NRI in Humanities (Australia)

I mentioned I was attending a workshop in Canberra on how to scope a scoping study for Humanities Arts and Social Sciences. The meeting, we were told was under Chatham Rules, which according to means I can talk about the topic without identifying the speaker.

So, without direct access to my notes (which I will add later), and because I need to write a report for my university research office (who were kind enough to send me across the country and three or so time zones) here are my non-note observations:

We were told that NRIs could be equipment OR citizen science (but I assume the second one in Humanities acquires another term).

Students March for Climate Change (outside the Department of Education & Training Canberra)



The group of invited senior academics (below Pro Vice Chancellors but mostly above heads of schools and garden variety professors like me) in the main agreed

  • it was not clear why earlier reports (by AAH Humanities and the Social Sciences equivalent) were not acted on. The 2017 (2016?) report/recommendations will be circulated. AAH spent 800,000 plus on their scoping study.
  • Most felt there needed to be federated repositories (especially for languages), and many felt a basic humanities data commons would be a good first step. It was proposed that there be nodes but this may not mean discipline or subject area, it might mean media type/format. I thought this was an important if confusing point, what do they mean by “node” and would it be at a host institute and NOT at a central/shared/state partner?
  • Many agreed (with my point) that equipment without training was a silly idea but that universities should bear the costs of training their own people. I am in two minds over this. Something to think further on.
  • Indigenous research should not be “ghettoized” (not my term, I am quoting here).
  • Protocols, formats, standards, ethics should all be part of governance.
  • Success stories, gaps/risks and opportunities should be part of the scoping study along with the governance mentioned above.
  • I suggested a review of current Digital Humanities etc infrastructures be classed in terms of Success, near Success or near NRIs but may need help, and completely missing/gaps.
  • It (the scoping study) should lead to a request for x (10?) explicit targets e.g. objects, things that go ping etc. But equipment is only part of the story.
  • Film/AV collections were debated, the case made that this was not only about digitalization. Someone pointed out that mapping the sky (astronomy) was a form of digitization so why is it so frowned on in humanities circles?
  • Trove was discussed as a success, a near (funding) failure, as useful, as not useful (unless you knew APIs), as an infrastructure, as not a research infrastructure etc. I suggested a member of a related GLAM institute (well at least one) be part of the scoping study even if NLA said that TROVE is not a research infrastructure as in not for researchers (primarily) it was discussed as if it was an NRI.
  • The NRIS (National Research Infrastructure) scheme is changing in a few years, my question: to what, or what will replace it?
  • The two Australian societies (AAH and the Social Sciences) will probably be asked for experts to run this scoping study.

Outside of the discussion people I spoke to agreed the Australian National Science and Research priorities were too applied and manufacturing-oriented but I heard that this might be revised (which might better suit both humanities AND fundamental science). I believe it should also encourage critical thinking and civic discourse/debate.

There will be funding for the scoping study.




CFP: Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

Personal and Ubiquitous Computing (Springer Science)

Special Issue on Virtual and Mixed Reality in Culture and Heritage:


This special issue solicits research related to Virtual and Mixed Reality in Culture and
Heritage. Authors are encouraged to submit articles presenting original and
innovative studies that address new challenges and implications and explore the
potential of immersive technologies in museums, galleries, heritage sites and
art/cultural institutions.

Guest Editors:
Damianos Gavalas, University of the Aegean, Greece
Stella Sylaiou, Hellenic Open University, Greece,
Vlasios Kasapakis, University of the Aegean, Greece,
Elena Dzardanova, University of the Aegean, Greece,

Important Dates:
Submission: July 31, 2019
1st round notification: Sept 30, 2019
Revision deadline: Nov 15, 2019
Final notification: Dec 31, 2019
Expected publication: 4nd Q 2020

National Research Infrastructure (NRI)

Thinking about the above for a meeting with 19 other people in a few weeks at an organization I have never been to, with people I don’t think I discuss NRI. For humanities and social sciences.

There was criticism from the Australian Academy of Humanities President on the Australian Government 7 May 2018 response (to the 2016 report), entitled FACILITIES FOR THE FUTURE UNDERPINNING AUSTRALIA’S RESEARCH AND INNOVATION

Funding will enable greater integration and modern accessibility of datasets available through the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN) and the Atlas of Living Australia.
Investments will ensure the preservation of the National Collections maintained by CSIRO through the construction of a new and purpose-built building to consolidate the housing of existing national insect, wildlife and plant collections to ensure their long term preservation. A scoping study will be undertaken to identify the technology platform and capabilities needed to establish HASS and Indigenous research platforms.

CSIRO stands for Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. So not obviously Humanities or Social Sciences (HASS). Yet many of their projects and infrastructure have implications for communities. Perhaps an opportunity wasted, or perhaps still waiting to be explored.

So where does this leave my planning for the workshop? It seems to me funding and recognition typically boils down to machines, centres, or investment/competition/start up plans. With Digital Humanities in Australia, one can argue there is no clear equivalent say to the European EU DH infrastructures/meta groups; nor an equivalent to the US NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities).

  • HASS research could better sell potental impacts and benefits. The UK quantify research impact/engagement; do other countries?
  • There is no single NRI to achieve this, one meta infrastructure would squeeze out the smaller disciplines/projects.
  • We are currently limited by lack of international funding/collaboration; cost of travel; siloization of research into non OA journals;  lack of Media/Public interest (arguable, I guess); and being excluded from the National Science and Research Priorities (compare it to Europe or NZ). And no, when you apply for a national grant, you ARE supposed to propose something addressing these highly applied, production-oriented, applied outcomes and priorities. Priorities, one might argue, that should already be driving businesses, not the entire academic body of  universities.  HASS needs to get on the board here.
  • Consider the discussion outcomes, and the implications for the Draft Terms of Reference for the HASS scoping study.
  • NB “The 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap is officially underway with the release of the Terms of Reference.”





CAA 2019 presentations

More for my own use, here are two papers accepted for CAA2019 in Krakow Poland, 23-27 April, 2019.

Author Erik M Champion (Mafi?)

Title Mixable reality, Collaboration, and Evaluation (S36: User Experience Design in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage)

If we are to move past one hit AR wonders like Pokémon Go, scalable yet engaging content, stable tools, appropriate evaluation research, long-term and robust infrastructure, are essential. Formats like WebVR and Web XR show promise for sharing content across desktop and head-mounted displays (without having to download plugins), but there is also a non-technological constraint: our preconceptions about virtual reality. For example, in a 2018 Conversation article “Why virtual reality cannot match the real thing” by Professor of Philosophy Janna Thompson) she argued that virtual reality (and virtual heritage in particular) attempts to provide accurate and equivalent realistic interactive simulations of the existing real world.
VR is not only a possible mirror to the current world. As Sir David Attenborough noted about the Natural History Museum’s “Hold the World” VR application, it provides a richer understanding of process, people can move and view virtual objects that are otherwise fragile, expensive or remote. And it allows people to share their mashups of reality, mixable reality. Collaborative learning can compel us to work in groups to see the bigger picture… your actions or decisions can be augmented and incorporated into the experience. However, there are few studies on collaborative learning in mixed reality archaeology and heritage. This presentation will discuss two projects, (one using two HoloLens HMDs, one a game where two people with different devices must share and control one character,) the theories adopted, and the range of possibilities for evaluating user experience in this collaborative mixed reality.

This is related to part of an article on VR for tourism that was submitted to the online Conversation website, this abstract will be further modified and updated.

Authors: Erik M Champion, Hafizur Rahaman

Title: 3D Models: Unwanted, Unknown, Unloved (Session S37: 3D Publishing and Sustainability: Taking Steps Forward)

Given the importance of three-dimensional space and artefacts to archaeology and to heritage studies, one might therefore assume that publications in the area of virtual heritage are heavily reliant on providing scholarly argument based on 3D models.

To corroborate this hypothesis, we reviewed virtual heritage proceedings of five major digital heritage conferences one could expect to be focused on projects incorporating 3D models. A total number of 264 articles across 14 proceedings were studied, and the results will be tabulated and presented.

The lack of accessible 3D models, usable projects, or ways in which the 3D model could be used and critiqued in a scholarly argument is of great concern to us. We suggest that long-term usage and preservation of virtual heritage models are worrying and persistent issues, and their scholastic impact is severely compromised. We suggest there are least three critical issues: we lack accessible, durable and complete infrastructure, which is essential for storage and preservation; we still don’t have a shared understanding of how to develop, integrate and demonstrate the research value of 3D heritage models; we also lack robust, long-term publication systems that can integrate and maintain both the 3D models and their relevance and functionality in terms of both community engagement and scholarship. We recommend seven practical steps for ensuring that the scholarship going into the development of 3D virtual heritage models, and arising from 3D virtual heritage models, can be fully implemented.

$420,000 ARC LIEF grant awarded

Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities 2018 round 1 [LE190100019]

Time-layered cultural map of Australia
Administering Organisation: The University of Newcastle

  1. Prof Hugh Craig (Chief Investigator)
  2. Prof Deb Verhoeven (Chief Investigator)
  3. Prof Paul Arthur (Chief Investigator)
  4. Prof Andrew May (Chief Investigator)
  5. Prof Rosalind Smith (Chief Investigator)
  6. Prof Ning Gu (Chief Investigator)
  7. Prof Erik Champion (Chief Investigator)
  8. A/Prof Mark Harvey (Chief Investigator)
  9. Prof Victoria Haskins (Chief Investigator)
  10. Prof Lyndall Ryan (Chief Investigator)

The Time-layered cultural map (TLCMap) of Australia is an online research platform that will deliver researcher driven national-scale infrastructure for the humanities, focused on mapping, time series, and data integration. The TLCMap will expand the use of Australian cultural and historical data for research through sharply defined and powerful discovery mechanisms, enabling researchers to visualise hidden geographic and historical patterns and trends, and to build online resources which present to a wider public the rich layers of cultural data in Australian locations. TLCMap is not a singular project or software application with a defined research outcome, but infrastructure linking geo-spatial maps of Australian cultural and historical information, adapted to time series and will be a significant contribution to humanities research in Australia. For researchers, it will transform access to data and to visualisation tools and open new perspectives on Australian culture and history. For the public, it will enable increased accessibility to historical and cultural data through visualisations made available online and in print.

Free Workshop: 3D to Mixed Reality: From Regard3D to HoloLens (23.11.2018)

3D to Mixed Reality: From Regard3D to HoloLens

(register on Eventbrite) Friday 23 Nov 2-4PM Curtin University Library Level 5

3D models adopted/generated from image-based modelling techniques are increasingly used in research, shared online, incorporated into digital archives, and developed as assets for 3D games and for Virtual Reality applications. On the other hand, various HMDs (Head-Mounted-Display) offer Mixed Reality experiences; help us to experience and interact with virtual environments and objects via gesture, speech, gaze, touch and movement. This workshop will demonstrate how to make 3D models from photographs with free and open source software (FOSS, Regard3D), how to import a 3D model to a specific Mixed Reality HMD (Microsoft HoloLens), and you will also learn how the HoloLens can interact with the 3D model in mixed reality.

We will be using the following software:

  • Regard3D
  • MeshLab
  • Unity3D
  • HoloToolkit

What to bring:

You can just register and attend the workshop. However, it is better to bring your own laptop/device, preferably with the following software pre-installed (installation may take an hour but is free of charge):

Please register to secure your place, and cancel your ticket if you are no longer able to attend, as places are limited!