Researchers at the University of the Arts London have won funding to develop new digital technologies and are at the front line of a high-tech battle of brains. They are developing new tools, software and systems to help academic researchers use and manage research data thanks to support and funding from Jisc, a charity that aims to develop digital solutions to improve education and research. The Research Data Spring initiative invited researchers, librarians, publishers and developers to post and discuss their ideas on a website where they could be voted on. Ideas were then selected for development by a panel of expert judges. UAL’s project, Artivity, is led by Athanasios Velios of Ligatus Research Centre.
Daniela Duca, senior co-design manager at Jisc, explained the thinking behind the competition: ‘In academic research you’re often using and reusing a variety of data, sometimes you may need a better way to quickly deposit it when you publish your article; or as an artist, you might want the research data to collect automatically while you are working and without interfering in your creative process. You may want an easier way to archive your data; or even a better way of packaging the metadata around it. The proposals funded by Research Data Spring aim to make the processes around the management, use and reuse of data easier to handle for researchers. I’m thrilled to see so many promising projects coming through and hope to be able to stir more ideas and collaborative solutions in this area.’
University of the Arts London and Semiodesk, a software development company in Germany, have been working on Artivity, which aims to capture when and how artists are influenced while they are producing their creative work. Much of the research undertaken by artists is done on a computer and in many cases the finished output of artistic process is produced using software tools. However, the process of developing an artwork is not often appreciated once the artwork is complete. Artivity provides tools which capture this process and help researchers and artists get a clearer picture of how and why the artwork was created. Artists have shown interest in this idea because it offers an automatic way of self-documenting their work in a way which does not interfere with their creative process. Artivity will allow the creation of digital archives of practice which art historians and art critics can use in their research. Finally, Artivity will allow younger artists to become proficient in digital techniques which have already been documented by other artists through the project tools.
From 70 suggestions, 16 ideas were initially selected for funding and development through the Research Data Spring sandpit workshop. This has now been reduced to 12 viable solutions and these teams have just received further funding to help develop their ideas into products. In December 2015 there will be one last funding round available to these teams and a workshop which will provide expert guidance to support with the development of ideas into finished products. Jisc experts will be available to support them to trial, test and hone their work.
By this time next year, it is hoped that several finished products will be up and running, and making a difference in the world of academic research.
For further information about Artivity, please contact Athanasios Velios.
Top image: Artivity project page