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Hack Congress

This non-competitive Hackfest invites participants to explore or “hack” research data provided by invited digital humanities (DH) researchers. It will show what can be accomplished when research data is opened up for collaboration. Participants will enhance their skills and learn to use new tools to visualize data and work with digital assets. The event will also be an opportunity to meet other scholars from diverse fields and to learn about emerging common practices in DH.

This full day event on June 1st will be punctuated by presentations of research projects and workshops on tools available for use by participants. In addition to the research data made available by selected DH researchers, a list of open data sources and tools will be provided. Check back on this space as our program develops.

Experienced and novice hackers are welcome! No prior knowledge of DH techniques or tools is required, but curiosity and a desire to collaborate are essential!

Visit our Congress event page to register:

Preliminary program

Speaker: David Brown, Ph.D. Student and Research assistant at the CulturePlex Lab at the University of Western Ontario

Time: 11:00 am

Graph Databases in the Humanities

My research focuses on the production and diffusion of cultural objects, particularly Spanish texts and art. To model and analyze these processes, the CulturePlex lab develops and maintains a variety of tools and technologies that provide access to the Neo4j and TP 3 Gremlin Server graph databases. Using software implemented in the Python programming language and open sourced for community access, we build and transform multipartite networks in order to produce new insights into the physical processes associated with culture. My talk will present several of our software projects--SylvaDB, aiogremlin, projx--that were developed to leverage the power of the graph database, and demonstrate how they can be applied to research in the humanities.

Speaker: Javier de la Rosa, Ph.D. Candidate and Development Chief in CulturePlex Lab at the University of Western Ontario

Time: 11:15 am

Making machines learn

The focus of my research is on how data, and especially Big Data, can provide new insights to old questions, and how using them we can even come up with new ideas and questions. Specifically, I will show 3 uses cases that are part of my dissertation: 1) an analysis of 120,000 paintings to analyze the representation of beauty over time, 2) the extraction of sentiment trends in the characters of Calderón de la Barca's plays using Machine Learning, and 3) a study on authorship attribution of one of the most important anonymous texts of the Spanish Golden Age.

Speaker: John Simpson, Ph.D., Digital Humanities Specialist at Compute Canada will be on hand for a presentation to highlight the resources available to researchers through Compute Canada.

Time: 2:00pm

Introducing tools for your research:

  • Clean up your messy data using OpenRefine (3:30 pm)
  • Discover OMEKA (morning)

Planning team: Jeanette Hatherill, Nancy Lemay, Catherine McGoveran, and Sarah Simpkin. For more information or to get involved please email catherine.mcgoveran AT

A hackfest is an event designed to bring together a group of people to work collectively on a project or a problem, based on the premise that working collaboratively and with different skill sets, a group can accomplish more than an individual working alone.

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