Aberdeen Harbour Arrivals register 1916

Code The City 19: History + Data = Innovation

The social and industrial history of Aberdeen is a fascinating one and local collections are full of untapped resources.

Join us as we work with data from the 19th and 20th centuries, apply some modern technology to that and create new insights and ways of interacting with some exciting historical assets from local collections.

Given our circumstances now, this will be an online event. You will be able to get involved from home at times to suit your schedule. We’re splitting this into two phases:

Phase one starts today with some ‘pre-event’ activities which will will focus on collecting, transcribing and entering data, which we can use in the next phase.

That second phase is a collective event which takes place on Saturday 11th April and Sunday 12th April 2020. This will be entirely online.

We’ll have a number of challenges to work on so that you can try new things, while also helping guide people where you have experience. The pre-event data entry activities will also be across a range of different levels of difficulty to suit everyone.

Aberdeen Harbour Arrivals

One opportunity is to join the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives to trawl through the fascinating data hidden in the arrival ledgers from Aberdeen Harbour Board.

We’ve photographed several years of logs and you can help

by transcribing them.  We will build up an idea of what was coming into the harbour and from where during the period from First World War. We will even be able to trace what the weather was like on any given day!

This has now started. You can get involved now.

If we do this well then it opens up great opportunities for phase two. What could we do with the application of coding and data science? How could we use NLP and other tools to analyse the data, create timelines: analyse movements patterns and how these varied over time / during wartime;  even Twitter bots – ” On this day 100 years ago The Vulture (a Schooner, 328 tons) arrived from Leipzig under master Schmidt carrying Timber.”

WikiData Wiki Commons and WikiPedia

A number of challenges spanning phases one and two feature the use of the WIkimedia platforms.

If you would like to work with Wikidata, upload photos to Wiki Commons or to edit Wikipedia you’ll need to register for an account if you don’t already have one. In each case go to the top right of the page and either log in or create an account. One account can be used across all Wikimedia platforms, so you only have to register once.

We can run training sessions if you need assistance to use these. We can schedule them during the next couple of weeks. You can get a great, starter tutorial for Wikipedia editing here. It takes less than an hour and introduces all of the core concepts and gives you some practice with them.

We’ll be updating this page over the coming weeks too to support this event:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/CodeTheCity/CTC19

And don’t forget to register your participation on this dashboard  as it will allows us to track how much great work we do on the Wikimedia platforms. 

Now, here are some projects that we can do using Wikidata etc:

Aberdeen Provosts

Aberdeen Provosts / Lord Provosts. This role goes back to 13th Century and there have been almost 300 post-holders. Yet fewer than 20 have Wikipedia articles and are only  6 in Wikidata) See https://w.wiki/GeH. Using the out of copyright book “Memorials of the aldermen, provosts, and Lord provosts of Aberdeen, 1272-1895“, improve on both the WikiPedia articles and get a complete list into Wikidata.

Cinemas and Theatres

Continue work on Cinemas and Theatres on Aberdeen that we started at our Editathon in  August 2019. We’ll have representatives from the Aberdeen City Library Service here to help with resources.

Schools, Hospitals, Cemeteries and Companies

There are loads of opportunities to improve Wikidata to ensure that all hospitals, schools, cemeteries, workhouses and other things (current and historic) are represented in Wikidata. This will aid linked data queries – such as “How many Provosts of Aberdeen are buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery?”

For example contrast this map of NE hospitals through time with this list from Wikidata.

Similarly, if we can build up a body of data for the major companies in Aberdeen which were significant employers, we can link the import of goods by shipping, or which business people were connected with the larger companies. Currently there is only one company listed on Wikidata: Shore Porters Society. The Aberdeen Harbour Board doesn’t even exist at the time of writing! We can source data on other companies from openly published historic Post Office Directories of Aberdeen by the National Library of Scotland with even more on Archive.Org.

Listed Buildings

This is probably best until we leave Civid-19 lockdown. There are hundreds of Aberdeen listed buildings / structures on Wiki Data but many have no photos. There is an opportunity for keen photographers to capture pictures of these, upload them to WikiCommons and link the Wiki Data entries.

Phase 2 – the weekend-long hack event

For the weekend-long hack event on 11th and 12th April we’ll try and model it as much as we can on our standard event, despite us being scattered across the globe. That means identifying projects for the weekend, forming small teams, working collaboratively and giving updates on progress over the two days. We’re working on how we’ll do that exactly – but we will have it organised in good time.

To help us communicate with you in advance it would be great if you would grab a ticket. These are free (or you can make a suggested donation to keep our charity running). We’ll use that to get messages out to anyone who is participating.

As always stay in touch and stay well!