Session 4 — AHRC Digital Transformations Theme Roundtable

Friday 09:30 - 11:00

High Tor 2

Chair: Andrew Prescott

Visualising and Analysing Data

  • Jamie McLaughlin,
  • Andrew Prescott,
  • Tobias Blanke,
  • Jon Rogers,
  • Marilyn Deegan


The Arts and Humanities Research Council in the United Kingdom established four strategic themes in 2010, one of which was ‘Digital Transformations’. The Digital Transformations theme aims to explore the way in which engagement with digital technologies can change the subject, methods and outputs of research in the arts and humanities and create innovative modes of scholarly investigation and discourse. The theme also seeks to bring an arts and humanities perspective to bear on such issues as digital identity, intellectual property and privacy.

The Digital Transformations theme has funded nearly one hundred projects in areas ranging from big data to the internet of things across the full range of arts and humanities disciplines. Among these projects are three large-scale projects: ‘Digital Panopticon: the Global Impact of London Punishments, 1780-1925’ (PI, Professor B. Godfrey, University of Liverpool), which will bring together existing and new genealogical, biometric and criminal justice datasets held by different organisations in the UK and Australia; ‘Fragmented Heritage’ (PI, Dr R. Donahue, University of Bradford), which will seek to dramatically improve the scale and quality of the analysis by archaeologists of fragmentary materials across large sites; and ‘Transforming Musicology’ (PI, Professor T. Crawford, Goldsmiths’ College), which will explore how emerging technologies for working with music as sound and score can transform musicology, both as an academic discipline and as a practice outside the university.

We propose a series of round tables for the Digital Humanities Congress 2014 which will present and discuss overarching themes and issues which have emerged from the various projects in the Digital Transformations theme. Each roundtable will consist of four academics from various projects funded under the theme who will make short (ten minute) presentations presenting their perspective on the general theme of the roundtable, leading into a wider discussion. Each roundtable will be chaired by Professor Andrew Prescott (King’s College London).

Visualising and Analysing Data

One of the major overarching themes to have emerged from the various Digital Transformations projects has been new ways of analysing and visualizing data. The process of digitizing humanities source materials has already produced very large datasets, as the data used in the ‘Digital Panopticon’ project illustrates. At the same time, the increasing availability of born digital data relevant to humanities mean that the arts and humanities are coming to terms with interpreting, extracting and representing data on a vastly bigger scale than hitherto. This means that new methods are required, which frequently involved quantification and visual representation. This roundtable will give an overview of some of the work that has been done in this area by the various Digital Transformations projects. It will discuss the problems and opportunities the visualization of data represents for arts and humanities researchers. In particular, it will ponder the issues involved in engaging with design and the creative arts in articulating such visualisations.