Current edition of DHQ features “TaDiRAH: a Case Study in Pragmatic Classification”

Classifying and categorizing the activities that comprise “digital humanities” has been a longstanding area of interest for many practitioners in this field, fueled by ongoing attempts to define digital humanities both within the academy and in the public sphere.

The Case Study on the Taxonomy of Digital Research Activities in the Humanities (TaDiRAH) presents how TaDiRAH is designed to function as a tool for pragmatic classification. It does so by tracking its development, namely a non-funded transatlantic cooperation by representatives from DARIAH-DE and DiRT. It is available online at the DHQ website:


The development has profited from previous research on DH methods and studies of the research lifecycle which have been revisited, adapted and aligned according to a more pragmatically-oriented use. The process has been applied in close exchange with similar initiatives such as the NeDiMAH methods ontology (NeMO) and the Digital Methods and Practices Observatory (DiMPO).

The taxonomy has seen contributions by the community along the way, beginning with feedback on its first draft and up to complete translations into a variety of languages. Currently, TaDiRAH comes in a native English version as well as in Spanish, Serbian and German, thus progressively turning it into a multilingual resource. The featured languages are in different stages of publication and will be made fully available on GitHub soon.


With its pragmatic approach, the taxonomy continues to rely on both use and community engagement. Some of the initial applications of the taxonomy are outlined in this recent article; they include implementations in DH-projects describing tools, bibliography entries, projects, courses or conference abstracts.

TaDiRAH benefits from DARIAH infrastructure as it is supported by DARIAH-DE and implemented in various aspects of DARIAH-EU including the DH Course Registry and forthcoming (re-) import in NeMo as well as an integration in the #dariahTeach platform.

TaDiRAH is publically available under a CC-BY license on GitHub and features a SPARQL endpoint through an instance of the TemaTres Vocabulary Server.

The design represents a poster that was presented at DHd 2016 in Leipzig.
(for the vocabulary server visit


Luise Borek, M.A.
FG Germanistische Literaturwissenschaft
Institut für Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft
FB Gesellschafts- und Geschichtswissenschaften

A motivating talk by Lorna Hughes at R.C. Athena: From ‘Digital Humanities’ to ‘Research Infrastructures’

Digital Curation Unit – Athena R.C. hosted, on Wednesday, March 2nd 2016, a talk by Lorna Hughes, Professor of Digital Humanities and DCU Visiting Scientist 2016, entitled From ‘Digital Humanities’ to ‘Research Infrastructures’.

What are the core elements of ‘digital humanities’? How digital research infrastructures can best serve what is called the ‘digital turn’? How do we communicate digital humanities research? How do we facilitate access to digital content? Those are some of the issues around which evolved the talk of Professor Hughes, addressing the challenges coming with the expansion of digital cultural heritage.

Lorna Hughes

This expansion has enabled innovative approaches to representing spatial and temporal aspects of primary source materials, but there are still numerous challenges, especially in accessing and using digital heritage. Professor Hughes focused principally on the role of digital research infrastructures and how they might address the core elements of digital humanities, namely the content, the methods and the tools. According to Professor Hughes digital research infrastructures need to evolve around three axes: (1) better access to digital content, (2) open content for the use and re-use of digital content and (3) better environment enabling the use of hybrid and complex material and data. Finally, Professor Hughes also discussed the role of in the digital research space as well as some important new developments internationally to support the use of digital content, tools and methods for research.

Developing an interactive visualisation of Europe’s historic newspapers

This is a guest blog by Sven Charleer, KU Leuven, on his work visualising historic newspapers for researchers.

The Historic Newspapers collection of the European Library website gives access to 10 million European digitised newspaper pages. While the availability and accessibility of this rich material are a great addition to the Digital Humanities (DH) researcher corpus, it is quite a challenge exploring such a vast amount of data.

To tackle this, we gathered a group of DH researchers in Amsterdam for a one day workshop to collect ideas on how we could improve access to the data and find out the tools with potential to improve the research workflow.

A similar, shorter session was organised during the Europeana Cloud Plenary Meeting in Edinburgh. This resulted in the design and development of an interactive visualisation for newspaper exploration.

Location, time distribution, newspaper titles and newspaper issues visualised on an interactive tabletop. Image: Sven Charleer

Our prototype follows the “overview+details on demand” approach: the visualisation provides both an overview to allow researchers to find patterns in the data and gain insights across time and space, while also giving access to each individual newspaper.

Providing views of multiple facets at once, interactive tabletops create an efficient and effective environment for data exploration and analysis. Large interactive tabletops can already be found in public spaces such as museums, but are rare in the average research lab. It would still be interesting to get the benefits of large interactive surfaces, but the cost might not be easily justified. The answer? Tablets.


The tabletop application is split into a modular system spread over multiple tablets. Image: Sven Charleer

As tablets become cheap and ubiquitous, it is not hard to imagine a researcher having access to multiple such devices. Certainly, when a group of researchers come together, the chance of each bringing along a device is high. By combining multiple tablets, you can recreate certain affordances of an interactive tabletop.

Our research has shown that, for simple faceted search and exploration tasks, multiple tablets can be a substitute when large interactive displays are not available. The modular nature of multiple tablets has its advantages too: users can decide which modules are required for the task at hand (or can choose which modules to activate depending on the devices available), while picking up a module/tablet from the table and moving it to your workplace would be more natural than sending the data back and forward to e.g. your desktop computer.

Currently 7 modules are available in our multi-device prototype: text search, timeline, language (previously location), search history, newspaper titles, newspaper issues and newspaper view. While more modules can be added (creating even more need for larger displays or more devices), the next goal is to figure out if the exploration tool will benefit researchers, fit their workflow and prove more useful than the standard Google-like approach of searching the database.

However, inviting DH experts from all around Europe to our lab is not straightforward. We therefore decided to create a a web browser version, suitable for the average desktop user, so as to continue our evaluation. As an added bonus, we also added a complete new recommender system to assist the researcher in finding new, interesting newspapers related to their search results.

The final desktop prototype: text search, language, timeline, newspapers and issues in a single web browser window. On the right, recommendations based on the selected result.

Our next step is to get the experts’ opinion. It is now important to get this tool in the hands of real users, e.g. DH researchers interested in the Historic Newspapers collection, or even enthusiasts who regularly visit newspaper archives. And that’s where you, the reader, come in. If you are interested in participating, we would love to hear from you. You will need access to a computer with the Chrome browser, Skype (not 100% necessary but preferred) and 30-45 minutes of free time.

If that sounds good, contact me at (sven.charleer [at]!

A satisfied user. Image: Sven Charleer

via Europeana Research Blog post