Archive for July, 2010

Digital Classicist & Institute of Classical Studies Seminar 2010: Non-contact 3D laser scanning for identification and interpretation

By Simon Mahony, on 14 July 2010

This week’s session in the Digital Classicist ICS summer seminar series is from Annemarie La Pensée (National Conservation Centre) and Françoise Rutland (World Museum Liverpool)

Friday July 16th at 16:30
STB9 (Stewart House), Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

Annemarie La Pensée (National Conservation Centre)
and Françoise Rutland (World Museum Liverpool)

‘Non-contact 3D laser scanning as a tool to aid identification and interpretation of archaeological artefacts: the case of a Middle Bronze Age Hittite Dice’

We discuss how the 3D data created by laser scanning a metal fourteen-sided Hittite Dice from the Garstang collection (National Museums Liverpool), in conjunction with historical research, has led to new considerations about how this unusual object may have been manufactured, when, where and for what purpose.
(the full abstract)

The seminar will be followed by wine and refreshments.


For the full programme see:

Simon Mahony from UCLDH, co-organises the Digital Classicist, as well as the summer seminar series. We also have a email discussion list and wiki.  All are welcome to seminars so please do attend if you can.

If you have an interest but are unable to come along the seminars are podcast with the slides at:
with an RSS feed you can subscribe to.

Digitised History: newspapers and their impact on research into 18th and 19th century Britain

By Claire S Ross, on 12 July 2010

Coming up next week is the jointly organised Digitised History Conference by the British Library and JISC, focusing on 18th and 19th century Newspapers and their impact.  Claire Warwick will be taking part in the event and will be part of the final discussion panel.

Event Details:

Date: 20 July 2010
Time: 10:30 -18:30
Venue:The British Library,96 Euston Road,London, NW1 2DB

For decades, even hundreds of years after publication, researchers of all kinds have turned to newspapers for information relating to a wide variety of research needs including historical, cultural, social and political trends. The British Library Newspapers Online website, part of the JISC Digitisation Programme, aims to make this information available to researchers, who can now explore over three million pages of 18th and 19th century newspapers online.

The conference aims to explore the impact of the large scale digitisation of newspapers, considering the effect that this has had on research and researchers and the implied changes to research methodologies. Not only has the digitisation of historical newspapers made it easier to discover information about events from the past, but the way in which they have been digitised makes it possible to discover how those events were represented, debated and sold as news. It will debate current limitations as well as opportunities for future development.

Confirmed speakers include: Laurel Brake, Aly Conteh, Jim Draper, Alistair Dunning, Tim Hitchcock, Jim Mussell, Simon Potter, Miles Taylor and Bob Shoemaker. They will be talking about a wide range of topics including: Deciding what to digitise: a funder’s perspective, Using Digital Resources to Teach the Nineteenth-Century Press, Victorian newspapers, then and now and Researching transnational history using digital newspapers: the case of the British Empire.

For more details on the programme and registration please visit

Rare Books and the Internet

By Anne Welsh, on 9 July 2010

I’ve spent this week at the London Rare Books School (LRBS), taking a course on Modern First Editions.

This course is unique at the LRBS in that it is taught entirely by booksellers, principally Laurence Worms (Ash Books) and Julian Rota (Bertram Rota). As a traditionally qualified librarian, who studied under John Turner at Aberystwyth, this course gave me a completely different perspective on books as objects and books as commodities.

“Commodities” may sound overly harsh and give a false impression: our tutors this week love books as much as librarians and other scholars – it’s just that they trade in them and make their living directly from them.

I was heartened on our visit to legendary bookseller Rick Gekoski to discover that there is still a healthy market for beautiful and unique things, and excited on our trip to Cecil Court to discover new ways of dealing in specialist books.

It was also a relief to hear that booksellers are just as concerned about the move to digital as librarians. Julian Rota was a panelist at the British Library’s Digital Lives conference last year, and as one of the most experienced and distinguished brokers in literary manuscripts is actively involved in discussions with the top research libraries and with authors themselves about the future scholarship (and market) of archives on computer.

The book trade has been revolutionised by the growth of Amazon, ebay and Abe books, as well as the ability to track auction records online. There are pluses as well as minuses, and businesses like Goldsboro Books that could not have started without the Internet, as well as smaller, provincial, traditional bookshops whose doors have been helped to close by the availability of cheap books through the Web.

The last academic article on the impact of the Internet on the book trade appears to be Whewell and Souitaris in 2001. Perhaps it’s time for another action study gathering the opinions of the traditional antiquarians before they retire?

In any case, in the final LRBS plenary, it was great to hear traditional bookseller Laurence Worms speculate on the future joys of literary researchers:

What would you give to read Shakespeare’s emails? What would you give to read the emails Shakespeare deleted?

We might need more equipment and the book as object may be less tactile in its electronic form, but as far as literary electronic records go, bring on the brave new world!

#DH2010: Introduction to Text Analysis using Voyeur workshop

By Claire S Ross, on 8 July 2010

Yesterday I took part in a really interesting workshop looking at text analysis tools as part of the Digital Humanities 2010 conference.  Now I have to admit, I have used Voyeur before, I say used, I mean I tried to use, didn’t know what I was doing, pressed a couple of buttons and then gave up.  These actions suggested that it was pretty essential that I attended the workshop.  It was indeed a great help. Voyeur is a web based textual analysis tool,  and it  provides you with a number of different panels of information regarding whatever text you put into it; from a summary of the corpus or document you input to distribution graphs.  In the workshop  we were taken through the different panels and the capabilities of each one.

Stéfan Sinclair and Geoffrey Rockwell took us through how to use Voyeur with a single text, with a  corpus and then showed us some of the advanced features.

Firstly we were let loose on a version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I decided to look for the distribution of the words, Human, Despair, Happy, Monster.  Because I think thats a pretty nice statement.   And here are the results:

Sinclair, S. and G. Rockwell (2010). Word Trends. Voyeur. Retrieved July 7, 2010 from

During the session, I uploaded a copy of the DH2010 conference abstracts and attempted to do some analysis on them (you can see the Cirrus wordle created with Voyeur here).  The results were pretty interesting . I decided to look for the distribution of the words Museums, Libraries and Archives, because that’s what I’m mostly interested in, again the results are really interesting.

Out of the corpus with a total of 226,593 words and 20,772 unique words, museums are mentioned 21 times, museum 51 times, library 166, libraries 83, archives 99, and archive 81.

Type Count Z-Score Difference Relative Std. Dev. Peakedness Skew
archives 99 0.6 0 4.37 6.624 -1.88 0.03
libraries 83 0.49 0 3.66 4.877 0.45 0.79
museums 21 0.07 0 0.93 2.961 2.58 1.64
archive 81 0.48 0 3.57 6.118 5.79 2.33
library 166 1.06 0 7.33 8.329 -0.06 0.52
museum 51 0.27 0 2.25 6.887 3.97 2.02

Then if you compare the term museum(s) with the term text, again the results are quite interesting.

Type Count Z-Score Difference Relative Std. Dev. Peakedness Skew
text 701 4.72 0 30.94 18.046 -0.51 -0.54
texts 379 2.52 0 16.73 11.12 0.1 0.57
museums 21 0.07 0 0.93 2.961 2.58 1.64
museum 51 0.27 0 2.25 6.887 3.97 2.02

What does this mean for museum research and discussion in the digital humanities discipline? Is it sidelined? Are textual studies in DH prevalent for a reason? Or is it just semantics?

Cirrus: A Cirrus type wordle of the #DH2010 conference abstracts

By Claire S Ross, on 7 July 2010

Look what I made in the Introduction to Text analysis using Voyeur workshop: A Cirrus type wordle of the #DH2010 conference abstracts.

Sinclair, Stéfan and Geoffrey Rockwell. “Cirrus.” Voyeur. 7 Jul. 2010 <>

Sinclair, S. and G. Rockwell (2010). Cirrus. Voyeur. Retrieved July 7, 2010 from

Feminist Approaches Conference

By Anne Welsh, on 6 July 2010

I know the world of Digital Humanities is alive with the sound of DH2010, but yesterday I attended a much smaller conference at the University of Sussex that brought together those of us researching women’s use of the Internet and / or using feminist approaches to DH research.

Digital Methods, Cultural Politics and Feminist Approaches was organised by the Centre for Material Digital Culture, Media Film and Music and attracted academics from Film, Literature, Psychology, Anthropology, Life Writing and, of course, Information Studies.

I was presenting a small pilot study I’ve been conducting, using a standard DH textual analysis tool (Taporware List Words) to analyse classification schemes at the Feminist Library and the Glasgow Women’s Library alongside the section of the Library of Congress Classification that deals with “The Family. Marriage. Women” (subclass HQ). Slides (.pps) here.

This post is just to flag up some interesting projects that were presented at the conference:

1. Leverhulme Trust-funded Sisterhood and After: the Women’s Liberation Oral History Project picks up on Dr Rachel Cohen’s work on the Women’s Liberation Movement Research Network and Dr Margaretta Jolly’s expertise in oral history and life-writing to record interviews with 50 prominent members of the WLM in the 1970s and 1980. The British Library will preserve and provide web-access to the material as part of its educational offerings.

2. The Institute of Development Studies has been carrying out work in recent years to empower women in developing nations through the use of digital media. Tessa Lewin showed videos made by women in the project and signposted the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment programme.

3. Zemirah Moffat (now University of Kent) presented an extract from a video she made as part of her PhD submission at University of Westminster. Anthropologist Zemirah used a mixed methodology to explore and question the role of the “impartial film-maker” and found digital media essential as it allowed her to film her subjects watching previous recordings she had made of them and feed back into the interview / recording / observation process. She is currently working on getting her film onto the web, and already uses the processes she developed when teaching her students at Kent.

4. Louise Madden (Cardiff) is just finishing a PhD in Critical Psychology in which she has been investigating women’s everyday use of the Internet. One observation she made was that the nature of the web has changed dramatically since she first started her study – and even the prevalence of laptops is a seismic shift in how we get online.

5. One to watch: Red Chidgey, a well-known DIY feminist is just embarking on her PhD at South Bank University. It will examine feminist networks and already Red is starting to question the best use of research blogs.

Of course, these five papers are just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve archived the #digifem tweets using Twapper Keeper. The conference organisers are hoping to get some of the presentations online soon, and I’ll post again here when they do.

If you’re headed to DH2010 tomorrow, have a wonderful time. I’ll be at Rare Books School instead, but the rest of the UCLDH team will be out in force, and even a UCL MA LIS student or two. I’m looking forward to reading / hearing all about it.

Digital Classicist & Institute of Classical Studies Seminar 2010: 3D Colour Imaging For Cultural Heritage Artefacts

By Claire S Ross, on 1 July 2010

This week’s session in the Digital Classicist ICS summer seminar series is from
Mona Hess from the UCL Museums and Collections and the E-Curator project.

Friday July 2nd at 16:30
STB9 (Stewart House), Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

Mona Hess (University College London)
3D Colour Imaging For Cultural Heritage Artefacts

Digital technologies, like 3D colour laser scanning and 3D imaging, are not only challenging the traditional methods in the heritage field but they are also opening up new paths for scientific analysis of museum artefacts. I will discuss possibilities of integration of 3D image analysis in the daily museum workflow. (full abstract here)

The seminar will be followed by wine and refreshments.

For the full programme see:

Our very own Simon Mahony, co-organises the Digital Classicist, as well as the summer seminar series they also have a email discussion list and wiki.  All are welcome to seminars so please do attend if you can.