End of a Decade

Submitted by Elisa Gorgaini on 14 December 2021

 


Blog post by Franciska de Jong, CLARIN ERIC Executive Director

CLARIN is fast approaching the end of its first decade as an independent organisation and research infrastructure under the framework. It will take just a little more than two months until the end of February, which would normally have been the moment for memorable celebrations and festivities. Unfortunately, with the ongoing limitations due to the pandemic which is dominating so many aspects of our lives, we will have to be a bit more patient and wait for the situation to improve, hopefully later in 2022. So, if you are keen to take part in the celebrations, please make sure to check the CLARIN event pages for any announcements. 

However, people living with the adagium ‘language matters’ are not fully dependent on just physical meetings. Indeed, for quite some time already, the CLARIN community has been working on the production of …. a book in order to mark our 10th anniversary. The launch of this book is likely to be scheduled for after the summer of next year, but the drafts of the chapters already indicate that this volume will provide a rich panorama of the treasure trove of resources and services that have been developed over the past years under the umbrella of CLARIN. In addition to language resource descriptions, the book includes use cases and impact stories, models for exchange of knowledge and expertise, the embedding of CLARIN in training and education, and reflections on the current dynamics in the ecosystem of European infrastructures and collaboration with other infrastructural initiatives. Some chapters have a historical perspective and look back on how the concept of ‘research infrastructure’ has evolved and affected the genesis of CLARIN as a distributed infrastructure, with its many regional and national strengths and investments. The book highlights CLARIN’s disciplinary networks and its role as a vehicle for multidisciplinary collaboration in the domain of humanities and social sciences at large, and more specifically in the fields of natural language processing and data science. It will be published in open access by De Gruyter and is edited by Darja Fišer and Andreas Witt.

Looking at the provisional table of contents, it is striking that the book seems to be a platform for so many categories of authors and types of expertise. However, it is also inspiring to see among the authors both the names of representatives of the new generation of CLARINers, as well as the names of several people who paved the way for CLARIN in the years preceding the formal establishment of the on 29 February 2012. Some of the founders served on the CLARIN Board of Directors ( ) and, although they had their farewell parties at the appropriate moments (see Steven Krauwer’s farewell speech and the farewell video for Bente Maegard), they stayed around, to use an understatement, and their historical notes will be part of the book. Looking forward to this chapter!

Several national coordinators from the early days have also prepared book contributions. In most cases, their farewell parties are still quite a long way off, but at this particular moment in the CLARIN timeline there is one protagonist of the early days who is about the step back and I would like to put him in the virtual spotlight here: Erhard Hinrichs, who has led the German consortium for many years and who was the first chair of the National Coordinators’ Forum ( ) and member of the BoD until 2016. In all the roles he has held over the years, both in the preparatory stages (2005-2012) and in the past decade, he was always a key factor in CLARIN’s strategy development and implementation. At many critical moments, his contributions – rooted in a broad view, his acumen and attention to detail, as well as deep insights in matters of linguistics and language resources – were decisive for the path chosen. Thanks to his effort, Germany today is a CLARIN stronghold, with more than fifteen centres and several key services, such as the WebLicht platform. Fortunately, Erhard will be able to continue his contribution to CLARIN at large in his new position as spokesman of the recently launched German national initiative Text+, which will be the new umbrella for CLARIN-D, so we are looking forward to yet another founding figure ‘staying around’ for a little while longer. His place in the NCF will be taken over by Andreas Witt, who has served until today as a member of the BoD.

Let me conclude this end-of-a-decade message by thanking all of you who have reinforced and enriched CLARIN since its inception in 2012. You have helped to pave the way for an infrastructure that has grown into a key enabling facility for and by researchers working with language data and services. I wish you all relaxing and inspiring holidays. And please stay around well into the next decade to help CLARIN grow further!