Opening up Open Data Strategies & success stories

1. Abstract

Not only in the context of Digital Humanities but also in other research areas the Open Data movement is gaining momentum. For this reason, the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ACDH) started an experiment at the beginning of 2019: For the first time ever, we published the calls for participation in three virtual hackathons funded by the Austrian manifestations of DARIAH and CLARIN, CLARIAH-AT. These hackathons focused on Open Data sets that are publicly available online, and the tasks to perform on these data involved the creation of Open Source code. Each of the hackathons had a special theme and was co-timed with an event that involved an aspect of Openness. These events also inspired the choice of the respective data sets.

Usually hackathons take place on site, participants are given tasks to be solved within a given timeframe in a fixed location. This requires the programmers to be flexible and available and to have access to travel funding. A virtual hackathon on the other hand offers people all over the globe the possibility to participate and contribute without having to travel. Therefore, our approach enabled a much larger community to participate in the event on the one hand, thus also promoting the benefits of Open Data on the other.

The first hackathon was carried out in cooperation with the European Lexicographical Infrastructure (ELEXIS) and focused on lexicographical data (the Digital Dictionary of Tunis Arabic). The task was to develop a creative mode of processing it, e.g. by enriching it, visualizing it, doing statistical analysis, or integrating it with other resources (e.g. LOD). The submissions were to be handed in by the end of the first ELEXIS observer event taking place in February 2019.

For the second hackathon, the ACDH cooperated with the City of Vienna and chose a set from the city’s Open Government Data platform to be processed. The task was to be completed on the Open Data Day Vienna 2019 (28 February 2019). The aim was to develop a creative mode of processing cartographical data showing damage to buildings in Vienna during World War II.

The third and final hackathon of the series offered a task to be completed on the International Open Data Day 2019 (2 March 2019). For this final highlight, a choice of two Open Data sets was offered to the participants. The first data set to be worked on in this task was a collection of XML/TEI transcriptions of early German travel guides. The second data set consisted of German historical newspapers and was provided in cooperation with the Europeana newspaper project.

The best contributions were determined by an international board of judges and received cash prizes. The criteria for judgement were creativity and innovation, accessibility, reusability and reproducibility, as well as elegance. In our presentation, we will share the lessons learned and show how Open Science was the necessary precondition for this project, as well as what inspired its ultimate success. We will make our case by giving insights into the lessons learned in 2019 and sharing how we improved the concept for the second round of the hackathon series in 2020.


ACDH-CH. ACDH Virtual Hackathon Series. 2019.

ACDH-CH. ACDH-CH Open Data Virtual Hackathon - Round Two. 2020.

Vanessa Hannesschläger. The ACDH virtual hackathon series: Open Data for Open Source solutions. DARIAH Open Blog, 23. May 2019.

Vanessa Hannesschläger (, Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria and Tanja Wissik , Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria

Theme: Lux by Bootswatch.