CEDAR third Annual Symposium

The third annual symposium of CEDAR took place on March 31st and April 1st with a first day dedicated to discussions and a second focused on hacking the demographic walhalla the census datasets represent. On the first day, invited speakers from Switzerland (Adrian Gschwend) and France (Guillaume Duffes) respectively explained how the case of current census Swiss data is very similar to that of historical Dutch data and what needs to be fixed in SKOS to grasp the complexity of French statistical data, showing that the specific challenges faced by CEDAR are also found on data from other countries and time periods. This first day also featured a description of the rich history of the census from Peter Doorn, an overview of the CLIO-INFRA project providing data on social and economic inequality indicators for the past five centuries by Jan Kok, an overview of the harmonization efforts and limits of HISCO from Kees Mandemakers , and a description of external authority usage in linked statistical spaces by Sarven Capadisli who was visiting the eHumanities group at the same time of the symposium.

CEDEAR-at-nightw

After having spent a lot of time discussing modelling issues, the second day focused on practical applications on the data as well a brackethon (== “brain hackethon”) on preservation of data and software. Self-organized groups working on tracking the perception of gender over time, finding the impact of the industrialisation on careers or sketching out new ways of mapping the census data. The (very) productive output of this session is documented on-line , some quotes worth noting are “without [CEDAR] this would have taken me a week to do by hand, now it took only a couple of minutes” and “with a simple query I could see my model was not accurate”. The NLgis project was partially brought back to life, as a start was made to turn the historically oriented shapefiles for the Netherlands into JSON and the output of the hackethon was mapped on the shapefiles using R .
All these traces of concrete impact of what CEDAR already achieved half-way through its run-time are nothing but very good motivations for organising more regular hack-athons, a fourth symposium next year and, of course, more social outings.