cultural objects and intellectual ideas, exploring the interconnectedness of cultures or key thinkers, and searching for correlated changes in language, culture and society.

The symposium provides a forum for researchers to discuss these and other recent advances for modeling historical change via big data and the possibility to exchange ideas on how to analyze and represent phenomena that have strong contextual and subjective dependence. To foster productive exchange of ideas we encourage the participants to focus on practical issues such as how to (and not to) approach historical change methodologically and what type of data to use (and not to use). To achieve these ends we convene historians, social scientist, linguists, computer scientists and librarians to a two day symposium in Helsinki.

In addition to the symposium we organize a related event called Helsinki Digital Humanities Day on Wednesday 3 December 2014. It focuses on the development of digital humanities in Finland and some of our speakers participate in that event as well.

Registration for this event is required but free of charge. Please register online. The deadline to register is November 24.

Venue: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Fabianinkatu 24 A, Seminar Room 136, Ground Floor.

Organizers: Mikko Tolonen, Kaius Sinnemäki and Ilkka Kiema

The symposium is organized in collaboration with the National Library of Finland and the Research Unit for Variation, Contacts and Change in English (VARIENG) and the research community Building and Use of Language Technology (BAULT).

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Monday, December 1

10.00-10.15 Opening of the symposium
10.15-11.00 Charles van den Heuvel (University of Amsterdam): Making Sense of Intellectual and Cultural Knowledge in Big and Little Data of the Early Modern Period

11.15-12.00 Jonathan Hope (University of Strathclyde): The size of it all carries us along: a new kind of literary history?
12.00-12.45 Michael Piotrowski (Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte): Turning Historical Documents into Digital Data
12.45-13.45 Lunch Break
13.45-14.30 Leo Lahti (University of Helsinki): Transforming humanities research through global collaboration on open data analytical ecosystems
14.30-15.15 Beatrice Alex (University of Edinburgh): Text mining big data: potential and challenges

15.45-16.30 Michael Cysouw (University of Marburg): Getting the nitty-gritty details into big data
16.30-17.15 Sasu Tarkoma (University of Helsinki): Lessons learned in collaborative big data analysis: What makes mobile apps tick?

Tuesday, December 2

10.00-10.45 Ulrich Tiedau (University College London): Asymmetrical Encounters: A digital quantitative approach to the history of mentalities in Europe, 1800-2000

11.00-11.45 Alexei Kouprianov (Higher School of Economics in St Petersburg): Thousands of academics and hundreds of journals: A preliminary report on the methods, results, and problems of an exploratory analysis of the temporal dynamics of scholarly community in Russia
11.45-12.30 Terttu Nevalainen and Tanja Säily (Helsinki): Big data in historical linguistics: a mixed blessing?
12.30-13.30 Lunch Break
13.30-14.15 Scott Weingart (University of Indiana): Fidelity at Scale: How Time Affects Data
15.30-16.15 Krister Lindén (University of Helsinki): FIN-CLARIN offers tools and resources for studying the development of the Finnish society in print since 1790
15.15-15.45 Concluding discussion