What is CLARIN?
CLARIN is a network of people, centres and research activities which support advanced digital research based on language data and tools. Formally, it is the Common Language Research Infrastructure, and it exists as a legal entity, a European Research Infrastructure Consortium, with a base in Utrecht in the Netherlands, but CLARIN is really built on important national initiatives in a growing number of countries across Europe. These are building up data centres, connecting resources together and with online tools, creating advisory and support services, and promoting research programmes which make use of them.
Who is CLARIN for?
It’s primarily for anyone interested in digital research in the humanities and social sciences who wants to make use of linguistic data and tools. We’re also very open to scholars from other disciplines, and interested in supporting the use of the infrastructure in teaching and by the general public. In fact, we’re pretty sure that there are lots of cool uses that this stuff could be put to which we haven’t even thought of yet. The funding comes from national and European sources to provide services across the EU, but we’re also keen to make international alliances, and to make as much as possible free for anyone to use. We know that research communities cross many boundaries, and we want to break down barriers, not build them.
What can CLARIN do for me?
It depends who you are and what you’re looking for. If you are a researcher, you could use CLARIN to find services or people to help you to use language resources and tools more effectively, or to ask new research questions. If you create language resources, you might like to deposit them with one of the CLARIN centres so that they can be curated by professionals, and then found and used by many more researchers. If you run a repository, think about registering as a CLARIN centre and making your resources discoverable and usable via CLARIN services like the Virtual Language Observatory, or the Federated Content Search. If you develop or work with language software, you might want to try to get it integrated into the CLARIN architecture.
What can I do for CLARIN?
That’s more like it. CLARIN needs people to build the tools, services and infrastructure that we need. We also need to hear from researchers what they want from the infrastructure. You could also let us know if CLARIN has helped you, so that we can tell our funders about that. If you are in a country which hasn’t joined CLARIN, such as the UK, ask the funding agencies and policymakers why not!
Why should I be interested?
Whatever you do, you probably write, read or otherwise manipulate language in your job, and some of the resources and tools in CLARIN might be useful for you. Want to see how particular words are usually used in English (or French or German or Estonian)? Need to identify the language of a text? Need to identify all of the people and places in a text? Want to get hold of an expert in Dutch dialects? CLARIN is building a one-stop shop for solutions to these sorts of questions. Furthermore, you might not be interested right now in language technology, but you might be interested in how we are trying out novel approaches to building a virtual infrastructure to support research in the humanities and social sciences. This involves cutting edge technologies for authorizing access to resources, expertise in digital curation, new ways to describe, find and share electronic resources online, overcoming legal, administrative and financial barriers to build cross-border infrastructure services, lobbying for more access rights to copyright material for research, and lots more. Visit www.clarin.eu regularly and watch the story unfold.
What has CLARIN actually achieved?
Here are a few examples: the Virtual Language Observatory, the Federated Content Search, a service provider federation allowing cross-border log-ins to resources, numerous training events (like this), research projects facilitating collaborations (like these) and really cool websites like this: http:www.dwds.de/.
What has it go to do with you, Martin?
I’m Director for User Involvement for CLARIN at the European level, on a 3-year part-time secondment 2013-2016, as well as having been one of the founders and architects back when it first started. So explaining what CLARIN is and encouraging people to get involved is part of my job. Get in touch if you want to know more.