Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Enhancing digital humanities at National Library of Finland

The National Library of Finland organized an internal seminar in which both organizational and content matters were presented and discussed. The director of research library Liisa Savolainen gave a presentation on the developments related to the Digital Humanities area. Digital humanities is a natural active area for the National Library as an increasing proportion of material is in digital form and the lirary itself digitizes large quantities of materials. Savolainen discussed a conceptual model. She also gave examples of international and Finnish digital humanities projects and institutions including
  • styly analysis of Sharepeare's texts,
  • Old Bailey corpus of London central criminal court decisions, published from 1674 to 1913
  • Bible version comparison, and
  • sea traffic in the antiquities.
Savolainen concluded that library's natural role is to provide materials. Is was also discussed that availability of easy-to-use tools can be important for researchers, many of which have only limited skills in computer science.

Jean Sibelius is the internationally best known Finnish composer who lived 1965-1957. Tuija Wicklund gave a presentation on a large-scale project called JSW - Jean Sibelius Works in which a critical edition of Sibelius' works is compiled. The editions includes both musical scores and and associated texts such as letters. Wicklund gave as an example Lemminkäinen Tuonelassa and described the different stages of composition and the information is transferred from composer's table to åublisher manuscrisher's hands where the score is presented for each 27 players separately. In the critical edition, different information sources are integrated. For example, potential errors in the original score are corrected but in an open and transparent manner.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Consumer Research Center becoming a part of University of Helsinki

The former autonomouis National Consumer Research Center is becoming a part of the University of Helsinki. This move was celebrated today at the new premises of the institution whose researchers described ongoing research and future plans.

One collaboration project with the Depertment of Modern Languages is called Citizen Mindspaces. In the project, social scientists, text analysts and computational linguists will study a large collection of social media discussions in the Suomi24 service and develop research questions, methods, tools in order to provide means for deeper understuding of citizens' thoughts about the state of affairs.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Lauri Lahti: Computer-Assisted Learning Based on Cumulative Vocabularies, Conceptual Networks and Wikipedia Linkage

Lauri Lahti defended his PhD thesis "Computer-Assisted Learning Based on Cumulative Vocabularies, Conceptual Networks and Wikipedia Linkage" in the field of Computer Science and Engineering. As the opponent serves Associate professor Piet Kommers, University of Twente, the Netherlands, and as the custos Professor Jorma Tarhio, Aalto University, Department of Computer Science. In the thesis, it was found that conceptual networks of students, common language and Wikipedia inherently emphasize different themes that should be addressed when developing learning methods.

In his lectio precursoria, Lahti discussed the motivation and different aspects of his work. His motivation stems from education. A central task he considers is how to travel through a conceptual network during learning. At later stages of the work, Wikipedia became an important resource. In the work, educational methods developed that are inspired by the collaboratively maintained knowledge structure of Wikipedia. Moreover many of its features and contents related to representing, exploiting and mimicking were used. Due to Wikipedia’s many unique characteristics, Lahti considered Wikipedia to offer much more than just a mere encyclopedic reference for factual information but a holistic framework for knowledge representation. One can, for example, compare mind maps created by students at different stages of learning and the Wikipedia as a socially constucted holistic resource.

The opponent discussed the relationship between literature and the keywords that are used to characterize the knowledge contained in the documents. This is an old question that libraries have solved in various ways. The basic question is how to link individual words with objects like books the contents of which are very complex and multifaceted.

Prof. Kommers had made the defence easy to follow by preparing the questions beforehand and by presenting them in one slide. The questions were discussed one by one, however widening the scope or delving into details whenever necessary. Among other things, various aspects related to networked representation of knowledge, students' use of it, measuring learning results, and different theories of learning were discussed. The opponent specifically mentioned Gordon Pask's work. With Heinz von Foerster and others, Pask was an early cybernetician who paid careful attention to systems theoretical aspects of complex phenomena.

A central critical point by the opponen was related to the limitations of using recall as a means to study learning. He asked about the potential of using the knowledge, for instance. in active problem solving. In general, the opponent found the work substantial and warmly recommended it to be accepted.