An important product PARTHENOS will deliver is a newly created tool for humanities scholars on digital methods and standards. The creation of this user-friendly environment, aptly titled the Standardization Survival Kit (or SSK), is considered the most fruitful way to achieve the highest possible level of dissemination, and to ‘open up’ project outcomes to the field.

On 12 and 13 October, an interdisciplinary representation of PARTHENOS members gathered at the DIN Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V. (DIN German Institute for Standardization) to assess the current state of the SSK and to plan the next steps in its development. Furthermore, the participants in the workshop gained practical experience with the development of new research scenarios while, at the same time, the meeting increased the SSK developer team’s understanding of how intuitive that process is.

A screenshot of a research scenario in the SSK: the different research steps in the customization of archival descriptions - as a guide for humanities researchers

A screenshot of a research scenario in the SSK: the different research steps in the customization of archival descriptions – as a guide for humanities researchers

The setting of the workshop was mainly characterized by hands-on practice and experimentation. On the first day, a quick introduction was provided by Laurent Romary, expanding on the goal of the meeting and general expectations. He urged participants  to experiment with TEI – an application of XML – during the workshop as a means to present different research scenarios in order to increase their grasp of how that information could be organised and presented. However, Laurent pointed out that our collective programming effort should never be the main point of focus. It is the user experience  which should always be the central point of attention and which will determine the success of the SSK. After Dorian Seillier, Charles Riondet and Lionel Tadjou gave an overview of the technology behind the tool, the participants were invited to create new user scenarios using the proposed TEI format. The group was divided in smaller break-out groups, based on either the discipline of the participant or the methodology he or she is acquainted with. In general, the break-out groups were quickly able to use TEI and soon started to create new research scenarios and events.

Workshop participants, experimenting with adding research scenarios and steps

Workshop participants, experimenting with adding research scenarios and steps

During the second day, the break-out groups continued working on scenarios. On top of that, there was ample opportunity to discuss different topics, among which the integration with other PARTHENOS developments. Karolien Verbrugge gave an overview of the roadmap for the assessment of the SSK, the purpose of which is to verify that the tool effectively offers the envisioned benefits to the field. Frank Uiterwaal demonstrated the current status of the Wizard, another PARTHENOS tool, but focused around policies and best practices. It became apparent that the developers of the SSK and the Wizard faced similar challenges and could therefore learn a lot from each other. For instance, both aspire to be as inclusive as possible, as the different research fields know best which challenges they face from practice. However, being inclusive requires an ongoing integration effort, which makes curatorship a necessity. Furthermore, integration of the two tools was discussed. This was further investigated in the context of a  technical integration workshop that took place 17-19 October in Pisa.

Concluding the workshop, the group looked ahead and determined which steps are to be taken next. As the tool is already offering more and more research scenarios, we expect it to be ready for a full assessment early 2018. After the fruitful workshop we had in Berlin, we are already looking forward to the next one, which will be in the spring of 2018. Then, we will assemble again to evaluate the results of the assessment, calibrating the development of the tool with real-life experiences, gradually adapting it to serve the needs of a wider humanities audience.

The very first version of the SSK will become available to all users on the PARTHENOS website around January 2018. Over time, more features will be added.