HELDIG Digital Humanities Forum

A central goal of HELDIG is to foster use of digital methods, tools, and services in Humanities and Social Sciences.

To advance this, HELDIG organizers not only courses for students but also educational and disemination activities targeted for researchers and teachers willing employ digital methods more is their work. Such lifelong learning activities take place at the HELDIG Digital Humanities Forum, and may include

  • short presentations of research areas, technology, methodology, or data service,
  • seminars and workshops of general interest,
  • tutorials,
  • presentations of projects and organizations,
  • dissemination of research results,
  • publishing events of applications and
  • other programme of interest to the DH community.

The general goal of HELDIG Forum activities is to introduce topics of wider interest in Digital Humanities, and to provide a communication platform where representatives from the different HELDIG research areas can learn from each other and come up together with better results in their work.

The possibility of proposing an activity in the HELDIG Forum is open for anyone in the HELDIG community. If you have an idea of a Forum event, please contact Krista Lagus, Jouni Tuominen or Eero Hyvönen with a short draft description of your activity: Topic, presenters, date and time, targeted audicence, goals of the activity, a short description of its contents, and language used. For example, if you have given a tutorial in an international conference, why not give it also to the Finnish community in HELDIG? HELDIG can help you in finding a venue for the tutorial and the audience. Participation in the HELDIG Forum events is by default open and free of charge.



HELDIG Forum events are organized as virtual events in Zoom – see the detailed programme below.

Time Zoom Link Presenter Topic
Thu 29.10. 13:00-17:00 See Programme and registration

Semantic Computing Research Group (SeCo) Presenters from HELDIG, Aalto, and partnering organizations

Digital Humanities in Action:
Sampo Model and Portals for Cultural Heritage

This open and free seminar presents results of joint research at Aalto University and University of Helsinki (HELDIG), Semantic Computing Research Group (SeCo), on building an open national Semantic Web infrastructure with applications for Digital Humanities. In particular, the Sampo model and series of Sampo portals have been created that have had millions of users on the Web. The seminar presents key elements of the infrastructure and tools, and ten latest Sampo portals, five of which are already online, and five under development in ongoing research projects

See this short video "Building a National Level Linked Open Data Infrastructure for Digital Humanities in Finland" overviewing the underlying work that started in 2001.

The seminar continues SeCo group's tradition in organizing open seminars, related to the Semantic Web and Linked Open Data.


Tue 3.11. 14:00–15:00 Zoom Link
Meeting ID: 663 7464 3375
Passcode: 965972
Prof. Pantelis Pipergias Analytis, Department of Marketing and Management, University of Southern Denmark The Structure of Social Influence in Recommender Networks
People’s ability to influence others’ opinion on matters of taste varies greatly—both offline and in recommender systems. What are the mechanisms underlying these striking differences? Using the weighted k-nearest neighbors algorithm (k-nn) to represent an array of social learning strategies, we show—leveraging methods from network science—how the k-nn algorithm gives rise to networks of social influence in six real-world domains of taste. We show three novel results that apply both to offline advice taking and online recommender settings. First, influential individuals have mainstream tastes and high dispersion in their taste similarity with others. Second, the fewer people an individual or algorithm consults (i.e., the lower k is) or the larger the weight placed on the opinions of more similar others, the smaller the group of people with substantial influence. Third, the influence networks emerging from deploying the k-nn algorithm are hierarchically organized. Our results shed new light on classic empirical findings in communication and network science and can help improve the understanding of social influence offline and online.

2019 – Autumn

Time Hall Presenter Topic
Mon 23.9. 14:00–15:00 Metsätalo, Hall 2 (spiral staircase up from the lounge, on the right) Prof. A. Aneesh, Sociology and Global Studies, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Big Data and Identity Construction
While social identity is an identity continually renegotiated through linguistic interactions and social performances, bureaucratic identity—glimpsed in passports, driver’s licenses, and other identity cards—is a construction of fixed personhood for the purposes of modern organizational needs, ensuring that the member has remained essentially the same despite changes in personality, body, and behavior. With the spread of digital technologies, however, there has emerged a new variation of identity—system identity, which represents persons as dynamically forming clouds of data. While system identities can serve the bureaucratic need for identifying members, their role far surpasses the organizational necessities of inclusion and exclusion. The notion of system identities posits a space of identity construction that does not have a substrate or foundation on which identity is based. It describes an operation in which various systems—financial, legal, medical, governmental or any number of others— incorporate their own foundations by adapting themselves to their own results. This presentation highlights the importance of this differentiation and charts its latest development.

Register here by Thursday 19.9.2019 latest to order your free coffee.

Tue 1.10. 10:00–11:00 Metsätalo, Hall 18 (4th floor) Dr. Vilja Hulden, Department of History, University of Colorado Boulder

Speaking to the State: Patterns in Representation at U.S. Congressional Hearings, 1877–1990
This talk reports on a project that conducts a computational analysis of the metadata on hearings before the U.S. Congress to understand long-term patterns in whose voices have been represented at such hearings. Congressional hearings, held both to gather testimony and views on legislative proposals and to investigate particularly burning societal problems, form an important body of evidence in many works of history and political science. As a subject in its own right, however, testifying before Congress is relatively little studied. Yet, as the most accessible form of (federal) lobbying, Congressional hearings offer a unique window into the functioning of American democracy, and computational analysis and text mining can help us make sense of long-term trends and broad patterns in this data set of some 70,000 hearings with nearly a million instances of testimony. How have topics of concern as well as the prominence of particular groups of witnesses shifted over time? Who has had the ear of the national legislature as it has deliberated on the laws that govern our common public life? And what does it take to gain representation at hearings?

Register here by Sunday 29.9.2019 latest to order your free coffee.

Wed 23.10. 16:15–17:00 Porthania, Urbarium (P114, 1st floor) Dr. Antoine Isaac, R & D Manager of Europeana

Europeana – exploring 57,624,717 artworks, artefacts, books, films and music from European museums, galleries, libraries and archives
Europeana builds a platform for accessing a wide variety of digitized heritage across Europe. This presentation will explain some key points on how Europeana works, with a strong focus on (meta)data issues. This session will for example discuss how Europeana and its Network of data partners try to address matters of data quality in a multilingual context, what this requires both from a data engineering perspective and a community one, and how this connect with the FAIR principles. Europeana Research, the initiative to promote the use of digital heritage in academic research, will also be introduced.

Antoine Isaac (Europeana Foundation) works as R&D Manager for Europeana. He has been researching and promoting the use of Semantic Web and Linked Data technology in culture since his PhD studies at Paris-Sorbonne and the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel. He has especially worked on the representation and interoperability of collections and their vocabularies. He has served in other related W3C efforts, for example on SKOS, Library Linked Data, Data on the Web Best Practices, Data Exchange. He co-chairs the Technical Working Group of the RightsStatements.org initiative and the Discovery Technical Specification Group at the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF).

Register here by Monday 21.10.2019 latest to order your free coffee.

2019 – Spring

Time Hall Presenter Topic
Thu 10.1. 10:00–11:00 Metsätalo, Hall 4 (stairs up from the lounge, on the left) Prof. Nanna Bonde Thylstrup, School of Culture and Communication, Aarhus University The Politics of Mass Digitization: Analyzing the ​Infrastructures of Digital Cultural Memory

Today, all of us with internet connections can access millions of digitized cultural artifacts from the comfort of our desks. Institutions and individuals add thousands of new cultural works to the digital sphere every day, creating new central nexuses of knowledge. How does this affect us politically and culturally? In this talk, Nanna Bonde Thylstrup approaches mass digitization as an emerging sociopolitical and sociotechnical phenomenon, offering a new understanding of a defining concept of our time.

Arguing that digitization has become a global cultural political project, this talk draws on case studies of different forms of mass digitization—including Google Books, Europeana, and the shadow libraries Monoskop, lib.ru, and Ubuweb—to suggest a different approach to the study of digital cultural memory archives. The talk constructs a new theoretical framework for understanding mass digitization that focuses on notions of assemblage, infrastructure, and infrapolitics. Mass digitization does not consist merely of neutral technical processes, I argue, but of distinct subpolitical processes that give rise to new kinds of archives and new ways of interacting with the artifacts they contain. With this talk, I offer guidance on how mass digitization alters the politics of cultural memory to impact our relationship with the past and with one another.

Register here by Tuesday 8.1.2019 latest to order your free coffee.

Fri 18.1. 10:00–11:00 Metsätalo, Hall 2 (spiral staircase up from the lounge, on the right) Prof. Jörg Tiedemann

Language technology research group: Lost in meaning – found in translation.
Natural language understanding with multilingual data

Language technology is a multidisciplinary field. It often comes with the label computational linguistics, natural language processing (NLP) or natural language engineering (NLE) and combines linguistics, computer science, mathematics, cognitive science and related disciplines. In language technology we study methods and develop models for processing human languages. This results not only in practical tools for human-computer interaction but also leads to a better understanding of human communication and the underlying structure of the world's languages. In the presentation I will introduce the research we do in Helsinki including

- Cross-lingual NLP and machine translation
- NLP for languages with a rich morphology
- NLP for low-resource languages and in the humanities

I will focus on the first part and more about our activities are available on our website and Tuhat page

Register here by Wednesday 16.1.2019 latest to order your free coffee.

Wed 27.2. 10:00–11:00 Metsätalo, Hall 4 (stairs up from the lounge, on the left) Dr. Chiara Bonacchi, Lecturer in Heritage, University of Stirling The 'Dark Age' of Celtic Paganism: Using big data to study foundation myths in Italian neo-populist discourse
Abstract: This lecture examines the neo-nationalist tendencies expressed at the time of the March 2018 General Election held in Italy, and thereafter. For example, it considers how the Northern League has abandoned links to heritages that were previously very strong, in order to revamp its identity and move from a focus on exclusivity at regional level to one at national level. It has ceased identifying with ‘reimagined’ free and pagan Celts that used to be presented as the antithesis of the corrupted and domineering Rome. The League has left these symbols and mentions of the past in the background, side-lining them also visually in its flag. According to the party line, it is now a Catholic Italian culture that needs to be defended against forms of religious and cultural ‘otherness’, especially Islamic ones. This shift is accompanied by the loss of prominence of other local and secessionist movements such as Liga Veneta, built on medieval heritage inspired by the ‘greatness’ of the Maritime Republic of Venice. The talk draws on Twitter and Facebook data extracted and analysed as part of Ancient Identities in Modern Britain, a large and collaborative research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (http://ancientidentities.org). Findings will be published in a monograph on Heritage and Nationalism: Using Big Data to Deconstruct Populist Narratives (under contract with UCL Press).

Register here by Monday 25.2.2019 latest to order your free coffee.

2018 – Autumn

Introducing research groups at the Department of Digital Humanities, University of Helsinki

Time Hall Presenter Topic
Thu 27.9. 13:00-16:00 Finnish Literature Society, Juhlasali, Helsinki, Hallituskatu 1 Semantic Computing Research Group, HELDIG/Aalto and SKS

Biografiasampo – suomalaiset elämäkerrat semanttisessa webissä -julkistustilaisuus (in Finnish)
See the event details and registration
*** Note: this event is on Thursday afternoon ***

12.10. *** No session due to faculty meeting ***
26.10. Hall 26 Dr. Krister Lindén FIN-CLARIN consortium: Digitalizing, analysing and visualising data for research in Humanities and Social Sciences – use cases and problems
Abstract: Research in Humanities and Social Sciences based on digital material is currently at an inflection point. Some data is born digital, but especially older data requires conversion to digital form before it can be effectively analysed. Researchers in Humanities and Social Sciences are getting accustomed to the fact that big data documenting periods of activity in some field allows questions to be asked which are similar to longitudinal studies. However, most data sources are secondary which means that the researcher needs a good understanding of the limitations of the material as well as the digital analysis methods to get reliable and meaningful results.
9.11. Hall 26 Prof. Martti Vainio Phonetics group
Abstract: Phonetics is the central science dealing with human speech; its production, acoustics, and perception. The research ranges epistemically from physics (the acoustical theory of speech production) to esthetics and beyond. The University of Helsinki phonetics group has a long history starting in the late 1800’s. Historically the discipline has dealt with normal speech, as well as its clinical aspects. Currently we are working on several questions centering on speech synthesis and speech prosody; the rhythm, melody, and timing in speech.
In my talk I will present recent work dealing with digital humanities oriented prosody research using tools developed for speech synthesis. Namely, a project on language typology based on surface phonetic forms. See https://www.aka.fi/globalassets/32akatemiaohjelmat/digihum/hanke-esitteet/vaini… for more information.
23.11. Hall 26 Prof. Mikko Tolonen Helsinki Computational History Group: Understanding Public Communication in Early-Modern Europe
Abstract: This talk will weigh some central aspects of the ongoing transformation caused by changes in data sources and analyses methods in the humanities. It will focus particularly on the Helsinki Computational History Group and the way it combines big data, computational methods and (traditional) intellectual history. The talk will also discuss research infrastructures and the support needed to guarantee that the ongoing transformative period will be a successful one for the humanities.
14.12. Hall 26 Dr. Otto Lappi & Dr. Alina Leminen Cognitive science research groups
Abstract: Cognitive Science is the study of the (human) mind, brain and behavior, hence the underpinnings of all language, culture and human societies. Cognitive science research uses quantitative and qualitative methods, digital signal analysis and computational modelling methodologies. This talk introduces the peculiar viewpoint on the human that is characteristic of cognitive science, as well as the concrete research carried out by research groups working in cognitive science at the university of Helsinki.

2018 – Spring

Introducing new HELDIG professors
The sessions introduce first HELDIG and the new Dept of Digital Humanities, and then the new HELDIG professors.





9.2. 4 prof. Eero Hyvönen
prof. Martti Vainio

HELDIG – Helsinki Centre for Digital Humanities
New Dept of Digital Humanities at University of Helsinki

16.2. 4 prof. Krista Lagus

*** Session canceled due to illness ***

Chair: Digital Social Science

2.3. 4 prof. Minna Ruckenstein Chair: Digital Innovations and Consumer Society
Title: Excess online – coming to terms with users and data
Abstract: 'Citizen Mindscapes' is an open data project that contextualizes and explores a large online forum ('Suomi24, or Finland24'), consisting of tens of millions discussion threads and covering online discussions over a time span of 15 years. The sub-project presented in this talk focuses on the production and distribution of digital data and the consequent data analytics. I will cover customary ways of tracking and modifying online user behavior and discuss practices of content moderation, offering examples of how online discussions are safeguarded and curated. The overall goal is to develop new kinds of frameworks for studying online discussions, paying critical attention to the existing platforms and data gathering techniques as well as the typical ways of understanding online discussions. For instance, rather than exploring 'hate speech', which can be identified in the discussion forum, we seek to detect patterns and shaping principles that promote emotional waves, topical concentration and user positioning in the forum. By identifying such patterns and organizations, we can promote a more detailed view of how online discussions are positioned and seen in the society, what kind of value they merit, or do not merit, and in which context. Some users refer to the forum as 'Suoli24' (gut24), which we take as an important cue regarding how the discussions could be interpreted: the experience of relief comes from the fact that emotional excess has been dealt with.
16.3. 2 prof. Eetu Mäkelä Chair: Digital Humanities and Global Interaction
Title: Humanities/Social Sciences–Computing Interaction
Abstract: Applying modern data processing to complex social and historical data works best when done in collaboration - between the social scientists/humanities scholars who have the questions, between the computer scientists who deeply understand the methods and between the institutions who own and best understand the data used. At its best, collaboration also has something unique to offer each of these groups inside their own field of study. For user interaction and algorithmic data science research, this field offers complex, meaningful challenges, both in terms of data as well as use cases. In this presentation, I will go over my work, done in collaboration with over a dozen projects in the humanities, in trying to distill general scholarly data-centred workflows that can be supported by computational tools, and the interesting challenges encountered therein.
6.4. 2 prof. Petri Ihantola Chair: Big Data Learning Analytics
13.4. National Library of Finland, Fabiania building, Auditorium, Yliopistonkatu 1 Tuula Pääkkönen
Kimmo Kettunen
Petteri Veikkolainen

Title: Digi.kansalliskirjasto.fi demo, open data and interfaces
Abstract: Besides having historical newspapers and journals from 1771-1929 open via digi.kansalliskirjasto.fi, The National Library also aims to open up data via interfaces and open data. We will take a look at the interfaces already existing from the service and the all-around data catalogue of The National Library. We will also take a look at future development ideas that have grown from research while showing a demo of the Digi.

Title: Research and development efforts on the digitized historical newspaper and journal collection of The National Library of Finland
Abstract: The National Library of Finland (NLF) has digitized historical newspapers, journals and ephemera published in Finland since the late 1990s. The present collection consists of about 13 million pages mainly in Finnish and Swedish. Out of these about 7.36 million pages are freely available on the web site digi.kansalliskirjasto.fi (Digi). The copyright restricted part of the collection can be used at six legal deposit libraries in different parts of Finland. The time period of the open collection is from 1771 to 1929.
This presentation offers an overall account of research and development work related to the data.

Title: Suomalainen verkkoarkisto / The Finnish web archive

*** Please register already on Thursday 5th April at the latest to get free coffee! ***

20.4. 2 prof. Daria Gritsenko Chair: Russian Big Data Methodologies
Title: Digital Russia Studies
Abstract: After the Soviet collapse, Russia built a new political regime, which successfully utilized some democratic institutions for exercising and preserving personalist political power. Currently, this regime is being reconfigured in the context of digitalisation, Big Data and algorithmic governance. Whether Russia will be able to improve its institutional performance with the use of technological advancements and technocratic policy solutions depends on a multitude of factors, both political and technological. Use of novel digital research tools can aid multi-dimensional and cross-disciplinary studies in this area to understand Russian politics as the intersection of 'digital' and 'soci(et)al'.
27.4. 2 prof. Johanna Sumiala Chair: Religion and the Digital World
Title: Hybrid Media Events: The Charlie Hebdo Attacks and Global Circulation of Terrorist Violence
Abstract: What are hybrid media events? And how to study them in today's digital condition? This presentation addresses these questions by re-thinking media events in the contemporary digital media environment saturated by intensified circulation of radical violence. The empirical analyses draw on the investigation of Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, in 2015 and the global responses those attacks stirred in the global media audience. Methodologically, the study combines digital ethnographic approaches with computational social sciences. This presentation gives special emphasis to the hybrid dynamics between the different actors, platforms and messages in such events. It demonstrates how tweets such as "Je suis Charlie" circulate from one digital media platform to another and what kind of belongings are created in those circulations during the times of distraction.
4.5. 2 prof. Riikka Koulu Chair: Legal Research on Digitalization
Title: Law and Digitalisation or, How Technology Confounds Existing Legal Structures
Abstract: The legal system is often defined by its reactive nature, where the legal framework for technological innovation is established by regulation and ex post legitimacy control in the state courts. However, new digital platforms, Internet transactions and regulation-averse technologies such as the blockchain are confounding existing legal conceptualisations, structures and governance models. It is clear that traditional legal methods are unable to perceive the complex phenomena related to legal digitalisation. However, it is unclear how the normative nature of legal scholarship could accommodate this need. In her presentation, Koulu presents the work of the University of Helsinki Legal Tech Lab and sketches possible ways forward by introducing algorithmic fairness as a potential collaborative effort.
prof. Eero Hyvönen

Tutorial: Introduction to Semantic Web and Linked Open Data
Immediately after Riikka Koulu's presentation, Eero Hyvönen will present a gentle two hour tutorial 11:00-13:00 on Linked Data and Semantic Web, a set of web technologies that have become increasingly popular as a basis in Digital Humanities research and applications. The tutorial is based on material presented originally as part of an European Commission ESTP course "Introduction to Linked Open Data" explaining the fundamental ideas behind the Semantic Web and Linked Data, as well as giving an overview of standards and software in use in this fascinating field.

This occasion also celebrates the publication of the first textbook in Finnish about the topic, with an emphasis on Cultural Heritage applications: E. Hyvönen: Semanttinen Web - Linkitetyn avoimen datan käsikirja, Gaudeamus, 271pp., 2018.

18.5. 4 prof. Michael Mathioudakis Chair: Algorithmic Data Science for SSH Applications
Title: Echo Chambers on Social Media
Abstract: Echo chambers, i.e., situations where one is exposed only to opinions that agree with their own, are an increasing concern for the political discourse in many democratic countries. In this session, we'll discuss the phenomenon of political echo chambers on social media. In particular, we'll discuss recent work that attempts to quantify the degree to which the phenomenon is present on social media and study the role played by different types of users.
7.6. 4

Kiran Garimella

Title: Using Internet Advertising Data for Demographic Research
Abstract: Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn provide audience estimates to help advertisers target their products better. In this talk, I will present our work on using such audience estimate data to study two problems of interest to demographers and social scientists: 1. Migration, and 2. Gender gap.

First, I will show how we can use Facebook data for advertisers to study the levels of assimilation of Arabic-speaking migrants in Germany, as seen through the interests they express online. Our results indicate a gradient of assimilation along demographic lines, language spoken and country of origin. Given the difficulty to collect timely migration data, in particular for traits related to cultural assimilation, the methods that we develop and the results that we provide open new lines of research that computational social scientists are well-positioned to address.

Next, I will switch gears and show the how we use LinkedIn data to understand gender gaps in the US. We study gender trends in employment across various dimensions in the United States by analyzing anonymous, aggregate statistics that were extracted from LinkedIn’s advertising platform. The data contains the number of male and female LinkedIn users with respect to (i) location, (ii) age, (iii) industry and (iv) certain skills. We studied which of these categories correlate the most with high relative male or female presence on LinkedIn. In addition to examining the summary statistics of the LinkedIn data, we model the gender balance as a function of the different employee features using linear regression. Our results suggest that the gender gap, as measured using LinkedIn data, varies across all feature types, but the differences are most profound among industries and skills. A high correlation between gender ratios of people in our LinkedIn data set, and data provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, serves as external validation for our results.

*** Please register already on Tuesday 5th June at the latest to get free coffee! ***


18.12.2017 DARIAH-FI Workshop

Topic: DARIAH is a pan-european infrastructure for arts and humanities scholars working with computational methods, one of the large EU level ERICs (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) . It supports digital research as well as the teaching of digital research methods. University of Helsinki (2017) and Aalto University (2016) are co-operative partners of DARIAH. This means that doors are open to everybody in these universities participate in DARIAH activities, such as the workgroups. For example, HELDIG is already active in the groups "GeoHumanities" and "Analysing and Linking Biographical Data". The DARIAH-FI Workshop discusses what does DARIAH EU offer to us, and why should we take part in this ERIC for humanities.
Targeted audience: Researchers interested in EU collaborations within DARIAH
Presenters: Several presenters, including Sally Chambers for DARIAH-EU