Thursday 17 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Well. I almost survived first term. Am missing the last lecture due to a nasty bout of tonsillitis (although it looks like London will be hit by snow tomorrow anyway!). Hope you have a good break - and here is a picture of my lil' xmas elf to bring some festive cheer. See you in the new year!

Friday 11 December 2009

The Caucus Race

Its been a terrifically busy few weeks. Aside from teaching, I've been jetting off to various places - Hamburg for the ALLC midterm meeting, Reading for the VERA workshop, and this week to Oxford, where I was chairing a workshop on Users and User Centered Design at the IEEE e-Science meeting, as well as dropping in on the eSAD project.

In between the gadding about and the stress as we come towards end of term, moments of wow: arent I lucky. The picture above was taken from where I was sitting in the Senior Common Room at Christ Church, after dinner at High Table. A simple fire screen, you may think. But this fire screen is made up of De Morgan tiles which the maths lecturer, Charles Dodgson, had commissioned, to line his fireplace. Dodgson is better known under his pen name, Lewis Carroll, and there are all kind of things dotted round Ch Ch college which he either incorporated into his story of Alice in Wonderland, or were later produced after its success. To the bottom left of the screen you can see the Dodo, peering out. The Gryphon is top mid left. Did the tiles come before or after Alice was published? I'm not sure (this book would tell me if I had the time to look it up, Google Books will only let me see snippets). In any case, a lovely object to sit in close proximity to, whilst sipping coffee with good friends.

Now back to the grind. 5.5 working days 'til end of term!

Friday 4 December 2009

Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Today was one of my favourite teaching sessions as part of the Digital Resources in the Humanities class. The class assignment is to compare and contrast the digital version of a digitised object with its original: what is lost, what is gained, and how the experiences in accessing the "object" differ. So today's class visit was a behind the scenes tour of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (one of London's Hidden Gems, apparently). Students were set a few objects on the website, that they have to locate in the museum, and compare and contrast the different experiences they had of viewing the virtual object to visiting the original. What fun - followed by a discussion of aspects that came up over their hour's visit, and looking in detail at the digitisation program the Petrie carried out (80,000 objects over a very short period of time indeed. We calculated in class that gave an image capture time of around 2 minutes per object).

I feel really lucky to be at UCL and to have such a great museum on the doorstep - and thanks go to the conservator, Susi Pancaldo, for giving us a behind the scenes tour. The snapshot above shows a pic of a mummy that is awaiting conservation.

Farewell Vera - we'll meet again?

I was over to Reading on Wednesday for the wrap up meeting of the VERA project. Its been a great project - three years of helping Archaeologists mess around in the trench with digital pens, wifi, cameras, GPS, etc etc. Hopefully, we can continue doing some work at the Silchester dig over the next few years: its very rare that you get to study users of technology over such a large time scale, and there are some interesting findings from the dig....

... which we need to write up. Its added to the to do list.