ACO*HUM Advanced Computing in the Humanities

Seventh meeting of the ACO*HUM Steering Commitee.

Brugge, October 13, 2000.

Present at the meeting: Daniel Apollon, Dino Buzzetti, Harold Short, Koenraad de Smedt (chairman), Eldbjørg Gunnarson (administrator and secretary).  Apologies: Maddalena Toscano.

Minutes of the sixth meeting

The minutes of the sixth meeting are approved.

Administrative and financial status, relation to the European Commission

A coordinators' meeting was held in Brussels on Jan. 23, 2000.  Information from the Commission on its current strategies and programmes indicates that the TNP action is continuing strongly under the new SOCRATES programme.

Report on fourth year (1999-2000) and evaluation of activities

The project report for the fourth year (1999-2000) will be prepared in the course of November 2000.  Essentially, the content part of the report will present the dissemination results from the working groups.  All planned meetings were held (see calendar of events).  The progress of the work so far in the working groups is as follows:


  1. Knowledge base: A database on institutions and courses will be available by the end of October on the HUMBUL bulletin board.  This resource will be in the future will be maintained and extended with continued involvement of the ALLC.
  2. Guidelines on best practice: An advanced draft is available and will be published on the ALLC site.
  3. Plan for training and retraining programme: A draft is available, a more final version will be ready by end of October, to be published on the ALLC site.
  4. Student awareness: Thomas Rommel is working on this task and the results will be on the ALLC site.
  5. Continuity: Formally agreed commitments from the ALLC have been reached.  They will be written up as a policy statement from the ALLC in a formal letter, also to be published in some form on the ALLC site.  Recommendations for administrators will be written up.
Conclusion on status quo: Most of the results from the TS&HC working group are in a final or prefinal stage.  The ALLC and HUMBUL sites will be used extensively to disseminate final results.  All TS&HC results will also be available from the KCL site.


  1. Knowledge base: A specification of a database on institutions and courses is finished; the database is implemented on the JEWELS site (at HLTCentral).  A first version of a database on materials and tools is  in the process of being transferred and reimplemented at JEWELS.
  2. Merging of results: Joint recommendations are made and being written out, will be published on JEWELS.
  3. Student awareness plan: The text is ready in prefinal version, will be published on JEWELS and letters will be sent to all European ministries of education.
  4. Continuity: ELSNET has started actual implementation of maintenance of dissemination results under the ELSNET3 project. Implementation of the JEWELS website by VDIVDE is paid for by the ELSNET project under this cooperation.
Conclusion on status quo: Most of the results from the CL&LE and NEL working groups are in a final or prefinal stage and are being transferred to the JEWELS site at HLTCentral.  All CL&LE and NEL results will also be available on the ACO*HUM site.

Follow-up of the project and future proposals

Current involvement of ELSNET and ALLC have reached a level where short and medium term continuation of at least some activities and results is assured, while long term follow-up is probable, depending on funding.  ELSNET will follow up on some dissemination efforts as long as the ELSNET3 project is running.  From the ALLC, a formal commitment has been obtained for continuing to follow up on some of the dissemination activities.

Despite the commitments of these organizations to educational matters, it is felt that institutions of higher education should themselves continue to pursue their interests through a next round of TNP proposals.

The European Commission expects clear institutional commitments in TNP proposals and requires a pre-application to be part of the institutional contract.  New TNPs must demonstrate good expertise throughout the partnership and wide geographic coverage (incl. new Central and Eastern European countries).

Although it seems that new TNPs might obtain slightly higher grants than in the past, they will still require substantial matching funding.  It will still be impossible to achieve goals entirely based on volunteer efforts from individuals at partner institutions.  The job of coordinator is extensive and requires strong support from the coordinating institution.  Given these circumstances, some desirable organizational characteristics for future TNPs are the following:

As to scope of future initiatives, given the current collaboration between CL&LE, SCS and ELSNET, it would make sense to propose one next TNP in the area of Language and Speech, and another one in Humanities Computing.  Both new projects would have to avoid significant overlaps with each other, but would otherwise be open to a wide range of themes and disciplines.

In the area of Humanities Computing, a future network would encompass literature, history, history of art, text encoding, formal methods, cultural heritage, documentation science, and other disciplines and themes.  Goals and issues addressed in any future TNP should be new with respect to previous network projects.  It would be recommended to investigate specific needs in the new eligible partner countries (Central and Eastern Europe, Malta, etc.).  The following are suggested as some possible new issues for a future TNP on Humanities Computing (in addition to the ones already identified at the 6th Steering Committee meeting):

At the time of the meeting, no ACO*HUM partner has taken definitive steps towards proposing a new TNP, but plans are under way to submit pre-applications by Nov. 1, 2000 for a bid with final selection in 2001.  Harold Short at King's College London is planning to submit a pre-application on Humanities Computing.  Mike Rosner from the University of Malta is planning to submit a pre-application on Language and Speech.  The Steering Committee favors these plans and is in favor of direct involvement of the ALLC in a future TNP application and also in possible complimentary proposals, e.g. a network of excellence.  In the short term, further dissemination of current results is assured with the current strong commitments from ALLC and ELSNET.


The present meeting is the last meeting of the ACO*HUM Steering Committee.  The members of the Steering Committee expresses their thanks to the coordinator, who, in turn, thanks the members for their excellent contributions.

October 16, 2000
Koenraad de Smedt