New trends in eHumanities - stop making tools

Christophe Guéret, eHg, DANS, VU


April 16, 2015. 15.00-17.00 hrs. At the eHumanities Group

Stop making tools! nobody likes them anyway…

Data-centric research is nowadays focused on gathering, processing, and exposing the data through some kind of tool (software, web interface, “app”, …). Well behaving scholars also export the final data to a digital trusted repository so that they peers can later download and re-use it. During this interactive and practical presentation we will discuss the shortcomings of this general approach. Namely that 1) tools need to be maintained in order to be usable and used, this has a potentially prohibitive cost and 2) data dumps are very hard to re-use even when correctly deposited. The alternative to writing a tool and exporting the data is to build up a service for granting access to the data (so-called “Web APIs”). Services are cheaper to maintain, minimize the friction in data re-use, and can even become a source of income!

Presentation slides


Christophe Guéret is a researcher at the digital preservation institute Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) from the Dutch Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). He graduated in 2006 from the University of Tours (France) in 2006 with his work in information dissemination in networks. From a interest triggered by a small applied project (“SemanticXO”) for the OLPC community performed in 2010, his research now focuses on the design of decentralised information systems and the study of their societal impact, in particular for less privileged parts of the world (see Christophe participated in a number of international projects including the FP-7 LATC on large-scale decentralised publication and integration of data and “WikiReg” (see, a project about the creation of a Web-less Semantic Web platform under a grant from Verisign Inc. and more recently “CEDAR” about data integration for the humanities. Along with his participation in standardisation bodies (W3C), consulting activities (PiLOD NL) and teaching activities (ICT4D course at VUA) his research contributes to improving information-sharing world wide.


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