HUN-CLARIN, in line with the overall CLARIN mission, considers it a high priority to support humanities and social science research with suitable language technologies and language resources.
Unfortunately, Digital Humanities in Hungary has recently suffered a serious setback when the budding DH training at the master’s level was suddenly stopped by the Hungarian Government. While this did not mean an end to Digital Humanities research at the Centre for Digital Humanities – Eötvös Loránd University, with which HUN-CLARIN have established good cooperation, it did certainly make the task of reaching out to DH researchers a lot more challenging.
To counter this difficulty, HUN-CLARIN devised the concept of a Roadshow series that is based on the idea of proactively (and literally) bringing language technology to where humanities research is actually done, namely, to Hungarian universities. The other key concept behind the Roadshows is that instead of a one-sided evangelization of language technology, the workshop should mobilize and showcase local initiatives.
The template for the workshops is therefore divided into two parts. The first part features an introduction to HUN-CLARIN and the value proposition of CLARIN in general. The introduction is then followed by an overview of the basic resources and tools HUN-CLARIN offers to Humanities researchers. The second part highlights local Humanities projects where there had already been an initial attempt to employ some language technology tool in research, or where an interesting dataset and/or a vaguely perceived need for some automated method for analysing the data had been identified. Both parts of the workshops have been designed for plenty of interaction between the visiting HUN-CLARIN team and the hosting researchers, but the afternoon sessions in particular are buzzing with excitement for both teams.
The visiting HUN-CLARIN team is fascinated by the genuinely interesting research questions and the data that the local colleagues have shown in their presentations. Researchers of the host institution, on the other hand, appreciate the advice they have received and the perspectives that it has opened with regard to their own work. Because the research profiles of the hosting institutes have been different, each event has had a different focus and offered intellectual excitement of a different kind, but with a consistently high level of intensity.
So far HUN-CLARIN has organized three such Roadshow events. The first took place at Szeged University on 18 October 2018 and was held with the support of a grant by CLARIN ERIC. The second workshop was staged at Debrecen University on 7 February 2019, and the third event was organized in Pécs on 2 May 2019.
In Szeged the local contributions focussed on speech and language technology tools, in Debrecen the topics of the local presentations centred on questions of building and using the HuComTech multimedia corpus, while in Pécs the discussion revolved around computational linguistic approaches to discourse representation.
HUN-CLARIN plans to take the Roadshow to other universities in the future. We take encouragement by the fact the local organizers of the Szeged workshop have since indicated that in response to local demand they want to stage a follow-up workshop in November 2019.
Blog post written by Réka Dodé