The Visit to the BL Labs Symposium

***Xiaiqin Zhang, Zoi Pegiadou, Luke Buckley and Nicolas Dunn***

The Morning:

After an introduction the first presentation was hosted by Daniel Pett, who talked about ‘Cultural Heritage Digital Collections’ and what could be done with them. One of the points he made that stuck out to me was how difficult it can be to run such an institution, noting that funding and the right recruits is hard to come by. The next main talk covered building the library labs, followed by three quick talks. These seemed to revolve around viewing data and information in different ways, such as in a 3-D environment. We then went to lunch after an award was given out.

The Afternoon:

After lunch there was a brief talk about scholarship programs underway at the British Library, followed by a string of awards given to outstanding individuals. There was a talk about a project called ‘Living with machines’ which seemed interesting as it brought up AI and Robotics as something that could alter the way society functions. Following a short break we listened to a talk about an upcoming art exhibition. It involved using algorithms to create data which can turn into urban maps and 3-D art. The final main talk centred around data in virtual reality called project LUME. This involved exploring data in VR which was further demonstrated in a live test just outside the main symposium hall.

Final thoughts:

Most of the talks simply demonstrated how we could view data and what could be made from data. It’s interesting how, using technology, we can change the way we view data and information. By doing this we can develop better ways of deciding how useful data can be. It specific contexts like a LIS perspective, we can judge how useful and appropriate specific data can be. If viewing data in 3-D was further explored, more historical data could be better analysed for more historical discussion. Alternatively, exploring algorithmic and AI data could improve how we view and use such data in our society. Perhaps said data could be more useful in practical, more creative works rather than simple discussion. Much of it depends on the context and suitability but thinking about how we could view data could change how we interact with aspects of wider society whether it’s for preservation or for putting data into practical use.

About Joseph Dunne-Howrie

Joseph is a practitioner scholar in theatre and library information science. He teaches at several universities including City, Rose Bruford College, and UEL. His research interests include immersive performance, performative writing, digital culture, documenting and archiving, and audience participation. You can learn more about Joseph's work at
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