About

SILICON, the Stanford Initiative on Language Inclusion and Conservation in Old and New Media, aims to support encoding Digitally Disadvantaged Languages, as well as accelerate the next steps in DDL preservation: font and keyboard design, OCR algorithms, and AI development. SILICON, in partnership with the Unicode Consortium, intends to collaborate intimately with relevant user community representatives to produce tangible progress.

Internship opportunities

Through the SILICON-Unicode Internship Program, a Cardinal Quarter opportunity, Stanford undergraduate students will spend the summer working in full-time positions with the Unicode Consortium and participating in the Stanford Initiative on Language Inclusion and Conservation in Old and New Media (SILICON). This program is a rare chance to contribute to the advancement of Digitally Disadvantaged Languages and global linguistic inclusivity. This internship includes 40 hours per week, 10 week commitment, with a start date of June 24th and end date of August 30th. The internship will be entirely virtual.

The SILICON-Unicode Internship Program was established to support the vital work of the Unicode Consortium and SILICON at Stanford University. This program embodies the spirit of collaboration and innovation, seeking to bridge the digital divide in language representation and support the inclusion of diverse linguistic communities in digital technologies.

Interns in this program will engage in interdisciplinary projects, collaborating with experts in linguistics, computer science, user-interface design, cultural studies, and more. They will contribute to efforts such as expanding the Unicode Standard for digital text and characters, designing user-friendly keyboards and fonts, and developing algorithms for digitizing texts in underrepresented languages.

This internship presents an extraordinary opportunity to work at the intersection of technology, culture, and social impact. It offers a platform for students to contribute to the advancement and preservation of global linguistic heritage, and to the development of more inclusive digital environments. 

Practitioners

SILICON aims to support Digitally Disadvantaged Languages across all stages of the digital inclusion journey: encoding, font and keyboard design, OCR, Machine Translation, AI development, and more. SILICON intends to collaborate closely with relevant user community representatives.

In order to advance digital equity for all living and historic scripts, SILICON invites an inaugural cohort of fellows to apply for small grants to launch, “unstick,” or complete their projects. 

SILICON invites applications from keyboard designers, app designers, type designers, Large Language Model designers, language ethnographers, OCR/ML experts, and digital typographic experts for our inaugural SILICON Fellowship Program. Awards will be granted for advancing one or more Digitally Disadvantaged Language, living or historic, with projects to be completed virtually between June and December 2024. Fellows will not be in residence at Stanford.

Team

Thomas S. Mullaney is a SILICON Co-PI. He is a Professor of Chinese History at Stanford University, Kluge Chair in Technology and Society at the Library of Congress, and a Guggenheim Fellow. He is the author or lead editor of 8 books, including The Chinese Computer: A Global History of the Information Age (MIT Press, 2024 In-Press), Where Research Begins (University of Chicago Press, 2022, with Christopher Rea), The Chinese Typewriter: A History (MIT Press, 2017, winner of the Fairbank Prize), and Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China (UC Press, 2010). He earned his BA and MA from the Johns Hopkins University, and his PhD from Columbia University. For the past 15 years, his research, publications, conference planning, and coursework have focused expressly on asymmetries in the global information and language technologies, with a keen focus on writing systems that have been systematically marginalized and excluded from the modern information age.  

Kathryn Starkey is a SILICON Co-PI. She is a Professor of German and, by courtesy, Professor of English, History, and Comparative Literature. A medievalist, much of her research has focused on literature from the eleventh to the thirteenth century with a particular emphasis on language, poetics, and media. She is the author, co-author, or co-editor of 9 books, and the PI of the Global Medieval Sourcebook, an NEH-funded digital repository of two hundred medieval texts in 25 different languages. As part of the Global Medieval Sourcebook, Starkey has experience navigating the challenges of digital typography across multiple scripts, as well as technical issues related to searching, and presenting multilingual texts. She received her MA (in Germanic Linguistics) and her PhD (in German Literature and Culture) from the University of California, Berkeley. She is the recipient of grants from the NEH, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and SSHRC, among others, and has held visiting appointments at the Universities of Palermo (2011) and Freiburg im Breisgau (2013 and 2018).

Elaine Treharne is a SILICON Co-PI. She is the Senior Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and the Roberta Bowman Denning Professor of the Humanities, Professor of English, Courtesy Professor of German Studies and of Comparative Literature, and the Robert K. Packard Fellow in Undergraduate Education at Stanford University. She is a medievalist, focusing on Manuscript and Archival Studies, Early British Literary Studies, and the long History of Text Technologies. She has published thirty-eight books and some eighty articles on these areas. She has significant expertise in the uses of digital tools and methods for analyzing manuscripts and scripts, and is the PI of the AHRC-funded Production and Use of English Manuscripts 1060-1220; Stanford’s NEH-funded Global Currents; and of the HP-funded Stanford CyberText. Treharne specializes in the handmade book and in premodern writing systems and recently published Perceptions of Medieval Manuscripts with OxfordUP. She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, an Honorary Fellow of the English Association, and a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales.

Quinn Dombrowski (non-binary, any pronouns are fine) is the Academic Technology Specialist in the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, and in the Library, at Stanford University. Prior to coming to Stanford in 2018, Quinn’s many DH adventures included supporting the high-performance computing cluster at UC Berkeley, running the DiRT tool directory with support from the Mellon Foundation, writing books on Drupal for Humanists and University of Chicago library graffiti, and working on the program staff of Project Bamboo, a failed digital humanities cyberinfrastructure initiative. Quinn has a BA/MA in Slavic Linguistics from the University of Chicago, and an MLIS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since coming to Stanford, Quinn has supported numerous non-English DH projects, taught courses on non-English DH, developed a tabletop roleplaying game to teach DH project management, explored trends in multilingual Harry Potter fanfic, and started the Data-Sitters Club, a feminist DH pedagogy and research group focused on Ann M. Martin’s 90’s girls series “The Baby-Sitters Club”. Quinn is currently co-VP of the Association for Computers and the Humanities along with Roopika Risam, and advocates for better support for DH in languages other than English.

Anne Ladyem McDivitt is the Academic Technology Specialist for the Department of History at Stanford, and she specializes in digital storytelling. She is also part of the Center for Interdisciplinary Digital Research (CIDR). She has a PhD in history with minor fields in digital history and 20th century US History. She also has an MA in history with a focus on public history. Before coming to Stanford, she was the Digital Humanities Librarian at the University of Alabama, a curatorial intern at the National Air and Space Museum in DC in 2017, and a Digital History Fellow at the Center for History and New Media in 2013-2015. Her personal research focuses on the history of the video game industry with a focus on gender, as well as video game studies.

Audrey Gao is the SILICON project coordinator. She holds a B.A. from Emory University in Philosophy and Political Science, with a focus on 20th century pragmatism and Afropessimism. Prior to joining Stanford, Audrey managed a team of undergraduate researchers focused on West African economic development and gender equality in Benin. Audrey has also contributed to research projects investigating propaganda in Indian national elections and the role of race and ethnicity in congressional immigration voting records. In addition to lobbying for wrongful conviction compensation and evidence storage reform with the Georgia Innocence Project, Audrey has held internships at National Journal and Troutman Pepper. She is a member of Emory’s Senior 100 Honorary, a recipient of the Ronald Reagan leadership medal, a recipient of Boozer-Noether funding, and a co-founder of Kappa Alpha Pi at Emory. A native Mandarin speaker, Audrey studied German while studying abroad in Wiesbaden.

2024 SILICON-Unicode interns

Emiyare Ikwut-Ukwa headshot

Emiyare Ikwut-Ukwa

Obolo Keyboard Design Project Lead

CLDR Survey Tool Project Co-Lead

“I’m Emiyare Ikwut-Ukwa, a sophomore majoring in Linguistics and Computer Science. My dad’s language, Obolo, has few written or digital resources—it is difficult both to use and to interact with online. I’m interested in Obolo and in linguistic diversity at large, and I’m excited for the opportunity to help make digital resources more accessible!”

Helena Aytenfisu headshot

Helena Aytenfisu

CLDR Survey Tool Project Co-Lead

Unicode Begin Project Support

“My name is Helena Aytenfisu and I am a junior majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Modern Language (Spanish and Italian). Within and outside of my CS courses, I’ve seen the ways that certain languages (in my case, specifically Amharic) are disadvantaged on platforms like Google Translate and ChatGPT, as well as in programming in general, with so many major programming languages being English based. That’s why I am looking forward to taking the step forward to work with everyone to help tackle this issue.”

Maroua Bezzaoui headshot

Maroua Bezzaoui

Unicode Begin Project Co-Lead

CLDR Survey Tool Project Support

“My name is Maroua Bezzaoui and I am a sophomore majoring in Computer Science with a focus in computer systems and product design. Growing up in Morocco speaking about 4 languages, I still had to learn English in hopes to connect with the digital world and stay up to date with technological advancements around the globe, so I first-handedly experienced the consequences of using digitally disadvantaged languages. Hence, I am beyond honored and excited to contribute to the mission of digital inclusion of these languages with the rest of the team!”

Samuel Minev-Benzecry headshot

Samuel Minev-Benzecry

Unicode Begin Project Co-Lead

Navajo Keyboard Project Support

Obolo Keyboard Project Support

“I am Samuel Minev-Benzecry, a Sophomore pursuing a double major in Earth Systems and Linguistics and a Minor in History. Coming from Amazonia, Northern Brazil, I have experienced closely how certain languages are disadvantaged in the digital age and the consequences it bears to ways of knowing that are already endangered. Because of that, I am eager to continue working to facilitate digital inclusion of disadvantaged languages in my region and beyond.”