Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Pack Your Imagination: Creative digital marketing

In this presentation Kate Roberts and Catrin Ellis will demonstrate and discuss some of the many ways that the Welsh Government Historic Environment Service (Cadw) is using digital marketing and social media to interest and inspire people to engage with Welsh heritage.

Through campaigns such as Escape to Wales and Pack Your Imagination, Cadw’s digital marketing has moved beyond informing visitors about the variety of historic sites they can visit to encouraging active participation. On-line resources including CGI reconstructions, audio stories, a colourful History Map and build your own Lego castle have successfully captured the public imagination.  Alongside these, Cadw’s social media sites provide a platform for interactive communication that has been widely commended.

The presentation will consider some of the benefits and challenges of using digital marketing and consider its role in an increasingly digitally connected world.

Gigapixel Photography - An Introductory Guide To The Photography, The Creation Of Panoramas And Interactive Virtual Tours

The Royal Commission has been trialing the use of Gigapixel photography to present and virtually interact with sites and landscapes across Wales. Our biggest project to date has been ‘Digital Dissent’, the creation of a 'virtual museum' of Nonconformity in Wales. Here Gigapixel photography was used to create panoramic images that form the basis for virtual interactive tours of four chapels. This workshop provides an introductory guide to Gigapixel - what it is, how to get started, the processes involved and the lessons we’ve learnt.


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Monday, 8 February 2016

Gigapixel Photography

A Gigapixel image is one comprising of billions of pixels, enabling you to view detail without the degradation you would see in a normal photograph. Current technology for creating such high-resolution images involves stitching together and rendering a mosaic of digital photographs to create one image - the world’s largest photo to date, that of Mont Blanc, was shot in 2015 and comprises of 70,0000 images and 365 billion pixels, if printed the photo would be 98 metres long and 23 metres high.

The use of Gigapixel photography in heritage is growing and can be undertaken using a standard digital camera and workstation. High-resolution images can be created for landscapes and individual sites as well as documents (e.g. manuscripts and maps). There is also great potential in using these images to create interactive virtual tours.

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Friday, 5 February 2016

Recalibrating Relationships: Bringing Cultural Heritage and People Together in a Changing Europe

Professor Neil Forbes, Coventry University, will be at Digital Past 2016 to discuss some of the important changes which are impacting on cultural heritage in the contemporary world; research based on the work undertaken by RICHES - Renewal, Innovation, and Change: Heritage and European Society, a project funded by the European Commission's Seventh Framework programme. The project's main objective is to reduce the distance between people and culture, re-calibrating the relationship between heritage professionals and heritage users in order to maximise cultural creativity and ensure that all of Europe can benefit from the social and economic potential of cultural heritage.

Cultural heritage is made, held, collected, curated, exhibited, or simply exists in many areas. In this context, it is possible to speak of 'decentering' culture and cultural heritage away from institutional structures towards the individual. The nature of change brought about by the pace and scope of developments in digital technology is unprecedented. With the advent of digitisation, what demands have arisen in relation to how we understand, collect and make available cultural heritage? In what ways is the individual forcing a rethinking of the institution, and how can the later renew and remake themselves? What hierarchies of knowledge, expertise and authority in cultural heritage are being disrupted, transformed or undermined by the digital? 

Beyond this, the talk will consider how citizens can play a co-creative role in cultural heritage, the significance of identity and 'belonging', and the importance of cultural heritage as a force in economic development. Researchers as well as policy makers, funding bodies and managers of cultural heritage institutions and sector professionals are all challenged by these questions as they engage with the transmission and exploitation of cultural heritage. The talk will present evidence and recommendations emerging from the research undertaken and is located within the broad context of debates and discussion about the value, preservation, promotion and future of Europe's cultural heritage. 

Cynefin Is An Innovative Project To Digitise All The Tithe Maps Of Wales

Cynefin is an innovative project to digitise all the tithe maps of Wales. It is funded mainly by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and is run by Archives Wales. Most of the work is done at the National Library of Wales (NLW) using their near complete collection of tithe maps, and involves a considerable conservation effort.

The digitisation is carried out using a special technique whereby the large maps are mounted on a magnetic curved wall and photographed in high resolution. This brings excellent results in terms of image quality, 800 maps have already been digitised out of an estimated total of 1200.

The map images produced are all online on the cynefin.wales website, alongside images of all the tithe apportionment documents. To obtain full value from this resource the website includes functions to crowdsource the transcription of the maps and documents, with the aim of making all the data searchable.

This complete collection of digitised tithe maps provides a great opportunity to look at Wales in the 1840s in a more holistic way than was previously practical. It is not just noticing some railways on a map, you can see exactly the pattern of railway development. You can visually see that the Taff Merthyr railway was already built, and the others, going east-west, were in progress. There were some other very old railways in Llanelli, Swansea and other industrial areas, which have since disappeared. There was also a canal network and roads controlled by tollgates. This can all now be examined fluently using the digital tithe map of Wales.

The wealth of information already transcribed has huge potential for research and connections to other archival material. The nature of society is revealed, the way it was assumed most people didn’t own the land where they lived. These landowners, few in number, were the people who mattered, for example they were virtually the only people allowed to vote. It was the time of the Chartist and Rebecca risings.

The project focuses on usability and feedback from users, and has strong volunteering and marketing aspects, which aim for attractive and sustainable solution bringing long-term benefits.

The project includes partners in archives across Wales and will be providing output to People's Collection.

The final website at NLW is a geographic interface, which will be flexible enough to display other parts of the Library's collection, transforming access and research opportunities.

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Booking closes today!

Registration for Digital Past will close at the end of today, so make sure that you go to Eventbrite and register before 5pm. 

There is a fantastic line-up of speakers and workshops on our programme, as well as a range of exhibition stands and lots of opportunity for discussion and networking. 

The St George's Hotel has been voted AA's Hotel of the Year for Wales 2015-2016, so take a look at the menu for our conference dinner which will take place on the evening of the 10th. 

We very much look forward to welcoming you to beautiful Llandudno and Digital Past 2016!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Digital Mapping of Edinburgh's Literary Heritage: James Loxley (University of Edinburgh)

Edinburgh is a singularly literary place – indeed, it was the first city to be designated a UNESCO World City of Literature, a network that now includes Prague, Heidelberg, Dublin and Melbourne (and Norwich. Don’t forget Norwich.). It has a lengthy heritage as the birthplace and residence of writers including Walter Scott, Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, Muriel Spark and J. K. Rowling. Visitors to the city can wander through ‘Makars’ Court’, and drop into the Writers’ Museum.

More than this, Edinburgh is a city which has frequently been used as the setting for compelling and popular works, from Scott’s Heart of Midlothian down to Irvine Welsh’s novels and short stories or Ian Rankin’s Rebus books. It is a city that is built out of writing as well as of stone.

The Palimpsest project is a collaboration between literary scholars, computer scientists specialising in text-mining, and information visualisation specialists. It set out to find a new way of accessing and interacting with this rich heritage. Using text-mining and geolocation on large collections of digitised works, and focusing on place names as markers of a book’s engagement with place, the project team created a database of 46,000 extracts from more than 500 works which variously use Edinburgh as their setting. Meanwhile, the team also created innovative visualisation tools, which offered users the opportunity to interact with the data in different ways. Although the project was academic in inception, with a number of technical challenges to overcome, the resources have been intended for much wider use.

At this year’s Digital Past conference, James Loxley will describe the challenges faced by the project, and the insights gained from the building and use of the online resources it created. He will also focus on future developments, as they look to add functionality to the resources and respond to user feedback.

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3D Cultural Heritage Data: Improving access and exploitation

For over a decade the Discovery Programme has been capturing and modelling 3D data for a range of archaeological and cultural heritage sites including lidar, terrestrial laser scanning and close range documentation.  One of the issues in sharing this data with the wider community was the requirement of expensive IT equipment and software and the challenge in delivering large complex geometries which do not conform easily to primitive modelling.  Over the past four years the Discovery Programme has participated in several European projects including 3D-ICONS and ARIADNE which aim to open up access to this and other research data.

 3D model of Poulnabrone Portal Tomb, Ireland delivered online utilising SketchFab

Discovery Programme Technology Manager, Anthony Corns, will explore the processing pipeline developed by the Discovery Programme in making complex 3D structure available to the public using a combination of gaming modelling and online WebGL 3D viewers. An alternative pipeline will also be outlined which utilised the 3D media service developed by CNR-ISTI as part of the ARIADNE project which is more focussed upon reuse of 3D data by researchers.

                                                Internal view of Knowth passage tomb utilising Unity gaming development tools

The 3D-Icons project officially ended as an EU funded project in March 2015. However, the Discovery Programme has since taken the content produced as part of this project and looked to exploit it with several sectors, including:

Research:  How do we ensure that 3D data is utilised for scholarly research by a profession which may be averse to utilising new technologies?

Tourism:  Development of content to improve the tourist experience at cultural heritage sites, including the Brú na Bóinne world heritage site where the Discovery programme is currently developing an immersive experience for the Neolithic passage tomb at Knowth.

Education: Utilising 3D models as a teaching resources in secondary schools both in History but also across the curriculum

Creative Industries: Developing links and relationships with organisations that can utilise cultural heritage datasets using innovative and state of the art methods.

This paper will also comment on some of the challenges and opportunities that exist when working with this diverse range of sectors.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

RCAHMW Guidelines for Digital Archaeological Archives – A Sustainable Approach to Digital Preservation

The RCAHMW’s National Monuments Record (NMR) is Wales’ public archive of records relating to the historic environment, and is the national home for digital archaeological archives. Accordingly, it is developing its digital archiving facilities and procedures to comply with international standards, namely the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model – OAIS (ISO 14721). To make compliance effective and viable, it intends to adopt an industry standard digital archive package, produced by Preservica, as part of its current data platform. This will allow OAIS compliant workflows, active preservation of digital content, and public access to digital records.

In order to ensure that the reception and ingest of digital accessions into this system is as efficient as possible, and sustainable with a limited staff capacity, RCAHMW has created digital archive guidelines. These set out the organisation, description and format of digital archaeological archives required from data producers in the sector who intend to deposit records with the NMR. The guidelines are intended to be used from a project’s inception and are included as an appendix to the forthcoming National Standards for Wales for Collecting and Depositing Archaeological Archives. They will also be promulgated through the planning consent regime.

The talk will give an overview of the requirements of the OAIS reference model and how RCAHMW undertakes to comply with this. It will explain the general requirements in the guidelines in this context, with emphasis on the need for well-structured data, with adequate descriptive metadata to allow for digital preservation and, most importantly, continued access and use of the archive by data consumers.

By Gareth Edwards, Head of Knowledge and Understanding, RCAHMW

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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Digital Interpretation - Good, Bad, Indifferent

Andrew Lloyd Hughes is a digital tourism expert who has become a familiar face on the conference circuit over the years and specialises in the digital delivery of tourism related content.

At Digital Past 2016, Andrew will be sharing some best practice observed throughout the world from his travels, and will be discussing some of the techniques and channels that are available at low cost to distribute heritage related information to visitors on location. He will outline some recent trends in digital information, discuss the needs of contemporary consumers, and suggest how we can capitalise on a number of opportunities that exist for the curation and distribution of content.

However, this talk will not only focus on the positive, it will also explore the drawbacks of digital, and how these techniques must sit alongside traditional interpretive methods and be part of a carefully devised and well thought out interpretive strategy for it to be successful.

Andrew currently works for the renowned international tourism consultancy TEAM Tourism, and continues to advise the Oman Ministry of Tourism on the digital interpretation of some of their heritage assets, and how it can be put to maximum effect to educate and inform their desired audiences. Some of the key inferences from this interesting and relevant piece of work will undoubtedly be shared during his talk at this year’s Digital Past.

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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Digital Past 2016: Digital Marketing Strategies for Heritage Tourism

Visit Wales is in the business of destination and place marketing. Promoting and selling places is a content led business and, if you think about it, they have a whole country creating, curating and sharing some great content about Wales.

But how do you leverage what is potentially a hugely powerful content ecosystem to help achieve specific marketing objectives?

Jon Monroe, Head of Digital Leadership at Visit Wakes, brings experience and expertise from the competitive world of travel and tourism, and also from heading up the Visit Wales digital team. Using interesting case studies he will outline their approach to content led digital marketing, demonstrate the results of those efforts, discuss some of the practical lessons learnt and outline how this might be applied to heritage sites and heritage tourism.

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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

High-Tech Drones and Immersive Displays – Exploiting New Technologies for Digital Heritage

The statement that Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and unmanned system (UxV) technologies such as drones, are today more widely available than ever before to industry, researchers and hobbyists alike, will come as no surprise. There are those who believe that the proliferation of high-tech products such as these pose a threat to society on many levels. However, from a digital or virtual heritage standpoint and in the right hands, they also offer exciting and increasingly affordable possibilities in both the development and delivery of rich, interactive, educational experiences to a wide range of end users and audiences.

In this presentation, Professor Bob Stone, Director of the Human Interface Technologies Team at the
University of Birmingham, will describe a number of (predominantly, but not exclusively) maritime heritage case studies developed during 2014 and 2015 where VR, AR and drone technologies have been used to excellent effect in surveying and digitally reconstructing remote, often inaccessible sites, and then presenting the results to a wide range of communities and ages. Included within the case study portfolio are the wreck sites of the SS James Eagan Layne (Whitsand Bay, 1945); HM Submarine A7 (Whitsand Bay, 1914); the Maria (Firestone Bay, Plymouth, 1774) – host vessel to the first ever submariner fatality; the Hooe Lake wrecks in Plymouth; the UK’s first subsea habitat – the GLAUCUS (1965) – now just a rusting hulk off the Breakwater Fort in Plymouth; and the Anne (1690) shipwreck project, which featured the first ever digital resurrection of an historic vessel using Augmented Reality techniques from a quadcopter in flight over the ship’s final resting place on Pett Level Beach near Hastings.

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Friday, 22 January 2016

Please note that booking for the conference through Eventbrite will close on Friday 5 February. The cost of the conference is £89
A limited number of Exhibition or Poster stands are available for a two-day booking.

Digital Past attracts delegates from all over the UK and beyond and is the perfect opportunity to showcase your company or organisation to a knowledgeable and appreciative audience. Larger Exhibition stands are available at a cost of £215, or a Poster stand at a cost of £165, and include the cost of one conference registration worth £89 (prices are not subject to VAT). Booking now available via EventBrite.

A three-course conference dinner will be held in the Wedgewood Suite at the St George's Hotel on the evening of 10 February. This will provide an opportunity for delegates to network, exchange ideas and discuss the conference themes. The conference dinner costs £33, and is bookable through Eventbrite.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Digital Past 2016: Quantifying the Sublime: A Real-time Dynamic Biometric Approach to the Appreciation of Landscape

From the 1780s to the 1820s, writers and artists codified a particular set of ‘sublime’ emotional responses to the Welsh landscape. Enthused by sublime art and poetry and guided by accounts of travels through vertiginous scenery, Romantic-era tourists made their way to spots that – it was promised – would “please while they astonish the beholder” (J. Evans, Letters Written During a Tour of South Wales During the Year 1803 (1804).

Richard Marggraf Turley, Professor of Engagement with the Public Imagination at Aberystwyth university, will discuss a proposed research project which will use biometric equipment to measure modern visitors’ responses to spatial aspects of culture at such sites. Richard will discuss how such techniques might:
  1. Test Romantic claims of heightened emotional responses in ‘sublime’ sites in Wales.
  2.  Assess how biometric information can enrich visitor experience at these heritage tourism sites – and draw more people to them.
  3.  Use the results of 1) and 2) to inform strategies of heritage management and marketing.
  4. Assess whether increased knowledge about a site’s historical, cultural and geographical context leads to different emotional responses.
  5. Use biometrical information generated in the project to create a quantified guide to eight key Romantic sites – The Quantified Life Guide to Wales.

Quantifying the Sublime brings together Romantic scholarship, geography, mapping, visualisation and computer science, developing a composite methodology that draws from innovations and leading-edge research in these areas.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Digital Past 2016: Safeguarding Intangible International Cultural Heritage

Donna Mitchenson of Durham University will be at Digital Past 2016 discussing her research into community contribution to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage (ICH).

The term ‘creating meaningful transmission experiences’ has been developed to describe situations whereby the interaction between visitor and heritage technology is ‘optimised’. This can be achieved by linking established learning styles with transmission technologies with the aim of enabling an experience whereby the user will retain information. This is key to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in that many previous attempts have fallen into the trap of recording instances of ICH where the digital surrogate is stored away and often forgotten about. This creates a situation whereby this heritage is frozen in time and no longer evolves, something that is in the very nature of ICH. Linking learning with transmission technologies moves beyond this, it works in respect of the evolutionary nature of ICH, and beyond the tired, static, modes of transmission, which are all too often found in museums and at heritage sites.

The constructivist Museum (Source: GEM. Image by: Hein)

Donna will discuss how her research aims to pursue integrated thinking in the quest to safeguard ICH; literature concerning heritage technologies concentrate on the novel nature of technology and heritage communications. This research explores how communities can contribute to the safeguarding and transmission of intangible cultural heritage by co-creation and collaboration strategies. This community involvement also addresses some authenticity issues that may arise in terms of the heritage itself and the way in which it is presented.

Using Durham World Heritage site as an example, the proposed ‘optimisation’ of the interaction between visitor and site will be illustrated. Donna will discuss the use of mobile learning theory to allow a more meaningful interaction and will debate the various mediums by which digital interpretation can be delivered to a visitor; in particular, personal mobile devices with which users often develop emotional connections making the learning experience more personal and creating an opportunity for nurturing an emotional attachment to the heritage itself.

‘Resources are made up of tangible objects, places, people, and events as well as the intangible meanings to which each is linked. To neglect one is to squander the power of both.’

Proposed Durham World Heritage Site Safeguarding of ICH

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Cijferboek Cultureel Erfgoed, Survey and Monitoring Digital Heritage in Flanders

The Cijferboek cultureel erfgoed (literal translation: Number book cultural heritage) is an initiative of the Agency for Arts and Heritage of the Flemish government and FARO: Flemish Interface for Cultural Heritage. It collects biannual figures on the operation of the authorised (with a certification label) museums, archives and heritage libraries, and the subsidised nationwide heritage organisations and heritage bodies. It includes data about the management form, staff, volunteers, financial resources, infrastructure, collection size and management, activities, access conditions, visitor numbers and services.

Bart de Nil will be talking about how this data allows the evolution of the cultural heritage sector to be monitored with accurate statistics and can underpin the policy and support for cultural heritage.

Basic indicators are the registration, digitisation and online accessibility of the heritage collections, and since 2014, data on born-digital collections (ownership, registration and online accessibility), managing digital heritage (financing, deployment of staff / volunteers, dissemination and use, open data, digital archiving). Certain components are based on ENUMERATE survey.

FARO organises this survey every two years. This allows us, not only to monitor the evolution of the cultural heritage sector with figures that are up-to-date, but also to benchmark the heritage organisations and heritage bodies. All data is publically available via the website: www.cijferboekcultureelerfgoed.be

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Prototyping, surveying, observation and data – how does evidence from users improve your services?

Andrew Lewis of the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) will review how you can understand your users in ways that lead to digital services that are meaningful for them. Using examples of live services developed by the V&A Digital Media team, he will explore how you can practically support the accepted principles of user-centred design by planning how you gather and present evidence of their effectiveness. 


Andrew will show how iterative testing and simple user observation with prototypes will help prevent organisations accidentally investing in unwanted features or even whole services. He will also show how thoughtful implementation of behavioural data capture will let you see exactly how users really use your digital products. He will explain how the structure you choose for capturing user data affects how effectively you can report and present it within your organisation, allowing you to better influence useful changes based on strong evidence.

Examples will include: how you can compare prior motivation with actual onsite behaviour; how to measure how usable interface designs really are, beyond simply how good they look on paper; how placement and wording of calls-to-action affect usage; what gestures people use on touch devices; how long do people spend on audios in your guides; what people are really trying to access over your Wi-Fi and lots more.