Symposium on Tool Criticism

Het symposium over Tool Criticism bekijkt de vooroordelen die onderzoeksinstrumenten bijna altijd met zich meebrengen, omdat ze met een bepaald doel voor ogen zijn gemaakt.

21 november 2019
Leiden University Library, Vossius room, Witte Singel 27, Leiden.

The symposium aims to draw attention to the notion that digital research instruments almost inevitably introduce a certain theoretical, practical or methodological bias, resulting from the fact that they have been developed for a particular scholarly purpose and/or within a particular methodological framework. Research in the field of data and tools criticism aims to recognise such bias, to give explicit expression to the various assumptions on which software tools are based, and to evaluate the potential impact of these assumptions on research outcomes. The symposium in Leiden will partly present the insights that are emerging from the articles that are written for a special issue of the Digital Humanities Quarterly, which concentrates on tools criticism.

The symposium on scholarly tools criticism consists of two parts. A morning session explores the aims and the methodology of data criticism and tools criticism on a theoretical level. During the afternoon, a number of digital humanities scholars approach the topic of tools criticism in a more practical manner, by discussing the limitations or the implications of some of the tools they have used or have developed.


Theoretical introduction and rationale of the theme Tools & Data Criticism by Julia Noordegraaf, Professor of Digital Heritage, University of Amsterdam.

Lecture 1: Peter Verhaar, Assistant Professor Book & Digital Media Studies & Digital Scholarship Librarian, Leiden University:
'Relations between algorithms, data and interpretation'.

Lecture 2: Karin van Es, Assistant Professor of Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University.
‘Accountability & Tool Criticism’.

Lecture 3: Gerhard Lauer, Professor Digital Humanities, University of Basel,
‘The value of exact scholarship. Towards a methodology for tools criticism'.

Practical examples of Tools Criticism. During this session, a number of scholars will give a lecture on their research and the tools they use. They will go into the 'bias' of using certain tools and data and the implications of the research results.

Lecture 1: Marijn Koolen, Software Engineer, KNAW Humanities Cluster.
‘Tools that encourage criticism: digital humanities infrastructures and research.’

Lecture 2: Melvin Wevers, Researcher, Digital Humanities Lab, KNAW
Humanities Cluster. ‘Signals and Noise: Modelling patterns and bias in cultural data.’

Lecture 3: Jasmijn van Gorp, Assistant Professor of Television and Digital Heritage, Utrecht University.
‘Teaching methodologies and pedagogy for Digital Humanities. A model for Digital Tools Criticism.’

Panel session on methodology/best practices in tools criticism.
Moderator: Sjef Barbiers, Professor of Dutch Linguistics, Leiden University.
Panel: Gerhard Lauer, Adriaan van der Weel, Julia Noordegraaf, Ted Underwood.

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