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The Bleek and Lloyd Collection: Clicks, Computation, and the Digital Humanities

When Sep 11, 2013
from 12:30 PM to 02:30 PM
Where 216 Willard Building
Contact Name
Contact Phone 814-865-5406
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African Studies Program

Brown Bag Series Presents

Kyle Williams,

Ph.D Candidate of Information Sciences and Technology

The |Xam-speaking people who lived in southern Africa in the late 19th century are widely considered as being descendants of some of the earliest human inhabitants of the world and thus were likely to have had a unique view of the world. Unfortunately though, much of |Xam culture has been lost with time; however, some of it was preserved in the form of the Bleek and Lloyd Collection, a late 19th century collection of notebooks, dictionaries, and pieces of artwork that document the language, culture, beliefs, and indigenous knowledge of the |Xam-speaking people who lived in southern Africa at the time. This collection, a UNESCO Memory of the World Collection, has been the basis for a number of projects in a field that has come to be known as the digital humanities, which combines methods from the humanities with methods from computing for solving problems. In this talk, I will discuss a number of these projects from a mainly computing perspective. The focus will be on projects that have addressed issues such as preservation, accessibility, overcoming difficulties in representing the |Xam “clicks,” and building systems for supporting digital collections in a developing world context. In doing so, I hope to show how computing has been used in South Africa to preserve historical collections and make them accessible in interesting ways.


Kyle Williams is a PhD student in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at  Penn State University, where he works in the Intelligent   Systems Research Lab. He holds a masters degree in   computer science and a      bachelors degree in business science (specializing in      computer science), both from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. His research  interests include information retrieval, machine learning, digital libraries, and cultural heritage preservation.

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