Committee for Computing in the Arts

HCU Report: October 1998 to January 1999


Most of the new staff whose appointments were announced in the previous report have now taken up their posts; we are however still waiting for the arrival of Jonathan Miller, appointed as Assistant IT Support Officer in the CHC, and Stuart Sutherland, Information Officer in the CTI Centre. We are also currently recruiting an Administrative Assistant for the HCU. With these posts all filled, the Unit's establishment will reach 17.

Centre for Humanities Computing

This term the CHC has continued to expand its teaching activities. We are offering the course on bibliographies and bibliographic software for the first time this term. We have also been making approaches to various humanities faculties and departments in order to try and arrange induction teaching for them in the same way that we currently do for Anthropology, Ancient History, English, Classics etc.

Following the appointment of IT Support Officers in most of the Humanities Faculties, Chris Stephens has taken a co-ordinating role, acting as first point of contact between the newly-recruited the humanities IT Support Officers and OUCS. An initial meeting of all the current officers was held last friday (29th January), and was deemed to be a success by all who attended. A report on this meeting will appear on the web shortly, and its is planned for the group to meet more often than the current level of once per term.

Humanities Computing Development Team

The Humanities Computing Development Team has worked on four substantial projects and given advice to a number of others. Current projects will be completed in March and an information dissemination workshop held on March 26th. A bid for further project proposals has gone out with a closing date of 1st March; there have already been a number of projects put forward.

It was proposed at the last meeting of the CCA that the HCDT should seek further funds from central sources. The HCDT Coordinator has therefore drafted a request for central funding for the HCDT for a further two years, which the Director of OUCS has submitted to the Funding and General Purposes Committee. The report can be read on the web at

CTI Centre for Textual Studies

The CTI Centre welcomed Dr Frances Condron as the new Project Officer at the beginning of January. Frances is also responsible for undertaking the work relating to the ASTER Project. The Centre will have its full complement of staff with the arrival of Stuart Sutherland (Information Officer) on 22 February.

The Centre submitted a final response to the HEFCE consultation on the subject centres. The response was formulated in discussion with representatives from various subject associations, organisations and standing committees. The response can be found at Latest indications are that the invitation for proposals to host subject centres will be made by the end of February. The HCU is currently consulting with the Open University (Humanities Higher Education Research Group) with a view to formulating a joint bid.

A double issue of Computers & Texts is near completion and has been released on the Web. The Centre is currently working on an expanded Guide to Digital Resources and a one-day conference on supporting teaching & learning in the humanities to be held in Oxford at the beginning of July.

Oxford Text Archive

Since the last meeting of the CCA, two new members of staff have joined the OTA. Karen Wikander started work on 13th January, and comes to us from the Etext Centre at the University of Virginia. Karen will be working half time for the OTA and half time for the English Faculty at Oxford. Her work for the OTA will involve actively identifying and accessioning literary and linguistic corpora, and assisting Alan Morrison with user enquiries. Karen will also be helping the English Faculty to exploit the holdings of the OTA, and we hope to be able to use this work to develop demonstrators and case studies of interest to the wider academic community.

John Leedham joined the OTA as our new Computing Officer on 18th January, having worked as a Systems Developer for OUP. John will maintain and develop the OTA's existing online systems and services, and be responsible for monitoring and assessing new technical solutions. He has already migrated the OTA's new website to Quirk, and testing is now underway.

The British Academy's Arts and Humanities Research Board "Terms and Conditions of Award" now state that: "For projects whose primary purpose, or significant product, is the creation of a dataset, data created as a result of the research, together with documentation, should be offered for deposit at the Arts and Humanities Data Service, within a reasonable time after the completion of the project. Applicants who are likely to produce a dataset are recommended to contact the Arts and Humanities Data Service before starting their project in order to ensure that appropriate methods and standards are followed, and that data produced will be of a depositable standard." In the notes to applicants (section 10), "dataset" is given the broader definition of "electronic resource" -- thereby including the creation of electronic texts, electronic transcriptions of texts, digitized images of non-electronic printed or manuscript works, and so on. This is starting to generate significant extra work for the OTA, but as well as helping to raise our profile within the academic community this policy change offers a dramatic increase in the number of potential deposits.

Through the OTA's involvement with the national CEDARS Project, Michael Popham and Andy Stone (Oxford's CEDARS Project Officer), have been given the task of establishing and coordinating the activities of the Oxford Demonstrators Implementation Group (OxDIG) -- which will involve not only the OTA, but also several projects within the Bodleian and Radcliffe Science Library. Michael and Andy will also be representing Oxford on the CEDARS SuperDIG, the coordinating body for the DIGs at each of the three main CEDARS sites.

On 5th February, the staff of the OTA, the Manager of the HCU, and Director of OUCS will be interviewed by Professor David Robey, in his capacity as Textual Studies specialist on the AHDS Evaluation Panel (established by JISC). Michael Popham will also be asked to attend for interview on 26th February before the entire Evaluation Panel, as part of the three year review of the AHDS. Although JISC funding for the OTA has been extended from 31st July 1999 to 31st July 2000, funding beyond that date will be subject to the findings and recommendations of the Evaluation Panel.

Summary of HCU External Activities

20 NovBNC Committee meeting at OUCS MP, LB attended
20 NovElectronic texts and archives English MSt session taught by MP
23 NovJISC/NSF town meeting at Manchester MP, LB attended
24 NovHEFCE Subject Centres consultation seminar, London MF attended
27 NovCEDARS Access Issues Working Group meeting at Oxford MP, LB, AS attended
30 NovOxTalent Awards, Oxford SL awarded first prize
7 DecRSP Digitization Project Management Committee LB attended
11 DecUMI Early English Books Online Project meeting at Bodleian LB, MP, SL attended
14 Dec CTI Workshop, University of Central Lancashire MF presented
9-10 JanTEI Steering Committee Meeting LB attended
11 JanELTA (Encoded Literary Text Analysis) Software Initiative meeting at KCL MP attended
11 JanCEDARS brainstorming meeting @ Leeds LB and AS participated
12 JanMASTER project kick off meeting, Leicester LB attended
12 JanJISC/NSF Proposal meeting, Kings College London MF and MP attended
12 JanAHDS Day at Open University AM presented
15 JanTEI Workshop, PNC Conference, Academia Sinica, Taiwan LB presented
18 JanBCS Electronic & Multimedia Publishing Specialist Group Committee Awayday at RSA MP attended