International collaboration

The CKCC project is closely cooperating with two of the most significant digital correspondence projects currently being conducted worldwide.



Cultures of Knowledge

‘Cultures of Knowledge: An Intellectual Geography of the Seventeenth-Century Republic of Letters’ (CofK) is a collaboration between the Humanities Division and Bodleian Libraries of Oxford University (UK). CofK has invested resources in digital infrastructure and has the capacity to incorporate, curate, and store data from manifold other sources.



Mapping the Republic of Letters

‘Mapping of the Republic of Letters’ (MRofL) is based at Stanford University (USA). Mapping of the Republic of Letters has been focusing primarily on visualizing complexity and uncertainty in spatial, temporal and biographical information.



These partners have been cooperating successfully since 2009. There is a common commitment to open-access principles, both in terms of data and technologies. The partners have a clear shared vision of where they would like the field of digital scholarship to be in five years. Most important, however, is the fact that the individual projects are extremely complimentary. The datasets have minimal overlap and together they produce a chronologically and geographically broad sampling of the Republic of Letters from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Furthermore, the intellectual and technical objectives are distinct, though closely interrelated, each partner brings his own core competencies into the cooperation.


History of international cooperation

In september 2009 five members of the CKCC project team (Erik-Jan Bos, Ronald Haentjens Dekker, Charles van den Heuvel, Walter Ravenek and Dirk Roorda) participated in a two-day workshop in Lancaster, UK, with a representation of Clarin Europe (Tamás Váradi and Piroska Lendvai) and the research group of Paul Rayson. In this workshop extensive discussions about the technical direction of the project, in particular the use of language technology, took place, leading to an initial concrete working plan.

In the winter of 2009, Charles van den Heuvel (CKCC project) initiated a collaboration with Nicole Coleman (Mapping the Republic of Letters); Katy Börner, (Director of the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center at the School of Library and Information Science at Indiana University),  and PhD student Scott Weingart (historian of science and computer scientist) of the same school. The group met in Bloomington to share technologies, methodologies, and discuss the possibilities of future work together. In spring 2010, Charles van den Heuvel visited Stanford to present the CKCC research at a MRofL workshop while, in an independent development, in March 2010 CofK invited both CKCC and MRoL to participate in an international digitization workshop in Oxford. This led to a meeting between Neil Jefferies (CofK) and Nicole Coleman (MRofL) at Stanford in May, and to another project summit in Oxford in July.

These preliminary meetings focused on the considerable challenges of interoperability between our different systems (in terms of both underlying technologies and matching metadata). They led to the creation of an informal working group for the dissemination and advocacy of standards and best practices for the digitization of early modern correspondences. Momentum continued to build in 2011. In March, the Stanford Humanities Center organized a three-day conference at the Fondazione Cini in Venice, to present scholarly results and provide a meeting opportunity for CofK, CKCC, and MRofL.

In June 2011, all partners participated in the international workshop Representing the Republic of Letters and discussed standards in common in The Hague under the auspices of CKCC. In September of that year MRofL and CKCC shared a panel on visualizing spatial uncertainly at the conference Intellectual Geography: Comparative Studies, 1550-1700, organized in Oxford by CofK. In 2012 Indiana University, MRofL, and CKeP shared a panel on the same topic at a workshop in Gotha (Germany) with the title Visualising Data Resources. The Potential of a Wikimedia Platform for the Digital Humanities. CofK and CKeP (together with Professor Antony McKenna at the University of St Etienne) have put together a panel for a large forthcoming conference on intellectual networks in the long seventeenth century (download Word file here).

During the project Paul Rayson and Alistair Baron of Lancaster University continued to act as scientific advisors for Natural Language Processing techniques and computational corpus linguistics. In addition, through a grant of Clarin-NL, Peter Wittek and Piroska Lendvai participated in working on specific subprojects, respectively topic modeling and Named Entity Recongnition.

While our collaboration has proceeded for the most part by means of these international meetings, it has also benefited from fruitful exchanges of people and personnel between projects, which offers further proof of the genuine compatibility of our methods and goals. Scott Weingart participated in 2010 for three months in the topic modeling research at the Huygens ING in the Netherlands; while the latter institute sent Walter Ravenek (software developer) and Bas Doppen (interface designer) for two months to collaborate with the researchers/developers of the CNSC at Indiana University. In summer 2011 Scott Weingart worked on the front end of EMLO in the context of an internship and Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services. The international collaboration resulted in the submission of applications of funding of future projects that are currently under review.