AARDVARC Premier Conference a Success

May 9th –May 11th, 2013 marked the advent of ILIT’s development of the Automatically Annotated Repository of Digital Audio and Video Resources Community (henceforth known as AARDVARC). Thanks to the incredible teamwork demonstrated by EMU’s dynamic faculty, the motivated students and employees of ILIT, and the many honored guest speakers and participants from around the globe, AARDVARC was a resounding success.

The first day of the conference began fresh and vibrant with an inspiring welcome from the well-loved linguistic scholar and previous co-director of ILIT, Helen Alistar-Dry. With fresh-brewed cups of coffee in hand provided by EMU’s superior catering staff, upwards of 30 participants eagerly attended to the first presentation of this new interdisciplinary group. Gary Simons led a visionary discussion on the potential for establishing AARDVARC as a sustainable, multi-disciplinary community of intellectuals and academics dedicated to the prospect of developing better ways to share and access data across academic and public spheres. Dr. Simons was followed by an engaging postulation proposed by Mark Liberman, regarding the future of linguistic field data organization, use, and storage.

Shri Narayanan discussing the automatic extraction of human-centric information from audio-visual resources.

Following the introductions to AARDVARC’s vision, the conference was enriched by a broad range of progressive research in the field of audio-visual data extraction provided in chronological sequence by Professor Shri Narayanan, Professor Eric Vatikiotis-Bateson, and Dr. Robert McGrath. The conference featured the impressive details of Professor Paul Boersma’s most recent contributions and innovations to phonetic documentation and segmentation via Praat software.

To compliment these innovative technological presentations, a line-up of representatives from the data archiving side of linguistic and anthropologic research expressed their interests in working towards a coordinated community of archival resource management. Members of this division included Mietta Lynnes of the FIN-CLARIN consortium, Greg Hedlund of the PHON project, Brian Carpenter from the American Philosophical Society, and featured succinct project details by Professors Tanja Schultz, Jerome Crowder, Arriene Dwyer, Christian DiCanio, Douglas H. Whalen, and Jonathan D. Amith.

The constituency of cultural anthropologists and documentary linguists augmented the caucus of linguistic technology engineers, developers, and enthusiasts present at AARDVARC by bridging the divide between the diversity of human cognition, society, and culture with the abstract and strictly standardized realm of data technology assimilation. With this preliminary vision assessment and enormous ray of energy and dedication to the conference goals, it is certain that AARDVARC’s future congress (scheduled for 24-25 October 2013 at the City University of New York) will be equally progressive and effective as the goal of implementing sustainable data sharing/archive initiatives drifts from the realm of dreams and fantasy into the waking consciousness of concrete academic reality.

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