Cybermaps in 3D heritage

A journal asked that I respond to a paper that briefly mentions the above. Notes to self include these general questions that I seldom find answers to in virtual heritage papers and not mentioned in my response (the journal has a strict word limit):

  1. Interpretation: It is very hard to extrapolate from VH papers how various interpretations are fostered.
  2. Beginnings: Where do you place a visitor in a virtual site?
  3. Dynamic alterity: How should or could they navigate time, space and interpretation?
  4. Art Versus Scientific Imagination: How should they separate artistic from current reality from interpreted virtuality? What if the artistry is impressive but speculative?
  5. Projects: Where can the projects (that apparently relate to the questions posed in the text), be experienced or otherwise accessed? How will they be preserved?
  6. Interactive Navigation: How do we navigate time, space, interpretation, and task/goal?
  7.  Authenticity, accuracy and artistry: How does one balance all three?

Updated UK/France/QATAR itinerary

Still being planned (Newcastle is still a tbc):

The 3 talks:

UCL Qatar: (tbc), 20 or 21 November 2017:

Talk, workshop and debate on Historical narratives and digital spaces (place tbc)

Salford, 29 November 2017:

Rethinking Virtual Places

This talk will cover my recent thoughts on what is a virtual place and a virtual world, and why we seem to have shifting, even varying notions of virtual reality. For example, what are virtual environments and virtual museums? Do they open our minds up to the possibility of digital space and virtual culture? In my opinion, they typically fail to do so, virtual museums lack contestation and imagined defensive capacity, they are not cultural worlds.  Many philosophers and cultural studies thinkers have given us some hints as to cultural places, but not to virtual cultural places. And architects are also not as well placed as one might think, to design, critique and review virtual places.  Nor is it clear to many how we learn through virtual placeAugmented reality will begin to dominate virtual reality, and consumer-friendly component-based VR technology has great promise, but new and emerging devices displays and peripherals may have long-term detrimental cognitive, physical and social effects.

Research Digital Cultural Heritage conference, University of Manchester, 30 November-1 December 2017:

Inside Out: Avatars, Agents, Cultural Agents

If conveying cultural significance is a central aim of virtual heritage projects, can they convey cultural significance effectively without an understanding of the contextual role of cultural knowledge? In this talk I will argue this is very difficult, but even populating virtual environments with others (human-guided or computer-scripted), there are still vital, missing ingredients.

In virtual heritage projects with enough computational power and sophistication to feature intelligent agents, they are primarily used as guides (Bogdanovych et al. 2009). They lead players to important landmarks, or perhaps act as historical guides (revealing past events, conveying situationally appropriate behavior). Intelligent agents are usually designed for limited forms of conversation and typically help convey social presence rather than cultural presence. For an enhanced “sense of inhabited place”, engaging narrative- related elements, or embodiment, a cultural agent recognizes, adds to, or transmits physically embedded and embodied aspects of culture. They could provide a sense of cultural presence, becoming Aware-Of-Not-Quite-Being-‘There’.

Cultural agents would not be mere conversational agents if they were able to:

  1. Automatically select correct cultural behaviors given specific events or situations.
  2. Recognize in/correct cultural behaviors given specific events, locations, or situations.
  3. Transmit cultural knowledge.
  4. Modify, create, or command artifacts that become cultural knowledge.

To fulfil the above criteria, cultural agents would be culturally constrained. Not just socially constrained; their actions and beliefs would be dependent on role, space, and time. They could understand and point out right from wrong in terms of culturally specific behavior and understand the history and possibly also the future trajectory of specific cultural movements. In this talk I will discuss three scenarios for cultural agents, their relationship to roles and rituals, and two more missing ingredients. The result? A more situated, reflexive appreciation of cultural significance via virtual heritage.


Crafting the past-resources and chapter

See esp

I met Jeff Saunders last year at the Interactive pasts conference, he and Stephen Reid presented this

 Jeff Sanders & Stephen Reid (Dig It! 2015)

Crafting the Past

Last year, Dig It! 2015, a year-long celebration of Scottish archaeology, reached out to new audiences. One of the most popular initiatives came from a partnership with a games-based learning specialist known as ImmersiveMinds. The resulting and ongoing project, called ‘Crafting the Past’, uses Minecraft to bring archaeology to life by recreating real sites on a one-to-one scale, including a Pictish hillfort, 18th-century palladian mansion and Roman fortlet. Players take part in digital archaeological digs, explore heritage sites and even redevelop ruined buildings. Crafting the Past has support from the gaming community thanks to Multiplay, as well the archaeology community, with special thanks to the AOC Archaeology Group and a range of heritage organisations. This presentation will explore the lessons learned throughout the development, launch and management of this project and how unique partnerships can break down barriers in unexpected ways.

Their chapter (with Julianne McGraw) is free online

  1. Crafting the Past: Unlocking new audiences
    Julianne McGraw, Stephen Reid & Jeff Sanders

Thank you for sharing

Though I have been critical of I can also see good, and I greatly appreciate the feature where people can comment on why they want to download an author’s paper.

When an author is writing for different audiences or for a new one, comments explaining where and why a publication has been helpful is encouraging and useful feedback. For new academics, these comments can be used for promotion and so on, but even us older academics can appreciate a few words of feedback and even constructive criticism!

Choosing Conference Hosts

Did you ever have to choose between prospective conference hosts? I don’t remember ever seeing criteria for choosing potential conference hosts but a few times I have been asked to choose or rank applications and from memory I try to mark them against criteria like the one below. Happy change or replace this if someone has a better system well laid out somewhere. Oh and I have not weighted the criteria against each other but that could be done with some contextual information.

  1. Venue capacity and character (size of plenary room, facilities, exhibition capacity, access to transport)
  2. Organizational competence
  3. Local heritage, tours and ambience
  4. Daily costs and access to venue, city and country (for majority of attendees)
  5. Western/non-western/ethnic balance
  6. Links to related institutes/institutional support
  7. Ability to bring in students, communities, related events and organizations
  8. Local expertise in heritage
  9. Ability to bring in keynote speakers and sponsors

Planned European trip 2017

Last trip of the year planned (still to be confirmed, approved, of course)..