By Lucy J Stagg, on 15 April 2019
UCLDH team member Andreas Vlachidis gave a talk at the Big Data in Archaeology: Practicalities and Possibilities conference (27-28th March 2019), organised by the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge.
Andreas’ talk was entitled “Reflections on excavating archaeological grey literature: and on the challenges in information extraction”
The conference website explains the aim of the conference:
This conference will bring together leaders in the fields of archaeological data science to critically evaluate the concepts and methods associated with “big data” and data-intensive research approaches. The goal of this conference is to provide a forum for discussion about the growing complexity of archaeological data as well as to provide participants with the scaffolding to explore their own application of data science methods.
By Lucy J Stagg, on 26 February 2019
UCLDH deputy director Julianne Nyhan gave a presentation at the Institute of Historical Research Digital History Seminar on Ethics and Digital History.
Dr Nyhan drew on her oral history research to reflect on the ethical aspects of using oral history methodologies to research the ‘hidden’ histories of Digital Humanities. Among other questions she asked: who ‘owns’ oral history interviews and transcripts? What are the implications of being an ‘insider’ of the (academic) community one is seeking to research? What about the ethical issues that can occur ‘downstream’ of oral history research, for example, the use of contingent labour to provide research assistance and interview transcription?
You can watch a recording of the panel on Youtube
By Lucy J Stagg, on 4 February 2019
UCLDH team member Dr Kathryn Piquette has had several works published recently, including:
- An article in CIPEG’s e-newsletter from October 2018: Investigating the Manufacture of Late 4th Millennium Decorated Palettes, in which Kathryn discusses Reflectance Transformation Imaging as a technique whose level of detail enables systematic assessment of carving techniques, tool use, skill, aesthetic principles, and artistic priorities.
- A book chapter: Piquette, K. E., 2018. Revealing the Material World of Ancient Writing: Digital Techniques and Theoretical Considerations. In: Hoogendijk, F.J. and van Gompel, S. (eds), The Materiality of Texts from Ancient Egypt. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill.
By Simon Mahony, on 8 December 2018
I was reminded recently of my Classics background and about the link between art and technology, how new technological advances would push forward the development of, particularly, the plastic arts. The same is true now and I was delighted to be invited to speak at CAFA, the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, at their International Conference on Education, Art, Science and Technology.
My keynote talk, ‘Digital Humanities teaching and Research at UCL: connecting the curriculum’, was part of their Global Landscape session and followed by a panel on engaging pedagogy with art-based research. This was their 2nd EAST Season with a long-term objective to create a global alliance of art and technology institutions, research and education centres to spread and exchange ideas. The conference brought together practitioners and researchers, technologists and educators, design and gallery professionals. Live translation made the talks accessible to all.
CAFA is currently celebrating its 100th anniversary.
I was also asked to run a workshop to introduce an understanding of some aspect of digital humanities. I chose, what is to my mind, one of our distinguishing features and that is our cross-disciplinary nature and the importance of collaborative working. My aim was to introduce the concept of collaborative writing with a practical to develop skills needed for multi-authored documents.
So, a talk on the importance of group work followed by a writing-sprint; in small groups they were tasked to write a short piece with a choice of either a short story or something about their experience of the conference. All the groups chose the short story option and managed an impressive output which they presented, as groups, after 90 minutes. The participants had wide ranging backgrounds and were almost all staff and professionals. The stories revolved around a fascination with AI, robotics and gender, fantasy and dreams. Google docs (which I would normally use) is, of course blocked in China and they introduced me to their equivalent: Shimo. I learn new things and make new contacts at every trip.
By Simon Mahony, on 1 December 2018
UCLDH hosted its second hackathon focusing this time on visualising museum data sets. This was organised in partnership with the Media Centre and the Chair of Didactics of Computer Sciences of the TU Dresden. See also their news post.
The prize-winning participants, students from the Digital Humanities programme and from TU Dresden, produced a really interesting collaborative project: UrbanHitory3D combining AR with historical images of Dresden.
Many thanks to all those who helped to organise the event and to support the students with their project development. Thanks also to Dresden 2025 for their generous sponsoring of the prize being awarded in the photo.
By Simon Mahony, on 1 November 2018
One of the nice things about having working partnerships with other institutions is that you get invited to their events. When the invitation is from the Postal Museum for a Mail Rail event you get to explore their underground museum, enjoy their hospitality but even more importantly, you get to ride on the underground Mail Train (now converted to take passengers rather than mail sacks).
These are the tunnels under London where the mail from the Mount Pleasant sorting office (in the background of the image) that was destined for London would be sorted and distributed by a network of underground tunnels.
With a colleague from UCLDH, we met with their CEO and researchers, enjoyed their hospitality, discussed possible collaborations while eagerly awaiting our turn on the train.
The network was, of course, built to carry mail sacks and so the carriages are necessarily small to fit in the narrow tunnels, so this no place for the claustrophobic.
We have had students at the Postal Museum for several years now and riding the mail train has always been identified in their reports and one of the highlights. And all just a short walk from UCL.
By Simon Mahony, on 1 November 2018
I was very pleased to be invited back to the Shanghai Library and this time to speak in the Digital Humanities strand of the 9th Shanghai International Library Forum (SILF 2018). The municipal library of Shanghai is the second largest public/research library in China (after the National Library in Beijing) and also houses the Shanghai Institute of Scientific and Technical Information.
The building is certainly impressive and a fitting venue for an extremely wide-ranging conference. I felt privileged to be included among the VIP foreign speakers.
The theme for the conference was ‘Library for All: Towards a Smarter and Inclusive Society’ with eight sub-themes including ‘smart age and smart libraries’, ‘the transformation and innovation of libraries in the age of the “internet+”‘, ‘design ideas in libraries’ and more. My session, ‘digital humanities and library services’ allowed me to talk about and highlight some of the important initiatives taking place in the West: Open Access, Open Publishing and Open Science.
And that context gave a welcome opportunity to once again showcase UCL Press with its strong stand on open and the recent celebration of 1 million downloads.
It was particularly pleasing to be able to be joined at the conference by two DIS students: Yamin Fu, who gave an excellent paper, taken from her PhD research, titled ‘Cognitive mapping in exploring library user experiences’, and a completing MSc Information Studies student, Yifan Wang. My thanks to them both for the photos of me above and for making sure that I didn’t get lost (too often).
As always, the hospitality was exemplary with a VIP welcome dinner plus a conference banquet featuring the many multi-talented library professionals demonstrating skills ranging from calligraphy, a traditional tea ceremony, modern and traditional dancing (not all at the same time). The conference was rounded off with a visit to the original Shanghai Library in Yangpu, which has recently been opened to the public after considerable restoration. Do take a look at the images on the website link.
The Digital Humanities research team at the Shanghai Library are involved in an impressive array of research projects with much of their output and many data sets freely and openly available. They produced a document flyer for the conference: From Digital Library to Digital Humanities – The Practice of Shanghai Library and I include images of that here.
By Rudolf Ammann, on 26 October 2018
UCLDH’s co-founder and former director Melissa Terras launched two open-access books of hers during this year’s Open Access Week: Picture-Book Professors: Academia and Children’s Literature from Cambridge University Press and The Professor in Children’s Literature: An Anthology from Fincham Press.
In the research presented, Melissa studies the representation of academics in juvenile literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. She lays out her findings in an academic monograph [free PDF] and supplements this work with an anthology of selected out-of-copyright works [free PDF].
In a post today Melissa notes on open access book publishing in the humanities:
We are at a juncture where the sands are shifting: the major funders and government bodies are moving towards requirements for open access monographs. We don’t have a choice; we have to embrace these requirements, but there is a lot of work yet to be done about who will pay the costs for production. I believe that most universities could afford to absorb the costs of open access monograph production, much in the same way that they pay for lab costs or scientific equipment: it should be viewed as a centrally borne cost necessary for creating and sharing academic knowledge. It shouldn’t happen that individuals are asked to pay these costs themselves, as that is untenable. I can see people are concerned about how their personal costs will be met — and it is up to universities and presses to grapple with this. The danger is the open access premium: that only those who can afford to publish in open access will reap the benefits of having their work made accessible to a wide audience, and we have to keep our eyes open to that, as the academy needs diverse voices (as Picture-Book Professors and The Professor in Children’s Literature say!)
By Lucy J Stagg, on 28 September 2018
UCLDH is delighted to have two team members giving UCL Lunch-Hour Lectures this term.
Team member Dr. Rachele De Felice will be discussing ‘What’s Really Going On in Hillary Clinton’s Emails?’ on 16 October 2018. Dr De Felice will explore questions of manners, who gets stuck with the boring tasks, and what kind of boss Clinton is.
Dr Oliver Duke-Williams will speak on 27th November on ‘What Can the ONS Longitudinal Study Tell Us about Time Travel and about the Force?’ Dt Duke-Williams will outline what the study is and explain how to apply to use it by drawing on two examples: the film Back To The Future; and the Star Wars films.
The UCL Lunch-Hour lectures are free and open to the public, but booking is recommended. Lectures are also live streamed. The UCL Events page explains:
Lunch Hour Lectures are an opportunity for anyone to sample the exceptional research work taking place at UCL, in bite sized chunks. Speakers are drawn from across the university, and lectures frequently showcase new research and recent academic publications.
By Lucy J Stagg, on 24 August 2018
The journal Heritage Science has released a video abstract of the paper UCLDH team members co-authored on advanced imaging for investigating inscribed papyrus in mummy cartonnage.