Blogs, Workshop

Huygens Institute Visit and Workshop

Coco researchers attended a workshop with Huygens Institute in Amsterdam on 15th of September 2021. The workshop was titled Constellations of Correspondences/ Huygens Institute/ KNAW-HumantiesCluster / UU-SkillNET workshop. In this workshop, both Huygens Institute’s members and CoCo team members shared and discussed various projects and products that have been developed, current challenges that are being faced as well as potential solutions that could be implemented.

SeCo team members flew to Amsterdam on 14th of September. Those who attended this event are those working on CoCo projects both from University of Helsinki and Aalto University. These members are Dr. Mikko Koho, Dr. Jouni Tuominen, Dr. Senka Drobac, Petri Leskinen and Muhammad Faiz Wahjoe. The teams arrived in Amsterdam in the afternoon, so we had the pleasure to be able to enjoy Amsterdam while having dinner in a restaurant near our place of stay. 

Group photo of CoCo team member
A Nice Dinner Just After Arrival (Photo by: Mikko)

On 15th of September, the team attended the workshop. The workshop starts at 9 AM at the Huygens Institute building. We were warmly welcomed by Charles van den Heuvel who gave a short welcoming speech as well as the first presentation of the day. This was followed by other speakers that shared and discussed the problem and solution that Huygens Institute already implemented. Throughout and between the presentation there were intense and insightful discussions. Of particular note, are the issues of disambiguation. 

Several of the speakers highlighted this process of disambiguating names of actors, places and other kinds of instances.The speakers tells about difficult and interesting cases which makes this process harder, such as huge variances of names and incomplete data like name initials. We also discuss the approaches both that they have taken and they are still planning to take to tackle this problem. The Seco member also acknowledges that this is a common problem that we also have. We conclude this first part of the workshop by having a general discussion on the session so far. We discussed problems faced by both parties on the development and execution of humanistic research. Charles helps point out different aspects and problem points in which researchers have to deal with. The Finnish delegation then shared about the circumstances in Finland and how it is being handled in Finland. Ilona and Jouni also make a point on how Coco project tries to push boundaries of both Humanities and CS Field.

We then have lunch together in the room that was kindly organized by the Huygens institute. We enjoy some sandwiches and warm drinks while also taking this opportunity to chat with fellow attendees. After lunch we went to the second park of the workshop where this time CoCo team members delivered the presentation.

Ilona, Hanna-Leena, and Johanna gave the first presentation titled the Constellations of Correspondence (CoCo) project: General introduction, Collaboration with the Cultural Heritage institutions. Then Senka, Mikko and Faiz shared about the general view of the data conversion process and data anomalies that CoCo are facing and we also shared about the Data model that we currently use. Lastly Petri and Jouni shared about the Sampo portals and we also shared and highlighted some of its features such as data visualization. Just before we end, Liliana from University of Utrecht gave a short demo and presentation about the disambiguation process that the huygen team was developing.

CoCo Delegation Gave A Presentation (Photo by: Mikko)

One of the interesting cases here was the data anomalies that both Senka and Faiz presented. There were numerous peculiar cases that we encountered such as untidy data, diversity of sources and formats as well questionable mistakes that we find in the data such as misaligned columns. This provokes an understanding of just how much quality uncertainty that we are facing in transforming data as well as a little chuckles as we marvel at how peculiar these cases could get. I remember Charles put it the best “These data providers, they just say “here have all of our data and all the problems that come with it as well”. It should also be noted that the notion of disambiguation process is also being discussed again, this time more in depth as Liliana who currently still develops the disambiguation machine for Huygens gave a general walkthrough on how it works.

As all the speakers presented their material and we concluded our discussion we, again, were treated with drinks arranged by Huygens. In the evening the Finnish contingent were treated to a wonderful dinner in a great dutch restaurant in central Amsterdam. It was a really nice way to end this long yet fruitful event. After the dinner, the group members got to enjoy Amsterdam at night before coming back to Helsinki the next day. This event has been interesting and fruitful and we hope to be able to have similar events in the future.