Free Digital Past Conference February 2021

Join us as a part of a global audience for this year’s free, online International Digital Past Conference. The programme is now viewable here.

As well as workshops over four days, there will be a packed day of talks from speakers across the world on Wednesday 10 February.

Registration for Digital Past 2021 is free but closes on 5 February 2021. Click here to register, you will receive a link by email to join the conference on Zoom.

See full details about the conference here.

A preview of all the inspiring talks being given on Wednesday 10 February are below – which will you choose? You will have a chance to join in discussions and ask the speakers questions at the end of each session.


09:15 – 10:45: Keynote Session 1

Professor Diao Changyu, Professor Li Zhirong and Researcher Ning Bo discuss over a 3D printing project. /CGTN Photo

Remaking the past Starting the day off, Zhirong Li and Changyu Diao, leaders of a digital research team at the Cultural Heritage Research Institute, Zhejiang University, China, will be talking about their work, including the ambitious digitising of the famous Yungang Grottoes. 

With the Yungang Grotto Academy, we built the world’s first portable real-size 3d-printed grotto replica. With the Longmen Grotto Academy, we created the real-size 3d-printed niche replicas with the finest details. Both of the results exhibited in museums in China, marking new methods of digital preserving and remaking the past.”


The Future of History: Strengthening Public Histories through Digital Interventions Chao Tayiana founder of African Digital Heritage The Kenya based non-profit organisation was founded to encourage a more critical, holistic and knowledge-based approach to the design and implementation of digital solutions within African cultural heritage.

We love experimenting with new technologies. From virtual reality to mobile applications. Our experiments fuel our curiosity but they also push us outside our comfort zone. Most importantly they allow us to imagine alternate realities and visualize history in interactive, immersive ways.


11:00 – 12:15: Split Session 1 – Digital Heritage

The Emotive Project Maria Economou, Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage at the Hunterian, Glasgow, Scotland’s oldest public museum, will explore digital cultural heritage interpretation in attracting and engaging with diverse audiences based on the work of the Emotive Project, an EU-funded heritage project that aims to use emotional storytelling to dramatically change how we experience heritage sites.

Emotional engagement is increasingly recognised as a key outcome for visitors – not just learning about things, but engaging in depth in the different collections.


Truth, Ethics and Expressive Techniques: Making Digital Videos to Record and Interpret Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Sarah Colley from University of Leicester will be giving her talk: Truth, Ethics and Expressive Techniques: Making Digital Videos to Record and Interpret Archaeology and Cultural Heritage. She will be drawing on her practical experiences as both a professional archaeologist and a digital video producer to consider, “ideas about truth, representation, ethics and the role of expressive techniques when making online videos about archaeology and heritage for research, education and public outreach.


Extended Reality, Inclusive History: Exploring Diverse Campus Histories with Extended Reality Technology Paul Quigley, Jessica Taylor, Alex O’Dea, Kenny Barnes and Emily Humes from the Visualising History Project, Virginia Tech, USA will give their talk: Extended Reality, Inclusive History: Exploring Diverse Campus Histories with Extended Reality Technology.

We’re currently exploring new ways to analyze historical documents using the latest visualization techniques. We’re using 3D artifacts and building models to bring the past to life. We’re interviewing witnesses and descendants to share their stories in compelling new ways.


11:00 – 12:15: Split Session 1 – Digital Data

Archaeology Near Me: Geographically Exploring Grey-literature Report Collections Archaeologist and historian Nicholas Pitt from University of New South Wales, Australia will be giving his talk: Archaeology Near Me: Geographically Exploring Grey-literature Report Collections which explores new ways to find archaeological reports using interactive mapping and other digital tools for research.

I’m passionate about trying to find ways to use digital tools to help improve professional and academic research – to improve what we can do with limited time and resources.


The National Broadcast Archive Einion Gruffudd from the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth will be giving his talk about the National Broadcast Archive.  The innovative project to create a National Broadcasting Archive for Wales will ensure that around 240,000 hours of Welsh radio and television programmes, which trace almost 100 years of 20th century broadcasting, is available and safe for generations to come.

The National Broadcasting Archive is a huge treasury, and we need the help of volunteers so that the project can reach its potential.


Biases in Digital Technologies: Gendered Identities in Museum Data Victoria Guzman researcher at the Observatorio Políticas Culturales, Chile, will be giving her talk: Biases in Digital Technologies: Gendered Identities in Museum Data.

“I will explore the complexities associated with gendered data in relation to Chilean museums, and with recognizing and accommodating identities that lie outside what has been shaped as ‘the norm’.”


13:00 – 14:45: Keynote Session 2 – Digital Heritage

Drones, Boats, Lasers and Ropes. Studying the Past, Present and Near Future Impacts of Climate Change on Coastal Heritage Sites and Landscapes in Wales and Ireland  Louise Barker and Kieran Craven will introduce the CHERISH Project which brings together a multidisciplinary team of archaeologists, geologists and environmental scientists to record and monitor the impacts of climate change at a network of coastal and maritime sites in Wales and Ireland.

We are employing innovative techniques to study some of the most iconic coastal locations in Ireland and Wales. CHERISH will work with communities and will widely disseminate the results and best practice for future climate change adaptation.


Coming in from the Cold: Democratising Community Engagement and Collections Development through Digital Skill-sharing Drew Ellery from the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre and Education Trust in Manchester talks about the Coming in from the Cold Project  which works with diverse and underrepresented community groups across Greater Manchester to share knowledge gained through years of experience in heritage helping to develop an archive that is more fully representative of Manchester’s diverse communities.

 “I will share our holistic approach to community engagement and collection development and discuss how institutions might re-negotiate dynamics of power and control within an increasingly digital landscape.


Heritage on the Edge: The Role of Heritage in Increasing Global Climate Ambition and Action Will Megarry from Queen’s University Belfast and the ICOMOS Climate Change and Cultural Heritage Working Group will be talking about the Heritage on the Edge Project which explores five world heritage sites which are being affected by climate change, and shows how people around the world are using technology to protect their vulnerable cultural sites.

While climate change is predominately fuelled by large, industrialised countries, it is vulnerable communities and heritage which are most impacted. This is one of the reasons why sites were chosen from across the word.


wAVE Immersive Experiences in Museums Amy Shakespeare is the Project Manager for the wAVE Immersive Experiences in Museums Project and Innovations Manager at Cornwall Museums Partnership. She will be talking about using innovative technologies – such as VR headsets, CGI, beacons, and more – to allow visitors at five museums in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to see artefacts in their original settings and meet historical figures in new immersive visitor experiences.

We’re really putting the museums at the heart of their communities – they’re leading the way with this innovative technology” “the thing that blows me away is when older people come in and are a bit nervous about the technology. Then they put on the headset and you hear them say ‘wow.’


Accessing the past through virtual reality: First World War landscapes Todd Ogle, David Hicks and Thomas Tucker from Virginia Tech, USA will talk about their work in visualising the experiences of the soldiers who lived and fought in the Vauquois tunnels, north-eastern France during WW1.

The VT Visualizing History Team’s goal has been to create an immersive, place-based experience that makes the invisible past visible for people today,” said Hicks. “Our work is guided by a single question: If this place could talk, what would it tell us about the nature and impact of World War I on the people, places, and environment on the Western Front in France?.”  


Teaching Heritage to Artificial Intelligence through Storytelling Davar Ardalan is the founder and chief storytelling officer at IVOW – intelligent voices of wisdom AI is reshaping society and changing how we live, learn, and work. In this talk, she will focus on well-documented gender biases in AI and machine learning datasets and illustrate the power of storytelling in helping machines learn about the pioneering roles of women today and yesterday.

IVOW’s digital storyteller Sina is a young conversational AI, she loves learning about human history and then sharing those stories with others. That’s what gives Sina purpose. Go ahead ask Sina to tell you about Shirley Chisholm or Marie Curie.


13:00 – 14:45: Keynote Session 2 – Digital Survey

An Affordable Automated 3D Surface Scanner: The Case of Canaletto’s ‘The Grand Canal, Ascension Day’ Xavier Aure is a research fellow at the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of West of England. He has been involved in the digitisation of artworks for the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Guildhall Art Gallery, and the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, and collaborated with the Museum of Bristol to generate a 3D model for the BBC Civilisations AR app.

He is currently working with the Woburn Abbey Collection and the Holburne Museum in Bath to display the results of the 3D digitisation of an 18th century painting by the Italian artist Canaletto for an upcoming exhibition in early 2021.


LiDAR Applications for Public Engagement, Landscape Research and Conservation in the Carneddau, Northern Snowdonia Emily La Trobe-Bateman and Bob Johnston (Sheffield University), and John G Roberts (Snowdonia National Park Authority) will be telling us about their project which has used Laser radar technology to carry out the biggest ever archaeological survey of Snowdonia. The Snowdonia National Park Authority is using the images to better understand prehistoric and Roman field boundaries and settlements over an area of 500 sq km.

We are trying to understand how and where the land has been enclosed by unpicking the data. It is a wonderful opportunity to study it on a big scale.


BIM Technologies and Urban Heritage in the City of Surat, India Busisiwe Chikomborero Ncube Makore (University of Salford) and Lukman E Mansuri, (National Institute of Technology Surat), both researchers on the IT India Project, will be discussing the benefit of applying digital technologies, and in particular Building Information Modelling (BIM), in supporting heritage conservation in the historic city of Surat in India.

The project aims to enhance the cultural resilience of the Indian tangible and intangible cultural heritage, challenged by rapid urbanisation by exploiting the potential of digital technologies applied to the heritage.


16:30 – 17:45 Keynote Session 3

An Argument for Environmentally Sustainable Digital Preservation Keith Pendergrass, digital archivist at Harvard Business School, will argue for a swift, yet thoughtful, transition to sustainable digital preservation that considers the full life-cycle environmental impacts of the information and communication technology on which our digital preservation efforts rely.

By coming together as a global community of practice, we can substantially reduce the negative impacts of our work while continuing to secure our digital legacy and provide successful outcomes for our communities.


Expanding the Dimensions of Digitization: The Smithsonian Experience Diane Zorich is director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Digitization Program Office where she leads an expert team in digitizing Smithsonian collections to maximize their impact for the public.

She will be highlighting several programs in the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office that strive to meet the moment, creating high-quality digitized collections that are sustainable, that can be delivered on current and emerging digital platforms, and that be repurposed for future needs.

Registration for Digital Past 2021 is free and closes on 5 February 2021. Click here to register, you will receive a link by email to join the conference on Zoom.

See the full details about the conference here.

01/20/2021

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