Mackintosh and visual arts research data at The Glasgow School of Art

Entrance to The Glasgow School of Art. Photo MTG

Last week the Kaptur team gathered for a project meeting in The Glasgow School of Arts’ incredible Mackintosh building. Representatives from all the project partners met in the Mackintosh room (also known within the School as the Design Room):

“In 1906 Mackintosh was asked to include a new, more formal Board Room into the building and used part of an existing studio on the ground floor, to the left of the entrance. In return what had been the School’s original Board Room, a chiefly white interior on the first floor was turned into a design room. This space (Studio 37) has now reverted back to a meeting room.”

[Text on wall next to the Mackintosh Room]

Fireplace in the Mackintosh Room. Photo MTG

A photograph of the Mackintosh Room by Bedford Lemere (described as The Board Room) shows the fireplace as it was in 1910 [Buchanan (2004) Mackintosh’s Masterwork: The Glasgow School of Art, pp.114-5].

The purpose of the meeting was:

  1. for the project team to be updated about work at each institution in order to enhance collaboration and lessons learned across the partner institutions;
  2. to agree and assign tasks for promoting Kaptur internally/externally to the institutions;
  3. to discuss applicability of the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) tools for the modelling and technical work packages.

This was addressed as follows:

  1. each Project Officer reported progress on the development of the institutional RDM policies; the Technical Manager reported progress on the Technical Analysis;
  2. each Project Officer will suggest three different ways of awareness raising within their institution and this will be reported in the next Kaptur monthly blog post;
  3. we were delighted to welcome Martin Donnelly, Senior Institutional Support Officer, DCC to the meeting; it was very useful to ask specific questions within the context of the project team.

Key points to share:

  • A need for awareness raising about managing research data within the institutions through promotion of Kaptur. One of the points to engage researchers is when they ask the institution for Letters of Support for their funding applications.
  • The awareness raising needs to be clear about the differences between data storage and data curation; although the storage aspect may still be an incentive for researchers to manage their research data effectively.
  • On RDM policy development there was some discussion about the pros and cons of a small more research-focused working group compared to a larger working group which may help with embedding and take-up of the policy as well as awareness raising, but may take longer to discuss and approve a policy. Two institutions have smaller working groups and the other two plan working groups with a wider range of stakeholders. It is useful to share these experiences collaboratively.

Mackintosh and visual arts research data:

Detail of bookcase, dark stained oak with leaded glass (1901.038). Photo MTG

This bookcase was originally designed in 1901 by Mackintosh for the drawing room at Windyhill. It was presented to the School by William Davidson on the sale of Windyhill. Also in The Glasgow School of Art’s collection is a scale drawing in pencil with annotations, an example of Mackintosh’s own visual arts research data. Another example is Mackintosh’s Northern Italian sketchbook, available from the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) and also via the project website. The research was part-funded by The Glasgow School of Art and the creation of the database was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Left: Lake Como, Campo, Villa del Balbiano, studies of gates, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1891 © The Glasgow School of Art. Available from VADS: http://vads.ac.uk/large.php?uid=92819

Right: Modern photo of gates at Lake Como, Campo, Villa del Balbiano © The Glasgow School of Art. Available from VADS: http://vads.ac.uk/large.php?uid=92819&sos=0&pic3=its39p

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Kaptur – six months into the project (1/3)

One third of the way through the project, and this is our update for the end of the sixth month:

WP1: Project Management

WP3: Technical Infrastructure

  • The Technical Analysis report has been through several iterations; the user requirement component has been sent to the partner institutions for final feedback; once this is received the requirements testing will take place leading to the choice of technical system for the pilot.

WP4: Modelling

  • The Project Officers reported on the trends in funding at their institutions (blog post)
  • Three of the four Project Officers attended the JISCMRD two-day workshop on institutional RDM policies (12-13th March, Leeds); this was extremely beneficial for Kaptur for several reasons:
    1. using the Chatham House Rule the JISCMRD projects could talk openly and plainly about the reality of creating and seeking approval for institutional RDM policies
    2. we had an opportunity to really understand the processes and workflows from more experienced projects (i.e. those who had received funding in the previous JISCMRD round 2009-11 or who already had institutional RDM policies)
    3. it was very interesting to hear how other JISCMRD projects were making use of the CARDIO and DAF tools from the Digital Curation Centre – we will be discussing this at our next project team meeting in April
    4. there was also the opportunity to ask questions of select representatives of the Research Councils UK (RCUK) which was very illuminating, particularly in terms of the EPSRC Expectations
    5. as most of the project team were able to attend we could discuss and share our own views over the course of the two days and come to a consensus of opinion – i.e. that we were aiming for a high-level aspirational policy based on University of Edinburgh’s policy
  • An RDM Discussion paper was drafted and was an agenda item at the UCA Research and Enterprise Committee meeting on 30th March; this Committee also have the role to approve an institutional RDM policy.
  • Representatives from 2 of the partner institutions attended the JISCMRD Data Management Planning (DMP) end of project event (23rd March) – this was useful in terms of discussion throughout the day, lessons learned from other projects, and also take-home resources which we may be able to implement – as well as a sneak peek at the new and improved version of the DCC’s DMP Online tool due to launch soon.

WP7: Dissemination

  • As mentioned above, 3/4 institutions attended the JISCMRD policies workshop and 2/4 attended the DMP end of project workshop (both March 2012).
  • Promotion of the Environmental Assessment report (blog post)
  • Beginning of an idea for more creative publicity material for Kaptur, to be followed up at our next project team meeting
  • The Project Manager gave a presentation on Kaptur to British Library staff as part of their Digital Conversations event (blog post)
  • The Project Director and Project Manager co-authored a written paper on Kaptur for the EVA London 2012 conference

4. Issues/challenges

As we are now a third of the way through the project it is a good point for reflection on both the work already accomplished as well as the work still to be done. Our focus continues to be on producing a pilot model for the visual arts sector and drawing on the strength of the collaboration across four partner institutions. Added to this is a growing sense of community across the JISCMRD programme (2011-13) which has benefited the Kaptur project team.


Kaptur at The British Library

British-Library-by-stevecadman

Gateway detail, The British Library (1978-97)
by Colin St John Wilson.
Photo: Steve Cadman License: CC BY-SA 2.0

The second (official) Digital Conversations @ British Library took place on Friday 30th March, hosted by the Digital Research and Curator Team (more information in a staff newsletter available via ISSUU). The theme for the event was ‘Annotation and Sharing’. It was a privilege to attend this internal staff event, and also to have an opportunity to present Kaptur, with a focus at this stage in the project on sharing (the Prezi is available here: http://prezi.com/0m_ql5don6vy/kaptur-bl/).

Brief notes about the other presentations are below:

Jan Reichelt, president and co-founder of Mendeley – “a free reference manager and academic social network” – spoke about some of the current features (e.g. annotating PDFs) and possible future developments e.g. Kleenk – a visual map of connections between your paper and other papers, described as “the first semantic network of scientific content” it has integration with Mendeley through its API. It was also interesting to hear that Mendeley’s recommended article feature has around an 80% success rate with users (based on stats from the last year).

Richard Ranft, Head of Sound & Vision at The British Library, spoke about some innovative BL Sound projects:

The JISC funded eMargin project was presented by Andrew Kehoe and Matt Gee. It’s a great tool for “underlining and colour-coded highlighting […] notes and comments” on a range of text file formats and sharing these across groups; it has features which are not currently available in other similar tools and the potential to develop further. The Birmingham School of Acting are currently using a specially developed version for iPad to annotate their scripts during rehearsals. The University of Leicester will be using the tool with their first year students from September. It is available here: http://emargin.bcu.ac.uk/

Debbie Harrison, Honorary Research Fellow, Birkbeck, University of London, spoke about the fascinating international collaborative David Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project, in particular focusing on the publication of Livingstone’s 1871 Field Diary: A Multispectral Critical Edition. The electronic publication enables researchers to compare the original diary (including pages written across 19th century newspapers) with later published versions.

Sean Martin, Head of Architecture & Development at the British Library spoke about the  International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF); a project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to “collaboratively produce an interoperable framework for image delivery” and thereby address the issue of digital “image-based resources […] locked up in silos, with access restricted to bespoke, locally built applications”. Previous Mellon funded projects that have led to this latest development include:

  • Shared Canvas – “enables the construction of views by distributed collaborators, by annotating a shared “Canvas” resource which is then rendered using a presentation system”
  • Open Annotation Collaboration– “development of a shared annotation data model supportive of interoperable annotations”
  • Digital Medieval Manuscript Initiatives – enabling interoperable environments for digital medieval manuscripts