A brief reflection on the VHNIreland conference

The moment of arriving into the foyer of the conference building and seeing all the digital technology on the stands from maps to game style platforms. It was a confidence boosting to see what can be achieved by those with more experience in skills which are to me only newly taught. There were also those contributors who spoke on subjects applicable outside AFF, photography of disused buildings; Enda O Flaherty who spoke on memory triggered by photographs of abandoned village national schools. There was a professional flow between talk subjects in each session, each session essentially having its own theme. John Tierney continued the photography theme with the Historic Graves Project which used a form of RTI. There was no doubt that the speakers were enthusiastic, Sheila Dooley – Dublina stood out with an engrossing stage like performance. All the speakers were willing to engage with their audience during question time at the end of each session. There were the inevitable delays at such events when the spectre of interoperability raised its head. Then there were firewall events and data protection protocols. Nobody was pointing fingers, but people felt naturally uncomfortable as it was after all a digital conference.
There was a community feel about the whole conference as people would enquire about your area in the field, and willing share ideas, experience and further contact. At the end of the first day people were invited to meet outside of the conference parameters, to continue to extend earlier conversations and discuss the day’s speakers. Seeing as registration occurred on the first day; the second day started earlier at nine in the morning. This began in another lecture with doors at the back which allow for discreet exit and entrance without disturbing the speaker as with the first hall. The first session of the second day was the main reason for attending the conference as all the speakers were addressing issues on RTI. The high point was to be Daniel Maher of Equinox Digital and the RTI survey of the Tarxien Temple Complex, Malta, but unfortunately he was unable to attend. The other speakers Kate Colbert, Early Medieval Stones from Clonmore, Megan Kasten RTI reconstruction of the Govan Stones and Heather Christie Photographic Filtering in Archaeological Photography are doing enviable work. There work showed the broad applications of RTI and there were comparisons with RTI data sets that were processed recently in AFF 622.Speaking to them in the first break it came apparent that problems that occurred while processing RTI were common and not due to poor data sets.
The VHNI conference was definitely worth the investment of precious time as deadlines approached. The decision to attend only occurred on the previous Tuesday. There was a chance to learn from experts and to pick up information on ongoing projects. It was an enjoyable learning process well worth the time and effort.
Christie Heather – School of Simulation and Visualisation, Glasgow School of Art New Applications for Filtering in Archaeological Photography
Colbert Kate – University College Cork The Biographies of Five Early Medieval Stones From Clonmore, Co. Carlow
Dooley Sheila – Dublina, Viking and Medieval Dublin Online Project
Kasten Megan– University of Glasgow Shadows of a Legacy: The Use of Reflectance Transformation Imaging in the Reconstruction of the Govan Stones
Maher Daniel – Equinox Digital RTI and Projection Mapping: The Analysis and Presentation of the Phoenician Engravings from the Tarxien Temple Complex, Malta
O Flaherty Enda, Rubicon Heritage / National University of Ireland Galway, Triggering Memory and Meaning for Online Public: The Abandoned National Schools of Ireland.
Tierney John – Echarta Archaeological Projects Using the www.historicgraves.ie Dataset

Computational Analysis vs Curatorial Expertise

While some people believe that humans and machines are destined to compete against each other. Those in the media industry realise that the future of media isn’t going to be driven by companies who choose either man or machine—it’s going to be dominated by those that combine the efforts of editors and software that can anticipate reader trends and deliver what’s in demand. Accordingly, humans can anticipate big stories creating empathy with the reader. It is a human editor responding emotionally to a story who then has it delivered to the reader. Computers may digest information quicker, but they’re just scanning, what were their search parameters It should be considered that software’s are only as efficient as the humans that create them or use them and will therefore search using encoded biases. This daring symbiosis of humans and data-driven news feeds is a 21st century solution for media creation using computational analysis and curatorial expertise. When you consider the fact that many of these human are’ born Digital’ and have come to treat technology as an extensions of their own bodies, is not a stretch of the imagination. Many leading media companies that understand this are already building hybrid newsrooms using crowd sourced ‘tweets’ and images to appeal to new audience.
What has to be considered is how this is actually produced. The more people interact with a news app, the more it learns about them. This is essentially a news ‘cookie’ creating personalised news feeds that push popular though not necessarily newsworthy stories to the top. Higher approval ratings mean that a story will appear more prominently. Would an Editor/Curator wish to stop this, would they want to it is after all a business. This can be seen in the popularity of Content curation; the gathering, organizing and online presentation of content related to a particular theme or topic, see Pinterest. Generally a content curation site reproduces some of its own original content and links to allow followers to ‘share’. Other content curation sites also provide original content; with some curator backed interpretation and commentary. Those who criticise these content curation sites suggest that they are little more than marketing tools for interested parties; allowing for the practice of poor content creation, and little individual research on the part of the user. The prime purpose of content curation sites appears to be providing those using media for research and sales a real time snapshot of current trends on a particular topic.

The use of computational analysis can be seen as another ‘tool’ in 24hour global media. The news never stops. There was a time when ticker tape and telephones announced breaking news. Now software, scanning social media, using image or word search parameters can alert news agencies of every kind of story god or bad. There are very few places left in the world today were news can be hidden and when it is its usually by those with something too hide.
Man vs. Algorithm: When Media Companies Need a Human Touch, http://mashable.com/2013/10/30/new-media-technology/#uqbQZO7ktkqq

Mc Dermott, J. Human vs. Machine Music Curation: Why We Need Anarchy In The A.I. http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2015/10/human-vs-machine-music-curation-why-we-need-anarchy-in-the-ai.html

Apple News vs. Flipboard: Best Curated News Service? http://www.knowyourmobile.com/mobile-phones/apple-news/23191/apple-news-vs-flipboard

Concerns in curating an image collection

There are many aspects to curating, in museums, galleries and libraries, in Digital Humanities the main emphasis perhaps is on the curation of Digital images. What can be considered best practices for improving access to data, quality control, and data integrity? Which program should be used that includes time-saving tools that allow ease of access to an extensive online directory, yet is intuitive to use and provides further references to the search area . There is a value to digital curation beyond the academic and research communities those in the commercial and professional sector could benefit from exposure to the concept. There are many in commercial and professional sector who have no concept of digital curation or archive preservation and in many cases are not familiar with these terms. This does not mean that they do not actively curate and preserve archives, what it could mean is that they approach the problem without the knowledge best practice, and without properly trained personal, digital data support or infrastructure. There could be more engagement between those in academia and research and those in the commercial and professional sector. We in Digital Humanities should do more to convey the relevance and value of what we do to specific professions, possibly in the form of interdisciplinary conferences (Rusbridge et al 2005). The benefits of this interaction are the opportunity to safeguard a greater degree of digital imagery whatever it may be.
There are many facets to the Curators of Digital data, with considered best practice or not: the individuals using their hard drives or clouds, departments or groups using shared networks or separate drives, academics , groups of academics of many disciplines, the publishing community, national data collectors, or third parties data agencies. The primary issues in effective curation may include the size of the data, the number of objects to be curated and their complexity/delicacy the intervention/interaction of third parties, social and legal concerns. This should also include access policies, best practices/standards. The DCC consider “optimal approach to curation involves four steps” (DCC 2016). First, all data capture should build curation or re-usability into their workflow. This allows for ease of access regarding, provenance and reputation of information (Curry et al 2007) and self-contained metadata. Secondly curators should allow for scalability, not only data capture and retention. The formats and file type process should be standardised, although in some cases this may also depend on the source.
Thirdly all curators should make available all information regarding ownership and licenced or unlicensed access. Lastly curators should provide metadata to allow data or image to be citable, in accordance with standard formats and practices. The last two are straight forward data protection protocols. The concerns in curating digital image collections may be considered in the overall broader sense of digital capture, be it 2D or 3D. Despite considerable advances in international best practices in capture standards, protocols and future proofing software technology; and the forward thinking and generosity of internationally renowned institutes, Library of Congress, British Museum, the main concerns of curating image collections appear to be copyright and licencing laws.

Digital Curation Centre, http://www.dcc.ac.uk/resources/curation-journals
Curry Edward, Freitas Andre, and O’Riain Sean, The Role of Community-Driven Data Curation for Enterprises (Mar2007). Available at,http://andrefreitas.org/papers/Community_Curated_Enterprise_preprint.pdf.
Rusbridge Chris, Burnhill Peter, Ross Seamus, Buneman Peter, Giaretta David, Lyon Liz Atkinson Malcolm, From local to global: Data interoperability—challenges and technologies, Mass storage and Systems technology. IEEE conference Sardinia Italy, June 20-24 2005.

Digital Archaeology

’It could be considered that Archaeology from its inception embraced new technology. This included Cartesian mapping and early photography, ground based and aerial, both balloon and fixed wing. The Atomic era brought carbon14 dating, Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) exploration introduced LiDar, geophysical survey using proton magnometry or Ground Penetrating Radar. Jeremy Huggett suggested “the idea that objects contain embedded within them representations of aspects of their socio-technical and economic circumstances of creation is not unfamiliar to archaeologists”, could this be an ‘aura’. It could be considered that the dig and abstraction of artefacts by human hand are still applicable, the rest, Digital or otherwise simply speeds the process along. A prime example in the use of Digital Archaeological sub-set disciplines would be the discovery of Richard III’s body. A mechanical digger remove the first 30cm of surface material, not a mattock in site. From GPR to dig team, carbon 14 to Osteoarchaeology, CT scans to Archaeogenetics led to his identity being discovered. While the use digital tools and approaches are available to all archaeologists and should when possible be integrated into all aspects their work, many avenues of digital archaeology need a specialist’s knowledge. The introduction of many new tools comes from far outside traditional fields of archaeology, the IMS and GPS used in aerial LiDar is originally from missile technology. Archaeologists implement digital databases in comparative studies, this shared work and experience can be available through open access, linking all data, and optimising the link through new technology can aid in creating more refined interpretations of archaeology. There is a need for the next generation of archaeologists to engage with digital technology. Even to be given a basic knowledge of the many aspects of analytical or research systems irrespective of how often it is used; simply to know that tools are available to speed up complicated processes. There is no doubt that many archaeology projects presently involve the use of computers, it is not necessary that their project leaders know how to use them but they should have people in their department who do, Andre Costopoulos makes this point clear. In Ireland, the availability of dig information provided by the NRA online in incredible. There is an ongoing process to get archaeologists to realize the potential of digital archaeology using it as a new tool or sub-field and to eventually incorporate it into their research. Archaeology has come far since academics dismissed the first radiocarbon dating in the nineteen forties as archaeologically inacceptable. As computer technology becomes more compact and computers became more powerful and human-readable computing languages became more prominent.
The time is here to embrace the technology for what it is, a way of speeding up ancillary processes, overlaying tracing paper on google earth photos of the site to get a sketch map, GPS for distances and scale or identifying dig pits with GPR, reducing the use of test pits. In a generation, Archaeology, will be just be one of many disciplines revolving round Digital platforms. ‘Who commands the future conquers the past’ (Orwell 1949)
Costopoulos A Digital Archaeology Is Here (and Has Been for a While). Front. Digit. Humanit. 3:4. doi: 10.3389/fdigh.2016.00004http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fdigh.2016.00004/full
Huggett J.A Manifesto for an Introspective Digital Archaeology
Wenger R. Visual Art, Archaeology, and Gestalt
Leonardo Vol. 30, No. 1 (1997), pp. 35-46, The MIT Press