New Journal Article on Geospatial Semantic Web

The amount of digital cultural heritage data produced by cultural heritage institutions is growing rapidly. Digital cultural heritage repositories have therefore become an efficient and effective way to disseminate and exploit digital cultural heritage data. However, many digital cultural heritage repositories worldwide share technical challenges such as data integration and interoperability among national and regional digital cultural heritage repositories. The result is dispersed and poorly-linked cultured heritage data, backed by non-standardized search interfaces, which thwart users’ attempts to contextualize information from distributed repositories. A recently introduced geospatial semantic web is being adopted by a great many new and existing digital cultural heritage repositories to overcome these challenges. However, no one has yet conducted a conceptual survey of the geospatial semantic web concepts for a cultural heritage audience. A conceptual survey of these concepts pertinent to the cultural heritage field is, therefore, needed. Such a survey equips cultural heritage professionals and practitioners with an overview of all the necessary tools, and free and open source semantic web and geospatial semantic web platforms that can be used to implement geospatial semantic web-based cultural heritage repositories. Hence, this article surveys the state-of-the-art geospatial semantic web concepts, which are pertinent to the cultural heritage field. It then proposes a framework to turn geospatial cultural heritage data into machine-readable and processable resource description framework (RDF) data to use in the geospatial semantic web, with a case study to demonstrate its applicability. Furthermore, it outlines key free and open source semantic web and geospatial semantic platforms for cultural heritage institutions. In addition, it examines leading cultural heritage projects employing the geospatial semantic web. Finally, the article discusses attributes of the geospatial semantic web that require more attention, that can result in generating new ideas and research questions for both the geospatial semantic web and cultural heritage fields.

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.

CAADRIA 2019 Wellington

Mafkereseb Bekele (centre) winning a Young CAADRIA award
Mafkereseb Bekele (centre) winning a Young CAADRIA award

I was the second-author of two papers presented at CAADRIA 2019: INTELLIGENT & INFORMED in Wellington New Zealand, and they are now published in CUMINCAD. The primary authors were Mafkereseb Bekele for the first paper (he won a Young CAADRIA award) and Hafizur Rahaman for the second paper, both are colleagues at Curtin University, Mafkereseb is a PhD student here and Hafizur is a Research Fellow.

The primary objective of this paper is to present a redefinition of Mixed Reality from a perspective emphasizing the relationship between users, virtuality and reality as a fundamental component. The redefinition is motivated by three primary reasons. Firstly, current literature in which Augmented Reality is the focus appears to approach Augmented Reality as an alternative to Mixed Reality. Secondly, Mixed Reality is often considered to encompass Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality rather than specifying it as a segment along the reality-virtuality continuum. Thirdly, most common definitions of Augmented Reality (AR), Augmented Virtuality (AV), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MxR) in current literature are based on outdated display technologies, and a relationship between virtuality and reality, neglecting the importance of the users necessarily complicit sense of immersion from the relationship. The focus of existing definitions is thus currently technological, rather than experiential. We resolve this by redefining the continuum and MxR, taking into consideration the experiential symbiotic relationship and interaction between users, reality, and current immersive reality technologies. In addition, the paper will suggest some high-level overview of the redefinition’s contextual applicability to the Virtual Heritage (VH) domain.

To validate the hypothesis that virtual heritage papers are reliant on providing scholarly argumentation based on 3D models, and convenient access is provided to these models where relevant, this study reviewed 264 articles from the last three available proceedings of major digital heritage events and conferences (14 in total). The findings revealed this was not the case, few contain references to accessible 3D models. We discuss why this may be so, and we outline recommendations for ensuring that virtual heritage 3D models can be preserved and accessed.