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Archive for the 'Digital Humanities' Category

Sloane Lab and HDSM Darmstadt Seminar Series 2024: Critical and creative engagement with historical data

By Lucy Stagg, on 26 March 2024

We are delighted to announce the second edition of the Sloane Lab symposium series commencing on the 16th of April 2024, facilitated in collaboration with the Humanities Data Science & Methodology (HDSM) Oberseminar of TU Darmstadt, the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities (UCLDH) and the UCL Institute for Advanced Studies (UCL IAS). This seminar invites international speakers whose work is situated at the intersections of collections as data, cataloguing histories and critical archival studies, heritage infrastructures, critical digital heritage, and information science.

Sloane Lab 2024 Seminar Series

The seminar papers explore and foreground:

  • Computational approaches as means for historical inquiry, critique and creative takes on data driven research paradigms.
  • The potential of digital tools and data aggregations to shed light on the geographic spread, collectors, and knowledge in historical cultural heritage collections.
  • Reflections on the contested nature of museum and archival collections and the role of collections as data research in foregrounding overlooked or ignored and marginalised issues like imperialism, colonialism, slavery, loss, and destruction, that have shaped collections.
  • The role of digital archives in addressing historical and present-day injustices.
  • Creative approaches for virtual exhibition and collection data platforms design.

Paper presentations take place online between the 16th of April and the 16th of July, on Tuesdays at 15:30 BST/16:30 CET.

Register for the event and view the programme: https://critical-creative.eventbrite.co.uk

The Sloane Lab Seminar Series is convened by Marco Humbel (Sloane Lab & UCLDH), Nadezhda Povroznik (TU Darmstadt), Julianne Nyhan (TU Darmstadt & UCL) and Andrew Flinn (UCL). Administrative support is provided by Lucy Stagg (UCLDH & UCL IAS).

This joint virtual seminar is co-hosted by University College London, TU Darmstadt, the British Museum and the Natural History Museum.

The symposium is funded by the Towards a National Collection programme (Arts and Humanities Research Council) as an activity of the Sloane Lab Discovery Project.

Dickens Letters Hackathon

By Lucy Stagg, on 13 January 2023

6pm on Friday 3 February to 5pm on Sunday 5 February
Birkbeck (University of London)

Interested in digging into datasets? Looking to meet like-minded hackers and software enthusiasts? Have ideas for digital approaches to literary and historical data you’d like to try out? Join us for a two-day event where, working in small teams, you can develop exciting ideas using the letters of Charles Dickens.

Expressions of Interest are invited for IT professionals, programmers, hackers and digital humanists. No significant prior knowledge of Dickens is required: an introduction to the context of the letters will be provided. You will work in teams of fellow hackers with a TEI-encoded dataset of Dickens’s letters over a weekend, with the aim of producing an idea for an innovative piece of software, an app or a game based on the letters of one of the most famous writers in English.

The event will include a free tour of the Charles Dickens Museum, and a chance to work intensively with other like-minded hackers over the course of a weekend. The event is free of charge, and refreshments will be provided. Prizes will be awarded for the best app or game, together with an opportunity to take your idea forward. The Charles Dickens Museum will be open to participants to visit at their leisure on the afternoon of Friday 3 February, before the start of the hackathon. If you have any questions, please contact editor@dickensletters.com.

You can register your interest here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeSI7EiyMLbybpYcSbn-682dNgbI-HQ32lJLea_2yE3zHMGFQ/viewform

Leon Litvack & Emily Bell
Editors, the Charles Dickens Letters Project


Job Alert – Lecturer in Digital Methods in the Humanities

By Adam Crymble, on 25 October 2022

UCL’s Department of Information Studies is seeking a Lecturer in Digital Methods in the Humanities for a full time academic post. Deadline for applications is 20 November 2022.

“We are seeking an innovative researcher to appoint to a full-time lectureship beginning in January 2023. We are seeking applicants who answer research questions of relevance to a humanities discipline, by applying or developing digital research methods in an interdisciplinary way. This may include methods such as but not limited to network analysis, stylometry, computer vision, machine learning, data modelling, text-mining, textual analysis, corpus linguistics, sound or video analysis, or emerging interdisciplinary methodological areas. The purpose of the research should be to contribute new interdisciplinary knowledge to a humanities domain.”

The full details are available online.


Looking for DH Jobs in London 2022

By Adam Crymble, on 8 July 2022

My postgraduate digital humanities students are working away diligently on their dissertations, but understandably they’ve also got one eye on what might come next. For most of them, that means a transition into the world of work.

With a great set of interdisciplinary skills, the ability to talk tech, and an aptitude for humanistic ways of thinking, there are a lot of pathways a DH graduate might pursue. But going on the job market, particularly if you’re non-local, can be a bit overwhelming. For UCL’s DH graduates, there is a great UCL Careers team who can help support you with the transition, including how to develop key skills around CVs and interviews. If you are a UCL grad, please make them your first port of call.

I also wanted to reflect on some places I might go looking if I was in your shoes, interested in something that can put your new DH skills to use. So I’ve compiled the following non-exhaustive list of ideas aimed at those graduating with an MA/MSc. I hope it proves useful, and please share it with others on the lookout.

  • Guardian Jobs: A job board that is popular with arts & heritage, charities, education, technology, social enterprise, and media companies. You can also set up free email alerts to hear about jobs within your area of interest.
  • Knowledge Quarter: a group of organisations around UCL that are interested in knowledge and culture, many of whom that work at the intersection of DH and other fields. It’s worth checking out their member organisations and exploring opportunities with them. They include organisations such as the British Museum, Charles Dickens Museum, Google, UCL, and the Wellcome Foundation. It’s a great way to get a list of organisations that might like to employ someone with your skillset.
  • Jobs.ac.uk: A job board aimed at the university sector. This includes both jobs that require a PhD, and those that do not, in a wide range of roles such as student support services, marketing, and library services. There are some international opportunities, but most jobs are UK-based. You can set up free email alerts based on your criteria.
  • Big Tech: don’t be afraid to check out the big tech companies, many of which have London offices. Google, TikTok, and many other big companies have a footprint in the UK, and it’s worth keeping an eye on them and offering your skills to their teams.
  • LinkedIn: having spoken to some of our graduates from the previous cohort, they suggested having a good presence on LinkedIn, which can be a great way to find out about job opportunities and connect with people hunting for graduates.
  • Talk to DH Labs: There are a number of universities working in digital humanities and you never know when they’ll have roles available. Sometimes that’s short-term teaching or research support, and sometimes it’s in a range of other capacities, from project management to more technical work. Don’t feel bad about reaching out to your tutors to ask about things coming up, or to send an email to one of the other DH groups in London.

I’m sure there are other ideas that are worth pursuing, but I hope this helps some DH graduates in their search.

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

By Lucy Stagg, on 19 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

By Lucy Stagg, on 14 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

By Lucy Stagg, on 25 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

By Lucy Stagg, on 3 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

By Lucy Stagg, on 15 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

By Lucy Stagg, on 21 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.”