Igeneric Thoughts Archives: Historic Environment

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Culture Online receives more funding - and calls for proposals to spend it


March 3, 2018

Estelle Morris, Minister for the Arts at the Department for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) today confirmed that Culture Online has been awarded a further £3,000,000 to spend on innovative interactive projects in 2018 and 2006.

Culture Online is now inviting project proposals from those with great new ideas...

Press Release from Wired-GOV.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 18:00 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Valley of the First Iron Masters - national resources, made local


December 13, 2004

Earlier this evening, I spoke (briefly) at the launch of a new Heritage Lottery Fund-supported project, the Valley of the First Iron Masters. Julian Richards, of BBC television's Meet the Ancestors fame, formally launched the project in Hull, home of the multi-disciplinary team behind the site.

According to the site,

“The valley of the River Foulness in East Yorkshire, UK, has become known as 'The Valley of the First Iron Masters'. It is an area rich in archaeology with finds dating from the Palaeolithic period onwards. In the Iron Age the valley was home to one of Britain's oldest and largest prehistoric iron industries. In Roman times it was an area of settlements, villas and pottery industries.”

The site provides an accessible means for the public to interact with the archives of an archaeological landscape survey spanning more than twenty years, and is a good example of one way in which technical data and scholarly analysis can be delivered in an engaging and approachable manner.

Features include an interactive map, 'Guides' from the past, images of artefacts, and the sort of 3D reconstructions and fly-by's that historical programming on television has led us to expect, all of which combines to create a far more approachable view of this area than the dry archive from which the site has been constructed.

The event took place in the HIVE, a very interesting visualization facility at the University of Hull.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 19:14 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

BBC provides information on how people use their site


December 12, 2004

The ever-interesting Martin Belam draws my attention to two new features on the BBC homepage.

The first is Popular and New, which shows the sorts of uses that are currently being made of content on the BBC site. The aggregation of topics presented (Latest News Headlines, Top Searches, Most listened to shows, etc) is a little odd, but still provides insights into use of the UK's largest website.

The other is a set of (currently) ten “guides”; pages which pull content on a theme from across the BBC web presence. Martin points to Christmas as one example, where the BBC has a large body of content, but no dedicated area on the site. I'd also pick out The Romans as an interesting example.

It's not clear whether this gathering process is automated, or undertaken by a human editor. If the latter it's interesting. If the former, fascinating!

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 21:43 | Make or Read Comments(1) | TrackBack (0)

DigiCULT report on a future for digital heritage activity


December 9, 2004

Back in October, I mentioned an exercise to paint a picture of what cultural heritage professionals think their online offering will be in a decade from now.

The DigiCULT team have just published the result which, quoting from their summary:

“...summarises the results of an expedition into the possible future of digital heritage in the next 10-15 years. It is based on contributions of researchers, heritage experts and professionals to a DigiCULT online forum as well as the project's ongoing research. The report is intended as a navigation tool for boards and directors of heritage organisations and research centres, IT project managers, and curators of digital collections, virtual exhibitions and environments. It cautions that the next waves of innovative ICT systems and applications may significantly shape and re-shape the digital landscape in which heritage organisations reside. For many organisations this could result in becoming 'blind spots' in an emerging ambient intelligence environment. As the places and roles of digital heritage in this environment need to be discussed and prepared, the report also gives recommendations which may be useful for ensuring the creation of a thriving and inclusive future digital heritage space.”

The report is available in HTML and as a PDF.

Announcement from the DigiCULT RSS feed.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 11:19 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

A new portal searches the archaeology of Europe


December 3, 2004

This feels like a very ADS-heavy day of posting, but then they have been very busy, they do some good stuff, and they take the time to tell me about it!

The ADS is a partner in a European project called ARENA (Archaeological Records of Europe - Networked Access), along with agencies from Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Romania and Poland.

They've just released the ARENA Portal, which cross-searches holdings from all six partners and displays some innovative touches worthy of mention.


The interface appears fully multi-lingual, and has made some interesting attempts to cater not just for the different languages, but also for different notions of time to reflect the fact that 'Roman', for example, spans very different dates in each of the six countries (indeed, the concept is only relevant in three).

As well as time-based searches, the Portal supports subject and place-based querying, with a unified high-level subject list applied to records from all of the partners, and a reasonably intuitive map-based search interface. I especially like the ability to overlay the map with information on the density of data available in the area you've selected, although it would be nice to be able to pan around neighbouring areas of the map, rather than having to move back up to a less detailed view first.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 15:42 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (5)

Review of the English National Monuments Record


November 23, 2004

Each of the home countries of the United Kingdom has a register of nationally significant elements of the historic environment; a National Monuments Record.

In England, this Record is maintained by English Heritage, and they have recently completed a review of their current offering, and of the ways in which it might most usefully change in future.

The review site includes the report and a body of background material, and makes it clear that English Heritage recognise the importance of making their content available online through a multitude of channels, and for a wide variety of purposes.

It will be interesting to see how this progresses, with the vast body of authoritative English Heritage content hopefully integrating with and supporting a wide range of existing and future online activities related to the Historic Environment.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 17:06 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

European cultural project asks for thoughts on where we go next...


October 29, 2004

The European DigiCULT project is conducting an online consultation to build a roadmap for technological developments around a digital Cultural Heritage over the next 10 to 15 years.

Participate and help to shape where we go.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 12:43 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (2)

Report on using the built environment in education


July 1, 2004

Opening Doors: Learning in the Historic Built Environment reports on three years of research and consultation into the value of historic buildings and sites in education. It includes case studies of current successes and recommendations for the future.

The work was funded by The Attingham Trust, DfES, and a number of charitable foundations, and drawn to my attention by Mike Heyworth at the CBA.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 14:04 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (2)

Cultural institutions are relevant to you...


June 30, 2004

Not for the Likes of You looks at repositioning our cultural organisations in order to make them appear more relevant and engaging to the broadest of audiences.

The report was commissioned in 2003 by Arts Council England, MLA, the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage, and published in May of 2004.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 15:49 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)


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