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Digital Humanities Lab

News and interviews

Lab presents Coloring Book!

On the 16th of October, the Digital Humanities Lab festively presented the very first fully self-built app. In the app, ‘Coloring Book’, participants fill in a coloring picture on their tablet following instructions, and thus allow linguists to research their language comprehension. The app was developed by Julian Gonggrijp at the request of linguisticists Manuela Pinto and Shalom Zuckerman.

‘Coloring Book’ will be used in research about children and language acquisition, and adults and bilingualism. The researchers compose coloring pictures that are specifically aimed at their target groups. In advance they fill out their expectations about the details about how they think the participants will color the picture. A participant might get, for example, a coloring picture of a cat, and the instruction “the cat’s fur is orange with red stripes”. The test person then fills in the picture and the researchers compare the data with their expectations. It is interesting to see if a participant, in this simple example, swaps the colors and thus makes a red cat with orange stripes. The collected data can be analyzed be the researchers in many ways.coloring book kleiner

Advantages over research with questionnaires

Until now, experimental research about language comprehension was carried out by asking questions that participants could answer with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Although this is a popular method, there are some disadvantages to it that are overcome by the new app:

  • Kids sometimes have the tendency to answer every question with either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
  • Answering questions might be experienced as a ‘test’ too much by some of the participants.
  • Languages are not always unambiguous, which might lead to unexpected interpretations by participants.

With ‘Coloring Book’ the answering of questions becomes like a game. Kids especially won’t feel like they are being tested so much. The instructions are clear and univocal, and the results are more controllable. Commissioners Manuela Pinto and Shalom Zuckerman will use the app in the first place to check the results from previously done research. In addition, they will apply for new grants with projects of which the app is part.

Do you have a question for the Digital Humanities Lab?

The Lab regularly distributes calls for proposals, researchers can then apply for tailor-made applications. Such an application need not be fully elaborated: the Lab can also provide advice about what might be the best ICT-solution to your research problem. The Lab is not limited to linguistics, researchers from all the disciplines in the humanities are welcome. Currently, the Lab is working on, for example, historical/genealogical research, in which family trees from the Early Modern age are automatically checked for inconsistencies.

Moreover, from the 5th of November onwards, the Lab offers ‘walk-in’ consultations every Wednesday (9h – 11h) and Thursday (15h – 16h), to which the staff of the Faculty of the Humanities are invited. You are welcome at Muntstraat 2a, room 2.13A, for all your questions regarding ICT and research. The Lab’s programmers, and coordinator and advisor dr. José de Kruif will be present during these hours.logo1 600-125