Archive for the 'Research Projects' Category

Registration for CHIPS is open!

By Nicolas E Gold, on 15 May 2012

The CHIPS project on popular music performance with technology (see previous post) is underway.  There is online discussion of the issues getting started here and registration is now open (there is no charge for the event) for the symposium on 7th-8th June.  We have a programme of great speakers lined up.  If you are interested in coming, please register asap as places are limited by the venue capacity.

New AHRC Project at UCLDH: CHIPS – Computer Human Interactive Performance Symposium

By Nicolas E Gold, on 28 March 2012

As part of our expanding programme of research and teaching in computational musicology and computer music at UCL, we are pleased to announce a new AHRC-funded project (prospective PhD and MA/MSc Digital Humanities students may like to note this activity, particularly the COMPGC20 Computer Music module available as an option on the DH degree).

The Computer-Human Interactive Performance Symposium (CHIPS) project is funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through the Digital Transformations programme.  The project runs from February to August 2012.

The aim is to explore the likely performance practices (and problems) that would result from having easily deployable, robust, creative, and reliable artificial music performers in mixed human-computer ensembles playing popular music.  There are many systems that go some way to solving the technical problems of computer participation in this kind of music (e.g. beat trackers, chord estimators, interactive improvisers) but as yet no complete systems that can be deployed by non-expert users into common practice performance contexts and be relied upon to underpin the performances of popular music ensembles.

Popular music (e.g. folk, rock, music theatre) plays a central role in the lives of millions of people.   Musicians of all standards from amateur to professional produce music that is heard on radios and televisions, and performed in concert halls and theatres.  Teenagers are motivated to learn instruments and play in bands to emulate their professional idols, serious amateurs play and sing together at open-mike nights, charity concerts, and in churches, and professionals perform in clubs, theatres, and spectacular multimedia shows like Cirque du Soleil and the Blue Man Group.   To learn, rehearse, and perform popular music often requires a musician to be part of an ensemble yet forming such a group can be challenging, particularly for amateur musicians.  Even in established communities such as churches, the demands of everyday life mean that musicians cannot always attend rehearsals or play regularly together.  In professional ensembles, illness can cause the absence of key musicians in rehearsal or performance.  Computer music technology offers the potential to substitute for musicians in these situations, yet reliable, robust, and simple systems that can be quickly set up, and that play musically and creatively do not yet exist.

The project aims to develop the future research agenda for both technical and non technical music computing research in this area, by learning from the issues and experiences of technological adoption in other relevant performance contexts, understanding the technological state of the art in relation to popular music performance, imagining future performance practices incorporating computer “musicians”, and thinking about how to study musicians (human and computer) in this context.

We hope to develop a network of interest around this symposium, beginning with some online discussion ahead of the face to face event on 7th-8th June 2012 and followed by further online activity and follow-up events.  For information, the programme, and registration for the main symposium (presented as part of the CREST Open Workshop (COW) programme), please see the COW web-page here.

2012: a busy year already

By Claire L H Warwick, on 14 February 2012

We are little more than a month into 2012 and already we have seen a lot of changes at UCLDH, so I thought it might be a good idea to write briefly about a few of them. It’s especially good to welcome back Melissa Terras, who was on maternity leave and sabbatical last year. Now that she is back full time we thought it would be a good idea formally to recognise her extremely important contribution to the centre, so from now on she and I are going to be Co-Directors. This makes sure that UCLDH still has the level of attention it deserves despite the fact that I’m now also Head of UCL Information Studies. I’m really looking forward to working with her as Co-Director, as we have on so many DH projects in the past.

One of the new initiatives that Melissa is leading is the creation of a new Multi-Modal Document Digitisation Suite. This is a joint initiative funded by the faculties of Arts and Humanities and Engineering and also by UCL Library services. A room has been found in the basement of the current Science Library, which will be converted to a secure digitisation suite, according to best practice guidelines. This will provide an excellent new facility for our growing number of research collaborations in document imaging, and a space that can also be used for teaching and research on the MA/MSc in DH. We are looking forward to offering a hands-on Digitisation module, and will be liaising closely with UCL Library and UCL Special Collections to digitise real content held at UCL as part of the student training program.

This year we have been concentrating a lot of our efforts on the Masters programme, and on teaching in general, and have welcomed several new PhD students to the centre. In this context, we’re especially pleased to be part of a new AHRC Skills training initiative in DH that has just been funded. It will be led by Cambridge, and we’ll be collaborating with DDH at KCL and HATII at Glasgow to develop a new training programme in the use of social media for research for early career scholars and PhD students. We’ve been doing rather well on AHRC networks of various kinds just recently. Melissa and I are also looking forward to starting work on the Community‐powered transformations network led by David Gauntlett of the University of Westminster. Melissa will also be collaborating on the Dig Where You Stand project, led by our DIS colleague Andrew Flinn. More about all these projects will appear here soon.

We haven’t been able to run our usual events programme this year. This is partly because we’ve been establishing the new MA programme and also because, for various complicated administrative reasons we have been unable to replace Rosella lo Conte, who left in the summer, as Centre Co-ordinator. We should be advertising for a new coordinator in the next month or so (watch this space…) but until we do we just don’t have the person-power to run events. However, fear not, they’ll be back next academic year, and until then everyone is welcome to attend the newly revitalised DDH London discussion group. We are delighted that its organisation is now shared between PhD students at UCLDH, DDH (the department!) and Goldsmiths, and are looking forward to hearing about what they are planning to discuss at future meetings.

Finally, I’d like to welcome a new member of staff to UCLDH. Dave Beavan has joined us from Glasgow University to be our new Research Manager. Dave will be helping us to develop, coordinate and run new research proposals, and is keen to meet people at UCL and beyond who would like to work with us on DH research. So please do get in touch with Dave if you have an idea you’d like to discuss or are looking for possible research collaborators.

LSE's Webbs on the Web project

By Julianne Nyhan, on 14 February 2012

Beatrice Webb, co-founder of both the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Fabian movement, left a fascinating 70-year account of social upheaval and history in the diaries which have now been made freely available online to launch LSE’s digital library. UCLDH collaborated with this project since its early stages: Julianne Nyhan served on the project’s Advisory board and students on the DH MA/MSc programme carried out user testing of the site before it went live.

Two versions of the diaries went live last week: the actual manuscript as well as 8,000 pages of a transcribed version that is cross-referenced with the date fields indexed from
the manuscript version. Both versions can now be viewed side-by- side for comparison. The project, “Webbs on the Web”, was made possible with funding from the Webb Memorial Trust.
Sue Donnelly, head of archives at LSE, said:

Her diaries are remarkably rich. The style is very personal and often introspective but
she can be analytical and gossipy as well at times.

The diaries were chosen as the launch collection for the new LSE Digital Library. LSE is one of the first academic libraries to provide a
digital library, a service which is becoming more and more necessary due to the requirement to collect, preserve and provide access to digital material.
This is compounded by the popularity of social media today and its importance as a historical record, particularly to an institution like LSE.
Ed Fay, manager of the digital library, said:

It is a way of storing potentially anything in digital format. It allows us to archive books, photographs and maps but also blogs, podcasts, social media and
other forms of communication which are increasingly important in academic life. We don’t know exactly what the future will bring but we
needed to build our capacity to respond.

For more details on the digital library contact Ed Fay e.fay@lse.ac.uk
For more information on the content of the Webb diaries or other LSE archive collections contact Sue Donnelly s.donnelly@lse.ac.uk
To view the Webb diaries, visit LSE Digital Library at http://digital.library.lse.ac.uk

QRator in the Horizon Report: Museum Edition

By Claire S Ross, on 19 November 2011

The QRator project, a collaboration between UCLDH, CASA and UCL Museums, funded by the Beacon for Public Engagement, has been chosen for inclusion in the 2011 Museum edition of the Horizon report, produced by the New Media Consortium.

The Horizon Report is an international report about leading museum technologies.  The report’s main aim is to identify and describe emerging technologies which will have a large impact over the next five years.   The 2011 edition highlights six emerging technologies or practices that are going to have an impact on the sector and breaks them down into three distinct time frames or horizons.

Here are the Technologies to watch:

  • Near term Horizon (the next 12 months): Mobile Apps and Tablets.
  • Mid term Horizon (2-3 years): Augmented Reality and Electronic Publishing
  • Far term Horizon (4-5 years): Digital Preservation and Smart Objects.

QRator is included in the Far term Horizon under Smart Objects and is highlighted of for using QRcodes to allow users to share their own interpretations about museum collections.   It is a significant achievement for QRator to be included in the report, identifying our work as a future model for the rest of the museums sector.  We are looking forward to developing the QRator project further.

You can download the report from here

UCLDH contributes to ESF Science Policy Briefing on Digital Infrastructures

By Julianne Nyhan, on 2 November 2011

UCLDH’s Dr Julianne Nyhan is a joint Author of a new Science Policy Briefing from the European Science Foundation, entitled Research Infrastructures in the Digital Humanities. This report was written by the ESF Working Group on Research Infrastructures in the Humanities under the editorial chairmanship of Professor Claudine Moulin (Trier Center for Digital Humanities, Universität Trier). It also in includes contributions from many Scholars from across Europe who are researching the areas of digital humanities and digital infrastructures.

Today, ESF has described the report as follows:

“Europe’s leading scientists have pledged to embrace and expand the role of technology in the Humanities. In a Science Policy Briefing released today by the European Science Foundation (ESF), they argue that without Research Infrastructures (RIs) such as archives, libraries, academies, museums and galleries, significant strands of Humanities research would not be possible. By drawing on a number of case studies, the report demonstrates that digital RIs offer Humanities scholars new and productive ways to explore old questions and develop new ones.” (see here)

Both the full report and a shorter document that excerpts the report’s main findings are freely available on ESF’s publication page.  We hope you find it interesting and relevant.

NESTA R&D Project with IWM, CASA and KI

By Claire S Ross, on 3 October 2011

We are pleased to announce that UCLDH will be working with The Imperial War Museum (IWM) together with Knowledge Integration and UCL CASA on a R&D project to explore digital innovation in the cultural sector.  It was announced last week that we are one of eight projects that have been selected to receive funding from the Digital Research and Development Fund for Arts and Culture.

Run by NESTA, Arts Council England and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the R&D fund aims to support cultural organisations to work with digital experts to understand the potential offered by new technologies.  It was a really tough process with 495 projects applying in total, 18 shortlisted and we feel very lucky to be one of the chosen 8 projects.

During this project, we will explore how social media models can be applied to museum collections, offering new frameworks for engagement and social interpretation.  We will be focusing on applying successful social media intellectual and technical models, in order to develop a platform that will enable the interpretation, discussion, collection and sharing of cultural experiences with, and between, audiences.  We are hoping to create a system which encourages people to respond to the themes and collections in IWM’s exhibition spaces through several forms of digital interaction and participation both in the gallery, via mobile and online.

We’re looking forward to getting started.  The project runs for 1 year from October 2011.  For more information about this and the other projects funded under the scheme, see The NESTA press release here and big congratulations to the other successful organisations below:

British Academy Postdocs

By Claire L H Warwick, on 23 August 2011

The British Academy has just launched its latest call for Postdocs and the deadline is 12 October. We at UCLDH are always happy to welcome researchers with exciting new DH projects that fit well with our interests. So if you’d like to come to us to do a BA Postdoc, we’d be happy to talk to you about it. Time is quite short, so please get in touch with me (DM or email) asap, at the very latest by 12 September. That allows us time to discuss ideas, meet if possible, and talk about your application.

Your project will need to fit in well with what we do here. Also do remember that there isn’t usually much money for things like technical input, programmer time, digitisation etc in such grants, and we can’t pay for that ourself, so please read the guidlines carefully and make sure your project is possible given what’s covered in the budget. We can provide advice and help, but we won’t do all the techie stuff for you- that’s your job as a DH postdoc.

We’ll look forward to hearing from you….

UCLDH at TEI Council meetings

By Julianne Nyhan, on 20 April 2011

I spent a chunk of last week in Chicago at the TEI Council face-to-face meeting. The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) is a consortium that develops and publishes XML-based Guidelines for making digital texts machine readable. The Guidelines are used by a very wide range of Digital Humanities projects, in universities, libraries, museums and in publishing. TEI is the first standard of its kind in the Humanities and Social Sciences and is endorsed by bodies such as NEH, AHRC and the EU’s Expert Advisory Group for Language engineering.

I was elected to the TEI Council, which has twelve members in total, in December 2009. All of us on the Council have expertise in XML, but we come from a wide range of backgrounds, including, Palaeography, History, Linguistics and Computing. The chief responsibility of the Council is the technical development of the TEI Guidelines, which involves ‘recommend[ing], evaluate[ing], and implement[ing] new features and modifications of existing features, and supervise[ing] the overall development of each new version of the Guidelines’. In essence, this means that in addition to establishing that a modification of some kind (which has been requested by a member of the community in the usual way) is technically feasible, we must also establish that the modification does not conflict with the intellectual content of the Guidelines as a whole or (except in special circumstances) break backwards compatibility with previous versions of the Guidelines. If you are interested in learning more about this work, and about the kinds of deliberations that take place at Council meetings, please see the Council meeting minutes: http://www.tei-c.org/Activities/Council/Meetings/. The minutes of the 2011 meeting will be posted there too over the coming days.

Animals and iPads: QRator in the Grant Museum

By Claire S Ross, on 16 March 2011

UCL, Grant Museum of Zoology / Matt Clayton

UCL’s Grant Museum of Zoology reopened yesterday (15 March), it houses around 67,000 specimens, covering the whole Animal Kingdom alongside some of the rarest extinct animal specimens in the world to be displayed for the first time, including lost dodo bones, the remains of a quagga (an extinct species of half-striped zebra) and a giant Irish elk with antlers measuring nearly 3 metres across.  In contrast to the more traditional museum outlook, crammed full of specimens, the new Grant has integrated iPads, QRCodes and Twitter into the mix via a UCLDH and CASA project known as QRator. The aim of which is to stress the necessity of engaging visitors actively in the creation of their own interpretations of museum collections, and whether this can be done seamlessly through digital technology.

Through the QRator project the Grant Museum is experimenting with ways of using a natural history collection as a starting point for questions about science. Alongside displays of stuffed chimpanzees, and pickled animal parts, iPads are scattered, asking provocative questions about the ways museums operate, and the role of science in society.  QRator encourages visitors to tackle big questions in the life sciences and engage with the way museums work.  Questions include “Should human and animal remains be treated any differently?” And “every medicinal drug you have ever taken was tested on animals. Is this a necessary evil?”  Each iPad holds a current question which visitors can respond to on the iPad itself, via Twitter or the Tales of Things app on their smart phones. Visitors’ thoughts become part of the museum objects history and the display itself creating digital ‘living’ labels which subsequent visitors can read and respond to in real time.

QRator has been a very exciting project, and we are very proud of it.  It is picking up quite a bit of media attention:

Throughout the project we have tried to be as user centred as possible, undertaking user requirements gathering and user evaluation every step of the way. Now that the iPads have been installed into the Grant, visits to the museum will be observed to discover how visitors interact and engage with the content.  It is frequently voiced that visitors do not read labels; it will be interesting to observe if this is still the case when the visitors themselves are able to create and interact with the interpretive content.

We will be continuing to do user testing on QRator for the next few months to see what people really think.  So if you are interested in being involved, do let us know!  If you would like to take part in the evaluation or would like further information, please contact Claire Ross directly.  All feedback received will help shape the future development of QRator as it continues to explore increasing digital access and engagement with museum collections.