Users, e-Research and Web 2.0 Conference, Oxford: part 1

My quick and likely incomprehensible notes from #esiw2

Day 1:

VERA project – Mike Fulford

University of Reading

Introducing new (digital) technology into an archaeological field project: the VERA project reviewed.

Wireless network needed to be set up, to reach the dig. Limitations due to the scaffolding platforms. The use of digital pens proved very effective. Undergraduate field school, so teaching how to do archaeology as well as using new technology. The digital pens need to ensure an enhanced workflow on site. Recording a context proved difficult to begin with, continued use allowed for familiarity. Digital pens also used for plans. Data transfer from pen to database. strategy mirror that of traditional context sheets. All digital created contexts were checked by the archaeology RA centrally. Quality of data recorded. Site staff concerns. Students might have missed info out. Supervisors should have checked contexts as normal. Errors picked up during context monitoring and post excavations as with traditional contexts.

Overall integrity of the data was a concern. Post excavation concerns, quality concerns. Having a record available by the end of every day did prove useful however.

Could we have recorded more? 41% of the context record of the last two seasons. Would more pens =more data?

2 groups reached saturation level, 2 groups were doing as much as they could, and 1 group were resistant.

A completely digital trench? Each group in 2009 had more pens than in 2008.Other hardware was used. Nokia n800 AceCad digimemo a4202, webcams were also used.

Ability: the ability of students to record context info on any excavation will naturally increase with their experience. Having a blank notebook can cause problems. Pre printed context sheets somewhat less scary.

Digital recording, what has silchester learnt from VERA? Introducing new tools is possible. Requires a massive amount of enthusiasm, requires momentum to come from the top. Requires receptive staff and students. Lead to an enhancement of the silchester website.

It would have been interesting to hear about what users do with the information once it has been added to the IDAB, how has it aided students and researchers… does speed of digitisation = a better source for research?

Paul Wouters

The Virtual Knowledge studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

The virtual knowledge studio for the humanities and social sciences discussing interfacing and interaction

The relevance of the humanities, eResearch=data science, interfaces as important as infrastructure. What about 2.0?

VKS has a dual mission studying practices and supporting exploration using information technology. Changing practices, telling stories, raising arguments and building tools.

Examples of work:

  • Building collaborative working with social history. VKS and International institute for social history.
  • Exploring women’s studies VKS and Women’s studies uni of Utrecht
  • Alfa-lab VKS and Royal Netherlands academy arts and sciences

How are research practice changing when you utilise new technology, new modes of communication and new ways of working?

Definition of humanities – meaning concerns interpretation of data evidence and texts. Value ranges over the entire field of cultural aesthetic social and scientific investments. Significance implicating both the former two, raises questions of representation in the sense of accounting for and of capturing in the sense both of offering a faithful rendition and of making broad claims.

Technology can help in the modification of research designs and methodologies.

People who use Web2.0 data are implicitly beyond the qual and quant methodology

A core feature of the VKS is the integration of design and analysis in a close cooperation between social scientists, humanities researchers, info tech experts and info scientists.

What is the relationship between data

Wired the end of theory-the data deluge makes the scientific method obsolete.

Beyond the data deluge. Computer science.

Massive amounts of data are acquired and used by researchers. Subtle shifts not always in the concordance of expectations.

How do you define data?

Creating new paths in a multidimensional space.

4 perspectives on ICT:

  • Conservative: ICT as neutral container
  • Pragmatic: ICT astool
  • Critical: ICT as technology of control
  • Radical: ICT as metaphor

Who is controlling the research?

The intergrated approach provides insight in the way e-research can contribute to new research questions and methods.

Crombies styles:

  • Deductive
  • Experimental
  • Hypotheses and analogies
  • Taxonomy
  • Probalisitic-statistical
  • Evolutionary (‘historic’ or ‘genetic’

They differ in types of use.

Some modes of eresearch

  • From data scarcity to data floods and cloud computing: new methods in data analysis and representation
  • Beyond data science: the radical promise of computational modelling
  • Visual culture


Interfacing between disciplines, interfaces between infrastructure and practices, interfaces as representation researcher.

Alfalab IEEE conference presentation -Construction and deconstruction of a digital humanities experiment

Flickr project. Implicit tech focus:

  • synergy in practices VKS collab.
  • Institutions and infrastructures – flickr: commercial culture heritage
  • Method as institution – flickr invisible use

Web2.0 commercial form of eresearch. Archiving in web2.0 is a problem. What is to be archived, what is to be preserved? Preservation should be central, or is the archive for producing useful questions at a later date.

Lucy Power and Eric Meyer- Sharing ideas and sharing data: Researchers and Web 2.0

Oxford Internet Institute

Types of incentives and barriers which researchers face when trying to collaborate data and ideas using web 2.

Friendfeed is a tool used be life scientists to disseminate, filter and discuss researcher and professional issues and ideas

Crowdsources group collaboration in friendfeed. Questions and answer sessions.

Conference sourcing on friendfeed

Community connections in friendfeed. Lightweight interactions. Connecting with other disciplines


  • Virtual London- geospatial map sharing, early efforts to share maps were hindered by legal barriers, and recent successful efforts to change the law in a way that will enable more sharing.
  • Maptube
  • Free our data

Using web2,0 and the public to show how society is actually working

General ethos of openness. Network benefits, advantages of scale (plus corresponding disadvantages), sharing effort to filter complex ideas and data.

Invisible colleges.


  • Friendfeed – cultural/field differences, work habits, information selections/volume
  • Geovue- institutions and IP
  • In neither case were technological limitations particularly important (although could be for certain users)

Tech adoption, there is lot of well designed kit, doesn’t have particularly limitations. More about cultural and institutional differences are difficult to deal with, rather than tech difficulties.

Community collaboration is coming out as a key theme

Private and public data key theme

Broadcast medium – how does active and inactive users influence things?

How does uptake of these apps bias research plans?

Microblogging and esteem. Should people be embarrassed about using twitter or friend feed?

Publication of microblogging research…

Filtering information. So not to get overwhelmed.

Looking for commercial apps rather then waiting for institutions to build it for them.

Social network analysis. Methodologies are interesting in this area, to gather a rounded view, as traditional methodologies don’t necessarily work with web2.0.

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