Building a Digital Infrastructure in South Tyrol
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With this article we present the DI-ÖSS project, a local infrastructure initiative for South Tyrol, which aims at connecting institutions and organizations that are working with language data. The digital infrastructure serves to facilitate and foster data exchange, joint efforts in processing and exploiting data and the overall increase of synergies, and thus links to big European infrastructure initiatives. However, while sharing the overall objectives to foster standardization and increase efficiency and sustainability, on the implementation level a local initiative faces a different set of challenges. It aims to involve institutions, which are less familiar with the logic of infrastructure and have less experience and resources to deal with technical matters in a systematic way. In this presentation, we describe how DI-ÖSS is addressing the need for digital language infrastructure on a local level; we lay out the course of action; and we depict the targeted mid and long- term outputs of the project. In recent years, the field of Digital Humanities saw the development of multiple infrastructure projects at the European level. Among the most well-known initiatives CLARIN and DARIAH target the needs of researchers, with CLARIN being mostly centered around the discipline of linguistics, and, to a lesser degree, history and literary studies, while DARIAH focuses on the broader field of all the arts and humanities. Europeana, on the other hand, is focusing on the cultural heritage sector. Its main aim is to strengthen the networks between institutions like galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM), especially by aggregating as much as possible their metadata to make them searchable in an easier and more convenient way. The large sector of smaller research and public entities is not targeted by any of these big infrastructures, even though it could benefit from a close collaboration with Digital Humanities. This third sector contains smaller libraries, archives, cultural associations, and publishing houses, actors that deal with language and are peripherally contributing to the field of research and heritage, but who are themselves too small to easily participate in one of the big infrastructures. These minor but central players are the target of the DI-ÖSS project. In contrast to the top-down approaches of the bigger projects like CLARIN or Europeana, DI- ÖSS is using a bottom-up strategy by following the actors that are producing and collecting linguistic data daily, which build the cultural and linguistic heritage of the region of South Tyrol. This entails getting into contact with potential language partners within South Tyrol to analyze the kind of language data they are working with; which and how much data they produce themselves; which are their typical workflows; and what could be potential synergies with other institutions. Finally, we lay out the pilot phase, in which Eurac Research works closely with sample institutions to develop concrete use cases to showcase how such a local language infrastructure could enrich and optimize their work.