Saturday, 29 November 2008

Call for Papers: Digitizing Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture

Well, I know a good few of you read this blog, so here is another project of mine for further down the line. If any readers are working on relevant research, do get in touch.

Call for Papers: Digitizing Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture

Editors Brent Nelson (University of Saskatchewan) and Melissa Terras
(University College London) invite submissions for a collection of
essays on “Digitizing Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture” to
be published in the New Technologies in Medieval and Renaissance
Studies Series edited by Ray Siemens and William Bowen.

This collection of essays will build on the accomplishments of recent
scholarship on materiality by bringing together innovative research
on the theory and praxis of digitizing material cultures from roughly
500 A.D. to 1700 A.D. Scholars of the medieval and early modern
periods have begun to pay more attention to the material world not
only as a means of cultural experience, but also as a shaping
influence upon culture and society, looking at the world of material
objects as both an area of study and a rich source of evidence for
interpreting the past. Digital media enable new ways of evoking,
representing, recovering, and simulating these materials in
non-traditional, non-textual (or para-textual) ways and present new
possibilities for recuperating and accumulating material from across
vast distances and time, enabling both preservation and comparative
analysis that is otherwise impossible or impractical. Digital
mediation also poses practical and theoretical challenges, both
logistical (such as gaining access to materials) and intellectual
(for example, the relationship between text and object). This volume
of essays will promote the deployment of digital technologies to the
study of material culture by bringing together expertise garnered
from complete and current digital projects, while looking forward to
new possibilities for digital applications; it will both take stock
of the current state of theory and practice and advance new
developments in digitization of material culture. The editors welcome
submissions from all disciplines on any research that addresses the
use of digital means for representing and investigating material
culture as expressed in such diverse areas as:

• travelers’ accounts, navigational charts and cartography
• collections and inventories
• numismatics, antiquarianism and early archaeology
• theatre and staging (props, costumes, stages, theatres)
• the visual arts of drawing, painting, sculpture, print making, and
• model making
• paper making and book printing, production, and binding
• manuscripts, emblems, and illustrations
• palimpsests and three-dimensional writing
• instruments (magic, alchemical, and scientific)
• arts and crafts
• the anatomical and cultural body

We welcome approaches that are practical and/or theoretical, general
in application or particular and project-based. Submissions should
present fresh advances in methodologies and applications of digital
technologies, including but not limited to:

• XML and databases and computational interpretation
• three-dimensional computer modeling, Second Life and virtual worlds
• virtual research environments
• mapping technology
• image capture, processing, and interpretation
• 3-D laser scanning, synchrotron, or X-ray imaging and analysis
• artificial intelligence, process modeling, and knowledge representation

Papers might address such topics and issues as:

• the value of inter-disciplinarity (as between technical and
humanist experts)
• relationships between image and object; object and text; text and image
• the metadata of material culture
• curatorial and archival practice
• mediating the material object and its textual representations
• imaging and data gathering (databases and textbases)
• the relationship between the abstract and the material text
• haptic, visual, and auditory simulation
• tools and techniques for paleographic analysis

Enquiries and proposals should be sent to brent.nelson[at] by
10 January 2009. Complete essays of 5,000-6,000 words in length will
be due on 1 May 2009.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Mona Lisa Fail

The Europeana website was launched on the 20th November, a large european-wide digital library and archive, featuring digitised items from many major institutions.

And it promptly fell over under the weight of 10 million hits per hour.

The wierd thing about this is that the majority of people were searching for "mona lisa". (Andy Warhol famously commented, when the Mona Lisa visited New York in the 1960s, that they should have just sent a facsimile. And it seems that nowadays, that's what the Internet is delivering, and what people want to see).

It seems to reveal something about how people use digital libraries and archives. Woohoo, lots of stuff has been digitised! great! What shall we look up first? Erm..... dunno.... think of something famous that we already probably know....

As part of the LAIRAH research project, we demonstrated that some subjects were the most popular - or most requested - in digitised resources and collections. The Census, witchcraft, suffragettes, shakespeare, chaucer, WWI, WWII... I guess we can now add "Mona Lisa" to that list.

Questions. How many people wont ever come back to this website once it relaunches, given the 404? and really, how exciting is the entry on the Mona Lisa?

Thursday, 20 November 2008


There seems to be a raft of new ways to customise bags/wallpaper/think-of-a-flat-surface-you-can-stick-a-digital-image-on with your own pictures at the moment. But the one that really made me go.... "wow" is Spoonflower: print custom designed fabric on demand. Now, let me just get that sewing machine out....

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Away with the fairies

One of the great things about being in academia is the aspect of working from home, as often as you like/can. However, recently my office has just been taken over with all manner of small person's stuff, cot, etc. Where's a person to keep her books? ...Well, I'm excited to report I've just ordered a "home office" to be built at the bottom of the garden, aka "my shed". In a few weeks I'll be able to disappear off, and me and the gnomes can hang out in peace... Next up, figuring out how to make our wifi reach all the way down there.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Might As Well Face It

Just back from two weeks away, doing the grand tour of the uk relations with the Wee Man. Back home, and now glued to the internet to catch up.

Apparently, China have just formally defined Internet Addiction as a disease...
Chinese doctors released the country's first diagnostic definition of Internet addiction over the weekend, amid efforts to address an increasing number of psychological problems that reportedly result from Internet overuse.