Digital Scholarship: Day of Ideas 2, 2nd May 2013

In May I had the pleasure of attending this excellent event with two of my colleagues from Learning Services , Fiona Littleton and Stuart Nicol.  Here I am sharing my highlights from a thought provoking day.

Big Data – In her Keynote presentation Tara McPherson spoke about how Big Data sets could be harnessed for research in humanities but emphasized that Humanities scholars should engage with the creation of tools that suit their needs.  She shared the example of Mukurtu which is a platform for cultural heritage that is controlled by the people who own the information.

Tara also introduced the Vectors Journal which she edits and which offers some very different options for academic outputs than a standard text journal article:

From a social media perspective I enjoyed the presentation of Professor James Loxley and Dr Anna Groundwater from the School of History, Classics and Archaeology talking about Ben Jonson’s Walk (, on foot from London to Edinburgh, and which was chronicled by an anonymous companion in a recently discovered manuscript.  I like the idea that as they have not been able to physically make the journey they will reenact it virtually on Twitter this July.

Aristotle latin manuscript
Aristotle latin manuscript. Image used with thanks under a creative commons licence from From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Dr Eyal Poleg made some interesting observations in his talk ‘Old Light on New Media: Medieval Practices in the digital age’ where he showed that medieval texts had more in common with digital texts than you might imagine.  I particularly appreciated his observation that as a WIKI is designed for co-creation, a medieval book was also a communal object belonging to a group or family. Annotations were encouraged by wide margins and spaces between the lines. Additional annotations were seen to add value to the text.  This is very different from the attitude to books I was raised with where books were not to be drawn in or marked!  It seems that the belief that a book is in itself the repository of truth and therefore not to be amended, is a more modern phenomenon.

A link to the videos of the two keynote speeches at this year’s Day of Ideas:

Digital Scholarship website:


Author: Susan Greig

This post was originally posted on the Educational Design and Engagement Team Blog.

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