HCU Activities since February 1997

Staff of the Unit settled into their new working environment during this period, and recruitment of a new administrative assistant began. At the end of April, the Unit was officially launched with a well attended reception in the new premises.

Planning and preparation for two major HCU activities later in the year is now well under way. Bookings for TESS, the HCU summer school, to be held in July, exceeded the number of available places by 50% as expected, and a waiting list is being maintained. The conference on Digital Resources for the Humanities to be held in September has attracted a large number of overseas submission, and a programme committee has been set up to review these during June. Planning for this conference is now becoming a matter of some urgency.

Centre for Humanities Computing

The CHC has continued to re-establish itself in the new premises. This has meant overcoming the usual problems involved with such a major move but these now seem to be at an end. We are gradually producing new user guides and mounting new software on our server. News of this has been disseminated in the latest issue of Humanities Computing in Oxford, and on our new e-mail list HCU-Announce.

Members of staff from the CHC have presented workshops in keeping with the general training courses offered by OUCS (e.g. HotMetal by CS), but have also helped organise more national events such as the one-day workshop on Film and Media Studies (17th March, St Anne's), and the very successful one-day colloquium entitled 'Beyond the Library' (16th May, Jesus College). In addition one further Humanities Training Day was run during the Easter vacation to cater for faculty who found it difficult to attend the courses offered in term time.

CHC members of staff have attended (and presented at) national conferences including the Edinburgh Science Festival (4th March) and Hypertext'97 (8th-11th April). Dr Lee has continued his role as chair of the Datasets Working Party, has attended English Faculty IT commitee meetings (and advised on IT purchases by the Lit Hums faculty), and has been asked to mark a paper in the Computing and Classical Literary Studies option for the Classics MSt. In addition, along with Dr Warwick, he is involved in presenting a proposal for a new computing option as part of the English faculty undergraduate degree course.

Oxford Text Archive

In March, staff from the OTA attended an important Workshop on computer applications at the University of Wuerzburg, a report on which is to appear in the forthcoming issue of Computers and Texts. The AHDS Service Providers Forum met, and resolved a number of key issues on access and unified cataloguing.

In May, the Archive held its first consultative workshop on metadata issues, which endorsed the approach being taken by the Archive. Full information about the OTA's new responsibilities and future planning are available in its first annual report to the AHDS, copies of which are available on demand.

CTI Centre for Textual Studies

During February and March the Centre ran a combination of full and half day workshops at the Universities of Loughborough (English & Drama) and Nottingham (Theology), and at the University of Wales, (Arts Faculty). A workshop on strategies for working with electronic texts (with participation from CTI History) and an open workshop introducing multimedia CD-ROMs were held locally. The latter was designed to preserve the informality of an open day whilst giving participants the opportunity to work through specially prepared tutorials and to talk with staff. Due to demand we also reran the 'Internet Tools for Teaching' workshop with the JTAP Virtual Seminars Project. Selected proceedings from this workshop have been made available by the JTAP Project at http://info.ox.ac.uk/jtap/reports/teaching/ Sarah Porter participated in the eLib 'on Demand Publishing in the Humanities' workshops in Liverpool and Leeds, and staff gave presentations for a humanities training day in Oxford, and for the HCU's course on creating and using electronic text.

In March, the Centre organized a one-day conference on computer-assisted film and drama studies at St Anne's College. There were five invited speakers, a hand-picked panel, and sixty delegates drawn from UK academic departments and projects. The proceedings together with specially commissioned essays are to be published in our Occasional series.

During this period Michael Fraser hosted an exhibition stand at the Edinburgh Science Festival with King's College, London and the University of Glasgow. Sarah managed a CTI stand at the Hypertext '97 conference in Southampton which was given a prominent position and elicited a good number of enquiries, and Michael gave a paper on the butchering of texts by text analysis tools at the British Comparative Literature Association's conference in Luton.

During this period another section of the Guide to Digital Resources was placed online (bibliographic resources and tools). Sections on philosophy, literature, and text analysis tools are planned to appear within the next month. The Centre's WWW site continues to be enhanced with the recent addition of a search engine allowing readers to search all or selected sections of our site. Computers & Texts 14 is currently being printed, and the online version is now available.

British National Corpus

Work on the SARA software and on the BNC Sampler continued, and is nearing completion. A publisher has now been found for the BNC Handbook, and it is hoped that this will appear early in 1998. A meeting of the BNC Consortium discussed at some length the issue of extending access to the corpus beyond Europe; resolution of this long overdue issue appears to be nearing. Dr Warwick continued to support a wide range of user queries and requests about the corpus, addressed a Seminar at the University of Aston in April, and organized a panel session on using the BNC at the ICAME conference in Chester in May. Mr Burnard attended a British Council funded international conference on Practical Applications of Language Corpora and gave a well received paper on the BNC.

JISC Technology Applications Programme

The JISC Technology Applications Programme has been continuing to develop the four web-based tutorials for teaching literature. It has also published a report on using the Internet as a teaching tool which is now freely available. The Steering Group for the project, on which a number of distinguished academics are represented, met at the end of May and warmly endorsed the work carried out so far by the project. Project staff also made a brief trip to the battlefields of the Somme in order to gather copyright-free video data for inclusion in the project deliverables.

Other HCU activities

During April, Lou Burnard was invited to teach a week long seminar on text encoding at the University of Bologna; a report is available at http://users.ox.ac.uk/~lou/reports/9704forli.htm He has also continued to work closely with Bodleian Library staff in developing a standard format for manuscript description. A proposal derived from this work has now been submitted to the European Union Libraries Programme.

LB has also worked closely with the Refugee Studies Programme, both in defining a digitization project for which the RSP has successfully obtained substantial funding from the Mellon Foundation, and in assisting in the recruiting of a project leader.

The Unit has recently contracted with the European Language Reources Association (ELRA) to produce a report on validation of language corpora: the work will build on existing HCU expertise, but the bulk of it has been subcontracted to colleagues at Lancaster University.

LB, 26 May 97