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Vision for Art (VISART) Workshop for interdisciplinary work in Computer Vision and Digital Humanities

Lucy Stagg26 April 2022

The VISion for Art (VISART) workshop is an interdisciplinary workshop held with the European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV) on a bi-annual basis. The workshop is now on its 6th edition and has had great success over ten years since starting in Florence (2012), with the 2022 edition in Tel Aviv, Israel. The success has led to VISART becoming a staple venue for Computer Vision and Digital Art History & Humanities researchers alike. With the workshop’s ambition to bring the disciplines closer and provide a venue for interdisciplinary communication, it has, since 2018, provided two tracks for both the technological development and the reflection of computer vision techniques applied to the arts. The two tracks are:

1. Computer Vision for Art – technical work (standard ECCV submission, 14 pages excluding references)
2. Uses and Reflection of Computer Vision for Art (Extended abstract, 4 pages, excluding references)

Full details are available at the workshop website: https://visarts.eu

Keynotes

In addition to the technical works presented it regularly attracts names that bridge the disciplines including (but not limited to):

Keynote speakers from across the years of VISART, images from 2022 public institutional profiles and current affiliation logos.

Keynote speakers from across the years of VISART, images from 2022 public institutional profiles and current affiliation logos.

The inclusion of such a varied collection of Keynote speakers has provided a fruitful discussion on the use of technology to investigate visual content. From its style and perception (Aaron Hertzmann, Adobe) to how is the “hard humanities” field of computer image analysis of art changing our understanding of paintings and drawings (David G. Stork).

VISART VI Keynotes

The VISART VI (2022) workshop continues this tradition of high profile keynotes. It will add Prof Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel of the University of Geneva and Prof Ohad Ben-Shahar of Ben Gurion University to this list and the return of Prof John Collomosse of the University of Surrey.

VISART VI Keynotes

VISART VI Keynotes

Prof Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel

Béatrice Joyeux-Prunel is Full Professor at the University of Geneva in Switzerland (Faculté de Lettres – School of Humanities), chair of Digital Humanities. From 2007 to 2019 she was Associate Professor (maître de conférences) in modern and contemporary art at the École normale supérieure in Paris, France (ENS, PSL). She is a former student of ENS (Alumni 1996, Social Sciences and Humanities), and got an Agrégation in History and Geography in 1999. She defended her PhD in 2005 at the université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne and her Habilitation at Sciences Po Paris in 2015. Joyeux-Prunel’s research encompasses the history of visual globalisation, the global history of the avant-gardes, the digital technologies in contemporary art, and the digital turn in the Humanities. Since 2009 she has founded and managed the Artl@s project on modern and contemporary art globalisation ([https://artlas.huma-num.fr](https://artlas.huma-num.fr/)) and she coedits the open access journal Artlas Bulletin. In 2016 she founded Postdigital ([www.postdigital.ens.fr](https://visarts.eu/www.postdigital.ens.fr)), a research project on digital cultures and imagination. Since 2019 she has led the European Jean Monnet Excellence Center IMAGO, an international center for the study and teaching on visual globalisation. At Geneva university she directs the SNF Project Visual Contagions ([https://visualcontagions.unige.ch](https://visualcontagions.unige.ch/)), a 4 years research project on images in globalisation, which uses computer vision techniques to trace the global circulation of images in printed material over the 20th century.

Prof John Collomosse

John Collomosse is a Principal Scientist at Adobe Research where he leads the deep learning group. John’s research focuses on representation learning for creative visual search (e.g. sketch, style, pose based search) and for robust image fingerprinting and attribution. He is a part-time full professor at the Centre for Vision Speech and Signal Processing, University of Surrey (UK) where he founded and co-directs the DECaDE multi-disciplinary research centre exploring the intersection of AI and Distributed Ledger Technology. John is part of the Adobe-led content authenticity initiative (CAI) and contributor to the technical work group of the C2PA open standard for digital provenance. He is on the ICT and Digital Economy advisory boards for the UK Science Council EPSRC.

Prof. Ohad Ben-Shahar

Ohad Ben-Shahar is a Professor of Computer Science at the Computer Science department, Ben Gurion University (BGU), Israel. He received his [B.Sc](http://b.sc/). and [M.Sc](http://m.sc/). in Computer Science from the Technicon (Israel Institute of Technology) in 1989 and 1996, respectively, and his M.Phill and PhD From Yale University, CT, USA in 1999 and 2003, respectively. He is a former chair of the Computer Science department and the present head of the School of Brain Sciences and Cognition at BGU. Prof Ben-Shahar’s research area focuses on computational vision, with interests that span all aspects of theoretical, experimental, and applied vision sciences and their relationship to cognitive science as a whole. He is the founding director of the interdisciplinary Computational Vision Laboratory (iCVL), where research involves theoretical computational vision, human perception and visual psychophysics, visual computational neuroscience, animal vision, applied computer vision, and (often biologically inspired) robot vision. He is a principle investigator in numerous research activities, from basic research animal vision projects through applied computer vision, data sciences, and robotics consortia, many of them funded by agencies such as the ISF, NSF, DFG, the National Institute for Psychobiology, The Israeli Innovation Authority, and European frameworks such as FP7 and Horizon 2020.

Call for Papers

The workshop calls for papers on the topics (but not limited to):

  • Art History and Computer Vision
  • 3D reconstruction from visual art or historical sites
  • Multi-modal multimedia systems and human machine interaction
  • Visual Question & Answering (VQA) or Captioning for Art
  • Computer Vision and cultural heritage
  • Big-data analysis of art
  • Security and legal issues in the digital presentation and distribution of cultural information
  • Image and visual representation in art
  • 2D and 3D human pose and gesture estimation in art
  • Multimedia databases and digital libraries for artistic research
  • Interactive 3D media and immersive AR/VR for cultural heritage
  • Approaches for generative art
  • Media content analysis and search
  • Surveillance and Behaviour analysis in Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums

Deadlines & Submissions

  • Full & Extended Abstract Paper Submission: 27th May 2022 (23:59 UTC-0)
  • Notification of Acceptance: 30th June 2022
  • Camera-Ready Paper Due: 12th July 2022
  • Workshop: TBA (23-27th October 2022)
  • Submission site: https://cmt3.research.microsoft.com/VISART2022/

Organisers

The VISART VI 2022 edition of the workshop has been organised by:

  • Alessio Del Bue, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT)
  • Peter Bell, Philipps-Universität Marburg
  • Leonardo Impett, University of Cambridge
  • Noa Garcia, Osaka University
  • Stuart James, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) & University College London Centre for Digital Humanities (UCL DH)
VISART VI 2022 organisers

VISART VI 2022 organisers

Report on Symposium on Data Science and Digital Cultural Heritage

Julianne Nyhan6 March 2020

UCLDH deputy director Julianne Nyhan and UCLDH team member Tessa Hauswedell organised a workshop on the 26th/27th June 2019 on the topic of Data Science and Digital Cultural Heritage with generous funding from the UCL Grand Challenges Dynamics of Globalisation Initiative, the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies (CCHS) and UCLDH.  The workshop was entitled: “Data Science and Digital Cultural Heritage Workshop:  facilitating new connections between the disciplines and professions that can transform the Global Data Context”. It sought to facilitate new connections between academic disciplines and professions in order to develop a critical dialogue about the social and political implications of using the massive digital cultural heritage datasets that we increasingly rely on.

Nanna Bonde Thylstrup from the Copenhagen Business School opened the workshop with her public keynote address, entitled “Feminist Digital Humanities and the Infrapolitics of Mass Digitization”. Dr Thylstrup discussed how digital infrastructures are not neutral, inanimate objects in themselves: rather they operate as sites of power, privilege, and erasure but potentially also of contestation and critical intervention.

Dr Nanna Bonde Thylstrup is pictured delivering her lecture

Dr Nanna Bonde Thylstrup, author of The Politics of Mass Digitization (MIT 2019) delivers her keynote lecture.

The ensuing workshop assembled a group of curators, archivists, information professionals from the public and private sector, together with humanities and computer science researchers, to push forward the state of the art of ‘critical data science’ in a way that foregrounds questions of culture, power and knowledge. It also sought to lay the foundations for an ongoing dialogue about this across the respective disciplines and professions.  In the first of three panels, the workshop discussed recent or ongoing projects which are working with digital cultural heritage datasets such as the Scottish National Heritage Partnership, Living with Machines  and the Ancient Identities project, to establish how they approach issues of bias and prejudice in the datasets they are working with and how they actively seek to mitigate these biases.

The second panel was dedicated to the question of data science and cultural heritage training: to what extent do critical perspectives feature in training and which skillsets does the next generation of archivists, humanists and curators and information professionals need to have in order to build, curate and maintain the future datasets?   How do archivists and digital content providers need to rethink their archival practices in the digital age and what kind of formal training should be available to humanities researchers who want to work with big data repositories?

Dr Eirini Goudarouli, Head of Digital Research Programmes, The National Archives, delivers her intervention.

The final panel addressed the most pressing challenges in the field of data science and cultural heritage and debated what type of research development is needed in the medium to long term. Panellists addressed the lack of critical perspectives in developing fields such as AI, the lack of control over data and the lack of an ethical framework of how we store and keep data as persistent and ongoing challenges. Moreover, the privileging of infrastructure innovation and disruption creates a field in which questions of infrastructure maintenance, which are absolutely essential to the accessibility and retrievability of data, remains undervalued. The constant threat of technological obsolescence, therefore, will continue to create problems, which the field of critical data science is only slowly beginning to grapple with.

This workshop has aimed to mark the beginning of a multidisciplinary and trans-professional dialogue on the future of data science and digital cultural heritage. The aim was to identify the unique expertise that each profession can bring to the building of a ‘critical data science’ and UCLDH will continue to contribute to the development of this field through its research activities and future networking events.

Further to this, both Julianne Nyhan and Andreas Vlachidis, among other UCLDH colleagues, participate in the Turing Institute’s Humanities and Data Science group. Nyhan and Vlachidis and are contributing to a multi-autored report on the future of the Humanities and Data Science that will be out soon. An update about this will follow in due course.

Logo Institute of Archaeology; Institute of Advanced StudiesLogo UCL Grand Challenges

 

Digital Humanities and Education at Guangdong

Simon Mahony4 January 2020

It was my very great pleasure to be invited to speak at a conference at the School of Information Management at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou.

Mandatory conference group photo at the School of Information Management, Sun Yat-sen

Mandatory conference group photo at the School of Information Management, Sun Yat-sen

Being in Guangdong it was an opportunity to escape from the cold of London to the warm sunshine and visit a part of China that is new to me, other than for a very brief visit to Shenzhen. The event, Digital Humanities Research and Teaching in the Information Discipline, brought together scholars and practitioners from across China as well as South Korea to enjoy rich discussion, exchange of ideas, conversation and the generous hospitality of this institution, which is also, like DIS, an iSchool. My talk was on pushing the boundaries of digital humanities research beyond the traditional limits of textual scholarship.

Conference discussion at Sun Yat-sen

Conference discussion at Sun Yat-sen

It was also the occasion of the inauguration of their new and very impressive VR + Culture Lab with demonstrations for the guests.

Inauguration of the VR + Culture Lab at Sun Yat-sen

Inauguration of the VR + Culture Lab at Sun Yat-sen

A visit to Guangzhou would not be complete without a trip to the top of the Canton Tower (604 meters high and know by the locals as ‘Slim Waist’ because of its shape) and a ride in the Bubble Tram.

The close proximity also allowed a visit to the Beijing Normal Zhuhai campus to hold a series of meetings there to discuss their plans for a Digital Publishing and Digital Humanities Centre. Digital Humanities is thriving in this leading region of economic growth, the Greater Bay Area of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao.

Meeting with the Dean of the Department of Publishing and the President of Beijing Normal Zhuhai campus

Meeting with the Dean of the Department of Publishing and the President of Beijing Normal Zhuhai campus

As always, the hospitality at both universities was great and if you get the opportunity to visit, (subject to other commitments) always say yes.

Digital Publishing Conference at Wuhan

Simon Mahony24 November 2019

In November, I was back at the University of Wuhan as an invited guest speaker for the 6th International Conference on Publishing Industry and Publishing Education in the Digital Age (spot me in the group photo). I was presenting in the strand for Open Access Publishing which gave me the opportunity to speak to Open Publishing and the Open Science Agenda, showcasing the EU Digital Agenda, UCL Press and particularly the new UCL Megajournal. ORCID is an important part of the latter initiative to allow disambiguation and ensure correct attribution; this is starting to see some uptake in China although still limited. One of the other presenters particularly focused on the specific need for ORCID to identify individual Chinese scholars who may share very similar, if not identical names.

Image of Simon T Wuhan Conference on Publishing in the Digital Age

Wuhan Conference on Publishing in the Digital Age

The School of Information Management at Wuhan is the top-ranking iSchool in China and, just as our iSchool – the Department of Information Studies, it is celebrating its centenary in 2020.

Wuhan University centenary in 2020

iSchool centenary in 2020

The University of Wuhan is generally acknowledged as being the most beautiful campus in China. It is a tourist attraction in the Summer with its extensive displays of blossoms. Autumn is another good time to visit with the changing colours of the leaves on the trees. The campus is on a sprawling hill, full of a wide variety of trees (each part of the campus is named after the trees there) and with a castle (now library and accommodation) at the very top.

 

University Wuhan Castle

University Wuhan Castle

Sino-French Forum, Cultural Heritage and Digital Humanities

Simon Mahony17 November 2019

Just for a change, in October I was invited to speak at an event in Paris. This was organised by the University of Wuhan (as part of their International Sino-French Week) and I’École Nationale des Chartes and hosted at I’Université Paris Diderot: 4e Session de la Semaine Académique à l’étranger de l’Université de Wuhan .

I’École Nationale des Chartes

I’École Nationale des Chartes

There were several events on different days and in different locations. Ours was ‘Cultural Heritage and Digital Humanities: A comparative approach through research projects’. This was a truly international event with speakers there from Wuhan University,  I’École Nationale des Chartes, other Chinese and Paris institutions, the British Library and UCL. The theme allowed me to showcase some of the high-profile and innovative cultural heritage imaging conducted by UCLDH both in our digitisation suite and beyond: ‘Non-invasive and Non-destructive Computational Imaging of Cultural Heritage’.

Conference group photo

Mandatory conference group photo

The session was spread over two days, featuring imaging applied to bamboo slips, Dunhuang Mural Images, Watermarks in Medieval and Modern Western paper, digital recordkeeping, astronomic documents and much more. It was particularly pleasing to see the work of some of the French PhD students showcased; mapping, geolocation, cinema and historic Paris featured highly.

Greeted by the Dean of School of Information Management, Wuhan University

Greeted by the Dean of the School of Information Management, Wuhan University

Book publishing and the Beijing Book Fair

Simon Mahony11 September 2019

Another trip to Beijing and another experience. This time the invitation was from Beijing Normal University (BNU) to be guest speak at their international academic symposium: “The Belt and Road” Academic Publishing symposium: Bridging East and West. This was organised jointly by the School of Journalism and Communication of BNU and the Oxford International Centre for Publishing at Oxford Brooks University.

Beijing Normal University

Beijing Normal University

One thing that I found particularly interesting was from the Chinese scholars and their emphasis on the importance of the study of Chinese ‘classics’ and particularly of old rare manuscripts (a view that I share when it comes to our own culture). This was in the context of the origins of the print industry with firstly the invention of Publishing Material ‘paper’ followed by Publishing Technology ‘printing’ and, of course, its export to the rest of the world pushing forward the ‘world civilisation’ through what they termed as the ‘Chinese Book Road’ as part of the wider ‘Belt and Road’ strategy.

School of Journalism and Communication of BNU

The School of Journalism and Communication of BNU

There were other talks about the state and future of international cooperation in academic publishing. The symposium acknowledged the language barrier in academic publishing and the symposium was also the launch event of two edited volumes of academic publishing articles translated from English to Chinese – they sit in my office alongside many other publications that I, for want of language skills, am not able to read.

My talk featured UCL Press and the Open Agenda covering, albeit briefly, Access, Publishing, Education and Data.

Simon's talk at Beijing Normal University

Simon’s talk at Beijing Normal University Publishing Symposium

As always, I was very well looked after by my hosts with an extremely able student on the Master’s Publishing programme at BNU, making sure that I did not get lost. I was unfortunately not able to stay to attend the Beijing Book Fair which followed due to work commitments, but I did manage to round off the trip with a visit to the really excellent and highly recommended, China Printing Museum.

The Printing Museum, Beijing

The China Printing Museum, Beijing

DH2019 China style

Simon Mahony24 July 2019

The annual international ADHO Digital Humanities conference 2019 was held in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The week before that I had the very great pleasure to be an invited guest at the 2019 International Symposium on Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage (DH2019) at Dunhuang, China. This was held at the Dunhuang Mogao Caves, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site and home of the Dunhuang Research Institute.

With no direct flights to Dunhuang, I took the opportunity to stop over at Shanghai on the way there and the way back. I would not pass up the opportunity to visit the Shanghai Library and other friends there.

Shanghai Library and Technical Institute

Shanghai Library and Technical Institute

One of these was from the contacts made at a trip to Nanjing earlier this year. When there, I met researchers from the DH group at the Shanghai University and was invited to give a talk there next time I visited Shanghai. This is a good example of how networking supported by UCL Global Engagement creates new partnerships and opens up possibilities for cooperation and collaboration; relationships that can be fostered and built upon.

Poster Shanghai University

Poster Shanghai University

I was very pleased to be given a guided tour of the campus and their new library building, which reminded me a little of moves here UCL where there is much emphasis on creating space for the students.

Shanghai University Campus

Shanghai University Campus

Once at Dunhuang, but before the conference itself, I participated in a two-day workshop on various aspects of Digital Humanities teaching, learning and research.

Me and the poster for the workshop

Me and the poster for the workshop

Interestingly, their concept of a ‘workshop’ was considerably different to ours (good job that I checked first) as there was no expectation that I should set tasks for the participants but rather just to give an extended talk followed by Q&A and discussion. My slides have translations, with thanks to Yaming (Cindy) Fu and also to UCL Global Engagement for supporting this.

Pre-conference workshop

Pre-conference workshop

The main event followed after we were given a VIP tour of the caves; the Mogao Caves (says UNESCO) have the largest and riches collection of Buddhist art in the world. Photography is not permitted inside the caves but for really amazing images see the Digital Dunhuang website.

 

Official conference group photo

Official conference group photo

This was an international event with several speakers from the USA; one from UNESCO another from the British Library, as well as myself, to make up the non-Chinese speakers. It brought many Chinese Digital Humanities researchers and practitioners together at the same event; indeed, almost all the groups that I have been networking with as well as many ones that were new to me. This was a great pleasure for me as I usually have to travel extensively to see so many Chinese friends.

There is a full write up and description from one of the international organisers and Centre for Digital Humanities at the University of Wuhan.

While we were there heavy rain in the mountains triggered floods in the river Daquan which washed out the bridge in the only road to and from the cave complex. Rather than causing us alarm, and despite the apologies of our host, we were treated to an exhilarating 4×4 ride over the mountain and across the desert to the city of Dunhuang and safety.  A memorable trip indeed.

Washed out bridge on the Dunhuang road

Washed out bridge on the Dunhuang road

Returning to Shanghai gave the opportunity to consolidate a new connection made at the conference with the Director and researchers at the Shanghai Museum – one of my favourite museums (it only holds and displays artifacts from China) that I have visited many times but this time accessing via the guest entrance and avoiding the long queues.

Shanghai Museum

Shanghai Museum

As well as making new connections that I shall revisit at future occasions, catching up with former students and Shanghai friends, this truly was a memorable and unforgettable experience – the trip of a lifetime. If you ever get the opportunity to go, make sure you do! Mentioning UCL and UCLDH may get you the VIP treatment.

Digital Humanities China, Spring networking

Simon Mahony21 May 2019

The long Easter break once again enabled the opportunity for travel, supported by the UCL Global Engagement fund, to build on and extend our UCLDH China networks. Flying to Shanghai always means a visit to CAA, Shanghai Institute of Design and to see what is new there.

China Academy of Art, Shanghai Institute of Design

China Academy of Art, Shanghai Institute of Design

My first major speaking event was at the University of Wuhan, missing the flower festival but also the crowds, to deliver talks to undergraduate and postgraduate students at their Digital Humanities centre (the first in mainland China), based in their School of Information Management, a member of the iSchools Consortium. The topics requested were combining research and teaching in our Connected Curriculum and cultural influences on digital design.

Connecting the Curriculum

Connecting the Curriculum lecture at Wuhan

Traveling back to Shanghai enabled a visit to the outstanding DH research team at the Shanghai Library, which is both a public and research library. They are part of the Institute of Scientific & Technical Information of Shanghai and so combine the functions and expertise of the library, special collections, and research institute. They have a broad range of research interests and are always open to new possibilities and opportunities to hear about our UCLDH research projects.

Shanghai Library

Shanghai Library

Networking is about building on established relationships, but it is also about making new ones. One such new contact at this trip was made when I was invited to visit and speak at the University of Zhejiang, Hangzhou (which happens to be in my favourite Chinese city). They have a small but active DH group based in the School of Humanities and are attempting to develop a DH pathway for doctoral students. I was given a tour of their special collections, introduced to examples of Chinese book binding, and their tranquil rooftop Research Centre for Buddhist and Daoist Culture. As this was my first visit, I gave an overview of DH research and teaching and how that fits into a wider and more global context.

Simon delivering a lecture

DH research and teaching lecture at Zhejiang University

Being at Hangzhou, I took the opportunity for a short train journey (not so short in UK terms but certainly quick on the high-speed rail) and a first visit to the University of Nottingham Ningbo China. We have had many students from UNNC on the MA/MSc DH programme; the meeting and lecture was arranged up by an alumna returning there after graduation to work at her UG and hometown institution. The campus is relatively small, very compact and very green with buildings mirroring their UK namesake. A research paper delivered this time on all things open: Open Access, Open Publishing, and Open Data. In our area of interest, they have a well-resourced and equipped Technology Centre with a Mixed Reality (Visualisation and AI) Lab with impressive tech projects in development.

 

Nottingham Ningbo campus

Nottingham Ningbo campus

Final stop for this trip was the University of Nanjing to take part in their seminar ‘Rethinking Digital Humanities Through Comparative Insights’, with a range of speakers from several institutions in China, the USA and me from the UK.

Nanjing University Poster

Nanjing University Poster

Networking, building connections and creating partnerships are important aspects of our work. Digital Humanities is a fast-growing and vibrant field in mainland China and I am very pleased to have been supported by the UCL Global Engagement fund which has allowed me to build up these networks. Chinese institutions are always very welcoming, great hosts and often have funds to support visitors. What is difficult for them is paying money outside the country for things like air flights. The GEO funding I have received has covered my air fare but also importantly has allowed me to employ Chinese graduate students to add translations to my presentation slides (you can see examples above) and lecture materials to develop some of them into bilingual teaching materials that are released as Open Educational Resources (OERs) on the new UCL OER Repository that supports agendas such as the Connected Curriculum and Open Science.

I have more trips coming up over the Summer months and look forward to further developing these networks.

CAFA EAST: Education, Art, Science and Technology

Simon Mahony8 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.

CAFA EAST: Education, Art, Science and Technology

CAFA EAST: 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.

On the stage at CAFA

On the stage at CAFA

CAFA is currently celebrating its 100th anniversary.

CAFA: 100 years

CAFA: 100 years

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.

Collaborative writing workshop

Collaborative writing workshop

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.

Shanghai Library Forum (SILF 2018)

Simon Mahony1 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.

Shanghai Library

Shanghai Library

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.

9th Shanghai International Library Forum (SILF 2018)

9th Shanghai International Library Forum (SILF 2018)

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.

 

Simon presenting at SILF 2018

Simon presenting at SILF 2018

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.

UCL Press 1 Million downloads

UCL Press 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.

Simon with friends from SHL and PKU at Yangpu Library

Simon with friends from SHL and PKU at the Yangpu Library

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.

From Digital Library to Digital Humanities - The Practice of Shanghai Library

From Digital Library to Digital Humanities – The Practice of Shanghai Library (cover)

From Digital Library to Digital Humanities - The Practice of Shanghai Library (inside)

From Digital Library to Digital Humanities – The Practice of Shanghai Library (inside)