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What the Susan Hockey Lecture 2017 looks like

By Rudolf Ammann, on 8 May 2017

Remixing the book cover

Event identity: Remixing the cover of Niels Brügger and Ralph Schroeder’s book The Web as History

Niels Brügger, the Professor in Internet Studies and Digital Humanities at Aarhus University, Denmark, will deliver this year’s UCLDH Susan Hockey Lecture, titled Where Does the Born- and Reborn-Digital Material Take the Digital Humanities?, on 18 May here at UCL. The lecture will be streamed live for anyone who is unable to attend.

For the visual identity for the event, we decided to remix the cover of a recent book co-edited by the speaker with Ralph Schroeder and published by UCL Press, The Web as History (2017). The stylised web interface, modified for the lecture with perhaps a slight hint of parody, now appears on posters and postcards, and will be displayed as a scene-setting device on the lecture hall screen. On Friday last week, testing the design on the big screen did not work too well, but then it turned out that the whole university network had just gone down, reportedly due to a defective cooling pipe at the main data centre. It’ll be up at the event, no doubt.

A6 size: postcards in alternate colours

A6 size: postcards in alternate colours

The promotional postcards show the same design in a range of alternate colours, and they are currently available from UCLDH: pick up yours at the UCLDIS Departmental Office! The remaining stock will be given away at the lecture.

Graphics and Cultural Heritage (GCH)

By Lucy J Stagg, on 2 May 2017

UCLDH Acting Director, Professor Tim Weyrich, will be the papers chair at Graphics and Cultural Heritage (GCH), an international workshop in Graz, Austria in September 2017. The workshop invites works from both the heritage and engineering sectors:

It aims to foster an international dialogue between ICT experts and CH scientists to advance the understanding of critical requirements for processing, managing, and delivering cultural information to a broad audience.

Papers are due for submission by Friday 5th May 2017.

Papers aplenty

By Lucy J Stagg, on 28 April 2017

We’re very busy here at UCLDH, delivering papers and promoting our wonderfully diverse portfolio of research

Martin Zaltz Austwick, our Associate Director and Senior Lecturer in Advanced Spatial Analysis and Visualization, has been reporting on the Survey of London: Whitechapel project at the annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers in Boston, at a seminar for Geospatial Innovations in the Digital Humanities in Lancaster, and at a workshop on Visualizations and other digital possibilities at Birkbeck, London.

Duncan Hay, Research Associate at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, spoke at an event for World Poetry Day, organised by the Digital Scholarship team at the British Library.

Andreas Vlachidis and Antonis Bikakis will be presenting their paper on “Semantic Representation and Enrichment of Cultural Heritage Information for Fostering Reinterpretation and Reflection on the European History” at the ITN-DCH Final Conference on Digital Heritage, on 23-25 May 2017.

Pete Williams will be giving a paper at the IJAS International Conference for Academic Disciplines in Venice, on 20- 23 June 2017.

Managing library collections with friends, favours and a spoonful of sugar

By David Beavan, on 31 March 2017

Last week I had the great pleasure to host our most recent UCLDH Seminar. Our guest speaker was Claudia Mendias, Manager of the Library Digital Services team at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), who addressed a full room of DHers and Librarians from across London and beyond. Entitled ‘Managing library collections with friends, favours and a spoonful of sugar’, Claudia took us on an enlightening journey of the amazing digital content SOAS holds, and the library systems and research tools which support scholarship. From the advantages and responsibilities of open source platforms, to the systems and tools used to manage the growing digital resources within the collections, you too can enjoy the talk.


Many thanks to Claudia for agreeing to share her slides.

Oceanic Exchanges: Tracing Global Information Networks in Historical Newspaper Repositories

By Lucy J Stagg, on 31 March 2017

We’re delighted to announce UCLDH staff Ulrich Tiedau (PI) and Melissa Terras (Co-I) have just received confirmation their Oceanic Exchanges project is one of 14 award winners in Round Four of the T-AP Digging into Data Challenge:

Each of the fourteen winning teams is composed of researchers from multiple scholarly and scientific disciplines, working collaboratively to demonstrate how cutting-edge big data techniques can be used to investigate a wide range of research questions across the humanities and social sciences. Since its inception in 2009, the Digging into Data Challenge program has helped to spark exciting new research avenues for the humanities and social sciences utilizing computational techniques.

The Oceanic Exchanges project will look at patterns and connections in information flow in newspapers during the 19th century.

Museums and Virtual Reality: VR in the Grant Museum

By Lucy J Stagg, on 24 March 2017

Virtual reality and augmented reality are creating new avenues of exploration for museums, allowing their visitors greater interaction with their content and materials. Nicholas Klein, Timothy Lambden and Hector Leach-Clay from UCL Natural Sciences, and Alex Muller, a UCL alumnus, recently tested a virtual reality app in UCL’s Grant Museum:

The reaction to VR:Cell at the Grant Museum was overwhelmingly positive – once people saw it they wanted to try it. Queues formed quickly at the sight of the obvious delight expressed by other visitors using the headset, as people snatched at thin air trying to grab parts of the virtual cell with big grins on their faces. Even parents were itching to try it after seeing their children’s reactions and, to our entertainment, behaved similarly to their children once they finally got to have a go!

Read more on the UCL Museums and Collections blog

The Digital Music Lab: A Big Data Infrastructure for Digital Musicology

By Lucy J Stagg, on 20 March 2017

A paper describing the infrastructure of the Digital Music Lab framework has been published in the ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage (JOCCH). The paper is available to download from UCL Discovery. The project also got a write-up in Motherboard

Digital Music Lab is an AHRC project aiming to to develop research methods and software infrastructure for exploring and analysing large-scale music collections. The £560k project is being carried out collaboratively between City University London, Queen Mary University of London, University College London, and the British Library.

Digital Publishing workshop at the Shanghai Institute of Design

By Simon Mahony, on 24 January 2017

I was back in Shanghai again at the close of 2016 to follow up my earlier guest lecture at the Shanghai Institute of Design with a week long workshop. They have a Master’s level programme on Digital Publishing in the Department of Digital Publishing and Exhibition Design but with little Faculty expertise on the web or Internet. After discussion with the Institute’s President and the Programme Convenor we decided on the title, ‘Getting over the Great Wall’, where I would cover the history and development of the Internet, cultural influences on design, publishing online, accessibility and usability design, and information design (it is the Institute of Design). This would be finished off with student presentations of their projects: to design a digital product (for the web or mobile device) that in some way brought together aspects of cultural difference. The cultural differences could be within China itself as none of the students had traveled outside China. The first task was to ban Flash and Dreamweaver and explain why this was the case!

This workshop, of course, also afforded the opportunity to showcase UCL.

Introducing UCL at the start of the workshop

Introducing UCL at the start of the workshop with greetings on the chalk board.

Interestingly, I’m the only one not wearing a coat here and that only happened on the first day. Not only is there no internet connection or wifi in the teaching rooms (something we take for granted) but there is no heating either – only fans (look carefully at the photos below) to keep cool in the summer; apparently south of the Yellow River building regulations permit buildings with no heating.

Students in the teaching room

Students in the teaching room – note the coats, hats and scarves.

A workstation and projector is set up in each room but my outstanding TA had to improvise as the remote control was missing (sounds familiar!). Much of my teaching material had been kindly translated by current UCLDH students but I still needed an interpreter/translator. Everything was presented in English and Chinese as they are all learning English too.

Analogue remote control in the hands of my TA

Analogue remote control in the hands of my outstanding TA & translator (Qiongpei Kong – UCL IoA alumna)

They felt sorry for me when the temperature dropped further and moved my class to the executive lecture room which has heating. The heater, however, only pointed at the lecture station and it was not possible to move it to warm the students who still needed their coats and scarves. Interestingly, no one sat in the front row (clearly a Chinese tradition too).

The executive lecture room

The executive lecture room – with heating but only for the lecturer.

As well as lectures, we had a series of group tutorials where we discussed the student projects while wearing many layers of clothing. As a Design Institute, they have very talented artists among the students. The images shown here were ideas for new style masks for the Peking Opera to encourage a younger audience. Interesting and considering how central it is to Chinese culture, only two projects featured food; others were concerned with opera, architecture, local dialects and one with traditional Chinese designs being used on sneakers.

Student tutorials

Student tutorials – here featuring a new design for Opera masks.

On the final day of the workshop, the students presented their work. Without exception, it was all visually stunning (it is the foremost Institute of Design with high academic standards) and very impressive as they only had a short time to decide on and design their projects. Overall, what they managed with only a couple of days for preparation was really outstanding.

Giving feedback at the presentations

Giving feedback at the presentations

By the end of the week, the students were relaxed and comfortable, no longer shy. Those that spoke some English took pride in talking to me and forgave my extremely limited Mandarin.

I wrapped things up with a roundup and general remarks on their work as well as some thoughts on the value of education, cultural exchange and what we can learn from each other.

Wrapping up the presentations

Wrapping up the presentations with my translator close at hand.

 

We had to schedule another half-hour at the end of the workshop for the mandatory photo session which starts with several group ones and finishes with individual and group ‘selfies’! These get shared across the Chinese social media platforms, particularly WeChat which is ubiquitous there.

Group photo

Group photo as the finale of the workshop

I need to add a few words about what I gained from this experience. Once again I enjoyed the warmth and hospitality of the Institute and particularly of the President, Professor Wu, who had invited me and who insisted on cooking (superbly and with great pride) almost every evening of my stay. But it goes further, I needed to research the history and legislation of the Internet in China, how it operates under the government’s control, legislation about Copyright and Intellectual Property and how these fit it in with the wider world. This was all new to me and will be fed into my own teaching about cultural and global differences. Above all, I learned more from the students about their culture, about their hopes and aspirations, about our similarities as well as our differences. The students were attentive and enthusiastic and I very much look forward to future visits.

New Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) training course

By Lucy J Stagg, on 29 November 2016

We are rolling out our new Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) training course!

Courses will take place at UCL in our Multi-Modal Digital Imaging Suite. Each course, led by Dr. Kathryn Piquette, includes a combination of lectures, demonstration, and practical hands-on sessions:

  • Learn how to apply highlight Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)
  • Gain experience in applying RTI to portable objects and larger fixed surfaces of various material types
  • Become proficient in capture, processing and manipulation of RTI datasets for diverse applications
  • Gain familiarity with related computational photography and processing techniques for augmenting and re-using RTI data
  • Apply what you learn in small teams of 2-3 people for hands-on work

There is more information available, including pricing and how to register.

UCLDH Advanced Imaging Consultants

By Melissa M Terras, on 21 July 2016

UCL Centre for Digital Humanities are pleased to announce that we now have capacity to offer Reflectance Transformation Imaging and Spectral Imaging services from our Multi-Modal Digitisation Suite research facility based in central London.

Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), also known as Polynomial Texture Mapping (PTM), is a high-resolution, non-invasive and non-destructive imaging technique for documenting fine surface details. Unlike conventional photographs, images created using the RTI capture method can be virtually relit. The direction of the light source can be moved around in real time to give 3D appearance to surface shapes for systematic inspection of fine surface details.

Spectral Imaging is a high-resolution, non-invasive and non-destructive form of computational photography that can disclose features of the object that are invisible to the naked eye in natural light, and can enhance faded writings, reveal palimpsest and under-drawings, as well as aiding in pigments, binders and other materials identification. Spectral imaging helps clarify and support research, scholarly and other goals. The UCL state-of-the-technology spectral imaging system can be applied to documents and manuscripts, polychrome artworks, and a range of archaeological and heritage objects.

The kinds of material we can handle and are suitable for specialist imaging include:
• Documents, manuscripts, maps
• Artworks and other painted objects
• Coins, medals, jewellery
• Other objects bearing fine details such as seals and impressed sealings, cuneiform tablets, as well as inscriptions, carvings, bas-reliefs
• Forensic evidence or any object/surface requiring detailed examination.

For further information, please see our UCLDH Advanced Imaging Consultants page or contact advancedimaging@ucl.ac.uk.