How do you create past-ness through place?

I remember walking though Berlin once. I didn’t know the exact history of where I was but I could ‘feel’ it. That night I researched where I had been and the associated events. I was right, I had been in very ‘dark’ places which now just appeared to be civic areas.
My little blog post isn’t about Berlin though. It is about those places you visit where you feel there is ‘history’ there, a past-ness.
Totally subjective, misguided? Perhaps. But I am sure I am not the only one who occasionally encounters this sensation.
And if some or many people encounter this experience, how can we also encounter it in virtual worlds? Or is that impossible? I was wondering if I could find thoughts on this from exhibition designers, amusement park builders, neo-ancient architects.
I know E.G. Asplund of Sweden (1885-1940)  used techniques to make the buildings seem older but I’ll also have to find others.
So much to think upon.Figure1-Asplund_WoodlandCrematorim.jpg

Digital scholarship, makerspaces and libraries

Thanks to Karen for her talk, the relationship and specific role of digital scholarship, university and library is of great interest to many of us!


I first came across the concept of ‘digital scholarship’ around 3 years ago when I was the Faculty Librarian for Humanities at Curtin University and first learned about the wonderful but nebulous thing called ‘digital humanities’, its relationship to digital scholarship, and how academic libraries were central to both.

Digital scholarship is a broad term and can mean a number of different things. One definition that captures some of its complexity is “the use of digital evidence and method, digital authoring, digital publishing, digital curation and preservation, and digital use and reuse of scholarship.” (Abby Smith Rumsey, 2011)

According to the ACRL, digital scholarship is one of the top academic library trends of 2016.  The increasing importance of the role of academic libraries in supporting and contributing to digital humanities projects is evident in the growth of digital scholarship centres, often established as partnerships between the academic…

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PhD Scholarships-Cultural Heritage & Visualisation

There are 2 PhD scholarships now open at Curtin University, for students interested in 3D models of heritage sites, community participation, heritage issues and preservation of the 3D models themselves:


Supporting digital scholarship in the humanities

31 August, I was part of a panel in Curtin’s research week to discuss digital scholarship. And from my notes I was asked to email here are some of my suggestions that might be of some interest and not just for library makerspaces..

In my brief chat I said when I was the project leader of Dighumlab for 4 universities (and now 2 libraries) in Denmark, I asked myself the following questions (abridged):

  • What is a research infrastructure?
  • What do we mean by a laboratory – is there only one?
  • What kind of databases do we have?
  • What about funding?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What should we deliver and when?
  • What are the goals for success after the 5 year period (our contract period) and how do we measure it?

I suggested that genuine infrastructures invest and support not just equipment but also people, skills, training, exchanges, enthusiasm.
Most DH centres are resource based or centre-based, few are distributed. But the most important thing is to work out who you want to work for and with and what resources and profile you hope to focus around.
For our discussion in research week I was not sure if people are talking about a cluster, centre, lab, and for learning, scholarship or support. Perhaps all three but I suggest to focus on one or two but ensure knowledge is carried on past individuals and some of the research aims to evaluate maintain and improve the quality or quantity of that information (it should not just be a pipeline, the pipeline itself should also be an area of research).
I did say some form of meeting space is important (like Curtin Library Makerspace!), archives are important (our Library has that but perhaps it needs to start looking at new more public focussed ones as well), and there are related degrees. So you could tackle any one of those three areas I mentioned, learning, scholarship and support.

For example with this UNESCO chair I have 3 years of workshop funding and 4 years of visiting fellowship funding. Rather than invite people who arrive talk and leave I think it best for me to build it around the makings a 3D archive, invite experts* in the first year to help us survey and build best practice, invite people to help us build it, invite experts in year 3 to help us evaluate it with local communities etc.. AND build a summer workshop or senior class around the visiting experts and workshop funding.

*With DIGHUMAB in 2012 I organised a 1 day conference, invited 4 experts from Nordic/UK countries and 2 infrastructure leaders (CLARIN and DARIAH), in areas we wanted to learn more about or connect with, to come and talk.
What did we get out of that? DARIAH helped DIGHUMLAB academics find partners for an EU project application and asked to host a meeting in Copenhagen, CLARIAH received ERIC EU status with a strong Danish leadership component, Sweden (HUMLAB) invited two of us to their conference; Oslo invited me for a talk and so did Aalto U (Finland), and Lorna Hughes helped bring NeDiMAH people to Copenhagen in 2013 for a conference on cultural heritage tools and archives, and a book (Cultural Heritage Digital Tools and Infrastructures, Routlege 2017 or 2018, google books?) will come out of that. All from a one day conference with just 6 invited and 4 local speakers! Oh, breakout time helps.

See also





Kinect GUI for Minecraft and others..

In Semester 1 (March to June) and from July Karen Miller of the Library Makerspace and Information Studies and myself are ‘clients’ for Curtin software engineering students. Their brief is to build a flexible Graphic User Interface (GUI) that connects the Microsoft Kinect 1 camera to various game engines like Minecraft so that non-programmers can easily select and modify their own gestures to a command library in the virtual world/game level.

The forerunner of this project coded by Jaiyi Zhu was cited in the NMC Technology Outlook Horizon Report. Dr Andrew Woods, HIVE manager wrote:

Congratulations Karen Miller, Erik Champion and Jaiyi Zhu on having their work cited in the NMC Technology Outlook Horizon Report < >
This project was supported by the 2015 HIVE Summer Internship Program and I’m very happy this great project and Jiayi’s hard work is being acknowledged.

Public talk, 12 October, Valetta Malta

Image By Frank Vincentz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Title: Talk on Game Design, Virtual Heritage and Digital History by Professor Erik Champion

Time: 18:00-19:00, Wednesday, 12 October.

Location: Studio 8, National Centre of Creativity, Fondazzjoni Kreattività – Spazju Kreattiv, St James Cavalier, Valletta, VLT 1060, Malta

Professor Erik Champion of Curtin University, Australia, will discuss fundamental challenges and promises of computer game design and interactive media when designed to help the communication and preservation of digital heritage, focusing particularly on examples of built heritage. He will examine serious games designed for history and heritage, definitions and challenges of ‘virtual heritage’ and possible technical and imaginative solutions.

Presentations, GCH2016, Genoa

Time: 15:45 – 17:15 (session) , Wednesday 5 October.

Location: Area della Ricerca di Genova, Via De Marini 6, 16149 Genova (Genoa), Italy.

Title: The Missing Scholarship Behind Virtual Heritage Infrastructure

This theoretical position paper outlines four key issues blocking the development of effective 3D models that would be suitable for the aims and objectives of virtual heritage infrastructures. It suggests that a real-time game environment which composes levels at runtime from streaming multimédia components would offer advantages in terms of editing, customisation and personalisation. The paper concludes with three recommendations for virtual heritage infrastructures.

Time: 11:00 – 12:00 (short paper, session) , Thursday 6 October.

Location: Area della Ricerca di Genova, Via De Marini 6, 16149 Genova (Genoa), Italy.

Title: 3D in-world Telepresence With Camera-Tracked Gestural Interaction

While many education institutes use Skype, Google Chat or other commercial video-conferencing applications, these applications are not suitable for presenting architectural or urban design or archaeological information, as they don’t integrate the presenter with interactive 3D media. Nor do they allow spatial or component-based interaction controlled by the presenter in a natural and intuitive manner, without needing to sit or stoop over a mouse or keyboard. A third feature that would be very useful is to mirror the presenter’s gestures and actions so that the presenter does not have to try to face both audience and screen.

To meet these demands we developed a prototype camera-tracking application using a Kinect camera sensor and multi-camera Unity windows for teleconferencing that required the presentation of interactive 3D content along with the speaker (or an avatar that mirrored the gestures of the speaker). Cheaply available commercial software and hardware but coupled with a large display screen (in this case an 8 meter wide curved screen) allows participants to have their gestures, movements and group behavior fed into the virtual environment either directly or indirectly. Allowing speakers to present 3D virtual worlds remotely located audiences while appearing to be inside virtual worlds has immediate practical uses for teaching and long-distance collaboration.

Conference URL: