FHYA Collaboration with Prof Hussein Suleman

17 Dec 2019 - 10:30
Prof Hussein Suleman, Head of Department, Computer Science, UCT. Photo courtesy of UCT's School of IT.


There is an increasingly well-trod path between the APC in the basement of the AC Jordan (Arts) Building and the third floor of the Computer Science Building. Although these buildings are only a few hundred metres apart, the disciplinary distance between them historically has been great. But this is changing. With the emerging field of Digital Humanities, humanities researchers and computer scientists interact on an increasingly frequent basis.  Such is the case with the collaboration between Hussein Suleman of the Digital Libraries Laboratory in Computer Science and the Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA) team comprising Carolyn Hamilton, Debra Pryor, Rifqah Kahn and Grant McNulty.

For the past few years, the FHYA team has been working to develop a digital archival exemplar to facilitate research into the past before European colonialism. It chose the pre-eminent archival software, AtoM (Access to Memory), to do this but found that it had limitations in achieving the project aims. Suleman is a professor of Computer Science who focuses on digital archives and libraries. Taking into consideration the challenges of digital archives and libraries in Africa, he specialises in developing low-resource systems that are financially and technologically sustainable. The FHYA approached Suleman with a set of unresolved challenges and, over the past few months, they have been working together to develop a new, homegrown FHYA exemplar. They are now working with colleagues from UCT, Wits and the University of Pretoria to refine the new exemplar they are building [Link to Article on Second Afridig Workshop].