Notes from workshop January 2013

The scope of the day was to explore joint interests in new cinema history and potential for new collaborations through discussion of the four key themes of:

  • New Cinema History contexts
  • GIS Data – database interoperability, caching data from the cloud, metatagging
  • User-contributions – crowd sourcing, social media, sharing, participatory, local/global, hard/soft interaction
  • Location-based engagement – mobile technologies, social/local/mobile – SoLoMo

Charlotte convened the workshop because she has already been exploring the potential of using location based technologies for encouraging engagement with cinema (see Curzon Memories and City Strata). Her primary interest is now to look at ways to use existing gis-referenced databases and NCH research in a mobile app. She also sees a potential in this to enable more mobile and dynamic humanities research in the field.

This could be summarised as being about finding existing research in the field and drawing on that research about the buildings, the distributors, the audiences, and making it accessible.

There are obviously not just technical issues involved in developing apps and using mobile devices to share content, there are also issues of collaborative working such as how to go about linking databases, copyright and control, data sharing, deciding what is appropriate and relevant to share with a general public and with specialist researchers.

Previous experience suggests that a useful app would need both mobile and armchair mode, whether it is allowing access to existing content, or allowing augmentation of curated content.

Technical issues include different ways of using mobile devices:

  • to add GIS context to existing content
  • drawing on content from the cloud or downloading to a mobile device before visiting the field.
  • when to allow users to upload their content, and the subsequent gatekeeping of crowd-sourced information

Other issues to be explored on the day included

  • which existing projects could be used as case studies eg cinema treasures ~ a website that started as a user/fan site but then was used also by distributors
  • what level of commitment might the participants make to the cinemapping project

The day was structured in as open a way as possible, to allow different participants to share their own interests and preferred methods of working, to see what common research might emerge from these new conversations.

The element of far-flung participation was provided via video-conferencing conversations with Kate Bowles & Deb Verhoeven from Australia in the morning, then in the afternoon from Ross Melnick, Sébastien Caquard and Ian Gregory (North America & Lancaster). Both of these sessions were crammed full of shared ideas and positive feedback, and fed nicely into the ongoing conversations of the day.

There is more information about the participants here and also at the end of the discussion document that we circulated as preparatory reading.

The day was broken into sessions to ensure we covered the main elements that are needed for a typical UK research council funding bid:

  • Case for Support: Research Questions or Problems
  • Methods
  • Dissemination: Outputs & Impact

We also included plenty of Cake to keep people well fuelled.

The forward planning session with which we ended the day aimed to pin down the different levels of engagement that participants could commit to the future project – whether as official collaborators or partners, or taking on a role on an advisory steering committee, or a general willingness to offer access to juicy data to play with.

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