I attended this event today at the National Library of Scotland. There were 30-40 other people there, some professional genealogists, some staff, some from heritage organisations interested in using data, some from family history organisations, some social historians, and other individuals.
For me it was an exciting and interesting afternoon and gave me lots of ideas for ways that we might be able to analyse poor law data, wages, allowances paid, and the 19th century police and criminal records data being researched.
I hadn't realised that the National Library of Scotland has been digitising documents for over 10 years, and Cate Newton (Director of Collections and Research) mentioned some digitised collections that I think it would be interesting to explore further.
Professor Robert Morris introduced the AddressingHistory project and made the point that the website although launched today is very much a beta site - there is a lot of work to be done in cleaning and correcting data, and conducting testing. He pointed out that the Post Office directories have varied data structures, however that's not fully reflected in the website data. He estimated that a lot of the directory entries have not been converted into the correct text, which is a very common problem when using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and is a reason why searches may fail. Result listings are generated from a Google search of the address field, which may contain both a business address and a private address, or have some other aspect to it containing the search term.
Stuart Macdonald (AddressingHistory Project Manager, EDINA) told us about the management of the projects and that registered users of the site will have the opportunity to do crowd-sourcing.
Nicola Osborne (AddressingHistory Project Officer & Social Media Officer, EDINA) showed some guest blogs with ideas, and she wants suggestions for content and invites guest blogs. She asked us to tweet to #AHLaunch, and link to their Facebook page.
Professor Richard Rodger demonstrated the Visualising Urban Geography project with some exciting tools to analyse and present data.
Dr Helen Chisholm (EDINA) talked about the Statistical Accounts of Scotland – there are 28,000 digitised pages. There's both a free version (photos of the pages) and a paid for version whereby you can search for and download text. She invited us to put our favourite bits on their Facebook page.
Chris Fleet (Senior Map Curator, NLS) talked about Digitised Historic Mapping – and all the different ways that that data could be used.
Kenny Beaton (School Of Celtic and Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh) informed us about a newish website to be launched in December, which contains 50,000 audio tracks of prose, verse, and song, some in Gaelic and some in Scots.
The site is called both Tobar An Dualchais and Kist O' Riches.
Ines Mayfarth talked about the Internet Archive digitisation project to digitise Post Office directories; originally entirely separate from AddressingHistory. In contrast to my previous blog on AddressingHistory, 750 (not 400) Post Office directories have been digitised between the 1770s and 1911. The first 3 letters of surnames in the directories are in the process of being indexed and that is likely to be available in Autumn 2011.
Ines reminded us that the Post Office directories also contained other interesting information, timetables, ferry schedules, ads, as well as lots of other information.
Peter Burnhill (Director, EDINA) summarised the afternoon and we adjourned for drinks, nibbles and networking.
The whole proceedings were being videoed and presumably those videos will be online soon.