Professor Tobias Blanke
Professor in Social and Cultural Informatics
Head of the Department of Digital Humanities
Tel +44 (0)20 7848 1975
Department of Digital Humanities
S3.36, Strand Building
King's College London,
London WC2R 2LS
Research Interests and PhD supervision
Tobias is a Professor in Social and Cultural Informatics in the Department of Digital Humanities and director of the European Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH). He leads and manages large international interdisciplinary research initiatives and teaches at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Currently, he works on the development of novel teaching approaches in digital methods and big data to understand culture and society.
Tobias is engaged in a broad portfolio of research spanning big data and its implications for culture and society, the study and science of data, information and knowledge practices and new environments to study cultural and society. He has been heavily involved with research collaborations with other disciplines within King’s and internationally.
Tobias has a mixed academic background both in philosophy and computer science, with a PhD from the Free University of Berlin on the concept of evil and a PhD from the University of Glasgow in Computing Science on the theoretical evaluation of XML retrieval using Situation Theory. He has authored numerous papers as well as books in a range of fields on the intersection of cultural and social research and computer science. His work has won several prizes at major international conferences including best paper awards. In 2012, he was a Visiting Professor at the Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities.
Prior to joining King’s in 2007, Tobias worked at Credit Suisse in the city of London as a lead analyst and developer in a data warehouse, at Free University Berlin and several smaller media companies in Berlin. Since joining academia, Tobias has taken leadership roles in multi-disciplinary research projects in excess of £4M worth of funding for King’s College London, coming from the European Commission, EPSRC, JISC, the Germany Ministry of Research and Education and the AHRC.
Tobias has played a leading role on several multi-disciplinary research projects. His interests are social and cultural informatics, dedicated to the critical understanding of the digital transformation of culture and society and the key role of information in it. Social and cultural informatics theorise this role and develops the digital methods and devices that support this study.
Tobias works with a research team trying to teach computers to understand expressions of culture and society; a long-term goal which we are still far away from. Recently completed research includes work on open digital methods, social and cultural analytics, virtual research environments, graph databases, semantically enriched and intelligent digital content and the limitations of text analytics for historical corpora.
Tobias has just published a new book The Digital Asset Ecosystem offering a new perspective on the collaboration between humans and computers in global digital workflows and socio-technical assemblages of humans and computers (crowds and clouds). Sage’s Big Data and Society have done a Bookcast about the book.
Tobias welcomes the opportunity to supervise PhD students who want to pursue projects that relate to his broad interests.
- Tobias Blanke, The Digital Asset Ecosystem – Crowds and Clouds, Oxford: Elsevier/Chandos, 2014.
- Tobias Blanke, Giles Greenway, Jennifer Pybus, Mark Cote, Mining Mobile Youth Cultures, 2nd IEEE International Conference on Big Data, IEEE, Washington, 2014, pp. 14-17.
- Tobias Blanke, Conny Kristel, Integrating Holocaust Research, International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing, Vol. 7, No. 1-2, 2013, pp. 41-57.
- Tobias Blanke, Mark Hedges, Scholarly primitives: Building institutional infrastructure for humanities e-Science, Future Generation Computer Systems, The International Journal of Grid Computing: Theory, Methods and Applications, Vol. 29, No. 2, 2013, pp. 654-661.
- Tobias Blanke, Michael Bryant, Mark Hedges. Back to our data—Experiments with NoSQL technologies in the Humanities, IEEE International Conference on Big Data, Santa Clara (CA), 2013, pp. 17-20.
- Tobias Blanke, Mounia Lalmas, Theo Huibers, A Framework for the Theoretical Evaluation of XML Retrieval, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Vol. 63, No. 12, 2012, pp. 2463-2473.
- Tobias Blanke, Mark Hedges, et al. Deploying General-Purpose Virtual Research Environments for Humanities Research, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 28, Vol. 368, No. 1925, 2010, pp. 3813-3828.
For a complete list of publications, please see Tobias's full research profile.
Expertise and Public Engagement
Tobias teaches on the MA in Digital Asset and Media Management (DAMM), the BA Digital Culture and the MA Big Data in Culture and Society. He was the founding director of the MA DAMM and has been in charge of organising and developing the curriculum and teaching strategy for the MA. Currently, his teaching focus is on advanced digital methods to analyse culture and society.
Tobias’s recent teaching interests include the teaching of computational principles and thinking to non-computer science students. He has defined and developed the digital methods theme with five modules (including digital methods, social media and cultural analytics) for the new BA in Digital Culture. Furthermore, Tobias develops new teaching methodologies to big data in culture and society. In 2016, we will launch a new MA in the area as a collaboration with Social Sciences, Law and Computer Science. We have recently made a nice video about our interdisciplinary work on Big Data and how it combines research and teaching.
Next to his research expertise, Tobias enjoys several roles on international committees. Most notably, he is one of the directors of the Digital Research Infrastructure for Arts and Humanities (DARIAH), a European ESFRI organisation to create an integrated research environment for digital arts and humanities and a key initiative for Horizon 2020. He also leads the joint research work for EHRI, a pan-European consortium to build a European Holocaust Research Infrastructure.
DARIAH is a rather complicated large European organisation, funded through membership fees by over 17 European ministries and research councils. Through DARIAH, Tobias is involved in several European public engagement activities and collaborations with public bodies and companies. This included an exciting conference on the digital public history of the Holocaust, work for the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz in Berlin and a new conference on values of digital humanities and arts in the 2016 European Capital of Culture Aarhus, funded by the European Commission. Overall, his international collaborations have allowed Tobias to work closely with a range of cultural institutions on their digital transformation from the UK British Library and Wiener Library to the German Federal Archives, Yad Vashem in Israel.
Tobias has presented his research at key international industry events such as MediaPro or the London Book Fair. His work has been featured in international media such as European radio stations or the Guardian newspaper. Alongside public organisations, Tobias has worked with large companies such as the BBC’s Future Services group, and SMEs like Neo4J or non-governmental organisations such as the Open Data Institute or the Open Knowledge Foundation.