Craig

This blog is about many things but it is sometimes about the Digital Humanities in a cultural, technical, and social sense and in terms of articles, books, and technologies

Oct 152014
 
 Posted by on October 15, 2014 digital humanities, events No Responses »

DHI is very excited to host  a public Lecture by Professor Melissa Terras on the 31st October 2014.

Melissa will be discussing the Great Parchment Book of the Honourable The Irish Society, a major survey compiled in 1639 by a Commission instituted by Charles I, of all the estates in Derry, Northern Ireland, managed by the City of London through the Irish Society and the London livery companies. Damaged in a fire at London’s Guildhall in 1786, it has been unavailable to researchers for over 200 years. The manuscript consists of 165 separate parchment membranes, all damaged in the fire. Uneven shrinkage and distortion has rendered much of the text illegible. Traditional conservation alone would not produce sufficient results to make the manuscript accessible or suitable for exhibition, the parchment being too shriveled to be returned to a readable state. Much of the text is visible but distorted; following discussions with conservation and imaging experts, it was decided to flatten the parchment sheets as far as possible, and to use multi-modal digital imaging to gain legibility and enable digital access (http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/3-1/great-parchment-book-project/).

  • Time and place
  • 9.30 to 10.45am
  • 31st October 2014
  • Linkway, 4th Floor John Medley Building,
  • The University of Melbourne

This talk by Melissa Terras (one of the members of the GPB project) will look at issues involving using advanced imaging methods within cultural heritage, particularly regarding the relationship the resulting model has to the primary historical text. Using the Great Parchment Book as a focus, she will ask how best can we integrate multi-modal imaging into our humanities research practices? What issues are there for both research and practice?

Professor Melissa Terras is Director of UCL Centre for Digital Humanities at University College London. Her presentation will include an overview of the advanced imaging technologies used in projects such as the Great Parchment Book (http://www.greatparchmentbook.org/), and the virtual shipping gallery at the Science Museum in London.

Oct 152014
 
 Posted by on October 15, 2014 history Tagged with: , , ,  1 Response »

This evening I’m going to discuss the historical significance of Smith Street, one of Melbourne’s most important and diverse streets. And this presentation borrows from some heritage work I did a few years back before the development of the site over the road, which is now the Smith and Co. development.  And as a disclaimer, I have lived in the area on-and-off for a good deal of my adult life and presently live less than 200 meters from here (although I have on occasions gone to other suburbs). And in this presentation I’ll give a brief historical overview of Smith Street from when it all began the mid- 19th Century up until the 1970s.

The 19th Century

  • Street founded in 1837 on an irregular track from the top end of Bourke Street that went to Heidelberg
  • Between 1837 and 1865 the street made the transition from a thoroughfare to a manufacturing and shopping centre
  • Boom in the 1880s saw the building of the Post Office and Foy and Gibson’s Collingwood Store
  • Cable tram arrived in Smith Street in 1887 and expanded the retail population

• Smith Street is one of Melbourne’s oldest thoroughfares dating back to the first suburban land subdivision in Melbourne in 1838. Smith Street forms the eastern border of Fitzroy, and the western border of Collingwood. At first Smith Street split the suburb of Collingwood in two but then the eastern half of the suburb was named Newtown and then later, Fitzroy (Melbourne’s first suburb).
• Smith Street originally formed part of a winding dirt track that went to Heidelberg. And it was the only road out of the city into the north eastern district of the fledgling Victorian colony. Smith Street was later straightened when the area was surveyed for the city’s first subdivision and became Melbourne’s first suburban shopping strip. In Victorian times it was one the busiest and most important shopping centres in all the Australian colonies and in Melbourne it was only rivaled by Chapel Street in Prahran.

Foy and Gibson's, Smith Street, Collingwood

Foy and Gibson’s, Smith Street, Collingwood

Establishment of Foy and Gibson’s
• Between 1837 and 1865 Smith Street underwent a transition from a thoroughfare to a manufacturing, service and shopping centre.
• One of the most important manufacturing and retail outlets of the time was the Foy and Gibson’s complex which had at the time the largest factory in the Southern Hemisphere.
• This is perhaps the first example of a purpose built department store in Australia and was completed during the boom years of 1891.
• Most of the Foy and Gibson buildings were built by the renowned Melbourne architect William Pitt who was responsible for many well-known buildings including the Federal Coffee Palace (that got pulled down), the Melbourne Stock Exchange, the original Rialto building, St. Kilda and Brunswick town halls, and the Victoria brewery in Victoria Parade. He also designed many theatres and re-designed the Princess Theatre in 1888
• And this image is on the Collingwood side of the street where the Smith and Co. development is being built at the moment.
• And these images (postcards etc.) can be found at Yarra Libraries or the State Library and some of them are online in the Pictures Victoria project.

Picture2

Foy’s ‘ladies store’

Fitzroy side of the street (and this is the Ladies store)
• Foy and Gibson was the first modern department store in Victoria and was a Smith Street institution for over one hundred years. Founded by a dour Scot, William Gibson, the store rapidly expanded so that by the early 1890s Foy and Gibson was present on both sides of Smith Street and its factories sprawled across three entire blocks of Collingwood.

• And this immense emporium or ‘ladies store’ on the Fitzroy side of Smith Street was opened in 1912.

Picture3

And this is a fairly contemporary shot of the building (with the Union Bank of Australia Building on the corner). And Kathmandu is housed in part of the old Foy’s emporium building at the moment.

Picture4

Macs Hotel
• And directly over the road was Mac’s Hotel, which also played an important role in the history of the district. It occupied the site of numbers 168-172 Smith Street from about 1860. Macs hotel was the focus of many of the agitations by which Collinwoodites were renowned. It was the headquarters of Stumperdom (or political stump speeches) and there was a large open space for gatherings.
• Perhaps Macs also played a role in the 8 hour movement that came out of the pubs of Fitzroy and Collingwood in the mid-19th Century.

Picture5

Until recently, the only surviving part was number 168, the southern third of the original building, but was torn down a couple of years ago.(and there is the Grace Darling Hotel just up the road from Macs is also an important hotel for the area and is one of the oldest, continuously licensed pubs in Melbourne, built in 1854)

Picture6

Cable Tram
• And of course, before electric trams there were cable trams. And this is what a Melbourne cable tram looks like in case you haven’t seen one (and they are beautiful and they operated in parts of Melbourne right up to the 1940s).

Picture7

And in this picture you will see a cable tram on Smith Street. And this is looking down Smith Street from Johnson Street with the Birmingham Hotel on the right there.

Picture8

And this is looking down Johnson Street from the corner of Smith Street: Does anyone notice anything unusual about this image? Johnson Street has trams!

1900 to 1970
• The period of 1900 to 1970 was an important period in the history of Smith Street. There was the expansion of Foy and Gibson’s (and its eventual closure), a tunnel was built under Smith Street for lady shoppers, and Coles opening its first store in Australia. But World War II saw the fortunes of Smith Street decline, due to a number of factors.

Picture9

Foy and Gibson at its height
• I love this Image this is a picture of Foy and Gibson at its height in the early 20th Century. And remember Foy’s manufactured as well as sold their goods which would be incredibly unusual today (so they had a lighting factory and a furniture factory and a toy factory and a bedding factory I believe).

Picture10

And this is a postcard of Smith Street with the large Foy and Gibson store dominating. There is an elaborate trellis facade built over the veranda, with blinds drawn against the sun, and the signs on every section of the veranda announce the Foy & Gibson Summer Fair. “Women in Edwardian dress cross the manure strewn road, men gossip next to their delivery carts; carriages wait outside the shop and several cyclists proceed along the street”.

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Sep 232014
 

“Government 2.0 involves direct citizen engagement in conversations about government services and public policy through open access to public sector information and new Internet based technologies. It also encapsulates a way of working that is underpinned by collaboration, openness and engagement”[1]

Back ground and context

The Political Issues Analysis System (PIAS) project (view report .pdf)—in which this work is a sub-set—sought to investigate how citizens in Melbourne, Australia used the Internet to seek political information about key political issues. It also sought to understand how citizens contacted and interacted with their elected representative in relation to these issues. Through workshops, case studies, and the development and testing of prototype software, the research uncovered some notable trends in terms of user engagement with important aspects of the formal political process online.

The PIAS project principally focussed upon citizen information use through investigating interaction with party web-sites and the policy documents that they made available. However, the participants in our study largely found 1), the sites difficult to use 2), the information hard to navigate and compare with other policies and 3), the written policies unreliable and unclear. One of our key recommendations from the study emphasized that polices published by political parties should be made available in a ‘machine readable’ form so that they can be automatically aggregated into other systems to enable citizens to compare the policy positions of the parties. Also, strict metadata publishing standards and frameworks should be used so that the information aggregated is of a high-standard allowing it be re-utilised effectively.

This work compliments the PIAS project through listing some of the key projects and services that available that utilise government data. It also explores in more detail the limited availability of what could be termed ‘democratic data’. For the purposes here, “democratic data” is described as: 1) Hansard: making the working of government available in new ways, 2) Transparency: newer forms of transparency through ‘data’, and 3) Policy: enhance and extend the policy making process through online open consultation.

Why Open Access to government data?

Much of the impetus behind the drive for Open Access to government data stems from a push for greater transparency to the functions of government. However, in the case of Victoria, for instance, much of the data being released within the Gov 2.0 agenda tends to be of an administrative nature and of little democratic potential. Whist the Parliament of Victoria does make an enormous amount of useful material available to the public through its website; it is not made available in a technically sophisticated, machine readable way, to take full advantage of the potential of the Internet. Bills are only available in .pdf or word format and the most important document about the workings of government, Hansard, is also only available as .pdf (although it is possible to do a full-text search of Hansard from 1991 onwards). If these important documents were available in a machine readable form, they could be utilised by application developers in innovative ways.

The Open Access movement is a push to make data both machine readable and interoperable so that it may be linked together and leveraged for all sorts of purposes. This may be for new business opportunities, medical research, or new areas of social research. However, doing this is no easy task as multiple data sources require linking and matching across diverse and complex systems (and ‘cleansing’). The first step in this process is to expose data in a standardised way so that it may be located and machine-read. The Victorian public sector has a policy framework specifically designed to achieve these tasks titled the Victorian Public Sector Action Plan. Two key points are:

  1. Participation: Engaging communities and citizen through using Government 2.0 initiatives to put citizens at the centre and provide opportunities for co-design, co-production and co-delivery.
  2. Transparency: Opening up government through making government more open and transparent through the release of public sector data and information[2]

Making data available in this way can only help to “deepen democratic processes” and promote a strong and healthy democracy (however this is often an aspiration rather than an actuality).[3] Accordingly, there is a promising international trend to promote a two-way dialogue between political representatives and the public through combining ‘’democratic data’’ with citizen produced data through popular social media platforms.[4] Rather than building a completely new platform (as has been the case with a number of somewhat underutilised government initiatives), some projects take advantage of largely existing and heavily used social network platforms and provide tools and services to augment their existing capacity (usually to inform and communicate government policy processes) The large EU funded WeGov project[5] and other projects in the US and Europe are welcome movements in this direction. [6]

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Sep 162014
 
 Posted by on September 16, 2014 history No Responses »

If you are free on the night of October 14, come to Mr Wows Emporium, 79B Smith Street, Fitzroy (upstairs), to Nerd Night Melbourne.  This is a night were specialists (nerds) talk about all sorts of subjects from environmental politics, moon-landing crafts, and pharmaceutical research. And on the night of October the 14th, I will be talking about the history of Smith Street, with two other speakers (on different subjects).

Why is Smith Street important? A history of one of Melbourne’s most diverse streets

Smith Street is one of Melbourne’s oldest, most eccentric, and more interesting thoroughfares dating back to the first suburban land subdivision in Melbourne in 1838. It forms the eastern border of Fitzroy, Melbourne’s first suburb, and the western border of Collingwood. It was originally a winding dirt track that went to Heidelberg, being the only road out of the City to the North. In Victorian times it was one the busiest and most important shopping centres in the Australian colonies, until it went into decline in the 1970s. From the labyrinthine Foy and Gibson’s, one of the world’s largest and most eclectic department stores, to secret tunnels for ‘’women shoppers’’, to the first Coles store in Australia, to a long history of struggle between rich and poor, Smith Street is an significant route for understanding urban Australian experience.

Picture1

Aug 132014
 
 Posted by on August 13, 2014 digital humanities, events No Responses »

thatcamp_melb_mj

Registrations now open for Melbourne THATCamp 2014!

http://www.2014.thatcampmelbourne.org/

THATCamp, Melbourne, 2014, will be held at the University of Melbourne on the 10-11 October, 2014 (Free event!)

THATCamp is all about participation, discussion, and fun through fostering a productive, collegial environment. The program for THATCamp is created and managed by participants on the day who vote on the sessions proposed.

In preparation for the event we ask you to start thinking about some potential topics to workshop on the day. The core theme of THATCamp Melbourne is pedagogy, although any aspect of digital humanities work is welcome.

To get the ball rolling, here are some suggestions: ‘blended learning’ in humanities teaching,  spaces for learning with technology, the creation, access and critical use of digital resources in teaching; grading and assessment through learning management systems,  social media in the humanities, for instance sentiment analysis, visualisation of historical phenomena, or MOOCs in the DH.

We look forward to your proposals,

Kind regards,

Amanda, Craig, and Fiona