Tag Archives: History

Open Archaeology and the Digital Cultural Commons⤴

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When I joined the Board of Wikimedia UK earlier this year I was asked if I’d like to write a blog post for the Wikimedia UK Blog, this is the result….

Eilean Dhomhnaill,  Loch Olabhat by Richard Law, CC BB SA 2.0

Eilean Dhomhnaill, Loch Olabhat by Richard Law, CC BB SA 2.0

Although I’ve worked in open education technology for almost twenty years now, my original background is actually in archaeology.  I studied archaeology at the University of Glasgow in the late 1980s and later worked there as material sciences technician for a number of years. Along the way I worked on some amazing fieldwork projects including excavating Iron Age brochs in Orkney and the Outer Hebrides, Bronze Age wetland sites at Flag Fen, a rare Neolithic settlement at Loch Olabhat in North Uist, the Roman fort of Trimontium at Newstead in the Scottish Borders and prehistoric, Nabatean and Roman sites in the South Hauran desert in Jordan.  I still have a strong interest in both history and archaeology and, perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m a passionate advocate of opening access to our shared cultural heritage.

Archaeological field work and post excavation analysis generates an enormous volume of data including photographs, plans, notebooks and journals, topographic data, terrain maps, archaeometric data, artefact collections, soil samples, osteoarchaeology data, archaeobotanical data, zooarchaeological data, radio carbon data, etc, etc, etc.  The majority of this data ends up in university, museum and county archives around the country or in specialist archives such as Historic Environment Scotland’s Canmore archive and the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) at the University of York.  And while there is no question that the majority of this data is being carefully curated and archived for posterity, much of it remains largely inaccessible as it is either un-digitised, or released under restrictive or ambiguous licenses.

Cadbury Castle Post Ex c. 1992

Cadbury Castle Post Ex c. 1992

This is hardly surprising for older archives which are composed primarily of analogue data.  I worked on the reanalysis of the Cadbury Castle archive in the early 1990’s and can still remember trawling through hundreds of dusty boxes and files of plans, context sheets, finds records, correspondence, notebooks, etc. That reanalysis did result in the publication of an English Heritage monograph which is now freely available from the ADS but, as far as I’m aware, little if any, of the archive has been digitised.

Digitising the archives of historic excavations may be prohibitively expensive and of debatable value, however much of the data generated by fieldwork now is born digital. Archives such as Canmore and the ADS do an invaluable job of curating this data and making it freely available online for research and educational purposes.  Which is great, but it’s not really open.  Both archives use custom licenses rather than the more widely used Creative Commons licences.  It feels a bit uncharitable to be overly critical of these services because they are at least providing free access to curated archaeological data online.  Other services restrict access to public cultural heritage archives with subscriptions and paywalls.

Several key thinkers in the field of digital humanities have warned of the dangers of enclosing our cultural heritage commons and have stressed the need for digital archives to be open, accessible and reusable.

The Journal of Open Archaeology Data is one admirable example of an Open Access scholarly journal that makes all its papers and data sets freely and openly available under Creative Commons licenses, while endorsing the Panton Principles and using open, non-proprietary standards for all of its content. Internet Archaeology is another Open Access journal that publishes all its content under Creative Commons Attribution licences.  However it’s still just a drop in the ocean when one considers the vast quantity of archaeological data generated each year.  Archaeological data is an important component of our cultural commons and if even a small portion of this material was deposited into Wikimedia Commons, Wikidata, Wikipedia etc., it would help to significantly increase the sum of open knowledge.

Wikimedia UK is already taking positive steps to engage with the Culture sector through a wide range of projects and initiatives such as residencies, editathons, and the Wiki Loves Monuments competition, an annual event that encourages both amateur and professional photographers to capture images of the world’s historic monuments.  By engaging with archaeologists and cultural heritage agencies directly, and encouraging them to contribute to our cultural commons, Wikimedia UK can play a key role in helping to ensure that our digital cultural heritage is freely and openly available to all.

This post originally appeared on the Wikimedia UK Blog

Manifestos, Mòds and the Future of Gaelic in Scotland⤴

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Last week was the October school holidays so I took my daughter home to the Outer Hebrides to visit family.  My trip coincided with the Royal National Mòd which was held in my home town of Stornoway this year so I was able to go along to some of the Mòd fringe events.

On Wednesday I was at the Council Chambers in Stornoway to hear Mr John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, present the Angus Macleod Lecture on The Place of Gaelic in Modern Scotland.  (I’ve already written a more comprehensive blog post about the Minister’s lecture for the Open Scotland blog here.)  In a wide ranging and really rather inspiring talk Swinney reiterated the government’s commitment to Gaelic stating

“Gaelic belongs to Scotland, hostility to Gaelic has no place in Scotland and we should all unite behind the effort to create a secure future for Gaelic in Scotland.”

National Library of Scotland, Digitised with permission of An Comunn Gàidhealach

National Library of Scotland, Digitised with permission of An Comunn Gàidhealach

In questions after the lecture I also had an opportunity to ask Swinney for his thoughts on the role of ICT in supporting Gaelic education.  He answered by re-stating the Government’s commitment to providing 100% network connectivity throughout Scotland and went on to highlight the importance of education technology in broadening the coverage of education provision and ensuring that Gaelic education can reach greater numbers of learners than ever before.  In addition he also emphasised the new opportunities that ICT affords young people in the Highlands and Islands, enabling them to expand their education and skills, and seek new careers without having to leave the Gàidhealtachd.

The second fringe event I went to was Manifestos, Mòds and Music, a fascinating talk by Jennifer Gilles on the National Library of Scotland’s digitised Gaelic collections. Jennifer presented a short history of An Comunn Gàidhealach illustrated by a whole host of items from the Library’s collections, ranging from publications and periodicals, to Mòd programmes and ephemera, printed music and even recipe books.  I confess I was particularly fond of the “Celtic Terms of Invective” column from one of An Comunn’s early 1900’s periodicals. You can find a short Storify of Jennifer’s talk here.

Jennifer’s talk was followed by a showing of the a 1942 film The Western Isles. Set in Harris, the film depicts scenes of island life during World War II, as a family anxiously awaits news of their son after his ship, the Atlantic Queen, is sunk by a German submarine in the Mid Atlantic. The son, admirably played by a 14 year old motor mechanic from Harris, successfully skippers the lifeboat back to the Hebrides and returns to his family. It was fascinating to recognise many of the places that appeared in the film and many Hebridean families, mine included, can relate similar tales of heroism from the both the Merchant and Royal Navy during the Second World War.

The Western Isles

Ian Mac Néill Ghiolais in The Western Isles

Maritime Masculinities Conference Registration⤴

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Registration is open for the Maritime Masculinities conference which takes place at St Anne’s College Oxford on the 19th and 20th December.

Register for Maritime Masculinities

Maritime Masculinities covers the period from 1815 – 1940, which saw the demise of the sail ship, the rise of steam and oil-powered ships, the erosion of British naval and maritime supremacy during two world wars, the advent of the Pax Britannica, and the emergence of popular navalism through the press, popular literature, photography and film.  Panels will cover a wide range of topics and themes including: material culture and technology, bravery and honour, memory and nostalgia, race and empire, visual culture, life stages, homosociability, and sexualities.  A full conference programme will be published shortly.

The conference features a wide range of international speakers from the UK, USA, Canada, Italy, Germany and Sweden, along with keynotes from leading international scholars Professor Joanne Begiato, Oxford Brookes University, Dr Mary Conley, College of the Holy Cross, and Dr Isaac Land, Indiana State University.

Professor Joanne Begiato has worked on the role that representations of military and maritime masculinity played in the formation of masculine identity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She is particularly interested in the part played by material culture and emotions in disseminating and fixing ideas about manliness.

Dr Mary Conley’s research areas include the intersection between empire, navy, and manhood in British society; imperialism and post-colonialism; maritime history; and the history of gender, family and childhood. She is particularly interested in issues relating to boys’ culture and sodomy.

Dr Isaac Land has written about masculinity and the Royal Navy in a variety of contexts, including patriotism, popular politics, spectacle, empire, nostalgia, autobiography, domestic violence, and religion. He will present a keynote on “Dibdin’s Ghost in the Age of Ironclads”.

Further information about Maritime Masculinities is available from the conference website https://maritimemasculinities.wordpress.com/ and on twitter @MMasculinities.  Emails can be directed to maritimemasculinities@gmail.com

Maritime Masculinities is supported by Oxford Brookes University, Portsmouth University and the Society for Nautical Research.  The conference is being organised by Prof Joanne Begiato, Dr Steven Gray, Dr Isaac Land and Ms Lorna M. Campbell.

Sailors at capstan

Sailors and an accordion player on board Magdalene Vinnen (no known copyright restrictions)

Wikimedia UK AGM⤴

from

On Saturday I went along to my first Wikipedia AGM in Birmingham.  It was a really interesting event and it was great to meet so many dedicated Wikimedians and also to see more than a few familiar faces. Martin Poulter has put together a Storify of tweets and pictures from the event here Wikimedia UK AGM 2016.

The event featured an inspiring keynote on The Open Movement by Andy Mabbett who highlighted the importance of linking Wikimedia initiatives to both Open Government and national heritage organisations and who argued that we need to  do more to welcome people to the open community and communicate why openness is important to everyone.

Selfridges, Birmingham

Selfridges, Birmingham

Andy’s talk was followed by a workshop on Wikidata and a walk around the local area to take photographs for Wikimedia Commons.  Who’d have thought a photography safari of Digbeth could be so fascinating? ? I just need to remember to upload some of the pictures I took to the Commons.

In the afternoon we had a fascinating series of lightning talks, one of which covered the brilliant Wiki Loves Monuments photography competition which will take place in the UK again later this year.

Of course the highlight of the day was the UK Wikimedian of the Year Awards.  Martin Poulter was a very worthy winner of the individual UK Wikipedian of the Year award; Navino Evans, one of the developers behind the fabulous Histropedia timeline tool, received an Honourable Mention; and I was delighted that the OER16 Open Culture Conference won Partnership of the Year.

The AGM concluded with the Board meeting and I was honoured to be voted onto the Board as a new Trustee of Wikimedia UK.  The University of Edinburgh already has a strong relationship with Wikimedia UK and I hope that I can make a positive contribution to nurturing the development of a supportive and mutually beneficial relationship between Wikimedia and the education sector.  Gill Hamilton, of the National Library of Scotland stepped down from the Board, so I’ll also be doing my best to fill her shoes as the Scottish representative on the Board, though it’ll be a hard act to follow!

with Josie Fraser, Wikimedia UK Trustee and #OER17 Co-Chair

with Josie Fraser, Wikimedia UK Trustee and #OER17 Co-Chair

Threats, intimidation and #femfog⤴

from

I follow a lot of historians on twitter and earlier in the week I stumbled across the #femfog tag at the International Medieval Congress #IMC2016.  Femfog is a term coined by the retired Mediaeval historian Allen J. Frantzen who apparently had “strong views” about his female colleagues.  In a now deleted personal blog post Frentzen wrote

“Let’s call it the femfog for short, the sour mix of victimization and privilege that makes up modern feminism and that feminists use to intimidate and exploit men … I refer to men who are shrouded in this fog as FUMs, fogged up men. I think they are also fucked up, but let’s settle for the more analytical term.”

If you want to read the whole sorry history of femfog I can highly recommend reading this post by Jo Livingston Snakes and Ladders On Allen Frantzen, misogyny, and the problem with tenure.

The #femfog session covered a wide range of issues relating to women in academia in general and in humanities in particular, including lack of diversity, misogyny, racial and sexual discrimination even “dig culture” and harassment on archaeological excavations*.  I was only able to follow snippets of the conversation as I was in the process of writing this blog post NewDLHE – personal reflections on measuring success, which ironically touched on some of the issues being discussed. You can revisit the #femfog discussions on this storify #FemFog at IMC 2016.

One tweet that did catch my eye though was this one:

I retweeted it and added

It’s true. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told I’m “intimidating”.  I’m genuinely bemused by this.  I mean I’m barely over five feet tall and I’m the kind of person who actively avoids conflict and aggressive behaviour so why do colleagues find me intimidating? Of course I’ve always had my suspicions that the kind of behaviour people find “intimidating” coming from me would be regarded as perfectly normal among older, male colleagues. For example I don’t hesitate to speak up in meetings and if I have something to contribute to the debate I’ll say it (waiting my turn first of course). I also often chair meetings, committees and events which sometimes necessitates stopping some people from monopolising the conversation in order to ensure everyone has an opportunity to speak.  Is that really such “intimidating” behaviour? Or am I missing something?

Anyway, my reblog seems to have struck a chord as several colleagues retweeted it and added their own comments.

Three days later and this thread is still going strong on twitter. Seems like we’re an intimidating bunch…

* I should add, despite working on archaeological excavations for many years, I never personally experienced any harassment though I was well aware it existed and I was certainly familiar with dig culture.

Maritime Masculinities 1815 – 1940 final call for papers⤴

from @ Open World

And now for something completely different…

OER16 isn’t the only conference I’m organising this year, I’m also delighted to be involved with organising the Maritime Masculinities 1815 – 1940 conference along with Professor Joanne Begiato, Oxford Brookes University, Dr Steven Gray, University of Portsmouth, and Dr Isaac Land, Indiana State University.  The conference takes place at Oxford Brookes University on 19th- 20th December, 2016 and invites proposals on a wide range of topics including, but not limited to

Shipmates Tough and Tender. Italy c. 1925. Casas-Rodríguez Collection, CC BY NC ND 3.0

Shipmates Tough and Tender. Italy c. 1925.
Casas-Rodríguez Collection, CC BY NC ND 3.0

  • The growth of maritime empires, and cultural contact with indigenous peoples.
  • The maritime man in material culture, fashion, advertising and the press.
  • Exploration and heroism.
  • Photography, art, and film.
  • Fiction, theatre, and music.
  • Sailors in port and at home.
  • Dockyards and shipbuilding.
  • Heritage, memory, and museums.

The call for papers has already been open for several months and closes at the end of this week on 20th May. There’s still time to submit an abstract though!

Proposals are invited for short papers (20 minutes) and panel sessions (60 minutes). Abstracts of up to 250 words are invited, and should be sent to maritimemasculinities@gmail.com

The period from 1815 – 1940 saw the demise of the sail ship, and the rise of the machine-driven steam, and then oil-powered ships. It began as a period of both naval and maritime supremacy for Britain, which was subsequently eroded during two world wars. After a century of frequent naval warfare, there was the advent of the Pax Britannica, and the phenomenon of navies which barely fought. Moreover, popular navalism emerged in advertising, pageantry, and popular literature, and was the subject of photography and then film.

Cultural ideals of masculinities also underwent considerable shifts in a period that in civilian life advocated differing styles of manliness including Christian manliness, muscular Christianity, and the domestic man, and in the armed forces deployed tropes of masculinity such as bravery, stoicism, and endurance to the extent that military and maritime models of manliness were held up as aspirational models for all men.

Further information about the Maritime Masculinities 1815 – 1940 Conference is available from the conference blog maritimemasculinities.wordpress.com

Maritime Masculinities is sponsored by Oxford Brookes University, Port Towns & Urban Cultures at the University of Portsmouth,  and the Society for Nautical Research.

German sailors and an accordion player on board Magdalene Vinnen, March 1933

German sailors and an accordion player on board Magdalene Vinnen, March 1933. No known copyright restrictions.


Maritime Masculinities 1815 – 1940 final call for papers⤴

from

And now for something completely different…

OER16 isn’t the only conference I’m organising this year, I’m also delighted to be involved with organising the Maritime Masculinities 1815 – 1940 conference along with Professor Joanne Begiato, Oxford Brookes University, Dr Steven Gray, University of Portsmouth, and Dr Isaac Land, Indiana State University.  The conference takes place at Oxford Brookes University on 19th- 20th December, 2016 and invites proposals on a wide range of topics including, but not limited to

Shipmates Tough and Tender. Italy c. 1925. Casas-Rodríguez Collection, CC BY NC ND 3.0

Shipmates Tough and Tender. Italy c. 1925.
Casas-Rodríguez Collection, CC BY NC ND 3.0

  • The growth of maritime empires, and cultural contact with indigenous peoples.
  • The maritime man in material culture, fashion, advertising and the press.
  • Exploration and heroism.
  • Photography, art, and film.
  • Fiction, theatre, and music.
  • Sailors in port and at home.
  • Dockyards and shipbuilding.
  • Heritage, memory, and museums.

The call for papers has already been open for several months and closes at the end of this week on 20th May. There’s still time to submit an abstract though!

Proposals are invited for short papers (20 minutes) and panel sessions (60 minutes). Abstracts of up to 250 words are invited, and should be sent to maritimemasculinities@gmail.com

The period from 1815 – 1940 saw the demise of the sail ship, and the rise of the machine-driven steam, and then oil-powered ships. It began as a period of both naval and maritime supremacy for Britain, which was subsequently eroded during two world wars. After a century of frequent naval warfare, there was the advent of the Pax Britannica, and the phenomenon of navies which barely fought. Moreover, popular navalism emerged in advertising, pageantry, and popular literature, and was the subject of photography and then film.

Cultural ideals of masculinities also underwent considerable shifts in a period that in civilian life advocated differing styles of manliness including Christian manliness, muscular Christianity, and the domestic man, and in the armed forces deployed tropes of masculinity such as bravery, stoicism, and endurance to the extent that military and maritime models of manliness were held up as aspirational models for all men.

Further information about the Maritime Masculinities 1815 – 1940 Conference is available from the conference blog maritimemasculinities.wordpress.com

Maritime Masculinities is sponsored by Oxford Brookes University, Port Towns & Urban Cultures at the University of Portsmouth,  and the Society for Nautical Research.

German sailors and an accordion player on board Magdalene Vinnen, March 1933

German sailors and an accordion player on board Magdalene Vinnen, March 1933. No known copyright restrictions.

#ReadAnneDiary Campaign⤴

from @ Open World

anna_frank-infograph1 (1)Today is World Intellectual Property Day and colleagues in Poland and the Netherlands have chosen this date to launch the #ReadAnneDiary campaign which aims to highlight the EU’s current confusing and outdated copyright framework. Readers of this blog will know how strongly I feel that important historical and cultural heritage artefacts are openly licensed and freely available to all, so this is a campaign that I am very happy to highlight and support.  It seems more critical than ever to ensure that important works like The Diary of Anne Frank are freely available for all of us to read and to learn from. 

“Recently, Anne Frank’s famous diary has been in the spotlight because of a copyright dispute about when the literary work enters the public domain. After some intricate legal calculations, it seems that the Dutch version of The Diary of Anne Frank is now in public domain (as of 2016) in Poland, but not in the Netherlands or other EU countries, due to specific aspects of their copyright laws. The patchwork of EU copyright rules are too confusing, and the public is paying the price by not having access to some of their most important creative and cultural works.

On April 26, Centrum Cyfrowe is making available a digital version of The Diary of Anne Frank at the website www.annefrank.centrumcyfrowe.pl. Unfortunately, due to the restrictive territorial rules regarding copyright, the website will only be accessible for users inside Poland. Yes, you read that right: access will be blocked for anyone attempting to view the site from outside of Poland. Why are we doing this? We’re doing it to draw attention to the absurdity of these types of copyright rules. The Diary of Anne Frank is an important historical work—published originally in Dutch in the Netherlands. It should be available in the public domain across Europe. Yet now, it will not be accessible anywhere except for Poland.”

Centrum Cyfrowe
http://www.annefrank.centrumcyfrowe.pl/


#ReadAnneDiary Campaign⤴

from

anna_frank-infograph1 (1)Today is World Intellectual Property Day and colleagues in Poland and the Netherlands have chosen this date to launch the #ReadAnneDiary campaign which aims to highlight the EU’s current confusing and outdated copyright framework. Readers of this blog will know how strongly I feel that important historical and cultural heritage artefacts are openly licensed and freely available to all, so this is a campaign that I am very happy to highlight and support.  It seems more critical than ever to ensure that important works like The Diary of Anne Frank are freely available for all of us to read and to learn from. 

“Recently, Anne Frank’s famous diary has been in the spotlight because of a copyright dispute about when the literary work enters the public domain. After some intricate legal calculations, it seems that the Dutch version of The Diary of Anne Frank is now in public domain (as of 2016) in Poland, but not in the Netherlands or other EU countries, due to specific aspects of their copyright laws. The patchwork of EU copyright rules are too confusing, and the public is paying the price by not having access to some of their most important creative and cultural works.

On April 26, Centrum Cyfrowe is making available a digital version of The Diary of Anne Frank at the website www.annefrank.centrumcyfrowe.pl. Unfortunately, due to the restrictive territorial rules regarding copyright, the website will only be accessible for users inside Poland. Yes, you read that right: access will be blocked for anyone attempting to view the site from outside of Poland. Why are we doing this? We’re doing it to draw attention to the absurdity of these types of copyright rules. The Diary of Anne Frank is an important historical work—published originally in Dutch in the Netherlands. It should be available in the public domain across Europe. Yet now, it will not be accessible anywhere except for Poland.”

Centrum Cyfrowe
http://www.annefrank.centrumcyfrowe.pl/

Peer and self assessment⤴

from @ Pedagoo.org

I have seen students self and peer assessing with no guidance, structure or success criteria. In my opinion it doesn’t work. If the students knew what to do well and how to improve they would have done it in their own work in the first instance. Comparatively, I have seen some fantastic peer and self-assessment […]