Report: Text Mining: Opportunities and Tools

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On Thursday 27 November, the British Library Labs held a one-day forum focused on text and data mining.

It brought together around thirty experts working in the area drawn from across the UK, as well as British Library staff.

The first half of the day consisted of short overviews on a variety of text and data mining projects. Speakers included Dr David King and Dr Francesca Benatti from The Open University’s Digital Humanities network. David presented some of the more challenging aspects of working with digitised historical literature in ‘Wrinkles in the data’, while Francesca provided insight into the use a humanities researcher can make of these resources in her talk, ‘Searching for Readers in the First World War’.

The morning saw more many other presentations from a wide variety of experienced researchers including Sophia Ananiadou, Professor, University of Manchester and Director, National Centre for Text Mining, Claire Grover, Senior Research Fellow in Text Mining, University of Edinburgh, and Peter Murray-Rust, Reader Emeritus in Molecular Informatics, Unilever Centre, University of Cambridge. The morning continued with brief presentations from several BL staff on various aspects of the data available through the library.

The afternoon focused on how the British Library can better serve the digital humanities text mining research community. The participants divided into four groups. The first session looked at the problems, or ‘What are the gaps?’, while the second at looked the solutions, or ‘How do we fill those gaps?’. There was a pleasing similarity of responses from all four groups in each of the two sessions, all highlighting the essential role the British Library can play as a facilitator of encounters between humanities researchers, computer scientists and data.

As always with BL Labs events the organisation of the day was excellent. A special thanks to Mahendra Mahey and Ben O’Steen.

Finally, for those who attended the forum there was the opportunity to visit the excellent Terror and Wonder – The Gothic imagination exhibition, which we strongly recommend you get along to see.

To learn more about the event, please see our earlier post or the BL Labs’ own announcement