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:

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.