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Archive for the 'Events' Category

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

Long View Seminar – Reflecting on our First Year

Adam Crymble27 July 2021

In a year dominated by a global pandemic and both remote working and teaching, we lost many of the traditional ways that we as scholars could stay connected. One of those, the traditional extra-curricular seminar series that was a coming together space for people at different stages of their career, had to go online. And that’s just where we went.

While elements of the seminar culture have not been easy to replicate online, the shift to virtual did present some opportunities, one of which was to work collaboratively across what would otherwise be prohibitively wide distances. In this case, it was a chance for the UCLDH team to work together with colleagues at Stanford’s CESTA (Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis) to co-host the Digital Humanities Long View seminar during the spring of 2021. It was a chance to share scholarly culture, to build new bridges, and to help postgraduate students get involved in networking and professional development opportunities that were increasingly difficult to arrange during a pandemic.

Logo of the Digital Humanities Longview seminar

Logo of the Digital Humanities Longview Seminar, with a world map showing the location of each of the seminar’s speakers and of the two co-host organisations (Stanford CESTA & UCLDH).


The Long View for us was about understanding that research happens in context. About asking questions of how Digital Humanities (DH) got where it is today. Our seminar series explored some of the key socio-historical, political and cultural contexts of DH research as a means of building understandings of how we all ended up here and what that means for the future of the field. It’s been an opportunity for newcomers to understand how the field has developed, and for established practitioners to consider their work as part of a larger movement with competing influences, ambitions, and blindspots.

Having finished our first programme of talks, we’re incredibly pleased with the Long View series. We were grateful to host 11 wonderful speakers from five countries and three different linguistic backgrounds. We had the support of 17 different postgraduate students and early career researchers who acted as respondents to the papers and co-hosted the proceedings. And we had tremendous and engaged audiences from around the world, reaching 650 people across the series.

Some of the talks have been video recorded and remain online on the CESTA website, and we invite you to watch them if you missed them live: https://cestastanford.github.io/schedule.html

And we’re pleased to announce that we plan to continue our collaborative seminar series next year, building upon what we’ve established with our friends at Stanford.

That means we’ll once again be on the lookout for postgraduate students who want to get involved and build both their skills and professional networks. If any UCL postgraduate students or offer holders for 2021-22 would like to represent UCLDH as a postgraduate respondent at next year’s events, please contact Dr Adam Crymble directly for an informal conversation.

Finally, a huge thanks to our speakers, convenors, colleagues, and respondents, who supported this seminar: Ian Milligan (Waterloo), Jessica Marie Johnson (Johns Hopkins), Zephyr Frank, Quinn Dombrowski, Mark Algee-Hewitt (Stanford), Riva Quiroga (Programming Historian), Scott Weingart (Notre Dame), Nickoal Eichmann-Kalwara (Colorado), Amy Earhart (Texas A&M), Valérie Schafer (Luxembourg), Jane Winters (London), Agnieszka Backman, Amanda Wilson Bergado, William Parish, Daniel Bush, Giovanna Ceserani, Laura Stokes, Anna Toledano, Victoria Rahbar, Maciej Kurzynski, Yunxin Li, Lakmali Jayasinghe, Merve Tekgurler, Mae Velloso-Lyons (CESTA); Adam Crymble, Julianne Nyhan, Lucy Stagg, Hannah Smyth, Nenna Orie Chuku, Madeline Tondi, George Cooper, Jin Gao, Malithi Alahappruna, Opher Mansour, Marco Humbel (UCL) and Urszula Pawlicka-Deger (KCL). It has been a wonderful and collegial opportunity and we valued it tremendously.


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

Facilitating digital art for UCL Raw Materials: Plastics, using 3D modelling and photogrammetry

Lucy Stagg9 September 2019

UCLDH Deputy Director, Prof Tim Weyrich, has been providing technological support to facilitate an artist residency programme, part of the UCL Raw Materials: Plastics Knowledge Exchange project led by PI Katherine Curran, funded through UCL Innovation & Enterprise. The project is a collaboration with Bow Arts Trust in east London, the Institute of Making, the Slade School of Fine Art and the UCL Department of Art History.

The artist in residence, Frances Scott, uses digital and analogue film processes to create her artworks. This summer, her work has been part of an exhibition at Bow Arts and an extensive programme of community projects in East London around Raw Materials: Plastics.

Furthermore, Frances’ film PHX [X is for Xylonite] has been selected to be screened at the 57th New York Film Festival on 6th October 2019.

Frances Scott explores the history and usage of plastic in this imaginative essay film. Using three-dimensional animations, distorted vocal recordings, and the words of Roland Barthes, she connects the founding of the first plastics factory in 1866 and the development of cellulose nitrate, a key element in the creation of film stock.

The film includes animated 3D models of objects from UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage’s Historic Plastic Reference Collection, made using photogrammetry and laser scanning techniques, and hand-processed 16mm film footage of data collected from ISH laboratory equipment.

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.

Ethics and Digital History IHR presentation

Lucy Stagg26 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?

Also on the panel were: Sharon Webb (University of Sussex); Kelly Foster (public historian); Kathryn Eccles (Oxford Internet Institute)

You can watch a recording of the panel on Youtube

Museum Hackathon: digging into museum data sets.

Simon Mahony1 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.

Introduction at the Museums Hackathon

Introduction at the Museums Hackathon

The attendance was disappointing low – we must have clashed with other events – but with great expert technical support from Owain Kenway (RITS) and Uli Tiedau (SELCS).

Experts supporting the hackathon participants

Experts supporting the hackathon participants

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.

Hackathon prize winners

Hackathon prize winners

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.

Riding the Mail Rail 2018

Simon Mahony1 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).

Mail Rail at the Postal Museum

Mail Rail at the Postal Museum

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.

Mail Rail sorting office

Mail Rail sorting office

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.

Travelling Post Office

Travelling Post Office

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.

Mail Rail mini-train

Mail Rail mini-train

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.

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)