Curtin Cultural Makathon

Thanks to a Curtin MCCA Strategic Grant six reseachers and Library staff at Curtin University bought Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality equipment and ran two events to help staff develop digital prototypes and experiences using cultural data resources and digital humanities tools and techniques

  1. 26/08/2016 (AM) GLAM VR: talks on Digital heritage, scholarly making & experiential media (26/08/2016 (AM) 49 registrations-twitter: #GLAMVR16
    THEN Cultural Datasets In a Game Engine (UNITY) & Augmented Reality Workshop 6/08/2016 (PM) 34 registrations
  2. Curtin Cultural Makathon (11/11/2016) 20 registrations-twitter: #ccmak16 OH and before the Makathon, there was a TROVE API workshop! Or read Kathyrn Greenhill’s notes.

Our Curtin Cultural Makathon, great fun, four finished projects, excellent judges and data mentors, fabulous colleagues and atmosphere, plus pizza! Must do again but with more 3D and entertainment technology! Slides:

There are also GLAMVR16 slides:

Yes you can control the slides from your phone! if you like the technology, check out

Want Western Australian / Australian datasets for your own hackathon?



CAA 2017 Other session “Mechanics, Mods and Mashups” ACCEPTED!

My proposal to the 2017 Computer Applications and Quantitive Methods in Archaeology (CAA) international conference, March 14th and 16th, 2017 at Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA) has been accepted.The below will be updated when I speak to the co-organisers but we are thinking of a morning presentation and (possible) game pitch, and an aftertoon work on key ideas..

CAA2017 Atlanta: Other Session

Mechanics, Mods and Mashups: Games of the Past for the Future Designed by Archaeologists
Organizers: Erik Champion, Michael Nitsche, Natalie Underberg-Goode

Are you a fan of Assassin’s Creed but upset over how it could have made history exciting without having to employ and manipulate central historical characters? Love Lara Croft: Tomb Raider if only the tomb-raiding (stealing) mechanics could be replaced by something more meaningful? Wish that the Total War Series allowed you to employ agent modeling to test competing archaeological theories of migration, colonization and invasion or just to improve its historical accuracy? Dream you could use the language, graphic vision and immersion of Far Cry Primal in the classroom to explain (through engaging interaction) the Mesolithic rather than primarily use it as a backstage to fight semi- believable creatures? Then this workshop is for you. Correction. This workshop is BY you.

Archaeologists and people of a historical persuasion:

  • Either take a game with an inspiring concept, technique or mechanic..
  • OR extrapolate a current or past game to a game or simulation of the future
  • OR they share their vision of a game or simulation that reveals, expresses or augments their own research.At the workshop the writers will either:
  • Bring their own designs, video cut-scenes, and illustrations and media depicting what this new vision would look like
  • OR have some form of play-testing demonstration, cards, or illustrations or physical play-throughs (preferably involving the CAA workshop audience) revealing how this new level, mod or gameplay episode COULD be experienced or how it could be revealed.The writers will:
    Ask the audience to play through or role-play the actions that would be in the creative piece.

    The audience will:
    Give the writers feedback ideas and nominate the best presentation in terms of fun and engagement, imaginative ideas, and archaeological relevance (in promoting archaeology, teaching archaeology or extending archaeological scholarship).

    Potential tools:
    Gameplay cards, game prototyping tools, scenes or videos from a 3D editor or game editor (Unity, Unreal, Blender), board games as prototypes, playing cards, physical artifacts that are role-played by the presenter, illustrations, slideshows, game editors (like the SIMS: used to make films (Machinima), roleplaying videos, flowcharts, interactive fiction (like We will provide a fuller list of tools and examples to potential attendees before the workshop.

    PC with sound and display, some floor space to move around in for physical re-enactments. Tables or some form of desk to provide written or graphical feedback.

    Participants: 26 maximum (ideally) where 6 present. We require half an hour a presenter so three hours for 6 presenters, 6 hours a whole day if we want to go to 12 presenters.
    Ideally the non-presenting audience is not too large, preferably up to 20.

    We will approach a creative publisher (Liquid Books, University of Michigan Press or other) to provide an online or printable output of the demonstrations and the audience feedback.
    We would also like to invite presenters – if they can make it – to a workshop at DIGRA2017 Melbourne Australia to test out their demonstrations and play-throughs to game academics.

    Champion, E. (2012) Game Mods: Design, Theory and Criticism. Entertainment Technology Centre Press.


Well #GLAMVR16 was the twitter hashtag for Friday 26 August’s event held at the HIVE Curtin university, Perth. In the morning two invited speakers (Assistant Professor Elaine Sullivan and Mr Conal Tuohy) gave talks on Digital Karnak and Linked Open Data. They were followed by myself and my colleagues at the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts, then a workshop on Trove data feed into UNITY game engine dynamically (Mr Michael Wiebrands) and Augmented Reality, Vueforia>Unity (Mr Dominic Manley).

There were three themes/reasons for the morning talks and afternoon workshops.

1.Digital Heritage: Workflows & issues in preserving, exporting & linking digital collections (especially heritage collections for GLAM.

2.Scholarly Making: Encourage makerspaces & other activities in tandem with academic research.

3.Experiential Media: Develop AR/VR & other new media technology & projects esp. for humanities.

The event was part of a strategic grant received from the School of Media Culture and Creative Arts, so thanks very much to MCCA!

Schedule and links to slides

Session title and links to slideshare PRESENTER
Introductions Erik Champion
Digital Karnak Elaine Sullivan, UCSC USA
Linked Open Data Visualisation Conal Tuohy, Brisbane
Making collections accessible in an online environment Lise Summers
Digital scholarship, makerspaces and the library Karen Miller
Digital Heritage Interfaces and Experiential Media Erik Champion
Simple Biometric Devices for Audience Engagement Stuart Bender
Usability of interactive digital multimedia in the GLAM sector Beata Dawson
Emotive Media – Visualisation and Analysis of Human Bio-Feedback Data Artur Lugmayr
Visualising information with RAM iSquares Pauline Joseph
digital workflows (UNITY)  Michael Wiebrands
Introduction to Augmented Reality Dominic Manley
final questions/social networking/ SUNDOWNER Centre for Aboriginal Studies Foyer


 Event: GLAMVR short talks and workshop (Friday 26 August, THE HIVE, from 9:00AM)


On Friday 26 August (just before Curtin Research week) a School of Media Culture and Creative Arts academics, Curtin University Library and friends will host at the HIVE a morning series of short presentations.

The main themes are:

  • Digital Heritage: Workflows and issues in preserving, exporting and linking digital collections (especially heritage collections).
  • Scholarly Making: How to encourage makerspaces & other activities in tandem with academic research.
  • Experiential Media: How to learn and develop AR/VR and other new media technology and projects especially for the humanities.

Primary Objectives:

  1. To encourage humanities and especially digital humanities research, connecting research project ideas with an idea of possible equipment and the skills required.
  2. To get people together to discuss their projects and get feedback
  3. To help push forward prototypes and proof-of-concepts
  4. To uncover potential design ideas and available datasets for the Cultural Hackathon later in the year (see below).

Friday Morning: Short Presentations (on Digital Heritage, Scholarly Making & Experiential Media)
Speakers include

  • Assistant Professor Elaine Sullivan, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA, who will speak on Digital Karnak.
  • Mr Conal Tuohy, software developer from Brisbane, will speak on digital collections, visualisation and Linked Open Data.
  • Short presentations from academics at Curtin and there may be a few slots available to others in Perth.

Friday Afternoon: Digital Workflows/Augmented Reality WORKSHOP (3-3.5 hours)

In the afternoon Mr Michael Wiebrands will present workflows on importing digital records and other media assets into the UNITY game engine and he will be followed by Mr Dominic Manley, who will demonstrate Augmented Reality (AR) technology and how to use AR in research projects.


Cultural Hackathon, October/November 2016

In October or November we plan to host a CULTURAL HACKATHON. Academics propose ideas, and provide datasets (and so can Libraries, Galleries, Archives and Museums). Hobbyists, programmers, students will spend the entire day in teams working on application prototypes using that data and the VR/AR equipment provided. Proof of concept ideas will be presented and the best project will win a prize and the chance to work with the academics in the near future.

PLEASE NOTE: The event is free for attendees but they will have to register at EVENTBRITE (link to follow) for either the morning presentations or the afternoon workshop. We recommend people register and attend both but having separate registrations is to encourage those who can only make one session. Numbers will be limited.

Digital Heritage, Scholarly Making & Experiential Media

Our internal small grant (School of Media Culture and Creative Arts, Curtin University) was successful!

Here is a synopsis of the application (redacted):

Digital Heritage, Scholarly Making & Experiential Media

We propose

  • A one-day workshop [Friday 26 August 2016, HIVE] with 3D, Digital APIs, UNITY and Augmented Reality workshops.
  • We will present our projects at that workshop and a month later meet to review progress and each other’s publications and grants.
  • Then we will organize with the Library and other GLAM partners a cultural hackathon in Perth where programmers and other parties spend a day creating software prototypes based on our ideas from the workshop. The best project will win a prize but the IP will be open source and contestants may be invited into the research projects or related grant applications.
  • Equipment to build prototypes and showcases for future grants. Part of the money will also go into Virtual Reality headsets, and Augmented Reality equipment that can be loaned out from the MCCA store to postgraduates and students.

The above would help progress the below research projects:

  • Another need is to develop the maker-space and digital literacy skills in information studies and the Library Makerspace, to develop a research area in scholarly making.
  • Another project is to integrate archives and records with real-time visualisation such as in the area of digital humanities scholarship, software training in digital humanities, and hands on workshops and crafting projects at the Curtin University Library.
  • Another project is to explore how SCALAR can integrate 3D and Augmented Reality and create a framework for cloud-based media assets that could dynamically relate to an online scholarly publication and whether that journal in printed form, with augmented reality trackers and head mounted displays could create multimedia scholarly journals where the multimedia is dynamically downloaded from the Internet so can be continually updated. Can this work inform future developments of eSPACE and interest in ‘scholarly making’ and makerspaces?
  • There is potential to create an experiential media research cluster with the new staff of SODA, to explore immersive and interactive media that can capture emotions and affects of participants or players. This requires suitable equipment.

#cfp the ‘Interactive Pasts’ conference …

This conference will explore the intersections of archaeology and video games. Its aim is to bring scholars and students from archaeology, history, heritage and museum studies together with game developers and designers. The program will allow for both in-depth treatment of the topic in the form of presentations, open discussion, as well as skill transference and the establishment of new ties between academia and the creative industry.

Due: January 31st 2016.

Abstracts: max. 200 words.

Date: 4-5 April 2016

Location: Leiden The Netherlands

CTIS Symposium Shenzhen China 30 November 2014: The Convergence of Culture and Technology in the Age of Mobile Internet

I presented the below paper (and too many slides) at CTIS Symposium: The Convergence of Culture and Technology in the Age of Mobile Internet.

It was very interesting to see developing cultural media companies in China, and well done Halfback Studios for your partnerships going into this market!
Anyway, here is a taster of the paper I wrote.


The computer paradigm is giving way to the mobile Internet paradigm (Gartner; Lunden; Anthony). Always on, always connected, always linked, always beeping, and always being triggered. Increased mobility suggests lighter and yet more powerful devices, greater contextualization and improved personalization. So what are the implications for cultural experiences in digital worlds?

Unfortunately, in my area of research, virtual heritage (games and virtual reality applied in the services of cultural heritage), the development of technology for the transmission of cultural knowledge in a virtual world is arguably still at a primitive stage. Ideally, digital cultural innovation in this field develops in parallel with technological innovation but projects and commercial applications so far show either a lack of technical flexibility or a paucity of rich cultural interaction and thematic appropriateness. Despite this dour criticism, my paper will put forward a suggestion for how a creative and explorative fusion of new media, the mobile internet, and the entertainment industry could offer new and exciting but so far unrealized opportunities for virtual heritage both in terms of the public and in terms of the classroom.

  1. Convergence Culture

The book Convergence Culture, by Henry Jenkins (Jenkins) is well-written and relevant to our discussion yet some of the arguments are hard to pin down. I believe he makes these provocative claims:

  • Fan Culture is equivalent to Collective Intelligence.
  • Mainstream popular media is a good example of participatory media.
  • There will be no one Black Box through which all media will have to flow.
  • Old media does not die.

The term Convergence Culture is confusing. In Jenkins’ introduction (2) and his glossary (282) convergence is:

“A word that describes technological, industrial, cultural, and social changes in the ways media circulates within our culture…the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, the search for new structures of media financing… the migratory behavior of media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kind of entertainment experiences they want.”

Yet Convergence Culture is introduced as (283): “A shift in the logic by which culture operates, emphasizing the flow of content across media channels.” And even more surprisingly, divergence is (284): “part of the same process of media change” as convergence (at least according to de Sola Pool). So does cultural convergence actually just mean the tides and shift of media changes? Part of the confusion can be traced to Jenkins continually weaving trends and sub-definitions of Convergence Culture (and convergence per se) throughout the book.

Most importantly, Jenkins avoids discussing the importance of technological change in Convergence Culture because he is more interested in Fan Culture and the media industry, but this is a fundamental point of Ithiel de Sola Pool’s Technologies of Freedom. It was de Sola Pool who Jenkins (10) labels “the prophet of media convergence” because the former spoke about the “convergence of modes”, the increasing trend for media content to travel on non-proprietary and non-technologically required channels. In other words (10): “’…the one-to-one relationship that used to exist between a medium and its use is eroding.’” It is true that de Sola Pool argued that the media should become less dependent on the medium, but de Sola Pool still thought certain types of technology (dispersed, accessible, decentralized) were required for the freedom that he seeks. Likewise, Lévy argued for technological innovation (Lévy 39-55).

Jenkins also quotes Gitelman (Gitelman 7) who defines media as “socially realised structures of communication, where structures include both technological forms and their associated protocols.” So although de Sota Pool, Lévy and Gitelman, are cited for their observations on technology, they do not seem to have persuaded Jenkins about the importance of technology, culture, or the associated cultural protocols. This is in part because Jenkins wishes to refute the technocentric evangelism of Negroponte and others. He agrees that digitalization was important, but not that it is inevitable or even stable (11). Given Jenkins’ downplaying of technology, I suggest Jenkins is really talking about Lévy’s “convergence of modes” for transmedia audiences and their relationship to each other and to the media industries. So while the book title is simple and clear, it is not accurate, it does not express clearly the intention of the book’s actual focus on transmedia audiences. And the role and nature of culture itself is never clearly defined, which is a problematic issue I will return to later in this essay.