Computer scientist and Victorian historian collaborate to demonstrate that the Victorians, were in fact, amused

Multidisciplinary meme machines

Edge Hill’s Dr Mark Hall, PhD student Daniel Campbell, and Dr Bob Nicholson joined forces to help create the Victorian Meme Machine, a tool that generates memes by pairing digitised Victorian jokes and images from the British Library’s digital collection.

Transcription of scanned historic documents is necessary to make historic archives accessible for use in projects, such as the Victorian Meme Machine. However, transcription can be a lengthy and tedious process. In response, Dr Hall formed the Making Transcription Fun project, where his expertise in natural language processing was used to develop algorithms that automatically provide visual rewards to transcribers.

The results of the Making Transcription Fun project were employed by Dr Bob Nicholson’s Victorian Meme Machine project, demonstrating the wider impact of collaboration between the Department of Computer Science and the Department of English, History and Creative Writing.

“Working with Edge Hill’s Computer Science team enabled me to explore the past in new ways. Together, we used cutting-edge digital tools to explore historical archives and unearth thousands of jokes that haven’t been seen in centuries.”

Dr Bob Nicholson Senior Lecturer in History