Financial agreement number: D26030-CP-1-99-1-NO-ETN

2.3 Evaluation of the work undertaken

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Usefulness of outcomes achieved

The outcomes of the dissemination phase, as described in part 2.2, have significantly enhanced the earlier achievements of the project in terms of: The outcomes give confidence to departments and institutions that are interested in implementing humanities courses with computing components, but that are not certain how best to proceed. The added value here is in the conversion of a theoretical publication into a practical guide.

Moreover, the wider dissemination of information on humanities computing in Europe will create confidence in the future of European languages and culture in the digital age and increase the possibility of spin-offs in the preservation and transformation of European cultural heritage.

The outcomes can also be of use in providing background information for the preparation of future actions under SOCRATES and other relevant programmes.


In order to meet ambitious objectives with limited means, strategic cooperations were set up with several projects and organizations funded within and outside of SOCRATES.  Especially ELSNET and ALLC contributed with funding of synergetic activities, in particular aimed at the implementation of dissemination platforms.  Unfortunately, the dependence on outside partners proved to create a number of difficulties.  The major problem encountered was the technical implementation of JEWELS, which was intended to be a web-based platform for disseminating the outcomes of the project.  This implementation was the responsibility of ELSNET through a contract with VDIVDE-IT.  Despite the high attention and priority which ELSNET gave to the webpage development, and despite the fact that the TNP alliance had provided detailed specifications for such pages as an output of the meeting in Prague in March 2000, serious delays were incurred in the work by VDIVDE-IT.  Consequently, the full website as projected by detailed TNP requirements was not available at the end of the project period on October 31, 2000.  This implied that the outcomes cannot be delivered on the platform they were intended to be delivered.  However, all outcomes are finished and available on the local project site.  ELSNET has taken its responsibility and will finance further development as well as a followup meeting after the project period proper.

Also the cooperation with ALLC and HUMBUL was affected by delays in implementation.  The lesson learned is that alliances with other projects and organizations can both be beneficial and risky.  The project managed to deliver results, but their wide impact will not be reached until the efforts of the external partners have been successful.

With reference to the student awareness plan, a problem of timing occured that was beyond the control of the project.  This plan was aimed specifically at the human language technologies sector.  However, after the summer of 2000, it became widely known that the world's largest company in this sector, with its base in Europe, was involved in a financial scandal.  For reasons of public perceiption, it did not seem opportune to give too wide dissemination to this plan at the current time.


Formal evaluation actions were not planned in the project proposal and were therefore not carried out.  However, a number of checks and feedbacks were built into the methodology.  The project approach was cross-checked at joint meetings with the external project partners (SCS, ELSNET, ALLC, ISCA, EACL).  The project was internally evaluated at the 7th Steering Committee meeting on October 13, 2000.  The interactive dissemination outcomes on the Web include end-user feedback possibilities through the inclusion of comment forms and email addresses.

Particular achievements, elements of good practice, side-effects, discoveries

The co-operation between ACO*HUM and its primary external partners (SCS, ELSNET, ALLC) was successful.  Thanks to a tight cooperation,the organization of joint meetings went smoothly and the level of activity was good.  The organizational structure of working groups with well-defined tasks proved to be effective.

The realization of the cooperation in the consortium working on JEWELS, which also drew the interest of ISCA and EACL, proves that the work of the TNP is considered very valuable for the Language and Speech community.  The output of previous years in terms of publications and reports as well as the project website proved instrumental in obtaining this response.  This exemplifies both the usefulness of the project and the importance of dissemination.

Another side-effect of activities from previous years consisted of invitations to a seminar in Dublin (Ireland) and a conference in San Juan (Puerto Rico).  This enhanced the dissemination potential even further.  The interest from other continents indicates that intercontinental cooperation should be eligible for TNP activities.

Divergence from the original conception of the project

Additional feedback

The dissemination phase of the ACO*HUM project has been useful and successful.  At the same time, the theme of humanities computing is still in need of further actions with a European dimension.  Several aspects deserving attention in relation to a follow-up project have already been discussed in the previous report (1999); these comments and suggestions, especially with respect to organizational structure, will not be repeated here.  However, we do mention the following topics that have come up as desirable aspects of future themes: The Steering Committee has expressed support for follow-up projects in these areas, among others.