Back down to earth today after attending my first JISC e-content programme meeting at the very nice Hoxton Hotel. Bo, the project director, and I arrived on Tuesday evening in time for drinks and dinner. This was a great way to prepare for the meeting the following day with plenty of opportunities to catch up with people from different projects. Topics of conversation included scanning, digitisation strategies and the size of the pine nuts in a rather nice beetroot and goats cheese salad.

Wednesday picked up where Tuesday night left off with more opportunities to share experiences with people from the other e-content projects. The day began with a quick update of JISC related business from Alastair Dunning. This was followed by the first session of project updates from the following projects:

Centre for Digital Asia



Connected Histories

Grass Portal

And us.

We then had a thought provoking talk about innovation from Hugh Look. After coffee the remainder of the projects provided their updates:

Look Here!

Mapping Crime



Visualising China

Ben and Alastair then talked about innovation before we split into breakout groups to talk about innovation in our own project, which we then fed back after lunch. The break out session was helpful for reminding us that what we are doing is innovative. My group also decided that often it’s the process of doing the project that is innovative, sometimes more so than the outputs, and that this process can often contribute to a culture change in the institutions we are working in.

We were then treated to a talk on a very interesting project called Transcribe Bentham. It’s building on a long existing project at UCL to transcribe all the manuscripts of philosopher and reformer Jeremy Bentham but it’s taking such a long time as there are something like 60,000 papers. So to speed up the process they’ve decided to get the public to transcribe for them. They’re setting up a wiki where people can register, and then see scanned copies of the manuscripts with a text box to transcribe into. These will be checked and marked up using the TEI by project staff. It’s a really interesting use of crowdsourcing and it’ll be good to see how they get on.

After a tea break we had a round of “show and tell” where each project gave a piece of advice or top tip from their work. These included using a number of web technologies such as Google Docs, Dropbox and Mercurial, as well as advice such as talk to at least one person unrelated to the project about the project everyday. The event finished with a talk from Alastair and Ben that reported back from the whole day on the ways in which we are all being innovative.

Overall it was a great chance to build links with other related projects, and the day provoked many fruitful discussions about the issues and ideas we are all tackling.