‘As an historian I find what you are doing horrifying’. This remark, directed at the paper I just gave at the Sheffield Digital Humanities Congress in 2012, is, on the face of it, not particularly encouraging. My paper, entitled ‘Art to Enchant: The Creation of a Digital Archive’ explored in detail my process and methodology in the creation of the Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive (VISA). What particularly angered this member of the audience was my in-depth demonstration of the procedures I use to ‘clean up’ the images that make up the archive and my subsequent assertion that when we digitise an historical artefact it becomes translated – adapted – into a different medium, thus creating an entirely new and original artefact. The audience member took great exception to this because it called into question his deeply held belief that we can know history as an objective fact; that the books, documents, and images we find in libraries and archives are transparent texts, that they reveal to us truths and give us direct access to their own historical eras.
Edited by Marie-Laure Ryan, Lori Emerson, and Benjamin J. Robertson. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
It is appropriate to begin our book review section with The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media for a couple of reasons. First, in light of our recent blog post about digital pedagogy, the book provides an excellent starting point for students and teachers wishing to learn more about what is loosely called ‘New Media’. Second, the very form of the book, an encyclopaedic A-Z of key terms from the field (it begins with ‘Algorithm’ and ends with ‘Writing under Constraint’) is analogous to that of the web itself. Written in fragments and concluding with a further reading section, each entry reminds us that such reference guides are hypertextual by their very nature.
Creative Cardiff Pop-Up Hub: Making a Difference
There is a scene early on in the Richard Attenborough-recreates-Alton-Towers-but-with-dinosaurs documentary, Jurassic Park, where, on learning that the eponymous park contains a T-Rex, the palaeontologist Alan Grant collapses to the ground overcome by excitement. It is a scene re-enacted by myself in the Wales Millennium Centre when I learnt that Rhys Jones, a fellow participant in Creative Cardiff’s Pop-Up Hub had brought into our work environment an Oculus Rift. The Rift (as it is also known – the definitive article implying a kind of break with the past) has, as long-term readers of our Twitter feed, @cardiffdiginet, will be aware, been on our ‘thing’s to have a go on’ list for quite some time now. ‘You’ve got a Rift?’, I spluttered, my mouth full of Rainbow Drops (more of which shortly), ‘Yes’, Rhys said. ‘Come and give it a go’. Oh go on then.
Digital Pedagogies: The Shock of the (K)New
As summer is drawing to a (rainy) end and August is traditionally a quiet month within the University, it is a good moment to use this island of time in the ocean of conferences, meetings, symposiums and events that has characterised the Digital Cultures Network thus far, to update you with our recent activities over the summer. To paraphrase Mungo Jerry’s classic ‘In the Summertime’, have a drink, have a read…
Exploring Patient and Family Experience of Hospitals and Medical Treatment – 18th May, JOMEC, Cardiff Univesity
Jenny Kidd (JOMEC)
Lisa Heledd (Storyworks)
Jenny Kitzinger (JOMEC)
Last week, the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) held a series of public events exploring digital storytelling and the significant impact this mode of expression can have on wider culture and the general public. ‘Exploring Patient and Family Experience of Hospitals and Medical Treatment’, was the most powerful and moving of these sessions and it was also the one that most explicitly demonstrated how digital storytelling can promote and actively encourage change within institutions through suggesting ways that allow professionals working in these institutions to listen to the voices of patients and their families.
University of Bristol, Monday 21st March
On 21st March, the University of Bristol hosted the British Library Labs in a day-long event that explored the British Library’s Digital Collections. Armed only with a free GW4 (GW4 is the alliance between Cardiff, Exeter, Bristol and Bath Universities) notebook and pen, and a dream of creating a sentient life-form that would combine Shakespeare’s way with words with the suave elegance of Cary Grant (an AI fantasy that I like to call Eamon Holmes-bot), I settled down for a day of terrific presentations, insights, and thought-provoking discussion.
On the 15th March, Anthony Mandal and I met with Glen Robson, the Head of Systems at the National Library of Wales, and Owain Roberts, the Acting Head of Research at the National Library of Wales, to learn about the superb digital projects that they are working on over in Aberystwyth. With a focus on projects that have at their core a strong crowd-sourcing element, the following datasets can be defined as being research-led and innovative whilst at the same time allowing for significant public engagement. One of the characteristics of the NLW’s digital work is its user-friendliness and cleanness of design. The work that Glen and Owain are contributing to – both intellectually and practically – has the potential to not only revolutionise how we understand Welsh history but it also has an in-built capacity to engage the general public with how research is conducted (and produced) academically.