On 29 September 2011, the enhanced version of the Database of Mid-Victorian Illustration was officially launched. A select coterie of dignitaries gathered in Cardiff University’s Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) to get the first glimpse of the revamped DMVI website and the innovative features that the enhanced version will contain.
The launch went remarkably smoothly – or at least as smoothly as anything involving computers and at least three different academic institutions can. Special thanks go to Mike Pidd and Matt Groves from the Humanities Research Institute (HRI) at the University of Sheffield for coming all the way to South Wales to deliver their presentation. The efforts of the HRI team have been fundamental to the reconfiguration of the database. They have done the hard computing work, and produced an open-source back-end structure that allows the search and display capabilities of DMVI to be significantly more flexible and dynamic.
HRI is also responsible for the development of our open-source Digital Image Curation Environment (DiCE), which allows users to create web-based systems for displaying, cataloguing and describing their own image collections. By making DiCE freely accessible under Creative Commons licensing, we hope to support and encourage other researchers, teachers and collectors, by dramatically reducing the technical development costs and timescales associated with similar projects.
Many thanks also to Vini Holden – an undergraduate in the School of Computer Science and Informatics at Cardiff – for speaking extremely engagingly about his work developing the social networking capabilities of the site (and for being brave enough to let a crowd of strangers get a glimpse of his Facebook page). Alongside Professor Omer Rana, Vini has incorporated a range of Web 2.0 tools and features into DMVI, which will allow users of the site to interact much more fully with the illustrations, and to tag and comment on pictures.
To cap the celebrations, we were honoured to have Professor Hans Walter Gabler, from the University of Munich, as our guest speaker. Delivered as part of Cardiff University’s Distinguished Lecture Series, Professor Gabler’s paper was titled ‘Ideas towards interfacing digital humanities research’, and provided a suitably ambitious interrogation of the past, present and future of humanities computing.
The new DMVI site is not yet publicly available. The project work finishes this month, and the various components will be rolled out over the coming weeks.
Check back here for more details.