UCL Centre for Digital Humanities

So last Wednesday evening I headed down to the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at UCL for an event being put on by the UCL centre for digital humanities. I found out about the event through following them on Twitter and through following their blog http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dh-blog/.

The main focus of the evening seemed to be how iphone/ipad technology can be used to enhance your trip to a museum. The guys (well actually they were mainly girls) running the event were incredibly friendly from the moment I walked through the door. I have to admit I was the first person to arrive so I got a lot of attention! The first activity I took part in was a digital exhibition/tour of the Petrie Museum. It involved using your smart phone and a map of the museum to seek out QR codes attached to artefacts. Once the artefacts had been located you simply (well more simple if you had an iphone, I was stuck with a BlackBerry) scanned the code using http://www.talesofthings.com/ and a full description of the artefact came up as well as giving you an oppurtunity to comment on it and to read other people’s comments. I described it as a kind of simpler Facebook for museums. It is technology that you can actually imagine taking off. Sitting on public transport in London for example, every other person is glued to their smart phones. Listening to music, playing games, facebooking, twittering, reading blogs. It is totally feasible that street artists could use QR codes to receive feedback on their work just as museums can use them to receive feedback on artefacts that are sometimes thousands of years old.

The museum also had an ipad to play around with, once again it was set up with an artefact and the event organisers were interested in reading all the comments written about it and using the technology to get feedback from all the people visiting the museum. I suppose a little like a comment book but cooler and more accessable to people all around the world. It would be, in my opinion impractical to expect people to walk around museums clutching onto  ipads, but not so impractical for museums to strategically place ipads throughout their museums offering them the chance to use new technology, have fun and offer the museums staff vital feedback on how they can use their resources to make the museum as user friendly as possible.

Is all this technology a good thing? When going to spend time with the old, the preserved and the past is it right to blend it so ruthlessly with the modern? Well I think YES. Why not? I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at the Petrie Museum and met so many great people championing the digital cause, historians, classicists and people from a more technology based background of course. It was so great to be back at my old university as well. I think UCL truly is my spiritual academic home 🙂


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mandy
    Aug 22, 2011 @ 09:47:55

    No tweets, no blogging…are you still alive? : P


  2. Sarah
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 11:41:23

    Did you see this? It’s also put on by UCL DH: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/alumni/professional-development/network


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