This page lists the projects and initiatives I'm working on, or involved in. Sometimes they're little more than an attempt to learn a new tool or method. Sometimes they represent an attempt to answer a specific research question. Sometimes the goal is to contribute to a local, national, or international community. They often involve collaborations with colleagues, software vendors, IT support staff, and team members with considerably more technical skills than I have. The results are variable. I make no claim that the digital humanities are radically transformative or always useful for teaching or research; the digital arts, social sciences, and humanities remain a work in progress. I have a strong preference for open source technologies. For a list of my other research outputs please refer to my writing and talks pages.
This project is based on the notion of 'full-stack digital humanities', where the entire technology stack - from server to application to DNS routing - is built and maintained by the author. This is informed in some ways by the DH craft ethos, but also by a desire to embed scholarly values in every layer of the technical process. By using open source code and hosting it on a minimal computer (for 5 years), I not only regained a sense of control I lose when using commercial products, but learned useful skills and deepened my understanding of technology.
King's Digital Lab
I was founding director of King's Digital Lab at King's College London from 2015 to 2021. The lab was established in 2015, an outgrowth of the department of Digital Humanites (DDH). The team of ~12 includes Research Software Analysts, Engineers, UI/UX Designers, Systems Managers, and Project Manager. The team work with a wide range of partners in the higher education and cultural heritage sectors, across London, the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, and the United States.
King's College London eResearch
King's eResearch is a relatively new initiative at College London (2017 - present). I was Deputy Director from 2017 - 2021, working primarily on the development of Research Software Engineering career paths, training, and best practice.
Critical Infrastructure Studies
This initiative has been evolving for several years, through workshops held in New Zealand and later London. I am part of the planning group. A related Zotero group also exists, along with an evolving series of workshops and other activities.
MaDiH (مديح): Mapping Digital Cultural Heritage in Jordan
I was UK Principal Investigator for MaDiH (مديح): Mapping Digital Cultural Heritage in Jordan, an AHRC / Newton funded collaborative project between King’s Digital Lab (KDL), the Hashemite University, the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL), the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, the Jordanian Open Source Association, and the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project. The project ran for two years, from February 2019 - February 2021. The project contributed to the long-term sustainable development of Jordan’s digital cultural heritage, identifying key systems, datasets, standards, and policies, and aligning them to government digital infrastructure capabilities and strategies. Read more about the project here. Outputs can be found on FigShare.
Applying AI to storytelling - bringing computational research into creative industries
I was part of the King's College London team on the Innovate UK funded project Applying AI to storytelling - bringing computational research into creative industries, which ran from 2018 - 2019. Applying AI aimed to understand what the impact of artificially-intelligent memory is on storytelling and narrative structure, and how to transfer the resulting research into industry using the kind of Research Software Engineers (RSE) found in King's Digital Lab. The project was led by To Play For, a pioneer in interactive storytelling developing the charisma.ai immersive story-telling platform. Read more here.
Georgian Papers Programme
I provided advice to the Georgian Papers Programme in my capacity as Director of King's Digital Lab. King's College London and the Royal Archives established the Georgian Papers Programme (GPP) to enrich public historical understanding of Britain, George III, British monarchy and a crucial period in British and world history. The GPP was a partnership between the Royal Collection Trust and King’s College London, and was joined by primary United States partners the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the College of William & Mary. The project aimed to transform the understanding of eighteenth-century North America and Georgian Britain and its monarchy, at a time of profound cultural, political, economic and social change which created the modern nation.
UC CEISMIC Digital Archive
I helped design and build the UC CEISMIC Digital Archive in my capacity as Project Manager and later Associate Director of the project. CEISMIC was established to collect and preserve content associated with the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 - 2012. The archive is federated, with a main repository on site at the University of Canterbury (UC QuakeStudies) and many others federated at a national level using the services of DigitalNZ, a unit of the National Library. The CEISMIC Consortium includes 12 local and national cultural heritage agencies from across New Zealand.
I helped design and build the UC QuakeStudies repository in my capacity as Project Manager and later Associate Director of the CEISMIC Digital Archive project. UC QuakeStudies is the repository at the heart of the CEISMIC national federation, storing almost 80% of its content. It was built using Fedora Commons and Drupal, and is maintained by the UC CEISMIC Programme Office, and Catalyst IT. It was recently migrated to Islandora. There are still plans to gain funding to extend the platform in many different ways.
This site provided ‘ready to eat’ academic infrastructure, with an emphasis on the digital humanities, in the form of Amazon Machine Images (AMIs). Each AMI provided a base LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) server stack, along with a pre-configured academic web application. They could be booted up very easily, providing 'virtualmachiness' to experiment with new technologies or run workshops. They were not configured for production use, but could be upgraded to allow for this. The site was active from 2013 - 2021. Snapshots exist on the Wayback Machine. For a description see Lawson, Konrad M. “‘Ready to Eat’ Academic Computing Infrastructure.” The Chronicle of Higher Education Blogs: ProfHacker, March 6, 2014. Accessed March 6, 2014. http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/ready-to-eat-academic-infrastructure/.
This project was used for a talk at Digital Humanities 2014, Nebraska. The talk outlined the development of the University of Canterbury Digital Humanities Programme curriculum, including both pedagogical principles and the administrative processes required at University and national level. The site is hosted on GitHub pages. It includes detailed administrative material, and course outlines.
This project ran from 2012 - 2015. The goal was to produce a digital humanities portal for New Zealand, so people could learn what that term meant and explore our country's digital heritage. It was built using Drupal and was hosted on the National eScience Infrastructure (NeSI, formerly BeSTGrid) at the University of Auckland. It is archived at the Wayback Machine, minus the RSS feed on the front page.