10th VAST International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archeology and Cultural Heritage

First call for papers:

10th VAST International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archeology and Cultural Heritage
7th Eurographics Workshop on Graphics and Cultural Heritage

(VAST’09)

September 22-25, 2009, Valletta, Malta

http://www.vast2009.org
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Call for Papers
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-Towards a “digital agenda” for the integration of technologies into Archeology and Cultural Heritage-

Nearly every organization whose mission includes promoting access to cultural information, is well aware of the value of digital applications, and digital technologies are finding their way into cultural organizations. Nevertheless, a clear-cut division still exists between humanities researchers, computer science researchers, information scientists, librarians, and campus technologists, which prevents a complete achievement of the  potential represented by the integration of these disciplines. Each community has distinctive practices, lingo, assumptions, and concerns. Understanding technology needs of the humanities, and more specifically of Archaeology, Libraries and Cultural Heritage, has particular relevance to the future of knowledge and education delivery, as well as, to develop shared technology services to enhance humanities research now and in the future.

The main goal of this VAST is to bring together professionals from all fields to start a true dialogue on CH needs and ICT solutions and achieve a true integration of disciplines. This VAST aims at disseminating the idea of a more systematic integration of digital practices in research and education programs for CH, exploring good practices, guidelines and skills development possibilities to structure long-term initiatives and move towards a “digital agenda” for Archaeology, Libraries and CH.

This is why we are seeking contributions that advance the state of the art in the technologies available to support sustainability of human heritage.

– 2/3/4D Data Capture and Processing in CH
– Augmentation of physical collections with digital presentations
– Data Acquisition Technologies
– Digital Libraries
– Digital capture and annotation of intangible heritage (performance, audio, dance, oral)
– Interactive Environments and Applications for CH
– Long term preservation of digital artefacts
– Metadata, classification schema, ontologies and semantic processing
– Multilingual applications, tools and systems for CH
– Multimedia Data Acquisition, Management and Archiving
– Multi-modal interfaces and rendering for CH
– On-site and remotely sensed data collection
– Professional and Ethical Guidelines
– Serious games in CH
– Standards and Documentation
– Storytelling and Design of Heritage Communications
– Tools for Education and Training in CH
– Usability, Effectiveness and Interface Design for CH Applications
– Visualization

– KEYNOTE SPEAKERS –
Archeology: Dr Zahi Hawass – General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt
Museums: Mme. Christiane Naffah – Director of the Research and Restoration Center for France Museums

– BEST PAPERS AWARD –
The best papers presented at VAST 2009 will be selected for re-submission on a special edition of the upcoming ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage (JOCCH), an online, peer reviewed publication.

– (NEW!) VAST-STARs –
VAST 2009 introduces the “VAST-STate-of-the-Art Reports (VAST-STARs)”, inspired by the EG STARs. These are papers providing useful novel overviews of research in the fields of computer graphics, computer science  and related fields that can benefit the multidisciplinary nature of VAST. They are survey papers in what the community considers important areas that have not been covered before or recently. Their aim is to give a detailed account of the principles, algorithms and open problems of a research area, so that an interested reader can quickly become up to speed in this field.  We warmly encourage all colleagues to submit to the VAST-STARs reports. The VAST-STARs will be published with the full papers and are also eligible for the best paper award. Two VAST-STARs will be selected by peer review and will be published in the EG proceedings together with the full papers.  VAST-STARs authors will present their work with a 60 minute presentation during VAST 2009.

– PAPER SUBMISSIONS –
We are soliciting five types of contributions:

=Full research papers presenting new innovative results. These papers will be published by Eurographics in a high-quality proceedings volume.

=VAST-STARs providing a useful novel overview of research in the fields of computer graphics, computer science  and related fields that can benefit the multidisciplinary nature of VAST.

=Project papers focusing on on-going projects, the description of project organization, use of technology, and lesson learned not innovative technical content. These papers will have an oral presentation and will be included in a “Projects & Short Papers” proceedings volume. Authors will have the option to present a poster during the breaks to provide more information regarding the project.

=Short papers presenting preliminary ideas and works-in-progress. These papers will have an oral presentation and will be published in the “Projects & Short Papers” proceedings volume.

=Tutorials and Workshops: half-day and full-day working sessions that provide an opportunity to educate and share on key topics of interest face-to-face. Tutorial submissions will be published in the “Projects & Short Papers” proceedings volume. Workshops that provide supplemental materials in time for the CD-ROM printing will also be included. All material will be made available on the VAST 2009 website.

All types of submissions will be reviewed and feedback given to the authors. See detailed information on the VAST 2009 website under Submissions.

– COMMITTEES –
Event Committee: Kurt Debattista – University of Warwick, Sandro Spina – University of Malta
Program Committee: Cinzia Perlingieri – University of California at Berkeley, Denis Pitzalis – The Cyprus Institute, STARC
Local Organisational Committee: Sandro Spina – University of Malta, Chris Porter – University of Malta, Keith Bugeja – University of Warwick.
VAST-STARs Committee: Fotis Liarokapis (Coventry University – UK), Michael Ashley – University of California at Berkeley

– ISC –
Achille Felicetti (PIN – University of Florence)
Aderito Marcos (Universidade do Minho – Portugal)
Alan Chalmers (University of Warwick – UK)
Alan Smeaton (Dublin City University – Ireland)
Alberto Proenca (Universidade do Minho – Portugal)
Daniel Pletinckx (Visual Dimension – Belgium)
Daniel Thalmann (Virtual Reality Lab – Switzerland)
David Arnold (University of Brighton – UK)
Erik Champion (Massey University – New Zealand)
Eva Zányi (University of Warwick – UK)
Fotis Liarokapis (Coventry University – UK)
Graeme Earle (University of Southampton)
Holly Rushmeier (Yale University – USA)
Kriste Sibul (ICOM-CC – Estonia)
Jean Angelo Beraldin (National Research Council – Canada)
Juan Barcelo (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona – Spain)
Michael Ashley (University of California at Berkeley)
Milena Dobreva  (Institute of Mathematics and Informatics – Bulgaria)
Karina Rodriguez-Echavarria (University of Brighton – UK)
Luis Paulo Santos (Universidade do Minho – Portugal)
Mercedes Farjas (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid – Spain)
Nadia Thalmann (MIRALAB – Switzerland)
Paolo Cignoni (ISTI – CNR -Italy)
Robert Sablatnig (Vienna University of Technology – Austria)
Roberto Scopigno (ISTI-CNR – Italy)
Sofia Pescarin (CNR – Italy)
Stephen Stead (Paveprime Ltd – UK)
Vittore Casarosa (CNR – Italy)
Maria Theodoridou (FORTH – Institute of Computer Science – Greece)
Bianca Falcidieno (CNR – Italy)
Isabelle Bloch (ENST – France)

– IMPORTANT DATES –
Abstract submission (full/project/short/workshops/tutorials/VAST-STARs): 12th May 2009 (23:59 PTZ)
Paper submission for full papers and short papers: 15th May 2009 (23:59 PTZ)
Author notification: 21st June 2009
Camera-ready: 28th June 2009

– CONTACTS –
Conference Web Site: http://www.vast2009.org/
Event Chairs: Kurt Debattista, Sandro Spina – org_committee<at>vast2009.org
Program Chairs: Cinzia Perlingieri, Denis Pitzalis – prog_committee<at>vast2009.org
General Info/Organisation/Logistics: Sandro Spina – info<at>vast2009.org

Horizon 2009 Report

If you’re not familiar with the Horizon Reports from NMC, then you should take a moment to page through it. The Horizon Reports

describe the continuing work of the New Media Consortium (NMC)’s Horizon Project, a long-running qualitative research project that seeks to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, research, or creative expression within learning-focused organizations.

The report includes numerous links and examples of emerging projects that really push the boundaries.  Two items that caught my eye – my thinking being these would be immediately applicable to archaeology – were the sections on ‘mobiles’ and ‘geo-coded everything’. Some examples already in the pipeline:

Mobile MaaP
http://maap.columbia.edu/m/index.html
Columbia University’s Mapping the African American Past (MAAP) website now includes a mobile version designed to be viewed using the iPhone or iPod Touch. The tool includes text and audio information about historically significant locations in New York City and is designed as a tool for mobile learning.

One could imagine using this kind of application to pre-load all sorts of archaeological landscape information, historic sites, and so on – an augmented reality.

TinyEye Music, Snap-Tell

TinEye Music (http:// http://www.ideeinc.com/products/tineyemobile/) and Snap-Tell (http://snaptell.com/) use the camera to record a photograph of a CD, video, or book, then identify the artist or author and display that along with reviews of the piece and information on where to buy it

When I was in the business of identifying Roman brick stamp types, I had a reverse-lookup dictionary on my lap and an equipoise lamp, trying to read the letters, trying to figure out what the **** I was looking at. These two apps could serve as models for us, to tie our catalogues of stamps, forms, fabrics and so on, to our phones. Snap! ‘Vernice Nera ware’… Snap! ‘CIL XV.1 861a’

On the Geocoding front:

Collage (http://tapulous.com/collage/), a photo application for the iPhone, lets the viewer upload geotagged photos, browse photos taken nearby, and see photos as they are taken all over the world. Mobile Fotos (http://xk72.com/mobilefotos/) is another iPhone application that automatically geotags photos taken on the device before uploading them to Flickr.

Obvious usefulness when you have the right device! But if you don’t:

The Photo Finder by ATP Electronics and the Nikon GP-1 are examples; they capture GPS data and synchronize it to a camera’s data card to geotag the photos automatically. Another approach is to use a specialized device like the GPS Trackstick (http://www.gpstrackstick.com) that can be carried in a pocket or glove box. It records the path it travels, and the data can be uploaded to create custom maps of walking or driving routes, hiking trails, or points of interest. Geotagging of media of all kinds is increasingly easy to do (or is automatic), and as a result, the amount and variety of geotagged information available online is growing by the day.

And something I’d never heard of, but looks promising:

Virtual geocaching — the practice of placing media (images, video, audio, text, or any kind of digital files) in an online “drop box” and tagging it with a specific geographic location — is emerging as a way to “annotate” real-world places for travelers or tourists; enhance scavenger hunts, alternate reality games, and other forms of urban outdoor recreation; and augment social events such as concerts and other performances. Drop.io Location (http://drop.io/dropiolocation) is one such service. Mobile users can detect the location of nearby drops and retrieve any files they have permission to access.

Some other items:

Geocoding with Google Spreadsheets (and Gadgets)
http://otherfancystuff.blogspot.com/2008/11/geocoding-with-google-spreadsheets-and.html
(Pamela Fox, …And Other Fancy Stuff, 27 November 2008.) This blog post includes step- by-step instructions for embedding a gadget, created by the author, that plots addresses from a Google spreadsheet on a map, providing latitude and longitude data that can be used in other mashups.

The Mapas Project
http://whp.uoregon.edu/mapas/AGN/Guelaxe/fullview.shtml
The fledgling Mapas Project at the University of Oregon is dedicated to the study of Colonial Mexican pictorial manuscripts. Geolocation is being used to link real-world locations to those represented on the maps.

This next one I’ve written about before, but it’s worth keeping your eye on as it develops:

Mediascape
http://www.mscapers.com/
Mediascape is a tool for creating interactive stories that unfold as the viewer moves through physical space and time. By tapping into the GPS on a viewer’s mobile device and incorporating multimedia as well as interactive controls, every mediascape offers a unique experience for each viewer.

I find it very interesting that so many of these emerging approaches focus on merging historical data with geographical data. Public History and Public Archaeology: the next big things!

Next Exit History
http://nextexithistory.org/
Next Exit History is a project by the University of West Florida and the University of South Florida designed to provide geotagged information (podcasts and other media) to assist tourists in finding and learning about historical sites in Florida that are near major interstate highways but often overlooked by visitors.

How Your Location-Aware iPhone will Change Your Life
http://lifehacker.com/395171/how-your-location+aware-iphone-will-change-your-life
(Adam Pash, Lifehacker, 5 June 2008.) The iPhone’s location-aware features enhance a host of applications from social networking tools to geotagging photos taken by the phone to nearby restaurant recommendations.

Delicious: Geo-Everything
http://delicious.com/tag/hz09+geolocation
(Tagged by Horizon Advisory Board and friends, 2008.) Follow this link to find resources tagged for this topic and this edition of the Horizon Report, including the ones listed here. To add to this list, simply tag resources with “hz09” and “geolocation” when you save them to Delicious.

And to close, I’ll admit a degree of ignorance about the semantic side of weblife, but that section should also be of interest –

Tools for making connections between concepts or people are also entering the market. Calais (http://www.opencalais.com) is a toolkit of applications to make it easier to integrate semantic functionality in blogs, websites, and other web content; for instance, Calais’ Tagaroo is a plugin for WordPress that suggests tags and Flickr images related to a post as the author composes it. Zemanta (http://www.zemanta.com) is a similar tool, also for bloggers. SemanticProxy, another Calais tool, automatically generates semantic metadata tags for a given website that are readable by semantic-aware applications, without the content creator’s needing to do it by hand. Calais includes an open API, so developers can create custom semantic-aware applications.

WorldMapper

WorldMapper (http://www.worldmapper.org/) produces maps that change visually based on the data they represent; a world map showing total population enlarges more populous countries (China, India) and shrinks those that have a smaller fraction of the world’s population.

Cultural Heritage

The Fundación Marcelino Botín in Santander, Spain is seeking to create a research portal to cultural heritage information about the Cantabria region, using semantic-aware applications to draw connections and combine data from a wide variety of sources, including bibliographies, prehistoric excavations, industrial heritage, and others.

SemantiFind
http://www.semantifind.com
SemantiFind is a web browser plug in that works with Google’s search bar. When a user types a word into the search bar, a drop down menu prompts the user to select the exact sense of the word that is desired, in order to improve the relevance of the results that Google displays. The results are based on user labels on the pages being searched.

Delicious: Semantic-Aware Applications
http://delicious.com/tag/hz09+semanticweb
(Tagged by Horizon Advisory Board and friends, 2008.) Follow this link to find resources tagged for this topic and this edition of the Horizon Report, including the ones listed here. To add to this list, simply tag resources with “hz09” and “semanticweb” when you save them to Delicious.

The entire report is fascinating; hope this snapshot of its contents shoots you off in new directions!

On Comics

My parents rented a cottage once, when I was a kid. True confession time: I was a nerd. So I was really excited when I found some books in a back room. One of them was an Illustrated Classic. Of what, I don’t recall, but it helped whittle away the hours of what I recall as a particularly drizzly summer. I guess those are now called ‘graphic novels‘, snob appeal to raise them over my usual diet of Archies and Jugheads (…look, I took what I could get. It’s not like there’re any bookstores in this county!)

I’ve seen a couple of articles recently on the value of comics for fostering literacy (one of which is here). This stands to reason; don’t we all learn to read by first looking at the pictures, and only later graduate to all-text works? Even at University, many (if not all) Latin classes use the Cambridge books, where ‘Quintus hic puer est’ and the drawings make us feel like we really can learn the blasted language…

So comics are good for literacy, be that in English or in Latin. Where else are they turning up in academia?

Colleen has some fantastic comics for archaeological outreach. A few years ago, I remember reading about a fellow who made archaeological comics the focus of his dissertation (I would love to get my hands on a copy, if this rings any bells with anyone). And this morning I came across some comics regarding Roman History, which is what prompted this post in the first place. I’d appreciate links to any other examples, and feedback on their effectiveness.

hannibal

Why computer games matter for history education

For an illustration of the power of a computer game to teach – or reveal deficiencies in – historical knowledge, check out a recent posting over at the Escapist Magazine, concerning Sid Meier’s Colonization.

The recently announced Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Colonization has raised some eyebrows at Variety’s Cut Scene blog, where writer Ben Fritz calls the game mind-boggling and “morally disturbing.”

“Goddammit, am I the only one who thinks it’s morally disturbing to make a game that celebrates COLONIZATION?” Fritz said in the article. Describing information he was given about the original Sid Meier’s Colonization, released in 1994, Fritz says at first he took it for a joke. “But sure enough, it was real,” he said. “However, I dismissed it as a relic from a time when neither developers nor players took videogames seriously as media with moral implications.”

“But the idea that 2K and Firaxis and Sid Meier himself would make and release a game in the year 2008 that is not only about colonization, but celebrates it by having the player control the people doing the colonizing is truly mind boggling,” he continued.

Fritz compared the situation to the uproar surrounding a Resident Evil 5 promotional trailer which showed African zombies being cut down by the game’s white protagonist. Quoting Newsweek journalist N’Gai Croal, who said the imagery in the trailer was “messed up,” Fritz said a game about colonization is 100 times more messed up. “Throughout history, colonization regularly involved stealing, killing, abuse, deceit, and the exploitation or decimation of native people,” he added. “Anybody with a shred of moral conscience who studies the history will be appalled. Whether it was British rule in India or slavery in Africa or Aboriginal children kidnapped and taken to Christian schools in Australia or the dislocation of Native Americans in the U.S., there were no positive colonization experiences.”

By this reckoning, one would not be allowed to make a movie or write a book about the colonial period, either. Moreover, this fellow seemingly hasn’t played the game, or he’d know that the mechanics of the game – its procedural rhetorics – penalize for destroying native settlements: so clearly, racism isn’t being celebrated.

Moreover, he assumes that players play blindly, lapping up whatever is fed to them. But as the discussion on the Escapist forum demonstrates, it is possible to play the game precisely to challenge the assumptions of the game.

This is why computer games matter for history education. By embodying their rhetorics, their arguments, about the past in code, it becomes possible for players to see the practical outcomes of those arguments through play. Being a critical thinker consists of two parts: understanding the arguments made to you, and responding appropriately. Playing a game is not a one-way flow of information: the player’s actions matter. Players are not empty vessels, nor are they stupid: playing a game focuses the attention on the rules of play, and players respond to those rules and challenge them through metagaming, mod making, community forums, story writing, and so on.

If your average everyday undergraduate responded to a set text the way the player communities respond to a witless post like the one from Cut Scene, we as educators would be in heaven…

PMOGing Internet Research Skills…

PMOG: the Passively Multiplayer Online Game. This is a game you play while browsing the internet, going about your daily internet related tasks… think webquest with mines, treasure chests, and quests.

You play the game by adding an extension to your Firefox browser. This browser lets you ‘sense’ the game world, the activities overlaid on the plain old mundane net. Then, in the words of the game’s creators:

“This unconventional massively multiplayer online game merges your web life with an alternate, hidden reality. The mundane takes on a layer of fantastic achievement. Player behavior generates characters and alliances, triggers interactions in the environment and earns the player points to spend online beefing up their inventory. Suddenly the Internet is not a series of untouchable exhibits, but rather a hackable, rewarding environment!”

What does this entail? Again, from the PMOG site:

Prank Your Friends Across the Web<
Using Mines that steal Datapoints
Mine exploded!
Leave Gifts on Web Sites
Using Crates to hold Tools or currency
Open a Crate
Make or Follow Paths Online
Missions!
Take a Mission!
Develop a Rich User Profile
Passively, just by surfing the web.
Visit the Shoppe

So what does this have to do with internet research skills? Well, it occurred to me that I can tell my students over and over again what constitutes a ‘good’ site versus a ‘bad’ site, but if I’m not there watching them, it never sinks in. Given that a lot of my teaching is done via distance, this is a problem.

But what if, as a class, we were all PMOGing? I could imagining setting a question the students would need to research in order to write an answer – maybe leaving their responses on a wiki somewhere – and then sending them out into the net with PMOGed enabled browsers. The game’s stats would instantly record how much work online the students were putting in, and if I set mines on all of the lousy sites I can find – the ones they typically go to, like the wikipedia page on Julius Caesar – and treasure chests on the good ones (like say a page from the British School at Rome, or from an online journal) they’d soon learn the difference. I could also set up quests that would take them to a number of good sites, or sites with opposing points of view, and require them to go to pages supporting or contesting the views… and of course, students could leave their own mines and treasures, and so hindering/helping their peers…

It would be quite neat, actually. Almost like laser tag in the library, capturing-the-flag…

“In the springtime of 51 BC, Ptolemy Auletes died…”

In the course of marking an assignment, I noticed a curious reference: “Interoz 2008”. What was Interoz, I wondered? In the bibliography, this was listed: http://interoz.com/Egypt/cleopatr.htm. It turns out that Interoz is a webdesign company, and these pages on Egypt are likely connected with some work they did on a tourism site.

A website design company is not the kind of source that students in a university-level Roman history class should be using. Time and again, I ask my students to ask themselves: “Who wrote this article? How can you know whether or not to trust it?” Needless to say, the author of the article is not listed on the site (though the person who put the page together is). The essay on Interoz goes on to describe Cleopatra’s life and times: standard info available in any textbook. I’ve encouraged my students not to be referencing the textbook, but to get out there and read widely; if they use the internet, I almost beg them to use JSTOR or the other digital resources of our library… to little avail.
Anyway, the page in question contains an essay that begins with “In the springtime of 51 BC, Ptolemy Auletes died and left his kingdom in his will to his eighteen year old daughter, Cleopatra, and her younger brother Ptolemy XIII who was twelve at the time.” In an effort to determine the ultimate source of this essay, I googled that phrase.

Results: 1310 pages. Most of the sites lead in circles, and I’m somewhat stumped as to the ultimate origin of the article. But you can buy it for $12 from this site: http://www.freeessays.tv/a5879.htm (In which case you’d be quite an idiot if you did).

So though my student didn’t take my advice or learn the lessons of internet research, at least she didn’t plagiarize. Small mercies.

How many universities and colleges, I wonder, make ‘research skills’ a required course during the first term of a student’s career? I get discouraged sometimes in my own courses: not only do I have to teach the content, but I also find myself devoting enormous amounts of time to teaching remedial basic grammar, spelling, internet skills, library skills… the net effect is to take away from the content, from the subject, and I fear the marks that get awarded might ultimately reflect whether or not a student can string together reasonably grammatically correct and properly spelled thoughts (in comparison to his/her peers) rather than any deep knowledge of the subject…

What a depressing thought.

Ryerson & Facebook

A student at Ryerson University is facing academic sanctions for his role in administering an online study group. To join the group, users were invited to post the answers to assigned questions – questions they were explicitly told to do on their own. From the Globe and Mail:

“Ryerson’s administration appears to have focused on Mr. Avenir’s main-page posting, which read: “If you request to join, please use the forms to discuss/post solutions to the chemistry assignments. Please input your solutions if they are not already posted.””

I’d argue that there’s a difference between comparing the process by which answers are arrived at (as a legitimate study group might do), and putting the answers online for everyone to see.  It’s interesting to observe how this is being covered in the media – many reporters put a spin on it saying in effect that the prof in question is old fashioned to be upset by this:

“Some have framed the debate as an issue of universities becoming uncomfortable as Internet innovation brings existing practices into new, more public arenas. But Ryerson spokesman and professor James Norrie said the online forum is irrelevant to the central question of whether misconduct occurred, and rejected the notion that new technology brings different standards.

“Ryerson University is not attempting to prevent the use of Facebook for appropriate learning,” he said. “The question is, do we want to hold people accountable for their online behaviour?””

Bravo Prof. Norrie: new technologies do not change the standards of behaviour. If you don’t do your own work, it’s cheating, pure and simple, whether it’s done on-line or in the pub. If you did it in the pub though, you’d probably get away with it; putting it on facebook is plain silly: it’s there for everyone – including the prof – to see.  When I taught media studies at the high school level, many students were shocked and astonished to know that Myspace, facebook, etc were not private. Indeed, if you put anything on the internet, (I taught them), you should expect eventually for it to be treated as public whether you intended it to be or not. It strikes me that in the Ryerson case, the student(s) acted as if the group were private, while the prof treated it as public.   Nevertheless,  whether the students believed it to be private or not, the fact remains that they were instructed to do the work on their own.

(I write this as someone who has to deal with cut-n-paste’d wikipedia articles masquerading as essays every bloody term… Frankly, if I could, I wouldn’t assign essays any more. (The literacy skills of many of my students just make me cringe, too.) What I’d love to do is assign this sort of thing: build and script a scenario for a game highlighting your understanding of the historical/social forces at play…  not likely to happen, I know, I know….)

Interviews with Digital Historians & Humanists

I was a participant at the First Digital Workshop held at the Centre for Digital Humanities, University of Nebraska Lincoln in the fall of 2006. I had forgotten that I – and others – had been interviewed for our thoughts on the Digital Humanities: what they were, what they were for, where the field was going, etc. So imagine my surprise when I found the video clips of those interviews today!

My clips are here:

The definition of “digital history” or “digital humanities”

His initial encounters with digital scholarship in the humanities

The atmosphere surrounding or reception of digital scholarship in the academy

Audiences for or community involvement with digital scholarship

The potential for “humanities in the digital age”

It’s a bit odd to watch oneself on video for the first time… I remember I was caught somewhat by surprise, so you can see the little wheels exploding in my head, as I try to sound reasonably intelligent.

The people you should really listen to are:

Abdul Alkalimat, University of Toledo

September 22, 2006

Interview segments:

The definition of “digital history” or “digital humanities”

The atmosphere surrounding or reception of digital scholarship in the academy

Audiences for or community involvement with digital scholarship

The potential for “humanities in the digital age”

Edward L. Ayers, University of Virginia

September 22, 2006

Interview segments:

The definition of “digital history” or “digital humanities”

Ways that digital tools allow activity that traditional methodologies do not

His initial encounters with digital scholarship in the humanities

Teaching and student involvement with digital scholarship

Audiences for or community involvement with digital scholarship

The potential for “humanities in the digital age”

Peter Bol, Harvard University

September 22, 2006

Interview segments:

The definition of “digital history” or “digital humanities”

The atmosphere surrounding or reception of digital scholarship in the academy

Alan Liu, University of California, Santa Barbara

September 22, 2006

Interview segments:

His initial encounters with digital scholarship in the humanities

Teaching and student involvement with digital scholarship

The atmosphere surrounding or reception of digital scholarship in the academy

The potential for “humanities in the digital age”

John Lutz, University of Victoria

September 22, 2006

Interview segments:

The definition of “digital history” or “digital humanities”

Audiences for or community involvement with digital scholarship

His initial encounters with digital scholarship in the humanities

Ways that digital tools allow activity that traditional methodologies do not

The potential for “humanities in the digital age”

Patrick Manning, University of Pittsburgh

September 22, 2006

Interview segments:

The definition of “digital history” or “digital humanities”

Ways that digital tools allow activity that traditional methodologies do not

His initial encounters with digital scholarship in the humanities

Audiences for or community involvement with digital scholarship

The potential for “humanities in the digital age”

The influence of the Newberry Library on digital scholarship

Mary Beth Norton, Cornell University

September 22, 2006

Interview segments:

The definition of “digital history” or “digital humanities”

Ways that digital tools allow activity that traditional methodologies do not

Her initial encounters with digital scholarship in the humanities

Teaching and student involvement with digital scholarship

Janice Reiff, University of California, Los Angeles

September 22, 2006

Interview segments:

The definition of “digital history” or “digital humanities”

Audiences for or community involvement with digital scholarship

The influence of the Newberry Library on digital scholarship

The potential for “humanities in the digital age”

Robert Schwartz, Mount Holyoke College

September 22, 2006

Interview segments:

The definition of “digital history” or “digital humanities”

Ways that digital tools allow activity that traditional methodologies do not

Audiences for or community involvement with digital scholarship

His initial encounters with digital scholarship in the humanities

The potential for “humanities in the digital age”

Andrew Torget, University of Virginia

October 6, 2007

Interview segments:

The definition of “digital history” or “digital humanities”

Ways that digital tools allow activity that traditional methodologies do not

His initial encounters with digital scholarship in the humanities

How do you use digital history projects in your research and teaching

Does digital history reach the same or different audiences than “traditional” history

The potential for “humanities in the digital age”

Vika Zafrin, Brown University

September 22, 2006

Interview segments:

The definition of “digital history” or “digital humanities”

Ways that digital tools allow activity that traditional methodologies do not

Her initial encounters with digital scholarship in the humanities

Teaching and student involvement with digital scholarship

The atmosphere surrounding or reception of digital scholarship in the academy

Audiences for or community involvement with digital scholarship

The potential for “humanities in the digital age”

A Polis of Pixels: Social Networking for Classics Instructors

I am a member of the ‘eclassics social network’, which was recently written up in the case studies section of the Higher Education Academy’s Subject Centre for History, Classics & Archaeology. The response to this social network in classics circles,  as documented by Andrew Reinhard, is quite interesting… read the case study.

“The eClassics website was created to build a bridge between Classics teachers and technology, and between technologically enabled teachers and those instructors who describe themselves as technophobic. By creating a virtual, comfortable, even fun meeting space to candidly discuss the topic of integrating technology into the Classics classroom, we can begin to break down barriers between the perception of technology as “scary” and its genuine usefulness to language learning. Recently developed technological applications, specifically software in the Web 2.0 toolkit (wikis, blogs, social networking, and the like), can blend traditional book learning with a more kinetic, active approach to exploring how language works. This new pedagogy of active learning better suits modern students. eClassics serves as the nexus connecting teachers to technology and, ultimately, to those students….”

Towards a Theory of Good-History-through-Good-Gaming for Historians and Educators

What do you get when you bring together educators, historians, and new media specialists to discuss what constitutes best practice for history simulations & gaming?

Well, everything from turtles, termites and traffic jams to life, the universe, and everything! Kevin Kee (of Brock University’s Centre for Digital Humanities) and I have recently put that conversation up on the ‘Simulating History‘ project website for your consideration. Enjoy!

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Games that have been designed by academics, with little grounding in theories of good gaming, are typically of the boring drill-and-response type. As academics, we run the risk of ruining what makes a good game, if we do not consult with professional game designers. At the same time, gamers are good at figuring out what makes a game ‘fun’, but will not make games that are paedagogically sound if we do not engage with each other. “The answer is not to privilege one arena over the other but to find the synergy between pedagogy and engagement” (Van Eck 2006:18). Commercial game designers do not set out to be historians. But interestingly, many students trained in history or the humanities have ended up becoming game designers (Don Daglow, Keynote address Future Play 2006 conference)

We can detect therefore some areas of overlap between ‘good history’ and ‘good gaming’ in our survey of literature we believe to be the foundation for developing a theory of good-history-through-gaming. Recently, we brought together historians, educators, and gamers to try to find Van Eck’s ‘synergies’, and to discuss the literature that each considered to be seminal for their own work in games and history. We wanted to join together our previously separate lines of inquiry, to understand one another’s disciplinary perspectives for research into simulations and games, and to explore the intersections between these perspectives. The resulting (free-wheeling and free-associating) conversation took place over two days. Here, we have collated the different contributions to gather our thoughts under (more-or-less) coherent headings, but have left the editing to a minimum to allow individual voices to retain their idiosyncrasies and individual approaches to teaching, gaming, and the past….<more>

Wikis in plain english

 Sometimes, a glorious failure has as much to teach as a resounding success…

I’ve tried now, in two classes (one at an online university, the other at an online high school), to use wikis and collaborative writing as part of my formative assessment. The online university was asynchronous, the highschool was synchronous. Both did not work out very well, but for very different reasons.

I think it was James Paul Gee who coined the phrase ‘digital natives’, ie, our students are immersed in digital media, they understand it intuitively, and we, as ‘digital immigrants’, will never wade through the sea of 1s and 0s as successfully as they do. At the online high school, this did not prove to be the case. My students were certainly familiar with digital technology, but their familiarity was profoundly superficial (if I can say that). While they had often used wikis (most often as a source of information for History class), they had never actually considered what was involved in making them, or the implications of how that information was collated/created into the wiki article they so freely copied. I had to take them by the hand (voip-style) and talk them through the entire process several times before they started to catch on… but by that time, the needs of the curriculum were such that I had to abandon the project.

At the online university, my course was organised by topic, over the duration of the session. The student on their own time, whenever they felt like logging in, could digest whatever topic they chose. At the end of each topic was a wiki, with several possible article suggestions. The idea was that instead of writing a 3000 word term paper, they’d write – and edit others’ – short articles (which in total would equal more or less the same amount of work). In the process, they’d be communicating with each other via an online forum or by voip, and as a class they’d create what would be essentially a text-book. It’s now the end of the session, and I finally got the first wiki articles posted, all in a rush. No time for editing, no time for collaboration, just a series of v.small essays, with no external links or images.

Clearly, I hadn’t explained the concept well. Just as clearly, I can’t rely on my students to be motivated enough to get the articles done early enough so that the collaboration process can start. I dug a little, and found that the main problem, as far as my students were concerned, was the fear of letting others see their written work. Procrastination was of course another issue, which was compounded by my error in letting the students ‘choose their own adventure’ through my materials. And finally, like my high school students, they were not familiar with how/why wikis work (which I found astonishing – but why should I? I spend every day online and so encounter wikis all the time, but my students apparently do have lives… 🙂

The next time I run that course I think what I shall do is abandon the wiki format in favour of journals (that only the student and myself may view). The topics and questions and the amount of writing will all be the same. I will also set firm deadlines and chart a linear progression through the course. And I think I shall make the students watch the wee video below: