Curtin 22 May 2014-Seminar: Digital Humanities is not just text
visualisation & playful
A joint Centre for Culture and Technology and
Australia-Asia-Paciﬁc Institute presentation!
@Curtin HIVE (Hub for Immersive Visualisation and eResearch)
John Curtin Gallery, Building 200A
• DH 'big tent' or cash-grab in a crowded campsite? In his chapter 'The Digital Humanities or a Digital
Humanism’ in Debates in the Digital Humanities, (Gold, 2012), Dave Parry raises the controversial
question as to whether DH would be best considered as the application of computing, or an inquiry
as to how digital media has irrevocably changed the Humanities.
• IMO: DH at its core considers how to integrate computing with humanities and attempts to
understand how both computing and humanities must change.
• DH is/are computing services + tools for digitalization and processing of text or literature (Baldwin,
• digital humanities is/are primarily text-based and non-text based media is not part of DH?
• visualisation cannot provide suitable scholarly arguments;
• clear separation between written language and images;
• to be a humanist or a humanistic scholar (not the same thing) one has to have high levels of literacy.
• WAYWARD PROOF: examples through immersive environments and interaction, (both playful and
• Digital humanities heritage games &
supercomputing for hobbits
• What can humanities academics and students do
with visualisation and interaction tools?
IS DH text-based?:
• Stone Age Art Caves May Have Been
• Rock art acoustics
• Using Subterranean Acoustics To Explore
Ancient Cave Art
LASCAUX “The 12,000-year-old cave paintings appear
to be placed at acoustically resonant locations, and
researchers now theorise they may have been inspired
by musical performances held in caves.”
What is Spatial History?
• One of the important points that I want to make about
visualizations, spatial relations, and spatial history is
something that I did not fully understand until I started
doing this work and which I have had a hard time
communicating fully to my colleagues: visualization and
spatial history are not about producing illustrations or
maps to communicate things that you have discovered
by other means. It is a means of doing research; it
generates questions that might otherwise go unasked, it
reveals historical relations that might otherwise go
unnoticed, and it undermines, or substantiates, stories
upon which we build our own versions of the past.
Archiving is very important
instantar.org marker less augmented drawing and stories
free Bologna in Blender
Film Events (Machinima)
• Can we access supercomputing for media
studies and production?
• 2004. runs the third largest supercomputer
on the planet..The ones that beat Weta
WERE the Japanese Earth Simulator (5120
processors) and Los Alamos National
Laboratory's supercomputer (8192
• IN 201, 6 times in top 500, most in top 300
• NB More Data in LOTR 3 than LOTR1+2
Martin Freeman - Hobbit by Karolina5n on deviantART, karolina5n.deviantart.com1024 × 1533Search by image
Martin Freeman - Hobbit by karolina5nhttps://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS-Utf5lVdrEErcSp_nNAClkZs6II7JGtvaG2AEj72gRcrSbtVs
Plague – Slave trade -
Challenge: ..the belief that it is exciting
to learn about history.
Integrates learning and playing in a way
that engages pupils and gives them a
concrete feel for the historical time and
Platform: Mac/PC, single player, browser
Technology: 3D Unity game engine
Playtime: Per game 60 minutes
Target group: 9-14 years old
Alternative game modes
Turkey Maiden Educational Computer Game
Games and Role-play
OR video at http://vimeo.com/25901467
iVEs from VR systems
• Games are great learning environments
• Except for Cultural Signiﬁcance, history and heritage
• Conclusion: problems and solutions
• Technology=barrier but not issue: learning is the problem.
• Which historical principles are used, learnt and applied?
• Inhabitants’ points of view (heritage) is missing
• Scholarly cycle incomplete, community cycle inextensible
VH is not VR
• “Virtual reality is the use of computers and human-
computer interfaces to create the effect of a three-
dimensional world containing interactive objects
with a strong sense of three-dimensional
• The importance of using HMDs or CAVEs, for VR
apparently requires “a head-tracked, usually a
stereoscopic, display that presents the virtual world
from the user’s current head position, including the
visual cues required..”
What Is Left Out?
• Beliefs, rituals, other cultural behaviours and activities?
• Traces the level of certainty, and authenticity of
reproduction and reveals process? I.e. scholastic rigor?
• Sensitive to the needs of audience & shareholder?
• Virtual heritage is the attempt to convey not just the
appearance but also the meaning and signiﬁcance of
cultural artifacts and the associated social agency
that designed and used them, through the use of
interactive and immersive digital media.
4 Issues With Culture
• Deﬁnition (and relation to
place and inhabitation)?
• How is culture transmitted?
• Transmit local situated
cultural knowledge to
• VH: how to transmit via
digital & augmented
• To evoke +communicate historical situations or heritage values ﬁnd
deeper understandings not simply memorize facts (Bloom, 1956).
• Place is a cultural setting, it gives cultural interaction a time and a
location, Crang (1998, p.103), “Spaces become places as they
• Places do not just organise space, they orient, identify, and animate
the bodies, minds, and feelings of both inhabitants and visitors.
• Cultural presence: a feeling in a virtual environment that people
with a different cultural perspective occupy or have occupied that
virtual environment as a ‘place’.
• Background in architecture, (art
history) and philosophy
• PhD with Lonely Planet in VEs for
travel and tourism
• Taught interaction design and
game design at UQ, UNSW,
• Project Manager at DIGHUMLAB
• Professor of Cultural Visualisation,
Curtin University, Perth, Western
the act of reshaping the user experience of exploring realms or worlds
through the innovative use of digital media.
Games aren’t Challenging?
• A rule-based formal system with a variable and quantiﬁable
outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values,
the player exerts effort in order to inﬂuence the outcome, the
player feels attached to the outcome, and the consequences of
the activity are optional and negotiable. (Juul 2003, para 15).
• A system in which players engage in an artiﬁcial conﬂict,
deﬁned by rules, that results in a quantiﬁable outcome. (Salen
and Zimmerman, 2004).
• A challenge that offers up the possibility of temporary or
permanent tactical resolution without harmful outcomes to the real
world situation of the participant (Champion, 2006).
Games are culturally signiﬁcant?
• For evoking +communicating historical situations or
heritage values we must deeper understandings
rather than simply memorizing facts (Bloom, 1956).
• What is the cultural signiﬁcance of what is
represented and interacted with?
• Cultural presence, a feeling in a virtual environment
that people with a different cultural perspective
occupy or have occupied that virtual environment
as a ‘place’.
Prescriptive / Procedural learning?
Gamer: Reach objectives as quickly & vividly as
Tourist: Enjoy highlights safely and conveniently. Viz: Weekend in Capri
Traveller: complete tasks via local affordances. Activity: Myst
Archaeologist: Discover past via examining material
remains, geographical changes, epigraphy etc.
Viz of process: ArcDig,
Anthropologist: Understand the beliefs roles and
relationships of inhabitants in context. geographical
changes, epigraphy etc.
Problem: Inhabitants’ PoV
• Can users learn via interaction the meanings and values
of others, do we need to interact as the original
• How can we ﬁnd out how they interacted?
• Can the limited and constraining nature of current
technology help interaction become more meaningful,
educational and enjoyable (Handron & Jacobson, 2010)?
• How do we even know when meaningful learning is
• Social judgement
• Social Proxemics
• Being “in the ﬂow”
• Physical delineation (profane
• Event-based or regular
Image: http://www.virtualtripping.com/google-earths-rome-reborn/ 2008
Kinect 1/2: voice + skeleton
Skyrim has motion tracking and voice commands
Vocal Joystick surfs the Web
• Listen in as someone uses
Vocal Joystick to browse the
• Eight vowel sounds move the
cursor in different directions.
• Louder noises move the
cursor more quickly.
• The sounds “k” and “ch”
simulate clicking and
releasing the mouse buttons.
• No realistic humans
• No social judgement
• No time to think
• Gun based genres are
• Weaponry skill can be easily
• Typical single player
Alternatives To Violence
• Reﬂexivity: A reﬂective space, where players relax & consider the consequences of their actions
• Performativity: Players asked to perform or orate and present their experience of the VE in class.
• RPG Virtue Ethics: Characters change in relation to development of virtue ethics.
• Consequentialism: Consequences of player actions affect their future gameplay. through the game.
• Creative Uses For Weapons.
• NPC distaste and disparagement: they discourage violence.
• Biofeedback: Performance based on calmness.
• Expressive and embodied modes of interaction.
• Non-violent competition.
• Players become morally accountable for their actions.
• Ritual or mythical use of weapons.
Chinese Taoism Touch Screen by
Neil Wang and Erik Champion
Game Hua - http://youtu.be/
Game Qi1 - http://youtu.be/
Game Qi2 - http://youtu.be/
Game Qin - http://youtu.be/
Game Shu - http://youtu.be/
• Collaborative learning: HACK4LT, VILNIUS LITHUANIA
• Technology or evaluation is not the fundamental problem.
Skeates (2000) warned that archaeologists need to
reconsider their ﬁeld as a communication medium, and not
just as a closed scientiﬁc discipline.
• Books presuppose a vast domain of knowledge, a certain
learnt yet creative technique of extrapolation..
• ..They typically do not cover the experiential detective work
of experts that visit the real site (Gillings, 2002).
• An academic publication is also a simpliﬁcation and
metaphorical extension of the remains and ruins it describes.
• Ideally, virtual environments may help the general public to
• create, and share and discuss hypothetical or counterfactual
• meet virtually in these places with colleagues to discuss
• work in these recreations to understand limitations forced on
• develop experiential ways to entice a potential new
audience to both admire the content and the methods of their
area of research
• Scholarly knowledge does not easily translate to audience
knowledge; nor does it always best engage the public.
• IF we can use digital worlds for teaching +learning about heritage
&history, is it preferable to learn about a collection of culturally
situated past experiences, or a strictly academic procession of
• Smith: confusion between history as meaning the past, and history
as being something produced by historians.
• Given that even philosophers such as Goldstein (1964) and Gale
(1962) disagreed on what constitutes history and what constitutes
recollection of the past; how can students or the general public
reliably distinguish between the two?
• How it can be or should be accessed?
• The Siren call of technological determinism and fancy pictures.
• Digital media as purely a shop façade for the serious and scholarly past
time of reading and writing books (Parry 2005; Gillings, 2002).
• Yet if we avoid teaching with digital media, how will the changing
attention spans and learning patterns of new generations be best
addressed (Mehegan, 2007)?
• Even if we decide on what we are evaluating, it is not clear how to
• The ethnographic techniques used by researchers may be effective in
recording activity, but they do not directly indicate the potential mental
transformations of perspective that result from being subjectively
immersed in a different type of cultural presence (Benford et al, 2002).
Evaluating VES - People
• Task performance (quantitative or
• Likert or statistical evaluation
• Extrapolated understanding
• Personal ‘sense’ of cultural
• What do they choose next (exit
• ‘Teach the teacher’ et al methods
• Excitement recorded from
• Games as Virtual Environments may connect more people,
more thematically without competing with book learning.
• Background research needed for public vs. scholar needs.
• Game conventions ‘work’ but meaningful learning elusive.
• We lack interactive and immersive digital history projects
that are meaningful and engaging learning experiences.
• Mixed reality in history and heritage has many advantages
but few working exemplars.
• BBC Ancient History Section. (Undated). Death in Sakkara: An Egyptian Adventure, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/interactive/
• Benford, S., Fraser, M., Reynard, G. Koleva, B., and Drozd, A. (2002). Staging and Evaluating Public Performances as an Approach
to CVE Research, Proceedings of the 4th international conference on Collaborative virtual environments, ACM New York.
• Bloom, B. S. (1956). ‘Taxonomy of Educational Objectives’, Book 1 Cognitive Domain. New York: Longman Inc.
• Champion, E. (2008). ‘Otherness of place: Game-based interaction and learning in virtual heritage projects’, International Journal of
Heritage Studies, 14(3), 210-228.
• Dondlinger, M. J. (2007). ‘Educational Video Game Design: A Review of the Literature’, Journal of Applied Educational Technology,
• Handron, K., & Jacobson, J. (2010). Extending Physical Collections Into the Virtual Space of a Digital Dome,. Paper presented at the
11th International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (VAST), Paris, France.
• Hight, J. (2006). ‘TEXT: Narrative Archaeology: reading the landscape’, newmediaﬁx, http://newmediaﬁx.net/daily/?p=638
• Leader-Elliott, L. (2003). ‘Community Heritage Interpretation Games: A Case Study from Angaston, South Australia’, International
Journal of Heritage Studies, 11:2, 161-71.
• Gale, R.M. (1962). ‘Dewey and the Problem of the Alleged Futurity of Yesterday’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 22(4),
• Gillings, M. (2002). Virtual archaeologies and the hyper-real, in P. Fisher, D. Unwin, (eds.), Virtual Reality in Geography (London &
New York: Taylor & Francis, 2002), 17-32.