The DARIAH-FI train is moving rapidly forward, but is it still on schedule? At the end of April, we organized a large workshop to conduct a reality check for our research infrastructure project. Additionally, the workshop served as a platform for collecting internal feedback on the deliverables developed by our Work Packages (WPs). In this blog post, I will summarize the highlights and share some insights into what we have accomplished so far.
As you may know, DARIAH-FI exists to enable better research in the data-intensive humanities and social sciences. In practice, this means building data pipelines, datasets, tools, and interfaces, among other things. In the workshop, we divided into two main groups: one focusing on data pipelines and data processing, and the other focusing on SSH tools and interfaces. The former group was perhaps a bit more technical in nature, chaired by our technical director, Eetu Mäkelä, whereas I chaired the latter group, which emphasized the end-user perspective. The structure of the sessions was simple: (1) each WP demonstrated what they had achieved, (2) then people tested the deliverable, and (3) finally, we gave feedback, both in written and oral form. This structure worked surprisingly well, at least in our group!
To facilitate constructive feedback, one WP reviewed another WP’s work before the workshop and prepared a presentation that highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the deliverable, followed by a discussion open to everyone. Reviews were honest and firm, just as we had hoped. Of course, the progress of each WP should be compared against their starting point from last year; in DARIAH-FI, we have experienced teams that have worked together for years, and then we have teams that have begun their cooperation almost from scratch. Although the maturity levels among WPs vary significantly, we wanted to award a symbolic prize for the best demo (see Figure 3). The winner was the Twitch Collector tool built by WP3.4, led by Raine Koskimaa from the University of Jyväskylä.
Man from Paris Headlining
At the end of the day, we had a special guest from DARIAH-ERIC: Edward Gray, Officer for National Coordination. Ed connected our Finnish dot to the bigger picture of European research infrastructures and gave a quick introduction to the SSH Open Marketplace, the discovery portal that helps SSH researchers find useful resources such as methods, tools, workflows, and datasets. Ed showed how our project can have a broader impact by using the Marketplace to share our resources with the wider international research community. (Ed also facilitated a special workshop on the Marketplace the day after the DARIAH-FI Workshop; now we know what to do if and when we want to integrate our resources into the Marketplace!)
”No Shortcuts to Any Place Worth Going”
The long day ended with a social dinner at the Workers’ Hall, a historical site where one revolution began in 1918. In our informal discussions, we made some cunning plans for the future of social sciences and humanities in Finland. Now, let me be clear: DARIAH-FI does not believe in a sudden revolution, for solid infrastructures are not built in a day. It is a slow grind for a better world. The feedback gained from this workshop will be valuable in guiding our next steps…more about them later!
Risto Turunen, National Coordinator for DARIAH-FI