With the summer heat dissipating and autumn approaching, the annual HKBU Fall Symposium on Digital Scholarship was held Thursday 25 October. Well into its fifth year, the Symposium continued to highlight international development in the field of Digital Humanities (DH)/Digital Scholarship (DS) and showcased some of the recent HKBU Digital Scholarship Grant (DSG) projects. This year's event has been made extra special with the support and sponsorship of our Graduate School. Almost 200 participants attended from across Hong Kong’s tertiary institutions, nearly double the attendance from last year. With growing global interest in digital scholarship and the emphasis placed on data analytics in the HKBU 10-year Strategic Plan, it is not surprising that interest in DH and DS is on the rise.
The event started off with an opening address by HKBU University Librarian Kendall Crilly and a presentation on “Digital Scholarship at HKBU” by Ms. Rebekah Wong, Senior Assistant Librarian of the Digital and Multimedia Services Section. This was followed by the first of two keynote speeches: Dr. Donald Waters from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation presented his view on the “Urgent Issues in Scholarly Communications in the Humanities: A view from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation”. Dr. Waters took the audience through the short but “intrusive” evolution of humanities research workflow and urged us to rethink and address the need for a digital publishing infrastructure that can support the healthy development of a community of humanities authors, as well as readers. In the second keynote entitled “The Dreams and Realities of Digital Humanities: A Perspective from Singapore”, Dr. Miguel Escobar Varela from the National University of Singapore explained some of the initiatives and challenges he faced in supporting DH projects in Singapore. In his conclusion, Dr. Varela shared his vision of librarians and researchers working collaboratively to establish a much-needed infrastructure to build a DH community for long term sustainability. Interestingly and coincidentally, both speakers placed emphasis on the need to build infrastructure to support humanities scholarship – food for thought for us all.
Three HKBU faculty members also shared details of the DSG projects that came to fruition in collaboration with the Library: Professor Clara Ho, Head of History Department, talked about her joys and challenges while working on the Sun Yat-sen Parks Database, a database that has already attracted over 334,000 views in just two years – an indication of its success. Dr. Angel Lai, Research Assistant Professor of the Department of Social Work, spoke of her sense of social responsibility and aspirations to support the poor, minorities, and the less fortunate. Yinheritance? Cultural Celebrations for Ethnic Minority Children’s Well-being was a project designed to empower the Yi ethnic minority children to increase their chance of success in life. The last project sharing had a “lighter” touch – Professor David Chung from the Department of Music shared his vision behind the Online Thematic Catalogue of Lully Keyboard Arrangements database, the first of its kind that aims to facilitate research into French composer Jean Baptist Lully’s repertory.
As the HKBU 10-year Strategic Plan states, “unprecedented devleopments” in big data are the driving force behind initiatives such as data analytics, data journalism and digital humanities. The event ended with two insightful talks about big data, something that affects us all in our daily lives whether we know it or not. HKBU Data Journalism Lecturer Mr. Pili Hu’s “Data Literacy and Civic Engagement” cautioned us of the ethical issues and potential dangers when interpreting data-driven news. His thought-provoking session pressed us to rethink the way we read charts and graphs in news. Founder of the Initium Lab whose data-driven news on Hong Kong’s Legislative Council voting pattern | 20萬條投票紀錄帶你解碼香港立法會 won the 2016 SOPA Excellence in Information Graphics Award, Pili maintains a discussion group on Slack for those who are interested in media and data visualization. Students and colleagues are welcome to sign up and join in the discussions. Last but not least, Consultant Mr. Andy Cho from Radica wowed the audience with their innovative use of open data and AI projects, including their latest Popsquare stores. Andy’s “From Collection to Action: Using Open Data and AI for Business” presentation showcased some of Radica’s recent data analytics projects and initiatives such as the Data Studio collaboration with the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, and the Data Valley educational online community platform.
While the speakers highlighted various DH/DS themes and past and ongoing projects, the event also generated a lot of curiosity about how things will develop in the future. In closing, we would like to thank everyone for their continued support and we look forward to the coming year as we continue to monitor how digital technologies like AI and data analytics will shape the DH and DS landscape.
If you missed the Symposium, or wish to delve deeper into the talks, all presentation slides and video recordings from this and past Digital Scholarship events can be found here.
You can also visit the HKBU Library Flickr Album to see snapshots of this event.
HKBU faculty members interested in applying for the annual Digital Scholarship Grant please contact Ms. Rebekah Wong, Senior Assistant Librarian/Head of Digital Scholarship Services at 3411-5239 or email firstname.lastname@example.org