HCU Activity Report, February 1998

Since the last report, the HCU has organized two major activities, briefly noted at the last CCA meeting : TESS, the HCU summer school, was held in July, and the conference on Digital Resources for the Humanities was held in September. Brief reports on both events are available elsewhere. Planning for similar events in 1998 is now well under way. A second TESS will be held in July 1998, and will be followed by this year's major international conference: TALC98 (This is an established biennial conference on the theme of teaching with language corpora: see http://users.ox.ac.uk/~talc98 for details). Planning is also underway for a further one day symposium in the "Beyond" series, called Beyond the Hype, provisionally to be held in 0th week of next term.

Centre for Humanities Computing

CHC publications, seminars, and activities continued according to the established pattern. Two editions of Humanities Computing in Oxford appeared, and the start of the academic year was marked by the usual full programme of faculty-based induction days and training seminars (see HCO for details). This term we are running two Humanities Training Days, and also repeating the course on Creating And Using Digital Texts; CHC staff have also been invited to run a number of lunch time seminars.

The Humanities Bulletin Board (HUMBUL) underwent a major upgrade, and  we are reviewing ways of further developing it as a subject based gateway.

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

Sarah Porter and Sophie Clarke ran a one-day workshop on 'Teaching and Learning with the Internet' for staff of Oxford Brookes University. Mike Fraser and Sophie Clarke ran a training session for staff of the Theology faculty, University of Oxford. Mike also ran  a one-day workshop on 'Computer-Assisted Text Analysis' at the University of Hull; he also gave a paper as part of the 'History of the Book' seminar
series for the Faculty of History, University of Oxford. Staff from the Centre presented at the one-day Graduate Training Day run for staff and postgraduates of Oxford University. Sarah met with staff from Chadwyck-Healey electronic publishers to advise them on the production of digital teaching materials, and contributed to the two-day AHDS User Needs Experts workshop. Mike attended the CTI Centre for Modern Languages Steering Committee meeting, and a one-day workshop on the use of video-conferencing technology, organised by the JTAP programme. Sarah participated in a one-day workshop on 'the impact of technology in higher education' at the University of Aston, and a two-day training workshop on Electronic publishing design skills. Sophie attended an SGML training course as preparation for her continued
work on the Gibbon cd-rom project. The Centre staff met with the Chair of the Advisory Group for a 'brainstorming' session to discuss the Centre's  future role, in preparation for the CTI Review which is currently taking place.

British National Corpus

The BNC Handbook was published by Edinburgh University Press (and is now on display in Blackwells). The BNC Online service went live in November, and it is planned to upgrade the server in the near future to cope with the prediuctable increase in load. A meeting was held to discuss the possibility of enhancing the corpus to include linked digitized audio: legal difficulties need to be resolved before this can be pursued. The vexed question of extending access to the corpus beyond Europe is still unresolved, as a consequence of anxieties at the DTI. Dr Warwick continued to support a wide range of user queries and requests about the corpus, locally and externally, and to teach workshops on its use. In January she taught a two day workshop at the University of Paris III;  using the BNC is also a component she teaches for the English Faculty's Language Film and Media course. Mr Burnard was invited to a workshop organized by Lancaster University for a Polish team planning to build a corpus of modern Polish on the BNC model. Both members of staff taught a very successful one day seminar on using the BNC at Warwick University.

Virtual Seminars Project

The JTAP Virtual Seminars Project approaches its last stages, and  the bulk of its deliverables (four web-based tutorials for teaching literature) are well on schedule. The Project has attracted additional funding, which will enable a much larger quantity of digitization to be carried out, to include all the manuscripts of Owen's poetry, rather than a small sample as originally envisaged. In collaboration with other parts of the Unit, an SGML dtd for the whole Owen Archive has been developed, which it is hoped will have wider interest and usefulness.

Other HCU activities

Proposals for the establishment of a Humanities Computing Development Team (discussed at an earlier CCA meeting) were finalised and are being discussed internally within OUCS. A bid to establish the temporary post currently held by Chris Stephens was prepared.