Now: can you think of some archaeological applications?
See this post in Wired.
It’s called ProFORMA, or Probabilistic Feature-based On-line Rapid Model Acquisition, but it is way cooler than it sounds. The software, written by a team headed by Qui Pan, a student at the Department of Engineering at Cambridge University in England, turns a regular, cheap webcam into a 3D scanner. Normally, scanning in 3D requires purpose-made gear and time. ProFORMA lets you rotate any object in front of the camera and it scans it in real time, building a fully 3D texture mapped model as fast as you can turn an object. Even more impressive is what happens after the scan: The camera continues to track the objsct in space and matches it’s movement instantly with the on-screen model.
I haven’t found a website for this software yet, and I have no idea when/if it is available, but let’s hope it is soon. Should be a boon to those folks who are creating immersive archaeological simulations of real sites & artefacts (Colleen?)
edit: the website address turns up in the last few seconds of the video at 3.16, http://mi.eng.cam.ac.uk/~qp202
So over at Ubernoggin, I see that the Googlemonster is allowing folks to annotate websites. There’s potential here.
I can’t help but be excited about Google Sidewiki. It allows users (with google accounts) to leave comments on any website. So now, rather than signing up for forums and chats to comment or searching through dozens of pages to read customer feedback, you can simply click a button in your browser and see what people are saying.
I could be wrong. I could be overly excited. But I can’t help feeling that this is HUGE. The whole of the web now becomes a social network. Every page can have an unbiases forum tacked on that’s viewable by anyone.
It will be interesting to see how this evolves. What was extremely cool about Nethernet, was how those annotations could be made dynamic (puzzles, explosions, you name it). Google as a game playing platform? Stranger things have happened.
I’ve just gotten my hands on an (e-)inspection version of Nicola Whitton’s Learning with Digital Games: A Practical Guide to Engaging Students in Higher Education.
From the introduction,
Two recent UK studies provide evidence that students may not be as comfortable with technology for learning and new ways of working as is commonly assumed. In a study of student expectations of higher education, IPSOS MORI(2007) found that while the group of potential students who took part in their study had grown up with technology they did not value the use of technology for its own sake, but instead put a high value on face-to-face teaching and traditional teacher-student interaction. A recent study by CIBER (2008) also provides evidence that the assumption that young people who are brought up in the information age are more web-literate than older people is false. Although young people show an apparent ease with computers, they rely heavily on search engines and lack critical and analytic skills. In fact, the study claims, character traits that are often associated with young web users, such as lack of tolerance of delay in search and navigation, are actually true of all age groups of web users.
This followed a section dealing & dismissing with ‘digital natives’, that old saw. I like it already! I would love dearly to give you the page number for that reference, but the e-inspection software does not allow me to copy text, so I typed it all out – then my browser reloaded, and the page was reset to 1.
Would you accept that excuse from a student? Of course not…
Anyway, this looks like a tremendously useful book. Whitton targets her approach explicitly at higher education, from a constructivist point of view. I should’ve ordered a paper copy. You should too!
From the publisher’s blurb:
Written for Higher Education teaching and learning professionals, Learning with Digital Games provides an accessible, straightforward introduction to the field of computer game-based learning. Up to date with current trends and the changing learning needs of today’s students, this text offers friendly guidance, and is unique in its focus on post-school education and its pragmatic view of the use of computer games with adults.
Learning with Digital Games enables readers to quickly grasp practical and technological concepts, using examples that can easily be applied to their own teaching. The book assumes no prior technical knowledge but guides the reader step-by-step through the theoretical, practical and technical considerations of using digital games for learning. Activities throughout guide the reader through the process of designing a game for their own practice, and the book also offers:
A toolkit of guidelines, templates and checklists.
Concrete examples of different types of game-based learning using six case studies.
Examples of games that show active and experiential learning
Practical examples of educational game design and development.
This professional guide upholds the sound reputation of the Open and Flexible Learning series, is grounded in theory and closely links examples from practice. Higher Education academics, e-learning practitioners, developers and training professionals at all technical skill levels and experience will find this text is the perfect resource for explaining “how to” integrate computer games into their teaching practice.
A companion website is available and provides up-to-date technological information, additional resources and further examples.
I have had my own experiences with game-based learning in my classes so I’m looking forward to reading Whitton’s recommendations for design and implementation, to juxtapose with my own experience.
I came across the DiRT page this morning, run by Lisa Spiro. What an awesome resource! If you know of tools that are useful in your own research, suggest them to Lisa and get them listed on this page. From the front:
This wiki collects information about tools and resources that can help scholars (particularly in the humanities and social sciences) conduct research more efficiently or creatively. Whether you need software to help you manage citations, author a multimedia work, or analyze texts, Digital Research Tools will help you find what you’re looking for. We provide a directory of tools organized by research activity, as well as reviews of select tools in which we not only describe the tool’s features, but also explore how it might be employed most effectively by researchers.
I love how it is organized by asking what it is you want to do. While focussed on the humanities and social sciences, there is a distinct lack of Agent Modeling or other simulation tools, which I suppose indicates that simulation hasn’t made great inroads amongst the digital humanities set yet.
Some great dynamic map tools though!
- ArcGIS: ”an integrated collection of GIS software products that provides a standards-based platform for spatial analysis, data management, and mapping” (Commercial, Windows)
- GeoNames: “GeoNames geographical database covers all countries and contains over eight million placenames that are available for download free of charge.” (Free, web-based)
- Google Earth: “Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. You can explore rich geographical content, save your toured places, and share with others.” (Free, with Pro version available; PC/Mac/Linux)
- Google Maps: allows you to view maps and directions, with practical applications for transportation and diverse viewing options to further specify location (Free, web-based)
- Open Street Map: “a free, editable map of the whole world…allows you to view, edit and use geographical data in a collaborative way from anywhere on Earth” (Free, web-based)
- Platial: “the world’s largest social map service…hundreds of thousands of people around the world share and discover all kinds of Places. Anyone can map just about anything including their towns, lives, travels, feeds, files, photos, video and stories in one simple interface…Maps are free and can be embedded on any Web page” (Free, web-based)
- TimeMap: A Java-based client-server/standalone temporal mapping applet for distributed datasets, developed by the Archaeological Computing Laboratory at the University of Sydney (Open Source or support license)
- UUorld: a program that “provides an immersive mapping environment, high-quality data, and critical analysis tools” through the production of four-dimensional, interactive maps (Free, with Pro version available; Windows/Mac/Linux)
- Yahoo! Map Mixer: allows you to create your own basic map, view maps and directions, and search existing maps (Free, web-based)
- ECAI – Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative online directory of cultural datasets with search and user contribution functions based on TimeMap.
- Evan Ratliff, “Google Maps Is Changing the Way We See the World,” Wired (June 26, 2007).
- Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (Google Books), Franco Moretti. Published 2005.
Examples of Usage:
- PoliMap: Will Riley’s students gathered location data about politicians using a Google spreadsheet and mapped it on a Google Map
In a word: Bollocks.
From the blurb:
He was called the King of the Jews, believed to be a Messiah. Just before Passover, the Romans beheaded him and crucified many of his followers outside Jerusalem. But his name was not Jesus … it was Simon, a self-proclaimed Messiah who died four years before Christ was born. Now, new analysis of a three-foot-tall stone tablet from the first century B.C., being hailed by scholars as a “Dead Sea Scroll on stone,” speaks of an early Messiah and his resurrection. Was Simon of Peraea real? Did his life serve as the prototype of a Messiah for Jesus and his followers? And could this tablet shake up the basic premise of Christianity?
We’ll go to Israel to assess this unique and mysterious artifact, including testing by a leading archeological geologist and comprehensive review of the letters, script and content by a Dead Sea Scroll expert. Then, from Jerusalem to Jericho, we’ll investigate key archeological ruins which could help prove Simon was indeed real — all of which just might sway the skeptics.
The entire documentary is based on a stone tablet, which comes to us courtesy of the antiquities market. No provenance, no context. This entire ‘controversy’ rests on a single scholar’s interpretation of a single word – an interpretation in the minority, of those who have studied it.
This whole documentary put me in mind of the worst of archaeology – scholars drooling over an artifact ripped from wherever it might’ve been located (and so questions of authenticity can never be fully resolved). I was at a conference once where one lecture hall was filled with folks giddy over the aesthetics of another bloody pot looted from another bloody tomb. This was much like that. A silly section of this film has the two ‘leads’ wandering over a site, looking for burn layers from a particular year that they tie back to a passage in Josephus. An already excavated and conserved site, by the way: you might as well look for evidence of European castle-building at Disneyland.
Bah. Do yourself a favor. Don’t support the antiquities market by watching this film. Give it a miss. The nuance in the arguments over 1st century messianic fever in the Levant is lost in the sensationalism. Why does every documentary about the holy land promise to overthrow the tenets of one faith or another? That is the more interesting question than the ones posed in this film.
The First Jesus? Expedition Week, National Geographic Channel, airs Friday November 20 9 pm.
There are some for whom tv fishing shows are the height of reality tv. ‘Expedition Great White’ will appeal to these folks. The idea is to tag some Great White Sharks, to find out where they go, what they do, where they breed… all the regular questions.
As a documentary, this was quite entertaining: will the Great White survive the capture and tagging? Will the crew? Apparently there is some eye-candy amongst the crew, in the form of some random actor fellow: will he get eaten? Hope springs eternal.
From the official release info -
A hundred sixty miles off the coast of Baja California, science and sport fishing join forces for an unprecedented research effort. A team of world-class anglers will land one of the most challenging fish imaginable: the great white shark. Unlike any other catch ever attempted, they’ll lift an SUV-sized shark out of the water onto a platform, mount a long-lasting tracking tag by hand, take measurements and DNA samples while pumping water into the shark’s mouth to keep it alive, and release it unharmed … all within minutes, like a NASCAR race pit stop.
Marine biologist Dr. Michael Domeier uses advanced tracking devices to help uncover how this predator lives, how it mates and where it roams, with the ultimate goal of conserving and protecting this endangered species. “Ecosystems are changing fast today with the amount of overharvesting. We don’t want to see them wiped off the face of the earth,” Domeier states in the film. But he can’t do it alone. He’ll rely on the fishing expertise of expedition leader Chris Fischer and crew members, including actor Paul Walker (“Fast and Furious”), who jumped in as a deckhand and quickly earned the crew’s respect. With more than 1,000 hours of footage culled into 10 upcoming episodes, NGC gives the ultimate EXPEDITION WEEK sneak peak at this exciting series set to debut in 2010.
Expedition Great White airs Monday November 16 9 PM EST on the National Geographic Channel
A few years ago, I lived in Italy. I received a letter from a gentleman from my community back home, who heard I was in Rome. Cecil Elliott had fought with the Canadian Army in the Italian Campaign (see also CBC archive), and wanted to know if I could find out for him the burial place for two of his friends, who had fought with him. I contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and when I came home that Christmas, I was able to pass the information along.
Cecil didn’t really want to talk about the war; but he did want to talk about Italy, and Italians – he had a love of Italy that shone through. He recounted how once, as his platoon walked into a hill-top town, and Italian man came walking along towards them. Behind him, his black-clad wife, carrying a tub of potatoes on her back. Cecil’s comrades picked the tub up from his wife, and held the man until he picked up the tub, and carried it himself.
We talked for a couple of hours. Cecil told me how after the war, while he was at the creamery at Stark’s Corners one day, the men were all puzzled by what a ‘DP’ was trying to tell them – a displaced person. Cecil recognized the language as Italian, and began speaking with the man, forming a fast friendship that lasted for the next couple of years, until the man moved on.
Cecil was typical of the men around here, loving a practical joke. When they were forming up in England, he and ‘some other Pontiac lads’ used to tell the rest of the men how it took them three days by dogsled and canoe, just to get to the recruiting office!
Cecil passed away a few years ago, but on this Remembrance Day, I remember him.
So I go home for lunch. There’s a package from National Geographic there – they’re doing their ‘Second Annual Expedition Week‘, and they’ve sent me pre-screening versions of the documentaries to review.
My wife says, ‘let’s watch this one as we eat’. Sure!
(We’re eating lasagna. This is important.)
We slip it in, begin to watch. Ok, Rain forest – the Amazon, ok, cool, here comes the title: ‘In Search of the Shrunken Heads of the Amazon’. Footage continues. What’s that in the pot? Oh… a head. yep. Definitely a head being stewed woops – they’re holding it up…
My wife says, ‘would you like some more lasagna?’
From the press info:
Terrifying legends from the Amazon tell of Indian headshrinkers who would shrink an enemy’s head to render the vengeful soul powerless. Now, NGC has exclusive U.S. access to 45-year-old archive footage captured by explorer Edmundo Bielawski, purportedly the only known footage that shows the process of an actual, recently deceased, human head being shrunk. Author and explorer Piers Gibbon heads deep into the Amazon jungle in an attempt to trace Bielawski?s 1960s journey, rediscover the exact location where this scene was filmed and reconnect with the tribe today. After a string of setbacks, Gibbon finally gets a striking clue that leads him on an arduous trek to the village of Tukupi, where he finds one aging warrior, the last of his generation, who could provide answers to the mystery once and for all.
This was a fascinating documentary. What I found most interesting were the things dealt with only tangentially in the film. The point of the film was to try to verify the authenticity of the footage from the ’60s – fair enough, and in its way, compelling. But what was particularly intriguing was the way the practice of head-shrinking continued to play a role in the modern community, most notably as a totem of the peoples’ strength. ‘A shrunken head is a beautiful thing’ remarks one of them. In a darker turn, it seems that some amongst them are still shrinking heads to service a burgeoning market amongst western collectors. I would have liked to have seen more about this, but as the film hints, this is a very dark and dangerous road indeed. Apparently there have been murders and graverobbing to provide the raw …materials… for the trade. A quick search on eBay suggests that these things can in fact be had rather easily (though the link above says that ‘these’ heads are made from animal skins).
Which makes me wonder about some of Nat Geo’s promotional materials –
EXPEDITION WEEK: ‘Search for the Amazon Head Shrinkers’ airs Sunday, November 15 at 9PM ET/PT