Month: August 2014

a long day’s journey into rights

Picture taken by me in the room. No rights reserved.

“Sharing, done properly, is both smart and right.” 1

I talked a lot about Creative Commons licences today.

The horizon ( as seen from the rooftop terrace of Evolution House) looks bright, and near, and enlightened. What a privilege to spend a beautiful morning in a stunning venue brainstorming creative ideas with clever and motivated colleagues. I enjoyed reflecting on the last 15 years which have brought me back to this place and on how much easier life is now that the we have a licensing framework that the creators of works can understand, their users can understand, and even the Web itself can understand.

Most of my presentation was based on  an open approaches case study I wrote for Jisc a while back, but I also managed to get in a name check for Bodington VLE.

Two of the things I like about Creative Commons are the mission and the vision. These seem to me like values a university’s learning, teaching and web service should embrace.

Our mission

Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.

Our vision

Our vision is nothing less than realizing the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.

on the table

Picture taken by me in my house . No rights reserved.

Before I left Oxford I was given an unusual gift of some skeleton tableware. Due to a clerical error only 5 plates rather than 6 arrived.  Amusing questions to the supplier followed: Had they put the right leg in, or was the right leg left out?  In, out, in, out, that is what it was all about.

This week I  was intrigued to try out the Anatomage table in Edinburgh University’s Dept of Anatomy. It’s the only one of its kind in Scotland and I think , one of only two in Britain. It’s a technologically advanced anatomy visualization system for anatomy education, it works with big data sets from CT scans and is used a bit like a big, table-sized i-pad. An i-bed perhaps.

It cost an arm and a leg,  you use your finger to slice through bones and skin.

The anatomage table is table-like presumably to help human practitioners cope with the transition from the physical ( one dead body lying down) to the virtual ( multiple bodies spinning around). It was interesting that the discussion amongst my  academic and learning spaces technology colleagues in the group quickly moved to  the ways in which we could release/move the image from the table on to a standing screen, projector screen or interactive whiteboard.

Dissected virtual cadavers* are going to be a bit spooky at the best of times. The fact that these are located in the famous medical school skull room makes it even more stark. A contrast of shiny new cutting-edge  virtual digital cutting technology in amongst some of the University’s earliest teaching objects.

The colleagues who generously showed us around are looking forward to new software updates and new body scans. As we stood, a small group around the table we did note however, that while the current male cadaver was wearing a modesty loin cloth, the female cadaver was afforded no such covering.


* is it still a cadaver if it is virtual? perhaps it is just a virtual body. Once it is digital the ‘dead’ aspect seems less relevant given we are training doctors who will operate on mostly alive people.

on the cards

University of Edinburgh Digital Image Collections CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

One of the best things about working in a research university is that you get to hang out near elegantly curated collections of beautiful old things. I am beginning to explore the  University of Edinburgh libraries and research collections. Starting of course, with the collections of digital images online; so many wonderful things to find.

Today I am extra-excited to receive, courtesy of my colleagues in UL&C,  my very cool new IS business cards, each with a selected beautiful image from our collections on the back.  Thank you to Jo and Anne-Marie for knowing I’d enjoy them.


havoc with your hare

Picture taken by me in the street . No rights reserved.

Thanks to the University of Edinburgh  Cycle to Work Scheme I am now equipped with a new bicycle, access to a bike shed and an exciting trip across the cobbles every morning.

The Edinburgh wind has been blowing a gale this week but thanks to Johanna Holtan of (Eusa/Cyclehack) who I saw speak at the Falling Walls Lab event, I am also armed with a new strategy for cycling in the wind: ‘A penny in your pants’. I haven’t tried it with a penny farthing.

The Falling Walls Conference is held in Berlin. Individuals, who are about to tear down walls in their studies or in their professions, are invited to apply. With current global challenges ranging from climate change to civil war, the scholarship program aims to encourage young people to think of innovative ideas that will have a direct impact on our societies and the environment. The programme is open to professionals, entrepreneurs or students enrolled in a Master’s, PhD or Post-Doctoral Programme.

When the wind blows some walls fall, others are merely hidden. My ride to work is enhanced by a series of billboard murals (by Astrid Jaekel, ECA) which have appeared to hide the  electricity substation. From these I am learning how to avoid the skateboarding hares and dancing bears who frequent the Meadows during the festival.

thinking outside the box

Picture taken of me in the street . No rights reserved.

After so many years working on a film set in Oxford, I now seem to work in a fringe venue. There are box offices, bars and beer gardens being built right outside my office and groups rehearsing in every building. There can only be a few cities in the world where you can be within shouting distance of four different outdoor Shakespeare productions on any given evening.   Oxford and Edinburgh are two of them.

In preparation for  a feature about me in an upcoming issue of BITS magazine, I have been out and about on a photo-shoot with   Rachel, one of our photographers. Rachel is clearly very talented as there are more than several usable pictures from the shoot.

add new post

University of Edinburgh Digital Image Collections CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

During my first week in my new post I gathered together all of the staff on the new LTW division.  They look much nicer in person than in the card-database-rogues-gallery I have on my wall.   For my presentation I used images from the splendid SCRAN collection to  which Edinburgh University has a subscription.  The collection includes some cracking images of computers and computer users in the university dating back to the 60’s and 70’s. With all the fashions of geek-style throughout the decades. I’d show you some, but for some reason the license under which SCRAN grants use are a bit confusing as regards internet, blogging, sharing, publishing and educational use. Nevermind, here is a picture of some more recent computer users in one of our learning spaces.

Q: How many men did it take to deliver a computer in Edinburgh in 1964? 

better together

Picture taken by me in the street . No rights reserved.

Our new Learning, Teaching and Web Division was formally created on August 1 2014, which seems like a good date to begin a new blog.

Edinburgh has a great reputation for digital innovation, it’s an exciting place to be at an exciting time. There’s a lot of talent here, and an appetite to take risks and innovate with bold moves.

It is important that the institution gets good support from central services. Learning, Teaching and Web Services (LTW) is bringing together the services in Information Services that directly support learning and teaching. This gives us the opportunity to innovate, enhance or expand services to support an improved digital student experience and public engagement. The academic technologies such as Learn and MyEd are absolutely key to the experience of our students, as are digital education,  distance learning courses, online media, the university website and the technology which enhances our teaching spaces. We work closely with colleagues in the IS Skills teams and support for research data management to ensure that academic colleagues and students have the skills they need to make the most of the technologies on offer.