Brandeis' computational linguistics program wins grant to help archive of historic public broadcasting material

computer science professor James Pustejovsky speaks in front of a white board with blue writing on it. The perspective is over someone's shoulder.

Computer science professor James Pustejovsky

Brandeis University will receive a subgrant of $825,000 as part of a $16 million grant awarded by the Mellon Foundation to the WGBH Educational Foundation in support of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting.

The grant is part of a larger $16 million Mellon Foundation award to Boston public media producer GBH to support the AAPB, which is a collaboration of GBH with the Library of Congress aiming to digitize, preserve and make accessible historically significant public radio and television programs from producers and stations across the United States.

The grant continues a collaboration between James Pustejovsky's Research Lab for Linguistics and Computation and the GBH Archives. The Brandeis Lab will further develop and improve the set of open-source tools and workflows known as CLAMS (Computational Linguistics Applications for Multimedia Services). The work will mainly focus on applying CLAMS to a substantially larger and more diverse dataset by providing workflows and methodologies that allow archivists to adapt current AI and CL tools to new data. Pustejovsky is the TJX Feldberg Professor of Computer Science at Brandeis.

Pustejovsky's Lab for Linguistics and Computation is a CL research group located within the Computer Science Department at Brandeis, consisting of two senior research faculty, eight PhD students, one RA, and four MS grad students. The Lab conducts a range of grant-funded research, and has been developing the CLAMS platform since 2017, funded through two previous Mellon grants.

The AAPB contains nearly 100,000 items online available for the public to stream for free, dating back more than 70 years, with thousands more available for research access. Collections and content range from full episodes of groundbreaking public affairs programs like WNET’s Black Journal, unedited interviews recorded for series like Eyes on the Prize, the kid-driven ‘70s series ZOOM, and the entire “gavel-to-gavel” coverage of the Watergate Hearings. Exhibits delve into public media’s coverage of protests in America, Latino empowerment, Indigenous representation and much more. The AAPB was initiated by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with a series of pilot projects before granting stewardship to the Library of Congress and GBH in 2013.

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