CAKE Digital Events Birmingham

The Digital Humanities Hub at the University of Birmingham hosts a series of talks which showcase and question digital technology used to enrich, support and progress learning experiences within heritage and cultural sectors.

This week, we sent our digital content manager Hayley Frances along to CAKE, the Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange event hosted by the Digital Humanities Hub at UoB. Once a month CAKE invites academics, cultural organisations, students and business professionals from the digital, arts and education sectors to mingle over coffee and cake whilst indulging on a collection of short talks from pioneers who are influencing the way we experience our heritage with the use of digital technology.

Every month a new topic is presented with past themes including Funding, Creative Media, Archives, Art Experience and Interactivity with a special event targeting towards children that took a look at Oculus Rift, 3D printing, interactive puzzles and leap motion.

As we have very recently finished the new DMN Logistics app (a real time Vehicle Delivery App that depends on GEO location and GEO referencing) and we are currently developing a new app in house (LMP) that works to connect local businesses with local people, we had an invested interest in this month’s topic; MAP CAKE.


Mapping the Invisible Past

In this talk delivered by Dr Henry Chapman, senior lecturer in archaeology and Digi Hub Director for UoB, we had a look at how digital mapping has given archaeologists and geologists more opportunities for exploring, analysing and presenting pre-historic landscapes.

With specialist tools the sector is able to document landscapes and compare these with landscapes throughout time. Creating an image for collections of different data, we are able to layer landscapes and thus create ‘slices of time’ which enables us to analyse how the land was used by civilisations throughout history.


Deep Mapping the English Lake District

This talk was the most interesting as Dr Christopher Donaldson, Lecturer in Romanticism in the Department of English Literature at UoB, introduced us to deep mapping historic literary text by coding dialect and place names from the texts themselves in order to define and compare specific landscapes throughout time.

His project ‘Geospatial Innovation in the Digital Humanities: A Deep Map of the English Lake District’ layers differing types of Geo-locatable media combined with the literary representations of specific areas in the Lake District.

Using GIS software which allows the analysis of geographical data through GEO referencing that twins spacial and thematic info together, along with the XML digitising the literary placements, he has been able to produce orientation, practices of travel and physically map the wanderings of famous writers including Colleridge and Thomas Gray. This is literary mapping in the digital age and provides us with information on the changing landscape and the interests of past civilisations.

Proof of concept can be found on the Lakeland Literary Geo-Explorer site here


Mapping Romantic London

Lead by Dr Matthew Sangster, this talk took Richard Harwoods 1790 plan of London City, an artifact that stands 7 feet high and 13 feet across, and considered how digital media can analyse patterns in such physical documentation in order to organise the city through visual realisation.

More information can be found here

To Conclude

We’ve been meaning to attend these events for a while, but this was our first experience of CAKE and it really must be championed through our sector. Events like this capture the spread and evolution of digital technology across industries which will influence the way we approach app development. This month’s CAKE session really showed us that content is Queen. How we experience the online world depends on how we are seduced by content. Seduction comes from the way we bring information together in one place. The above are brilliant examples of how we can make information and content an experience.

The Digital Humanities team are building a diverse portfolio of projects through their collaborative partnerships across academia, heritage and business. They harness power of digital technologies to enrich learning experiences in the spheres of heritage and culture and focus on collaborative triple helix working across the Arts and Humanities with cultural and heritage organisations, digital and creative industries and academics to develop collaborative and innovative digital prototypes.