Dawn of a new era as New gTLDs delegated

By Chris J Dillon, on 4 December 2013

img: Eva Perón amid jacaranda trees

Eva Perón amid jacaranda trees

I atttended the recent ICANN meeting in Buenos Aires. It was upbeat as the first New gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains), e.g. .游戏, .онлайн, .みんな and .today have been delegated.
The New gTLDs Program is widely regarded as a success and many are predicting that the new addresses will increasingly displace the old .com addresses.

Further information: ICANN
UCL A&H’s role in all this: UCL press release

At the airport on the way home, it turned out that my passport was somehow unsullied by an entry stamp and so I was lucky to be able to persuade Immigration I wasn’t an illegal in time for the flight.

Announcing Seaha – Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology

By Melissa M Terras, on 22 November 2013


Today, David Willets announced the new set of Centres for Doctoral Training in Engineering Sciences, funded by the Engineering and Physcial Sciences Research Council. We’re really pleased to say that UCL have secured funding for a Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology, which will fund 60 doctoral students in the next 8 years in using advanced technology in the area of cultural heritage. Seaha is EPSRC’s single largest investment to date in heritage science and engineering research.

Led by May Cassar from the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, UCLDH’s own Melissa Terras is one of the UCL Co-I’s, alongside Stuart Robson (Civil and Geomatic Engineering) and Matija Strlic (Bartlett), working in partnership with the University of Oxford (led by Heather Viles) and the University of Brighton (led by David Arnold), as well as a range of industry partners including the Tate, English Heritage, the Natural History Museum, Leica Geosystems and the National Physical Laboratory.

More information is available on the Seaha website, or follow @seahaCDT on twitter. Exciting times!

UCL Connections

By Sarah Davenport, on 5 November 2013

Earlier this year, UCLDH hosted a prize workshop where teams could pitch for £5000 worth of funding to develop a research prototype, which was supported by an award to the Grand Challenges from the UCL Annual Fund, which relies on the contributions of UCL alumni to support scholarships, research and work across UCL. Here we reveal the work of the winning team, comprising of George Neris (UCL Centre for Sustainable Heritage, Bartlett), Jia Liu (UCL Archaeology), and Peter Williams (UCL Information Studies), as they unveil UCL Connections…

UCL Connections project summary

University College London is a world-renowned institution across multiple academic fields. However, as is the case across Higher Education, departments often work in isolation and members of staff and students are disconnected from each other: unaware of the teams and heritage around them. Additionally, the true spirit, the everyday life and the history of UCL is often difficult to portray to the public via current media.

Recent increased availability of the internet and mobile devices provide unprecedented access to information. Companies and institutions are seeking new ways to utilise this technology and improve engagement with both internal and external stakeholders. Despite the ever-expanding pool of digital data and other assets, a physical presence must also be maintained to provide relevance to individuals without access to such digital tools. UCL currently has no tool to unite the physical, digital, resources (internal/external), and personal experience for research, social or promotional purposes.

Considering the problem outlined above, the research aimed to:

  • Create new connections within and outside of UCL – linking the digital and the physical, and the internal and external;
  • Champion the heritage, research and social assets of UCL by uniting the physical and digital, the public and the personal;
  • Establish an innovative, interactive and attractive online system for UCL to interpret and integrate digital and physical assets.

Picture1 connectionsWe developed an online application and User Interface, by utilising UCL-developed software and open-license applications to create a digital map of the university campus. We chose various key physical locations to represent various aspects of the university (heritage, research, leisure etc.) to be the location of ‘connection bubbles’. For a larger project, these will be placed physically at the chosen locations, along with QR Code or similar. For the purposes of this ‘proof of concept’ project, they were situated on a 3D map of the campus which users navigate online.

We started by collecting information on the chosen ‘bubbles’ principally by desk research, although we also interviewed key players such as the Iris database manager, a researcher compiling a ‘Sustainable Living’ resources collection, a representative of UCL Marketing and UCL Volunteering. . All the collected information was organised into a hierarchical schema for uploading onto the database system. The information in the system was then visualised and synthesised with user-friendly UI design.

The final result was a 3D representation on the web of the outside views of Cloisters, the Quad and the street outside. These were superimposed onto a simple Google map. Landmark ‘connection bubbles’ were also overlaid on the map. Once clicked, these appear on a panel on the right side of the screen. Here all layers of information related to the clicked landmark can be found. Some of the landmarks, once clicked, appear directly on the screen as 3D objects (for the purpose of this Minimum Value Prototype one or two objects from the Petrie Collection were thus presented).

Picture2 connectionsUsers can create their own bubbles and upload them, along with relevant information web links, to the project, within predefined categories, similar to the YouTube system. The project holds the Geo co-ordinates of the bubble, its brief description and a web link to the user’s page. All other information will be contained outside the project, in the individual user pages.

We also developed a calendar, where users can see, at a glance, what is happening around UCL on a given date – with a click taking them to the individual web page of the event. We needed, of course, to develop a method for users to upload their event.

In  nutshell, the system enables people to:

  • Access multiple aspects of information in campus, both existing and incoming events: academic events, leisure activities, announcements, landmarks, etc.;
  • Post information by creating new bubbles under customised categories(tags);
  • Create future events by adding date information in the calendar;
  • Add comments for popular events.

The future

In the longer term we hope to establish physical “Totem” sign-posts across campus, indicating and providing information on points of interest. These physical landmarks will be in the form of simple tags, incorporating QR or NFC technology, and/or real totems incorporating same technology. The user, by interacting with the tags/totems through their smartphones will be getting augmented reality information about the referred objects. We also hope to develop an online augmented reality system, allowing users to assign ‘connection bubbles’ to points of interest around UCL and provide tags; comments and media on their related experiences. Regarding the calendar, we are hoping to develop a system whereby the application automatically aggregates data from various sources, primarily UCL Events Calendar.

Crowdsourcing the Slade Class Photographs

By Sarah Davenport, on 31 October 2013

slade-archive-project-logo-40-percent-grey copyUCLDH is working with the Slade Archive Project on a new crowdsourcing project to identify alumni in Slade class photographs.  The class photographs have been taken annually since 1931 and former staff, students and members of the public are being asked to help identify the sitters.  The photos have been catalogued and are available on a new website, designed by UCLDH, where visitors can zoom in on individual faces.

Further information about the project can be found on the Slade Archive blog and the UCL news site also features an article with comments from Melissa Terras (Director of UCLDH) and Susan Collins (Director of the Slade).

CFP: 2014 OCWC Global Conference

By Simon Mahony, on 26 October 2013

The 2014 OCWC Global Conference is being held in Ljubljana, Slovenia. One of the local organisers is a completing MA/MSc DH student, Davor Orlic.

The 10th annual OpenCourseWare Consortium Global Conference will be held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on April 23-25, 2014. The OpenCourseWare Consortium and the Knowledge for All Foundation are jointly organizing the event whose special theme is Open Education for a Multicultural World.

Submissions of papers are invited on all topics related to open education for the conference proceedings, and proposals for workshops.

The conference will be organised around four tracks:

  • Research and Technology
  • Open Educational Policies
  • Pedagogical Impact
  • Project Dissemination

Submission deadline: December 1st 2013.

Full details are on the conference website and downloadable as a PDF.


UCLDH Digital Excursion: Research IT Services’ Data Centre

By Sarah Davenport, on 23 October 2013

The UCLDH Digital Excursions are resuming and the first visit for 2013-14 is to the UCL Research IT Services data centre, 5.30pm on Tuesday 12th November.  If you would like to attend, please see our Events pages for more information.  Please note that due to limited places, registration for this events is required.

UCLDH guest lecture: Sukanta Chaudhuri, ‘The Electronic Tagore: a Variorum Website’

By Sarah Davenport, on 23 October 2013

Prof Sukanta Chaudhuri (Professor Emeritus, Jadavpur University and Visiting Fellow, All Souls Oxford) will be visiting UCLDH on Tuesday 20th November, 5.30pm, to give a talk about Bichitra, a variorum website of the works of Rabindranath Tagore in Bengali and English.  All are welcome and refreshments will be available after the talk.  Further details can be found on our Events page.

Letters to Admiral Nelson from the Iberian Peninsula (1803-1805): a research seminar by Dr Marianne Czisnik & Philipp Vanscheidt

By Sarah Davenport, on 23 September 2013

In cooperation with the National Maritime Museum, the University of Greenwich and University College London

Dates: 7 to 11 October 2013
Location: National Maritime Museum, London

Seminar topic: the “letters to Admiral Nelson from the Iberian Peninsula (1803-1805)” will be studied and TEI-XML and TextGrid will also be covered so that the letters may be published as a digital edition at the close of the seminar

The seminar examines British manuscripts sent from the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. In contrast with traditional editions and approaches, the material covered in this seminar is not selected from the writings of a famous decision maker but rather from writings sent to such a decision maker, namely “letters to Admiral Nelson from the Iberian Peninsula (1803-1805)”. Thus, they contain a wealth of information on key political, military and naval matters.
In particular, this seminar will analyse letters from British officials in Gibraltar and Spain (before and after the declaration of war with Great Britain in 1804) that Admiral Nelson received in the two years before the battle of Trafalgar (in Southern Spain) when he was commander-in-chief of the British Mediterranean fleet. The documents to be looked at form part of the more than 3.000 letters in the Croker Collection at the National Maritime Museum in London. This collection has been catalogued recently, is easily accessible though has not been scientifically explored. A publication in the digital Journal for Maritime Research, edited by the National Maritime Museum, is being planned.

The following letters are suggested for examination:
- James Duff, British consul in Cadiz (eleven letters written during the period from 1803 to 1805)
- John Holkham Frere, British ambassador in Madrid (thirteen letters written during the years 1803 and 1804)
- John White, British captain (two letters written from Cadiz in February 1804)
- Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Trigge, governor of Gibraltar (25 letters written during the years 1803 and 1804)

For the digital edition the basics of XML in accordance with the TEI standard and the virtual research environment TextGrid will be taught during the seminar.

The seminar will take place from 7 to 11 October 2013 at Greenwich. It is open to students from Technische Univerisität Darmstadt and students from other Universities (upon application; see below). The material that is to be analysed is held at the National Maritime Museum London. A visit to the Paper Conservation Department of the museum will be part of the seminar. An excursion to Portsmouth is planned. There the “Victory”, Lord Nelson’s flagship at the battle of Trafalgar, can be visited at the beginning of the seminar.

Guest Lectures
In her presentation, Jane Knight will speak about cataloging the stock of archival material that will be edited in the seminar. Dr Victoria Carolan is an expert for the different sources of British naval history and Dr Julianne Nyhan, University College London and formerly of the TEI Technical Council, will explain the history, the intentions and current developments of the initiative. Details about these lectures will be posted separately.

Contact and Information
If you are interested in participating, please explain your scientific background and interest in a short e-mail to Philipp Veranscheidt


by 30th September 2013.

Research Associate opportunity

By Sarah Davenport, on 14 August 2013

The School of European Languages, Culture and Society (SELCS), in collaboration with the Centre for Digital Humanities, invites applicants for a research associate position on the “Asymmetrical Encounters: Digital Humanities Approaches to Reference Cultures in Europe, 1815–1992” project, funded as part of the HERA Joint Research Programme ‘Cultural Encounters’ (2013–16). The postholder will work as part of an international team based at UCL and the Universities of Utrecht (the Netherlands) and Trier (Germany).  The post is available for three years, 2013-2016.

Expert knowledge of European Cultural history is essential, as well as having native or near-native competence in English, and good reading knowledge of German. A PhD in History or a related subject (or equivalent) is essential to this role, with teaching experience in European History and/or Digital Humanities.

To view the job description and for details on how to apply, please see the full job advert. The closing date is 1st September.

First new gTLDs sign registry and registrar agreements

By Chris J Dillon, on 1 August 2013

durban47-logo-242x140editedI attended the recent ICANN meeting in Durban, South Africa, during which a new milestone in the rollout of the new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) was reached:

Three companies signed the Registry Agreement while five others signed the Registrar Accreditation Agreement, including registrars from Australia, France and the U.S. Registries operate Top-Level Domains; registrars are the entities through which domain names are registered.

The three registries applied for Top-Level Domain Names in the Arabic, Chinese and Cyrillic scripts.

UCL, as the world’s leading centre of linguistic expertise in cooperation with SOAS, has been providing linguistic support to ICANN as it makes the Internet’s addressing system truly international at last.

Existing gTLDs include .com, .org and .net, but there are going to be many more exotic ones, especially brand names, over the next few months.