Handwritten Text Recognition – Human-Machine Interaction in the Humanities

15/02/2024, 5:00 pm

15 February 2024
Linacre College, Meeting Suite, 17:00–19:00
Tobias Hodel (University of Bern)

Handwritten Text Recognition – Human-Machine Interaction in the Humanities


The integration of text recognition technologies, particularly those aimed at deciphering handwritten texts, is increasingly becoming a cornerstone in the research methodologies employed by scholars. This trend prompts a critical examination of the implications inherent in the automated “recognition” of text.

Furthermore, it necessitates a discussion on the consequences that arise from the scalability of text processing for academic purposes. The application of machine learning algorithms for the interpretation of handwritten documents brings to the forefront the need for scholars to consider both methodological and epistemological ramifications. It is essential for researchers to engage in reflective consideration regarding the synergy between human intellectual effort and the contributions of machine-generated outputs.

At the same time, the application of this form of artificial intelligence makes us aware of the opportunities and pitfalls inherent in machine learning more broadly. Resulting in important insights into a technology that currently alters the way we do research.


Tobias Hodel is assistant professor of Digital Humanities at the University of Bern. As a trained historian with a focus on medieval studies, he applies machine learning techniques to various fields in the Humanities. His work includes studying video games, extracting information from large premodern text collections, and developing linked open data infrastructures.

This seminar is part of our new Voltaire Foundation Lecture Series in Digital Scholarship 2024 – Digital Enlightenment Studies: Methods and Approaches.

Voltaire Foundation

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