Into the Digital Islamic Future: OpenITI Arabic OCR Catalyst Project (OpenITI AOCP)

The Open Islamicate Texts Initiative (OpenITI) and SHARIAsource teams led an experts’ workshop on September 29 and 30 entitled ‘Into the Digital Islamic Future,’ held in-person on the University of Maryland, College Park’s campus. OpenITI and SHARIAsource invited some 30 researchers from around the world to share results from the first phase of the OpenITI Arabic OCR Catalyst Project (OpenITI AOCP). OpenITI AOCP Phase I was supported by an $800,000 Mellon Foundation grant, and extended through an additional $100,000 of bridge funding. 

On the first day of the workshop, participants shared their own digital humanities-adjacent projects with other attendees to solicit feedback from those present. Participants also uploaded Arabic-script texts of their choice to eScriptorium, OpenITI’s digital text production pipeline. From there, participants experimented with eScriptorium’s automatic text transcription tool.

The second day of the workshop continued the previous day’s work of exploring eScriptorium’s functionalities. Additionally, attendees shared their ideas for improving eScriptorium’s workflow and features. The workshop concluded with a group discussion of possible roads towards improving scholarly collaboration, pedagogy, and sustainability in the digital humanities and Islamic studies.