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Reflections on Digital Humanities #dh2015

In 2015 the first International Digital Humanities Conference was held in Australia. Launching at the State Library of NSW on 30 June, the three days that followed – at the University of Western Sydney, Parramatta Campus – presented a wide variety of research projects in the field of the digital humanities. This area is one that, as Tim Sherratt @wragge argued, should aim to “be playful and political – it’s not about making things, it’s about making a difference”.



The #dh2015 gathering attracted 160 delegates from across the country as well as 320 international guests. Personal highlights, from across the Conference, included:

Favourite Keynote

A tie between: the dynamic Genevieve Bell @feraldata and; the inspirational Tim Sherratt @wragge. Both speakers challenged people to ask serious questions about their research projects including ‘why?’ and ‘who is this for?’

Favourite Long Paper Session

Three papers (of 20 minutes) focusing on language. These papers were: Encoding Vocabularies of Australian Indigenous Languages (Nick Thieberger, Conal Touhy), which looked at the results of blank word list questionnaires, produced by the Government Printer in Perth in 1904, to capture Indigenous words across WA and NT and addressed issues of working on the responses to these documents today. More detail at: and

Mining and Discovering Biographical Information in Difangzhi with a Language-Model-based Approach (Peter Bol, Chao-Lin Liu, Hongsu Wang), which looked at efforts to enhance the China Biographical Database (CBDB) a repository that covers the lives of 360,000 individuals across the 7th - 19th centuries. More detail at: and

Bringing to Life the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages (Cathy Bow), which focused on efforts to digitise thousands of materials in over 30 Indigenous languages that were created out of bilingual education programs in the NT since 1973. More detail at:

Favourite Poster

The British Library Big Data Experiment (a collaborative effort by teams at the British Library, UCL Digital Humanities and UCL Computer Science), which looked at experimental interfaces and – critically – experimental teaching. It was the only poster that featured a Creative Commons licence.


More information about the Conference, including access to all the abstracts, go to: and, if you want to keep up to date with all things “dh” in Australia you can follow the Conference organisers: Professor Paul Arthur, Dr Jason Ensor and the University of Western Sydney DH Team on Twitter.

Rachel Franks @cfwriter