DH Toolbox

The DH Toolbox workshops are a series of hands-on sessions introducing cutting edge tools and techniques in the digital humanities. The series was started by University of Ottawa Library, and organised by the DH Coordinator for the last two years. One of the most popular outreach events in digital humanities on campus, it has drawn participants from Arts, Medicine, Engineering, the University of Ottawa and St. Pauls Libraries, Libraries and Archives Canada, and Ingenium.


The DH Toolbox series is moving to a new day!

Join us on Tuesdays from 11:30 to 13:00 in the CreatorSpace (Pérez Hall, room 302), on the dates indicated below.

The series will be offered in a hybrid format, with in-person attendance in the CreatorSpace and an option to attend remotely via Zoom. Links to the Zoom meeting will be posted soon!

Masks are not required, but are strongly encouraged to ensure the safety of all participants.

We look forward to welcoming you this Fall!


31 January : Communication and data literacy: A research program

Meredith Rocchi, Assistant Professor (Department of Communication, University of Ottawa)

Dominique Gagnon and Bianca St-Denis (School of Psychology, University of Ottawa)

Register to join us on Zoom

Whether communicating with others, accessing information, or making decisions about our futures, we are interacting with exponentially more data than ever before. As such, it is necessary for individuals to have the foundational data literacy skills to identify good and bad representations of data. The uOttawa Data Literacy Lab conducts research on the ways individuals interact with the data they encounter in their everyday lives and is committed to improving data literacy education and skills training to better equip Canadians with the skill required to succeed in a data-driven world. This workshop will explore some of the Data Literacy Lab’s ongoing projects. 

French presentation. Bilingual discussion.

14 February : Outside the black box: Machine translation and the importance of what we don’t know

Elizabeth Marshman, Associate Professor (School of Translation and Interpretation, University of Ottawa)

Register to join us on Zoom

Translators, non-translators and even machine translation developers have something in common when it comes to today’s dominant machine translation paradigm, referred to as neural machine translation or NMT: none of us can fully explain why and how NMT works as well as it does. This means that we have another thing in common: we have trouble predicting when it will fail. Since many of us rely frequently on NMT (such as Google Translate and DeepL) for all sorts of tasks in our personal and professional lives, yet are often ill prepared to manage these unpredictable errors, NMT can prove risky. In this presentation, Elizabeth Marshman will highlight some of the known unknowns of machine translation, discuss questions we should ask and answer to balance NMT’s risks and rewards and use it effectively and responsibly, and explore strategies we can implement when answers continue to elude us.

English presentation. Bilingual discussion.

28 February : See your text: An introduction to Voyant tools

Constance Crompton, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities (Department of Communication, University of Ottawa)

Register to join us on Zoom

This workshop will introduce participants to computer assisted text analysis using Voyant, the internationally renowned Canadian text analysis toolset (https://voyant-tools.org/docs/#!/guide). Voyant Tools are designed to make it easy for you to work with your own text or collection of texts in a variety of formats. This workshop will also serve to introduce Voyant Spyral Notebooks for advanced analysis. 

Participants are asked to bring plain-text copies of text or texts that they are familiar with and, ideally, interested in (totalling ~2000 to 20,000 words). Those who are new to working with plain text can find public domain works to download at https://www.gutenberg.org/. Anyone interested in preparatory reading is encouraged to dip into the following articles:

  • Miller, A. “Text Mining Digital Humanities Projects: Assessing Content Analysis Capabilities of Voyant Tools.” Journal of Web Librarianship, vol. 12, no. 3, July 2018, pp. 169–97. https://doi.org/10.1080/19322909.2018.1479673.
  • Sinclair, Stéfan, and Geoffrey Rockwell. “Text Analysis and Visualization: Making Meaning Count.” A New Companion to Digital Humanities, John Wiley & Sons, 2015, pp. 274–90. Wiley Online Library, https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118680605.ch19.

English presentation. Bilingual discussion.

21 March : Caring with Artificial Intelligence (AI): Toward a codesign approach for accessible, inclusive, meaningful and empathic AI-based health technologies

Sylvie Grosjean, Full Professor and Research Chair in International Francophonie on Digital Health Technologies (Department of Communication, University of Ottawa)

Register to join us on Zoom

Moving away from a dominant techno-deterministic vision of AI in health, Sylvie Grosjean’s research moves toward a co-design approach rooted in situated uses and practices. Even if some human-centered AI approaches exist, introducing “human sentience into AI” is not enough to design AI technologies that are accessible, meaningful, inclusive and empathetic and thus prevent unintended consequences of their use in real contexts. Drawing on two case studies, Professor Grosjean will demonstrate how it is possible to “think” about the uses of AI with patients, their caregivers and health professionals and to integrate this knowledge into the design process of these technologies. It is then less a question of focusing on the technological object itself, but of being interested in the conditions of use, in the practices that are linked to or induced by these AI technologies and of integrating this knowledge into the design process.

French presentation. Bilingual discussion.

28 March : The Immaculate Conception of Data: Agribusiness, Activists, and Their Shared Politics of the Future

Kelly Bronson, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Science and Society (School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies, University of Ottawa)

Register to join us on Zoom

Agribusinesses are among the oldest oligopoly corporations in the world, and their concentration gives them an advantage over other food system actors. Kelly Bronson explores what happens when big data get caught up in pre-existing arrangements of power. Her richly ethnographic account details the work of corporate scientists, farmers using the data, and activist “hackers” building open-source data platforms. Actors working in private and public contexts have divergent views on whom new technology is for, how it should be developed, and what kinds of agriculture it should support. Surprisingly, despite their differences, these groups share a way of speaking about data and its value for the future. Bronson calls this the immaculate conception of data, arguing that this phenomenon is a dangerous framework for imagining big data and what it might do for society.

English presentation. Bilingual discussion.

11 April : « Mind the Gap » : Representation of women in Quebec media during the Covid-19 pandemic

Julie Gramaccia, Assistant Professor (Department of Communication, University of Ottawa)

Register to join us on Zoom

In this session, Professor Gramaccia will introduce us to the “Mind the Gap” project. This project aims to analyze the media representations of women in the Quebec media during the COVID-19 pandemic from a gender perspective including its intersectional dimensions. The methodology borrowed from mixed methods, combining the technological contributions of artificial intelligence with the possibilities of understanding and interpretation offered by a thematic content analysis. Using the intelligent tools of the Gender Gap Tracker (GGT), developed by Pre. Maité Taboada (SFU), which quantifies in real time the representations of men and women in Canadian media, mainly in English, the “Mind the Gap” team will use them in a French context in order to quantify the ratio of male-female representation from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2022 in ten major Quebec media.

French presentation. Bilingual discussion.