Things I am working on..

I may be traveling to Italy start of September, NZ or Australia mid November, and possibly South America (it is complicated).

Just submitted a tricky paper on a difficult topic to a farway place I have always wanted to go to, but logistically shouldn’t. Cancelled a paper to a conference in a country I used to work and love, trying to cut down travel and grant reviewing for other people (two this week to do, sigh). Also have 3 or 4 draft grant applications to get back to which is a bit insane as I am already waiting on the final verdict of 4 others!

But I may apply for a Future Fellowship this year. Wish me well. Thinking of a theoretical and applied evaluation study of cultural presence in interactive heritage/digital archaeology projects. I have a lot of questions here since I first wrote about it in 2001, and just trying to decide if it can be scoped in such a way that reviewers from other, sometimes-related fields, agree with me. Anyway. The below are being reviewed or in press. And I just realized there are 5 book chapters in the list. I told myself not to write any more book chapters, in fact to slow down on the writing. Well there is also a journal article or two about to be published but those can wait for a later mention. Hmm, it is really time to cut back on the writing. I apologize to anyone who tries to wade through my books and papers trying to find a specific something…

  • BOOK Champion, E. (2020). Rethinking Virtual Places. Indiana University Press, Spatial Humanities series. Final blind peer review, due back July, I hope.
  • BOOK Lee, C. & Champion, E. (Ed). (2020: pending). Screen Tourism and Affective Landscapes. May be changing publishers.
  • CHAPTER Champion, E. (2019: in press). “From Historical Models to Virtual Heritage Simulations”. Open access book chapter for The Virtue of the Model 2.0 → From the Digital 3D Dataset to the Scientific Information Model V.2, Heidelberg University Press, Germany, March 2019. URL:  Should have been printed by now! Open access.
  • CHAPTER Champion, E. & Foka, A. (2020: in press). “Chapter 19 Art History, Heritage Games, and Virtual Reality”, in Brown, K. J. (Ed.). The Routledge Companion to Digital Humanities and Art History. Routledge, UK. With editor. Still to be reviewed I assume.
  • CHAPTER Champion, E. (2020). Games People Dig: Are They Archaeological Experiences, Systems, or Arguments? In S. Hageneuer (Ed.), Communicating the Past in the Digital Age: Proceedings of the International Conference on Digital Methods in Teaching and Learning in Archaeology, (12th-13th October 2018). London, UK: Ubiquity Press. URL: Being reviewed.
  • CHAPTER Champion, E. (2020 (pending). Title to be advised (Is 3D a new form of DH Text?). In B. Mauer & A. Salter (Eds.), Texts & Technology: Inventing the Future of the Humanities. TBA. Chapters due 15 July 2019. Oh better finish this.
  • ARTICLE Champion, E. (2020). From Cultural Significance to Cultural Presence: How Computer Games Can Facilitate Cultural Heritage. International Journal of Heritage Studies. Extended abstract accepted. Due 31 July 2019. Also finishing this submission. Abstract accepted but full paper needs to be reviewed.
  • TALK/WORKSHOP Champion, E. (2019). Invited Professor to Summer School: Cultural Heritage in Context. Digital Technologies for the Humanities. To be funded, invited. Host: Rosa Tamborrino Politecnico di Torino – Castello del Valentino, Turin Italy, 1-8 September 2019. Cultural Heritage in Context. Digital Technologies for the Humanities. Learning by gaming, partners: POLITO, UCLA, AISU, Museo del Cinema and the Italian Association of Urban History (AISU). Topics: Virtual Heritage (lecture); Gamification and Cultural Heritage (workshop). We are actually still negotiating as I hoped to visit Padua as well.

Applied Research-Digital Humanities Kryptonite?

Should humanities academics be more open to applied research rather than just pure research?

I was asked by a director of a digital humanities centre overseas my thoughts on pure or applied research for Digital Humanities academics.

The following is an edited and slightly bridged reply.

Quite a few Australian universities seem to be moving to industry-driven research, especially if they are not the Group of 8, or feel geographically disadvantaged. Australian universities may feel this helps guard against reduced federal funding and diversifies income streams, perhaps they think they are more likely to gain large research centres, Centres of Excellence and other funding and prestige if large companies join them.

For humanities, this can be quite dangerous because those few companies with major clout related to humanities interest (especially in social media) can be difficult to deal with in terms of IP or how they treat their market or very conservative because they don’t want to scare off their client base. (Caveat: for Australian GLAM sector-related research that I am connected with, this does not yet appear to be such a problem).

Sadly, the Australian national priorities are not even aimed at pure (scientific) research let alone NZ, UK or EU Horizon2020-type engagement and impact (communities etc). Let alone how to teach critical thinking. Shouldn’t educational research be a national priority? Is learning how to live together in an extremely diverse society where nearly one in four is born overseas, worthy of research? I think so!

But I wonder if humanities academics do not like the idea of applied research or industry-driven research to them (I don’t think the terms are completely synonymous). Industry-driven research is very interesting, actually, wasn’t Aristotle an industry-driven researcher, in the sense of being asked to solve things? I suspect Leonardo was, partly, as well. The more DH approaches design questions, the more I suspect it will be industry-partnered if not industry-driven. Because much design research is industry-driven.

This gets back to the paradox that many humanities content creators were design-brief driven, or patron-influenced; more so than the academics who study them in the humanities.

When I worked in a design school in a Creative Arts College (faculty), the brief and the client were seen to separate designers from artists. I do believe DH needs more interaction design and evaluation skills, but I have bias here, I work with design problems and match them or try to with philosophical insights and luckily so far don’t have to worry about appeasing clients. For many designers, applied research is bread and butter. Their typical problem is showing how that is research!

So, in a roundabout way to answer this question, I do question why academics think working with industry is bad, I don’t question that they are wary in terms of being overly influenced, swayed to consider income rather than meaning, or loss of intellectual property. But these challenges are perhaps solvable as separate issues. And industry can provide people, test subjects, prototype development technologies, and metrics to measure against.

Sorry for the long blogpost, I actually have much more to think/write about, this is the starting and abridged version!

New Journal Article Out

Another journal article is out:

Dawson, Beata, Pauline Joseph, and Erik Champion. 2019. “The Story of the Markham Car Collection: A Cross-Platform Panoramic Tour of Contested Heritage.” Collections 15 (1): 62-86. OR

In this article, we share our experiences of using digital technologies and various media to present historical narratives of a museum object collection aiming to provide an engaging experience on multiple platforms. Based on P. Joseph’s article, Dawson presented multiple interpretations and historical views of the Markham car collection across various platforms using multimedia resources. Through her creative production, she explored how to use cylindrical panoramas and rich media to offer new ways of telling the controversial story of the contested heritage of a museum’s veteran and vintage car collection. The production’s usability was investigated involving five experts before it was published online and the general users’ experience was investigated. In this article, we present an important component of findings which indicates that virtual panorama tours featuring multimedia elements could be successful in attracting new audiences and that using this type of storytelling technique can be effective in the museum sector. The storyteller panorama tour presented here may stimulate GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) professionals to think of new approaches, implement new strategies or services to engage their audiences more effectively. The research may ameliorate the education of future professionals as well.

User Experience Design Q&A (CAA2019)

S36: User Experience Design in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage

We were asked as presenters at the UX design session” at the CAA2019 conference ( in Krakow Poland, 25 April 2019), to answer some questions by the session organizers: Francesca Dolcetti, Rachel Opitz, Sara Perr

Overarching themes to be explored..

  • How, if at all, are we experimenting with critical thinking/reflection in design and value-led design?

As I said, not seriously, in my presentation, I decide to tackle that question by writing a book about it (Critical Gaming: Interactive History and Virtual Heritage).

  • What are the spaces in our workflows and practices that afford more experimentation with design?

Spaces: creative spaces are messier with big tables and bigger whiteboards.

Key discussion questions:

  1. What does ‘success’ look like in terms of the user experience (UX) design process for archaeology/heritage? What constitutes ‘failure’ in relation to the UX design process for archaeology/heritage?

My answer is specifically heritage, as I believe archaeology may differ (sometimes).

I think there are 2 main questions:

  1. the user experience of the product/simulation itself
  2. the extrapolated and after-event user experience (what happened after they were in the experience)?
  1. Failure (in a game, AR or VR) means lack of engagement or interest with content or with instructions, lack of understanding.
  2. Lacks memorability, does not lead participant to consider, explore, revisit reasons why we should preserve, conserve or communicate the heritage content and its cultural significance.

NB success is the negation of 1 and 2.

  1. What should the role of archaeologists and cultural heritage practitioners be in the development of UX and User Interface approaches for use in the discipline?

Involved from beginning and during the process, provide expectations of answers, domain expert walkthroughs of content as presented and understood by others, part of audience when results and observations are completed. More specific answers depend on specific context so cannot answer further.

  1. What are the unconscious choices you’ve made in your design processes, of which you later became aware?

Expect the public to notice things that I notice, under-estimate time and attention needed to solve specific problems, double-meaning words like “challenge” in evaluations. Get the participants to appreciate the simulation, (this is NOT what we should be doing).

  1. Are archaeologists and heritage professionals ethically obligated to state the values driving their design practices and explore the role their values play in the process? Why or why not?

This is a difficult question because although I say yes, for me the question is when? DO these values become revealed (if people can clearly reveal their values) during the digital heritage experience, before, or after? Do we want too much attention spent on the designers or archaeologists or heritage practitioners’ values? How much is too much?

  1. What values are implicitly embedded in your design processes and products? Have you ever considered applying ethical, feminist, queer, decolonial, or value-sensitive design? How did – or might – you structure such community-minded design work? And where (i.e., in relation to which processes, outputs, practices, tools, etc.) would you apply it first?
  • I attempt to provide more than one way, strategy, reading etc to complete a task, if specific tasks are required.
  • I attempt to coax the player/participant to make decisions themselves and revise their initial views and tactics.
  • I try to show the messiness, incompleteness of any digital “reconstruction” (OK, they are approximate simulations, recreations at best, not reconstructions).
  • I would like, if possible, to show the process and thinking behind the way simulations are set up and depicted the way they are.
  • I would rather the community engage with the game design first and foremost, rather than the game itself. By designing they have to make design and therefore heritage-related decisions.

I am sure this is very rough and approximate, but I tried to answer it all in ten minutes.

Sustainability of 3D models-the hidden criticism

I mentioned last month Hafizur and I had an open access journal article out, “3D Digital Heritage Models as Sustainable Scholarly Resources” at MDPI Sustainability journal.

Champion, E.; Rahaman, H. 3D Digital Heritage Models as Sustainable Scholarly Resources. Sustainability 2019, 11, 2425.

We were invited at very short notice to write this article, with a strict word limit, but a month before the invitation we had an earlier, sort of similar article reviewed very critically (apparently) by the first reviewer of another journal. Rather than wait for review 2 we pulled that article. So this article was built on the ruins of that article. However I never saw the reviewer 1 comments!

I write this as this article has been very well received (and downloaded) so far (well in 3 or so weeks). If there are negative comments out there I am happy to hear them. The article was merely to document what was missing from virtual heritage conference papers and direct access to 3D models, it was not meant to say there are no major 3D repositories or to blame conferences for not having many links to 3D contents. Rather it was meant to say, here is the data, you can cite or use it if you like (from the MDPI website), improve or critique it, but let us next try to solve these problems.


Polynesian Philosophy

20160526_112901I attended a conference at the University of Hawaii on the Philosophy of Place at the East-West Center.  Now philosophers there told me of their struggle to have Eastern philosophers accepted as Western-equivalent, there were criteria. But later, in our session someone from the audience said of course no one in Polynesia “did philosophy”. i did not hear their criteria for this judgement.

Their comment went round and round in my head, and although not my area at all, an idea began to take hold. In the meantime, I will collect little nuggets like this one and try to find more scholarly references:

Marae Taputapuatea was a sanctuary of great importance, and priests and navigators would come from all over French Polynesia to give offerings to the gods, hold initiation ceremonies and international gatherings, and discuss the origins of the universe.

If you are a scholar at a university in French Polynesia or Hawaii, and also interested in this unsettling declaration, please feel free to contact me..

latest article out: From photo to 3D to mixed reality: A complete workflow for cultural heritage visualisation and experience

Open Access for 50 days! Check out at

Rahaman, H., Champion, E., & Bekele, M. (2019). From photo to 3D to mixed reality: A complete workflow for cultural heritage visualisation and experience. Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, 13, e00102. Retrieved from doi:


The domain of cultural heritage is on the verge of adopting immersive technologies; not only to enhance user experience and interpretation but also to satisfy the more enthusiastic and tech-savvy visitors and audiences. However, contemporary academic discourse seldom provides any clearly defined and versatile workflows for digitising 3D assets from photographs and deploying them to a scalable 3D mixed reality (MxR) environment; especially considering non-experts with limited budgets. In this paper, a collection of open access and proprietary software and services are identified and combined via a practical workflow which can be used for 3D reconstruction to MxR visualisation of cultural heritage assets. Practical implementations of the methodology has been substantiated through workshops and participants’ feedback. This paper aims to be helpful to non-expert but enthusiastic users (and the GLAM sector) to produce image-based 3D models, share them online, and allow audiences to experience 3D content in a MxR environment.