Methods and Technologies for Enabling Virtual Research Communities

In Association with eSI Thematic Programme: e-Science in the Arts and Humanities

18 June, 2007 02:00 PM - 04:00 PM

e-Science Institute, 15 South College Street, Edinburgh

Organiser: Stuart Dunn
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Any slides or other material generated as a result of this event can be found at:

PART 1 The Potential of Access Grid for Collaborative Research in the Arts and Humanities

David Shepherd, University of Sheffield
Andrew Prescott, University of Wales Lampeter

The Access Grid has been hailed as the ‘Miramax of video conferencing’. However, its use to date by many arts and humanities researchers has chiefly been restricted to activities which could be supported by other videoconferencing tools and techniques. Between October 2006 and March 2007 a project was undertaken, under the auspices of the AHRC e-science programme, at the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield and in collaboration with a number of other humanities and other computing centres across Britain and Europe to identify and appraise critically the areas where the Access Grid could potentially support collaborative research activities between arts and humanities researchers in four activity areas: digital images; sound and moving image; electronic texts and databases; virtual reality and visualisation. An Access Grid workshop was held for each of these activity areas. This presentation will review the conclusions of these workshops and suggest future areas of development for Access Grid use by arts and humanities researchers. Where appropriate, extracts from recordings of the workshops will be shown, and prototype software developed in the course of the workshops will be demonstrated.

PART 2: Agora: Easy to use collaboration software for the Arts and Humanities

Rob Crouchley, Adrian Fish, Miguel Gonzalez, Centre of e-Science, Lancaster University

Agora is an extremely easy to use online meeting tool, designed from the ground up with desktop PC and laptop users in mind. Agora facilitates the spontaneous use of video conferencing from your office; setting up a conference can be as easy as entering a few email addresses and clicking one button. Agora can also be integrated into several popular portal frameworks by simply running an installer. Agora has been designed to avoid many of the typical problems involved in configuring similar environments, environments where complexity and expensive equipment are a given, and skilled administrators are essential. Despite its simplicity and ease of use, Agora has all the features necessary for a rich e-collaboration experience. Our talk will highlight the key features of Agora and how these features can be used to greatly enhance research interaction carried out by geographically dispersed teams. We will illustrate Agora's usefulness with some use cases from the Arts and Humanities. The talk will be primarily aimed at the researcher although there will be a degree of technical content for anybody interested in deploying Agora at their institution. We will commence the talk with a live demonstration.


    David Shepherd
    Director of the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield

    David Shepherd has been Professor of Russian in the Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies since 1994. A major focus of his research is the work of the Russian thinker Mikhail Bakhtin and the Bakhtin Circle, and he is founder and Director of the University’s Bakhtin Centre. He has also published extensively on Russian literature and culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

    David is a member of the Steering Committee of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s ICT in Arts and Humanities Research Programme, and chair of the Advisory Committee of the Arts and Humanities Data Service Literature, Language and Linguistics service. He is also currently President of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES).

    Andrew Prescott
    Manager of Library Services,University of Wales at Lampeter

    Andrew was formerly a Curator in the Department of Manuscripts of the British Library from 1979-99. During his time at the British Library, he was the lead curator on the Electronic Beowulf project and was one of the editors of the book describing the British Library’s pioneering Initiatives for Access programme .

    Andrew was also extensively involved in planning for the move to the British Library’s St Pancras building.

    Since 2000, he has been a Professor Associate in the Department of History at the University of Sheffield and founding Director of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry .

    His publications include English Historical Documents (1984), Towards the Digital Library (with Leona Carpenter and Simon Shaw, 1998), The British Inheritance (with Elizabeth Hallam, 1999), The Benedictional of St �thelwold (2002) and Marking Well (2006).

    Robert Crouchley
    Director of the Centre for e-Science, Lancaster University

    Robert is a Professor in Applied Statistics and the Director of the Centre for e-Science at Lancaster University. His research interests include the development of statistical methods for causal inference in non-experimental data, these include models for errors in variables, missing data, heterogeneity, state dependence non stationarity, event history data, selection effects.

Tea, coffee and cakes will be served after the lecture.

Further Information

For further information please see the theme wiki at: and


This event is provisionally scheduled to start at 14:00 Monday 18 June 2007 and close at 16:00 on Monday 18 June 2007.


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