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Prof. Melissa Terras leaves UCL

By Lucy J Stagg, on 11 September 2017

Our wonderful Director, Prof. Melissa Terras, is leaving UCL in October 2017 to take up a new position as Chair of Digital Cultural Heritage at the new Edinburgh Futures InstituteUniversity of Edinburgh.

melissa

Professor Melissa Terras

Melissa joined UCL in 2003; she was Deputy Director at UCLDH’s founding in 2010, and has been Director since May 2013. In that time UCLDH has become one of the most visible and leading centres in its field in the UK, according to the Times Higher and the National Library of France. [1] [2]

In her time at UCLDH she’s been part of many projects (including QRatorTranscribe BenthamThe Great Parchment Book and Textal), served as General Editor for Digital Humanities Quarterly, published a ton of stuff and served as Secretary for the European Association for Digital Humanities until 2013. She gave her inaugural lecture, ‘A Decade in Digital Humanities’ in May 2014.

Her passion for research, towards the work that we do in the department, and in academia overall, is contagious. If I were to sum Melissa up in four words, it would be something like this: Profound. Dedicated. Empowering. Dynamic. I couldn’t have asked for a better supervisor.” Kinda Dahlan, PhD. student

For me, Mel is the embodiment of Digital Humanities: a vibrant mix of creativity and technical expertise. It has been hugely refreshing to have a strong, loud and proud female academic role model.  UCLDH, and UCL, will not be the same without her.” Dr Claire Bailey-Ross, former supervisee

Melissa’s deep understanding of Digital Humanities, being a pioneer of this field herself, and her invaluable insight greatly benefitted, not only my PhD. studies, but also myself as an academic and a professional” Foteini Valeonti, Founder of USEUM and supervisee

Anyone who knows Melissa and would like to attend her leaving event on 10th October please email lucy.stagg@ucl.ac.uk and we will send the details on to you.

[1] “leading departments at University College London” (Times Higher Education: 2015)
[2] “Les plus visibles appartiennent au monde anglo-saxon : à Londres avec UCL” (Bulletin des Bibliotheques de France: 2012)

Learning disabilities and technology

By Lucy J Stagg, on 14 July 2017

UCLDH are delighted to announce one of our team members, Pete Williams, has won a grant from Brazilian funding body CONFAP – FAPIMEG (Conselho Nacional Das Fundações De Amparo À Pesquisa – Fundações De Amparo À Pesquisa Do Estado De Minas Gerais) to work in Brazil for a month to continue his British Academy Fellowship research on learning disabilities and technology and to give a small number of talks on his past work.

Visit to the IBM IT Heritage Museum at Hursley

By Simon Mahony, on 10 July 2017

Following an invitation at our last Industry Advisory Panel meeting, some of the UCLDH Management Team had an away-day to visit the IBM IT Heritage Museum and archive at the IBM research and development centre at Hursley.

IBM Hursley

IBM Hursley

We were given an amazing tour of the IBM Museum with many working models of old equipment, lovingly restored to working order through the efforts of the volunteers.

Punch Card and Keypad

Punch Card and Keypad

Exhibits were not limited to mechanical machines but also included early networked and stand-alone PCs, and portables with many being brought back to life. Hardware, logic chips, software and the all-important, and often overlooked middleware, that are so central to all online transactions are represented there too.

Museum exhibits

Museum exhibits

There is also the archive which consists of photographs (prints and slide transparencies), software and manuals, as well as books and an assortment of ephemera. Documents of all sorts, including schematic diagrams of circuitry are there.

Hursley library archive

Hursley library archive

Anything and everything ‘badged’ as IBM has a place in the various collections, including merchandising and publicity material. An interesting exhibit was the service engineer’s workplace with tools and spare parts.

Service engineer's workspace

Service engineer’s workspace

The day was concluded with a round table discussion, bringing in other colleagues and industry partners online, looking at possible ways to collaborate and progress things to the advantage of us all.

Invisible Numbers – Ted Newman and the Pilot ACE

By Oliver W Duke-Williams, on 13 June 2017

Oliver Duke-Williams of UCLDH gave a talk on ‘Coding Early Computers’ on June 10th as part of Invisible Numbers, a group show taking place as part of the E17 Art Trail; the show continues until June 18th.

Pilot ACE main board: Illustrator: Andrew Baker; photo Oliver Duke-Williams

Pilot ACE main board: Illustrator: Andrew Baker; photo Oliver Duke-Williams

The E17 Art Trail is a biennial event in Walthamstow, London; the 2017 edition is the largest so far, with over 7000 contributors, and is centred on the theme of STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths, and exploring artistic themes within STEM areas.

One part of the show is E A Newman & Pilot ACE: Turing’s Legacy; put together by historian Kirstin Sibley and illustrator Andrew Baker, it brings into the spotlight Edward (‘Ted’) Newman, who worked alongside Alan Turing and others in the development of the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE). Newman – who graduated from UCL in 1938 with a BSc in Physics – was born and grew up in Walthamstow, but is not commonly recognised (either locally or more widely) for his pioneering work in computing. This lack of recognition thus fits well with the show’s ‘Invisible’ signifier.

Kirstin and Andrew asked Oliver to join them to describe and explain the significance of the Pilot ACE computer for a general audience, and also to provide technical advice for a series of infographics which described the ACE and Newman’s contribution. This was a good opportunity to showcase ideas and research by academics to a public audience; the talks were standing-room only, and the gallery itself recorded over 700 visitors in the show’s opening weekend.

Read the rest of this entry »

The E17 Art Trail

By Oliver W Duke-Williams, on 9 June 2017

Two UCLDH related events are picked out in local press coverage as highlights of the E17 Art Trail, 3 – 18 June 2017:

‘Painting with Light’ (9th June) is being delivered by Martin Zaltz Austwick and me, together with friends from CASA and Geography. In this workshop we will produce a series of images floating in space using an experimental device known as a PixelStick, while discussing the history of St Michaels Church and parish. The PixelStick produces images that are visible yet indecipherable to the naked eye, but are revealed when viewed through long-exposure photographs.

‘Invisible Numbers’ (10th June) is a collective of several artists; part of it is about a locally born (and UCL alumnus) computing pioneer, for which I’m doing a talk on early British computing.

Shanghai and Hangzhou

By Simon Mahony, on 3 June 2017

I was pleased to be welcomed back to the Shanghai Institute of Design in April as a follow up to the workshop I ran their earlier this year. It was fortunate that the dates coincided with the UCL Provost’s visit to Shanghai and I was able to join a drinks reception and to meet up with many former UCL students.

Drinks reception in Shanghai

Drinks reception in Shanghai

The students at the Shanghai Institute are always welcoming and I took the opportunity to help out in a couple of their language classes.

Simon's class at Shanghai Institute of Design

Simon’s class at Shanghai Institute of Design

The President of the Shanghai Institute arranged for me to visit colleagues of his at Hangzhou Normal University and have talks about Digital Humanities in particular and UCL more generally. Hangzhou is a major Chinese city and capital of the Zhejiang Province in East China. The city hosted the 2016 G20 summit and is also famous for the West Lake and vast unspoiled park and wetlands. Hangzhou Normal is situated beyond the parkland to the West of Hangzhou in the e-commerce area dominated by Alibaba, the online retail giant.

Hangzhou Normal University

Hangzhou Normal University

My visit was to the Cultural and Creative College and coincided with the opening day of their Graduation Exhibition of students’ work.

Exhibition of Students' work

Exhibition of Students’ work

Of particular particular interest was the work of the students on the Digital Medial Programme.

Exhibition of digital media

Exhibition of digital media

What was particularly fascinating, and especially as coming from a city campus such as UCL, was our tour of the University with its expansive campus with open spaces and ornamental gardens connected by a series of stone bridges over their own river meandering around the buildings.

Hangzhou Normal Campur

Hangzhou Normal Campus

The designers had build in tranquil spaces and given much attention to detail and landscaping, making the university a place of beauty as well as learning. I’ve been invited to give a guest lecture in their Digital Publishing series and look forward to futher visits.

Humanities Crowdsourcing on the Zooniverse Platform

By David Beavan, on 24 May 2017

UCLDH recently hosted a fantastic talk by Victoria Van Hyning, Junior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, and a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow. Entitled ‘Humanities Crowdsourcing on the Zooniverse Platform‘, Victoria took us on an in-depth tour of the many crowdsourcing projects delivered by Zooniverse, which started with Galaxy Zoo, ten years ago. Zooniverse has since then grown rapidly, now reaching out to an amazing 1.5 million volunteers with over 50 bespoke projects, and a free DIY project builder option too. We discussed what inspires volunteers to take part (answer: penguins), how crowdsourcing gives access to content not normally available and quality control. Victoria has very kindly agreed to share her talk with all:


Digital Classsicist London 2017 seminar programme

By Simon Mahony, on 23 May 2017

Digital Classicist seminar logo

The Digital Classicist London 2017 seminar programme is now confirmed. Looking at the titles and abstracts, you will see that these are all Digital Humanities topics with many from international speakers and their relevance is not limited to the study of the ancient world. The full programme with abstracts is online on the DC website and listed below. The programme poster is available for download. No registration is needed.

Digital Classicist London 2017 Institute of Classical Studies

Fridays at 16:30
Room 234*, Senate House south block, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
(*except June 16 & 23, room G34)

ALL WELCOME

Seminars will be screencast on the Digital Classicist London YouTube channel, for the benefit of those who are not able to make it in person.

Jun 2    Sarah Middle (Open University), ‘Linked Data and Ancient World Research: studying past projects from a user perspective’.
Jun 9    Donald Sturgeon (Harvard University), ‘Crowdsourcing a digital library of pre-modern Chinese’.
Jun 16*    Valeria Vitale et al. (Institute of Classical Studies), ‘Recogito 2: linked data without the pointy brackets’.
Jun 23*    Dimitar Iliev et al. (University of Sofia “St. Kliment Ohridski”), ‘Historical GIS of South-Eastern Europe’.
Jun 30    Lucia Vannini (Institute of Classical Studies), ‘The role of Digital Humanities in Papyrology: Practices and user needs in papyrological research’. Paula Granados García (Open University), ‘Cultural Contact in Early Roman Spain through Linked Open Data resources’.
Jul 7    Elisa Nury (King’s College London), ‘Collation Visualization: Helping Users to Explore Collated Manuscripts’.
Jul 14    Sarah Ketchley (University of Washington), ‘Re-Imagining Nineteenth Century Nile Travel and Excavation for a Digital Age: The Emma B. Andrews Diary Project’.
Jul 21    Dorothea Reule & Pietro Liuzzo (University of Hamburg), ‘Issues in the development of digital projects based on user requirements. The case of Beta maṣāḥǝft’.
Jul 28    Rada Varga (Babeș-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca), ‘Romans 1by1: Transferring information from ancient people to modern users’.

Full programme and the abstracts are online at:
http://www.digitalclassicist.org/wip/wip2017.html

Digital Classicist London seminar is organized by Gabriel Bodard, Simona Stoyanova and Valeria Vitale (ICS) and Simon Mahony and Eleanor Robson (UCL).

Visit to UNAM, Ciudad de México

By Simon Mahony, on 21 May 2017

I was very pleased to be invited by the British Council to an event following on from the one I attended in Guadalajara in November 2015.This time it was to Mexico City as part of the British Council Education Dialogues series; this one day event was held at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, (UNAM ) and titled, ‘Skills for Research: identifying and developing best practice in development for doctoral students’.

Colonial art at UNAM

Colonial art at UNAM

This was also to promote the publication of the Skills For Research document put together by the British Council and Oxford Brooks University. I gave two presentations, one in each session: ‘Perspectives on doctoral student development: sharing experiences from UCL’ and ‘Research communities in the UK, best practices and challenges’.

Presenting at the British Council event

Presenting at the British Council event

This trip to Mexico City also gave a welcome opportunity to meet up with DIS alumna and honorary lecturer Isabel Galina Russell for a tour of UNAM and the National Library where she works as a researcher.

The National Library of Mexico

The National Library of Mexico

Mexican hospitality is always warm and generous and my visit was finished off with a trip around Mexico City and its famous monuments and Castle. As UNAM will be hosting the Digital Humanities Conference DH2018, El Colegio de México and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in alliance with the Red de Humanidades Digitales (RedHD), my orientation is now done.

 

Doctoral Studentship for ‘Enlightenment Architectures: Sir Hans Sloane’s catalogues of his collections’

By Julianne Nyhan, on 18 May 2017

Enlightenment Architectures: Sir Hans Sloane’s catalogues of his collections is a research project based at the British Museum in collaboration with UCLDH. The project started in October 2016 and will run for three years until 30 September 2019. The objective of Enlightenment Architectures is to understand the intellectual structures of Sloane’s own manuscript catalogues of his collections and with them the origins of the Enlightenment disciplines and information management practices they helped to shape. The project will employ a pioneering interdisciplinary combination of curatorial, traditional humanities and Digital Humanities research to examine Sloane’s catalogues which reveal the way in which he and his contemporaries collected, organised and classified the world, through their descriptions, cross-references and codes.

The project has received generous funding from the Leverhulme Trust. Included in the grant is a three year fully funded doctoral research studentship. As explained on the UCL Application Portal:

The aim of the studentship will be to use Sloane’s catalogues as a test bed on which to conduct research on how digital interrogation, inferencing and analysis techniques can allow new knowledge to be created about the information architectures of manuscript catalogues such as those of Sloane. The proposed research must also have a strong critical and analytical dimension so that it can be set within our wider framework of academic inquiry that is concerned with understanding how collections and their documentation together formed a cornerstone of the “laboratories” of the emergent Enlightenment.

Initial applications are now being taken, with a closing date of 31st May 2017. Read more about the studentship and how to apply