Proposal preview

Interactive economic history workshop: usable systems for diverse data

Online systems make it possible to take on new kinds of historical projects and make new kinds of findings. This workshop is designed to engage WEHC participants with approaches for using heterogeneous data types or sources. The data can include images, maps, category systems, and relations in networks. Demonstrations will show interactivity, visualizations, and the data-science mode of cultivating the data rather than testing a single hypothesis.

For example, an online platform with international occupation information can support unified category systems and support imputations and inferences across countries (Hoekstra et al., 2016). On a wiki, historians and enthusiasts can gradually discuss and infer in an open-source auditable way whether nineteenth-century patents in different countries were by the same inventor (Meyer, 2016). An enriched timeline system can draw from dated events in Wikipedia, potentially enabling discoveries, hypothesis testing, and error correction (Stauber’s These approaches support large multidisciplinary historical projects by tolerating some ambiguity and uncertainty (Guldi and Armitage, 2014).

The session will begin with 10-20 “lighting” talks in which presenters introduce their projects, methods, or tools briefly. The presenters and audience will break out into groups organized around areas of interest. The groups will rejoin to share observations at the end. This session format draws from interactive and inclusive practices used in the THATCamp “unconferences” (The Humanities and Technology Camp), Wiki conferences, Open and User Innovation conferences, and the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI). Those venues generate lively discussion, rapid informal feedback, practical lessons on sources and methods, and new recognition and support for ongoing long term projects. Presenters are invited to offer some small exercise or task to the people in the audience, such as querying linked data or editing a wiki, since new technologies and approaches may be easier to show and understand from demonstrations than from a written paper.

Session participants: We will invite and issue calls for presenters who develop or use online infrastructures for cooperative research. We expect participation from digital geographers, for example, and experts on platforms such as the Dataverse Project (; Wikimedia’s Wikidata site; repositories of images, documents, digitization, and transcriptions such as Wikisource; and linked-data platforms such as Dive+ ( and grlc ( Economic historians can draw from these rapidly growing databases and contribute back to them, indirectly collaborating with computer scientists, historians, archivists, and other social scientists. We welcome relevant experts at the edges of economic history including data scientists, geographers, and graphic designers, and new or emerging scholars. The organizers welcome submissions of abstracts by email with the subject “Interactive economic history workshop”.


Guldi, Jo, and David Armitage. 2014. The History Manifesto. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Meyer, Peter B. 2016. Linking records of early aeronautical experimenters across data sets. Social Science History Conference, November 2016. (

Rinke Hoekstra, Albert Meroño-Peñuela, Kathrin Dentler, Auke Rijpma, Richard Zijdeman, Ivo Zandhuis. 2016. An Ecosystem for Linked Humanities Data. Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Humanities in the Semantic Web co-located with 13th ESWC Conference 2016. 85–96.


  • Peter B Meyer, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,, USA
  • Ellan F Spero, Independent Scholar,, USA
  • Richard L Zijdeman, International Institute of Social History and University of Stirling,, Netherlands

Session members

  • , ,
  • , ,

Proposed discussant(s)

  • , ,

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.