ACO*HUM Advanced Computing in the Humanities

Fifth meeting of the ACO*HUM Steering Commitee

Bologna, May 8, 1999.

Participants: Daniel Apollon, Dino Buzzetti, Harold Short, Koenraad de Smedt (chairman), Maddalena Toscano (new member).

Minutes of the fourth meeting

The minutes of the fourth meeting are approved.

Composition of the Steering Committee.

William Vaughan resigns as a member. Maddalena Toscano is unanimously accepted as a new member.


The project report for 1997-1998 has been submitted on Nov. 23, 1998. After feedback from TAO, additional information on the financial accounting has been submitted on Jan. 6, 1999. Notice of the final approval of this report has not yet been received by May 1, 1999.

The signed contract for the third project year (1998-1999) has been received. The maximum grant is 55.000 EUR or 18.01 % of the total project cost. The advance of 80 % of this money has not yet been received by May 1, 1999. The accounts for the present year show that a substantial amount of the grant is still available.

Current TNP activities and publication status

An overview of the activities 1998-1999 can be read online.

The CL working group had a meeting in January (together with the TNP on Speech Communication Sciences). Minutes are available.

The NEL and FM working groups both had meetings in April. Minutes are available.

The working group on History and historical informatics is planning the organization of a series of retraining courses aimed at Ph.D. students and junior staff. The goal of the courses is to teach the use of IT in teaching. Four of these courses are planned in 1999 at different universities of Europe, covering different subtopics. However, no details on these plans are available at present. UIB will be approached.

The working group on Textual Scholarship has not yet planned any meeting this year, but may have a chance to meet at the ACH-ALLC conference in June 1999. Anthea Ballam is taking over some of the work with the chapter, in cooperation with the ALLC. She will be employed for 4 weeks. The coordination of the working group should, however, remain with Espen Ore at UIB/HIT. UIB will be approached.

After the resignation of William Vaughan as coordinator of the working group on History of Art, Architecture and Design, a solution has been mediated by Harold Short. Hazel Gardiner, partly employed at the Courtauld Institute, is prepared to carry out work on the chapter. For this purpose, she will be employed part-time either at King's College or at the Courtauld Institute, paid by the TNP. Marilyn Deegan and William Vaughan will lend their support, the latter possibly as formal editor of the chapter.

Several working groups have made good progress on writing chapters for the publication. The deadline for the first complete draft is June, the firm final deadline is July 12.

Evaluation of the network

In accordance with the working plan for 1997-1998, an external evaluation was carried out by EEDS (European Economic Development Services Ltd). Due to the September conference, the finalization of the report was slightly delayed. Patrick Lavery from EEDS carried out a survey with a questionnaire. He also had a meeting with representatives of the Steering Committee and the Working Groups in Bergen on Dec. 2-3, 1998. The report is available on the website (

The findings of the report are discussed. They suggest several options for securing the future of the network, see below.

Fourth year activities

On April 21, a call for proposals was received from DG 22 which opens for a possible fourth year of activities in ACO*HUM.  Copies of the call were sent to steering committee members and working group coordinators. Proposed activities must be directed to dissemination and exploitation of existing project results. The deadline for proposals is May 15.  The coordinators of the different working groups have been invited to submit proposals for dissemination activities in the fourth year within their working group.  Any proposal must not only have a concrete work plan and a budget, but must also show that there is something to be disseminated based on existing results.  This means the application must include a detailed report on the activities implemented in 1998/1999, as well as an overview of results in the three-year life span in the project.

The steering committee considered the publication of the conference proceedings as a potential activity for dissemination, but ultimately rejects the idea, because a whole year will have elapsed before the fourth year is starting. Instead it seems that several specific dissemination activities, each with specific goals and target groups, must be considered. Some possible audiences consist of teaching staff, students, education planners, industry, archives, museums and libraries. Three working groups (CL, NEL and TS) have already expressed more or less concrete ideas for dissemination activities.

Koenraad de Smedt receives a mandate to work out an application based on the existing ideas. Given the very short deadline, KdS does not guarantee that a successful application can be written in the time available with the material available.

Afterlife of the TNP

In November 1998, Koenraad de Smedt had a meeting with Harold Short who represented the ALLC in this. KdS presented arguments for the ALLC to consider integrating some of the results and activities of the project into their own strategic plans. This was one of the options suggested in the Evaluation Report by EEDS. Shortly after Easter, Harold Short had a meeting with Antonio Zampolli and Susan Hockey to discuss planning for ALLC priorities in the next 2-5 years.

By way of Harold Short, the ALLC expresses that it remains very committed to ACO*HUM and to continuing participation in any extension or 'next phase' of the project. It needs to be taken into account that the ALLC is international, not just European, that it is an association of individuals, and that it is oriented towards research as well as education. That being said, the ALLC is planning a series of concrete activities, including surveys and training programmes, which are (also) oriented towards education and teaching staff. The ALLC wants to enter bids for the 5th Framework Programme, possibly proposing a centre of excellence and RTD projects on the use of tools and resources.

The ALLC wants to take a lead in textual scholarship but is at the same time closer to 'general' computing in the humanities than any other existing assocation. It might therefore consider the coordination of a TNP as a successor to ACO*HUM (Note: deadline for expressions of interest is Nov. 15). The ALLC's advantage is that its quasi-permanent infrastructure and membership can be used to benefit the activities of a thematic network project.

Next meeting

September 16, 1999, after the DRH conference in London (Sep. 12-15).

Koenraad de Smedt, March - May 18, 1999