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Seeking a new UCLDH Associate Director (ECR), a voluntary role

Lucy Stagg19 May 2022

The UCL Centre for Digital Humanities (UCLDH) was founded in 2010 as a cross-faculty research centre that brings together a vibrant network of people who teach and research digital humanities in a wide range of disciplines, in the heart of London.

UCLDH logo

We are seeking a new Associate Director – Early Career (ECR) from within the UCL community to help shape the strategy and direction of UCLDH in its second decade. We define ‘Early Career’ broadly, and include those currently registered on a PhD programme. We particularly welcome expressions of interest from candidates with the following interests or expertise:

  • Early career researcher support
  • DH skills and training
  • Community building
  • Accessibility in DH
  • Multilingual DH

As an equal member of the UCLDH Management Group, you will participate in meetings and decisions, and setting the agenda for future activity. Meetings usually take place remotely, approximately six times per year. You are welcome to participate fully or co-lead in the range of activities UCLDH offers, as well as to help establish new ones. However, as an unpaid leadership role, you will not be expected to contribute to day-to-day tasks that would better be classed as employment. The successful candidate will receive mentorship from one of the fellow directors.

The Centre hosts a number of initiatives, including the collaborative Digital Humanities Longview seminar and the Susan Hockey lecture, as well as physical infrastructure in the form of a digitisation suite. UCLDH is led by a management group: Steven Gray (CASA – Director), Adam Crymble (Information Studies – Deputy Director), and Ulrich Tiedau (Dutch – Associate Director), and coordinated by Lucy Stagg (Institute of Advanced Studies). UCLDH is committed to a harassment-free space for all members, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, or technical experience. The new member of the Management Group will be expected to champion these values.

This post is linked to the UCL community and candidates should be a student or member of staff at UCL.

How to Apply:

Please send a 1-page cover letter and 1-page CV to lucy.stagg@ucl.ac.uk by Monday 20th June 2022.

Candidates are encouraged to seek the support of their supervisors if relevant, but UCLDH does not need evidence of that support.

Informal Queries:

Informal queries can be made to Dr. Adam Crymble, Deputy Director UCLDH at a.crymble@ucl.ac.uk

UCLDH co-authored article nominated for Digital Humanities award

Lucy Stagg14 March 2022

An article co-authored by UCLDH team member, Prof Julianne Nyhan and co-author, Dr Alexandra Ortolja-Baird, has been nominated for a Digital Humanities award.

As explained on the Digital Humanities Awards website:

Digital Humanities Awards are a set of annual awards where the public is able to nominate resources for the recognition of talent and expertise in the digital humanities community. The resources are nominated and voted for entirely by the public. The weeding out by the nominations committee is solely based on the criteria of “Is it DH?”,  “Can voters see it?”, “Is it in the right category?”, and “Was it launched/published/majorly updated in that year?”. These awards are intended as an awareness raising activity, to help put interesting DH resources in the spotlight and engage DH users (and general public) in the work of the community. Awards are not specific to geography, language, conference, organization or field of humanities that they benefit. Any suitable resource in any language or writing system may be nominated in any category. DH Awards actively encourages representation from more minority languages, cultures, and areas of DH. All nominated resources are worth investigating to see the range of DH work out there.

There is no financial prize associated with these community awards. The nominations procedure is overseen by an international nominations committee who will decide on final candidates for each category based on whether they meet the above criteria.

The nominated article is available via open access: Encoding the haunting of an object catalogue: on the potential of digital technologies to perpetuate or subvert the silence and bias of the early-modern archive Alexandra Ortolja-Baird, Julianne Nyhan, Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, fqab065, https://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqab065 (October 2021)

The abstract for the paper summarises:

The subjectivities that shape data collection and management have received extensive criticism, especially with regards to the digitization projects and digital archives of galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM institutions). The role of digital methods for recovering data absences is increasingly receiving attention too. Conceptualizing the absence of non-hegemonic individuals from the catalogues of Sir Hans Sloane as an instance of textual haunting, this article will ask: to what extent do data-driven approaches further entrench archival absences and silences? Can digital approaches be used to highlight or recover absent data? This article will give a decisive overview of relevant literature and projects so as to examine how digital tools are being realigned to recover, or more modestly acknowledge, the vast, undocumented network of individuals who have been omitted from canonical histories. Drawing on the example of Sloane, this article will reiterate the importance of a more rigorous ethics of digital practice, and propose recommendations for the management and representation of historical data, so cultural heritage institutions and digital humanists may better inform users of the absences and subjectivities that shape digital datasets and archives. This article is built on a comprehensive survey of digital humanities’ current algorithmic approaches to absence and bias. It also presents reflections on how we, the authors, grappled with unforeseen questions of absence and bias during a Leverhulme-funded collaboration between the British Museum and University College London (UCL), entitled ‘Enlightenment Architectures: Sir Hans Sloane’s Catalogues of his collections’.

Decoding Digital Humanities London reading group

Lucy Stagg25 February 2022

We’re delighted to help relaunch the Decoding Digital Humanities London reading groupDecoding Digital Humanities London (DDHL) is a bi-weekly reading group for anyone interested in research at the intersection of computational technologies and the humanities.

These gatherings will provide an opportunity to discuss readings, raise awareness of topics at the forefront of research, and spark new questions. DDHL aims to be place for connection for the digital humanities post-graduate community, but welcomes participation from anyone who is interested.

The series was originally set up by staff and students at UCLDH as a series of informal monthly meetings to get together and discuss matters of interest to our discipline. It has now expanded to be a London wide event and is currently organised by students from UCL, Michael Donnay and Anna Mladentseva.

2022 sessions

As part of an effort to make sessions more accessible, 3 sessions will meet virtually (via Zoom), while the other 3 will be in-person at UCL’s Bloomsbury Campus in London. Snacks will be provided for the in-person sessions. All sessions are 6:30-7:30pm London time. Register and get links to the articles for discussion here.

Session Topics

Wednesday, 2.3.22 – ONLINE DDHL reading group ‘Playing in the Metaverse: Video Games and the Humanities’

Wednesday, 16.3.22 – IN-PERSON DDHL reading group ‘Racism in AI: Algorithmic Reasoning in Educational Technologies’

Wednesday, 30.3.22 – ONLINE DDHL reading group ‘Digital Queer Witnessing: Archives, Immersion and 3D Technologies’

Wednesday, 27.4.22 – IN-PERSON DDHL reading group ‘Glitch Feminism: Error as Artmaking’

Wednesday, 11.5.22 – ONLINE DDHL Student Dissertation Presentations

Wednesday, 25.5.22 – IN-PERSON DDHL Staff Presentation – Topic TBD

 

New UCLDH Director and Deputy Director appointed

Lucy Stagg3 December 2021

At the end of this year Prof Julianne Nyhan will be stepping down as UCLDH Director to focus on her new AHRC-funded project, The Sloane Lab: Looking back to build future shared collections. Our Deputy Director, Prof Tim Weyrich also stepped down earlier this year as he became Professor of Digital Reality at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU).

We are very pleased to announce that from January 2021 our new Director will be Steven Gray, Associate Professor at the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA). Steve has been an Associate Director at UCLDH since 2018 and he has over 10 years of professional software development under his belt. In recent years he has specialised on building mobile applications (mainly iOS) and systems that open up the world of data visualisation, mining and analysis to the masses.

We are also delighted to introduce our new Deputy Director, Dr Adam Crymble. Adam is a Lecturer in Digital Humanities in the Department of Information Studies. Adam is a scholar of migration, community, and diversity. He also researches digital humanities and the ways technology changes scholarly practice, and is an editor of the Programming Historian.

We’re excited to see how our new leadership develops and regenerates the centre and the interdisciplinary research we foster and support.

Call for presentations: ‘Art and Digital Technology’ show and tell

Lucy Stagg15 November 2021

UCL Centre for Digital Humanities and the UCL Slade School of Fine Art are coordinating a virtual show&tell on Wednesday 16th February, 5-7pm, via Zoom.

people interacting with digital art in Japan

We invite proposals for short presentations from staff and research students whose work involves art and digital technology/media (we welcome any interpretation of this theme).

If you would like to give a 10 minute presentation on your current research/project please email lucy.stagg@ucl.ac.uk by 26th November, giving a brief title or outline of your talk. Registration for the event will open in December, once the schedule of presenters has been finalised.

Photo by note thanun on Unsplash

UCLDH to participate in £14.5m Towards a National Collection

Lucy Stagg21 September 2021

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded £14.5m to 5 research projects to connect the UK’s cultural artefacts and historical archives in new and transformative ways. The announcement today of the five major projects forming the largest investment of Towards a National Collection, a five-year research programme, reveals the first insights into how thousands of disparate collections could be explored by public audiences and academic researchers in the future. UCLDH is delighted to participate with The Sloane Lab: Looking back to build future shared collections (Principal Investigator: UCLDH Director, Professor Julianne Nyhan, UCL and TU Darmstadt). Project partners and collaborators include: British Museum, Natural History Museum, British Library, Historic Environment Scotland, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, National Museums of Scotland, Community Archives and Heritage Group, Down County Museum, National Galleries of Scotland, Oxford University Herbaria, Collecting the West project funded by the Australian Research Council & metaphacts. The participatory methodology that the underpins the project will additionally allow ongoing research with a wide range of expert and interested communities over the coming years.

Case containing beetles from the Joseph Dandridge and Petiver collections

Collection of beetles, Case containing beetles from the Joseph Dandridge and Petiver collections. Some have Hans Sloane’s catalogue numbers. C0165553 ©The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Focusing on the vast collections of Sir Hans Sloane in public institutions, this project will work with expert and interested communities including museum audiences to link the present with the past to allow the links between Sloane’s collections and catalogues to be re-established across the Natural History Museum, the British Library, and the British Museum (plus others that have relevant material). The main outcome of the project will be a freely available, online digital lab – the Sloane lab – that will offer researchers, curators and the public new opportunities to search, explore, and engage critically with key questions about our digital cultural heritage.

The project’s central questions include: How can we make specialist users and members of the public more aware of the contested nature of museum collections? What is the role of digital tools in facilitating discussions on imperialism, colonialism, slavery, loss and destruction, that have shaped the national collection? And who gets to contribute to, and shape, research on how memory institutions can reach across their institutional boundaries, subject-specialties and even countries so as to better support their audiences, visitors and users? Community Fellows will enhance the research, which will later form part of a traveling exhibition.

Project PI, Professor Julianne Nyhan, says of the project:

This exciting new project will devise automated and augmented means of mending the broken links between the past and present of the UK’s founding collection in the catalogues of the British Museum, Natural History Museum and the British Library. I am especially excited about the participatory design of the project, and the research with diverse publics that this funding will support. Our aim is to intertwine technological and participatory research, community consultation and public engagement, to embed diverse community views into the design, execution and validation of the Sloane Lab, and indeed, the future of the national collection.

Image by Colin McDowall, courtesy of Towards a National Collection

Image by Colin McDowall, courtesy of Towards a National Collection

The Towards a National Collection investigation is the largest of its kind to be undertaken to date, anywhere in the world. It involves 15 universities and 63 heritage collections and institutions of different scales, with more than 120 individual researchers and collaborators.

Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council said:

“This moment marks the start of the most ambitious phase of research and development we have ever undertaken as a country in the space where culture and heritage meet AI technology. Towards a National Collection is leading us to a long-term vision of a new national research infrastructure that will be of benefit to collections, researchers and audiences right across the UK.”

Dr Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum said:

“This unprecedented investment of funding by the AHRC into these five projects will allow us to explore what the digital future for our organisations can and should be. A future where anyone can search across collections cared for in different parts of the UK, to pursue their passion for knowledge and understanding, discover their own pasts and answer their own questions. Towards a National Collection will strengthen Britain’s international leadership in this area. Each project in their own rightly deserves to be celebrated and I cannot wait to see what happens when we bring all this talent and dedication together to build the new future for our shared national collection.”

Rebecca Bailey, Programme Director, Towards a National Collection

“Today, for the first time, we can reveal the direction of travel for one of the UK’s most collaborative research programmes. Collectively, we aim to dissolve the disciplinary silos that exist in universities and public collections. Our driving mission is to open up global access to the UK’s world class collections. By harnessing emerging technologies to the creative interdisciplinary talents of our research teams, eventually everyone will have the ability to access an outstanding trove of stories, imagery and research linking together the limitless ideas and avenues in our national collections. From community archives to overlooked artists; from botanical specimens to the ship-wrecked Mary Rose.”

UCLDH research activity June 2021

Lucy Stagg30 June 2021

The UCLDH team have been busy as ever, despite continuing COVID-19 restrictions. Here’s just a few examples of recent activity:

Adam Crymble has published a monograph, Technology & the Historian: Transformations in the Digital Age (University of Illinois press, 2021) and a co-authored piece with Maria José Afanador-Llach (‘The Globally Unequal Promise of Digital Tools for History: UK and Colombia Case Study’ in Adele Nye (ed.) Teaching History for the Contemporary World (Springer, 2021), 85-98.).

Oliver Duke-Williams has been doing a lot of engagement work around the 2021 Census, including a radio interview with talkRadio. Read his co-authored blog on the The ebb and flow of UK census data

Julianne Nyhan has had various publications including  Named-entity recognition for early modern textual documents: a review of capabilities and challenges with strategies for the future. (Journal of Documentation, 2021. Co-authored with Marco Humbel, Andreas Vlachidis, Kim Sloan and Alexandra Ortolja-Baird)

Patrick White  has been co-leading a workshop series called Working With Code in collaboration with Research IT services, for Slade students making work in different coding environments such as Godot (game engine), Arduino (micro-controllers), Sonic Pi (live music production based on Ruby), and P5 (JavaScript version of Processing environment).

Tim Williams has been working on the Central Asian Archaeological Landscapes project. Their geospatial database, managed in QGIS, currently comprises 52,408 sites. Of these, 17,123 were known sites, gathered through the digitisation of archival material by our partners in Central Asia, while 35,285 have been digitised from a range of satellite imagery. They are exploring approaches to automatic change detection and Google Earth algorithms for automatic site detection. They are also using historic imagery (CORONA, Google Earth, etc.), DEMs, and scanned and geo-rectified Soviet maps, to create historical map layers, to examine landscape change, destruction, damage and potential threats to archaeological heritage. There is currently over 8TB of clean archival data on UCL Research Data storage, comprising 137,173 files scanned in 6,749 folders. Each folder is a document (notebook, passport folder, envelope with films, etc). This data is linked with the public facing Arches platform and UCL Open Data Repository. As a test, they have very recently placed 6 sets of geospatial data on UCL Research Data Repository (17.45GB) and those have already been viewed 2,540 times, with 1,973 items downloaded. From the repository there are also links to other digital material – for example 3D models on Sketchfab.

‘Technology & the Historian: Transformations of the Digital Age’ Workshop & Book Launch

Adam Crymble23 April 2021

Lessons from history, options for today.

Thursday 29 April 2021 – 12pm-1pm (Zoom)

Register for free.

Join Dr. Adam Crymble for a free Programming Historian Teaching Workshop to celebrate the launch of his new book, Technology & the Historian: Transformations of the Digital Age, the first comprehensive history of historical studies in the digital age.

Collectively, we’ve been teaching digital history for decades. But not as consistently as you might imagine. This workshop and book launch, aimed at practicing and future teachers of history at university level, showcases the shifting approaches to digital history pedagogy in the past thirty years.

Building on that knowledge, and drawing on the tutorials of Programming Historian, as well as Crymble’s ten years on the project, he offers practical classroom-ready solutions that bring together history and technology for students today.

Upgrade how you teach historiography for the twenty-first century, by learning what came before and what can come next.

All attendees eligible for 30% discount on the book.

Register for free: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/teach-digital-history-well-tickets-141954926005?keep_tld=1

logo of Programming Historian

Logo of University of Illinois Press

MA / MSc Digital Humanities Applications Open for 2021-22

Adam Crymble3 February 2021

Image of UCL Campus

Caption: Photograph of UCL Campus in London.

UCL’s Department of Information Studies is currently accepting applications for the 2021-22 cohort of its MA in Digital Humanities and MSc in Digital Humanities programmes. Programme lead, Dr. Julianne Nyhan writes, ‘this exciting, interdisciplinary programme offers students a unique opportunity to explore and analyse the application of digital technologies to the cultural record of humankind and, in doing so, to reflect on how technology is impacting all aspects of how we live now, and in the future.’

Both programmes are taught by a range of staff, including members of the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities. Potential applicants are invited to contact the Admissions tutor with any questions. For 2021-22 applicants, this is Dr Adam Crymble (a.crymble@ucl.ac.uk).

Semantic Web for Cultural Heritage special issue now published

Lucy Stagg1 February 2021

UCLDH member, Antonis Bikakis, has co-edited (along with four other colleagues from France, Italy and Finland) the Semantic Web for Cultural Heritage special issue, which is now published and freely available to read in Semantic Web- Interoperability, Usability, Applicability, volume 12(2), 2021.

The papers cover a wide spectrum of modelled topics related to language, reading and writing, narratives, historical events and cultural artefacts, while describing reusable methodologies and tools for cultural data management.