Keynote : Transition to the Infosphere: A New Paradigm for Library & Information Science. Vilnius, 14th June 2018

Honored to be invited to speak at Vilnius University Faculty of Communication on June 14th 2018:


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International Research Conference 2018

Communication and Information Sciences in Networked Society: Experience and Insights

Main event organiser: Vilnius University Faculty of Communication.Conference date and venue: June 14th-15th, 2018, National Open Access Scholarly Communication and Information Center,  Saulėtekio av. 5, and Faculty of Communication, Saulėtekio av. 9, Vilnius.

Vilnius University Faculty of Communication brings together researchers and pedagogues engaged in a wide spectrum communication and information research. Since 2011 Faculty of Communication has been organizing the biennial international research conference “Communication and Information Sciences in Networked Society: Experience and Insights”. Three international conferences have already attracted speakers and participants from the USA, Scandinavian, Baltic and other European countries.

Communication and information research helps to understand changes that happens when societies use digital technologies; to study how individuals, communities and organisations construct their identity, share ideas, make decisions and create new knowledge; to see opportunities and challenges in these and other communication and information processes. The goal of the conference is to bring together foreign and Lithuanian communication and information scholars and professionals for a discussion of socially significant communication and information issues and solutions in the networked society that have been identified by research and to increase student’s motivation and engagement in communication and information field.

Faculty of Communication kindly invites communication and information researchers, pedagogues, students, businesses, public institutions (e.g. archives, museums, libraries etc.) and professional associations, creative industries, governmental agencies responsible for cultural and information policies to submit presentations and take part in the conference.

Main communication and information research fields are going to be discussed at the conference: development trends and innovation in memory institutions (archives, libraries and museums), creative industries; cultural heritage communication, cultural and information services, scholarly and science communication, corporate communication, information and knowledge management, media and publishing, journalism and political communication.

Horizontal discussion themes:

  • The influence of social networking and social media (e.g., participatory culture, sharing economy, social media impact on journalism and etc.) on various fields of communication and information.
  • Identity, values and ethics, social and economic well-being in networked society (e. g., sustainable development, social responsibility, communication of immovable heritage, digital heritage repatriation etc.).
  • Changes in information and communication processes management in the digital environment (e.g., trends in information systems development and management, big data management and use in decision-making, )
  • Reflections and research on the development, processes and phenomena of communication and information sciences and studies.

Conference organisers invite to suggest topics that are significant for celebrating Centennial of the Restoration of the State of Lithuania (1918-02-16) and other important dates of restoration of the Baltic States.


DocPerform 2: New Technologies

I have a longstanding interest in documents and documentation, and so I am very happy that our DocPerform project will host a second Symposium over Nov 6th – 7th 2017. We are keen to hear from anyone thinking outside the box with regard to the documentation of performance; what could we do with new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, with the multisensory internet, and with new human computer interfaces?

We are looking for ideas for a range of papers and other activities.

Call for Papers

DocPerform Logo 2

DocPerform 2: New Technologies
Call for papers 2017

Instead of focusing on the impermanence of live, embodied acts, it is far more useful to think of the live and the recorded as mediums that facilitate communication between spectators and performers; both of these groups oscillate between the roles of receivers and transmitters of information over the duration of a performance.

Joseph Dunne, Regenerating the Live: The Archive as the Genesis of a Performance Practice, 2015

Our second Symposium considers how new technologies enhance our understanding of performance as a document, and the documentation of performance.

Following our successful launch last year, the DocPerform team are delighted to announce our second symposium that will take place over 6th and 7th November at City, University of London.

DocPerform is an interdisciplinary research project led by scholars and practitioners from the fields of performing arts and library & information science. The project concerns conceptual, methodological and technological innovations in the documentation of performance, and the extent to which performance may itself be considered to be a document.

Provoking audiences or even just trying to reach them one-to-one clashes with what has become a signature of the digital, the ideal of a networked, collective intelligence

Patrick Longeran, Theatre & the Digital, 2014

Advances in technology including 360° recording, binaural sound, virtual reality, augmented reality, multisensory internet, pervasive computing and the internet of things, have revolutionised the way we interact with the digital world. These technologies have brought about a convergence of eBooks, interactive narratives, video games, television programming, video and films, so that previous boundaries of document categories are no longer meaningful.

As our understanding of, and interaction with documents is evolving, so are the ways in which we can experience, record and remember performance. Technology is the means by which we create new documents, and also the means by which we can record, preserve, access and replay them.

A participatory story or experience (fiction or fact-based) is one in which the ‘reader’ moves beyond a passive experience of the text and becomes an active participant.

Lyn Robinson, Multisensory, Pervasive, Immersive: Towards a New Generation of Documents, 2015

Technology allows us not only to create, experience and re-experience new types of digital documents, but also to record and re-experience analogue events which are demanding of temporal and locational parameters, from our children’s birthday parties, through rock concerts, to dance and theatre.

Two key elements are participation and immersion; the former implies the degree of agency experienced, whilst the latter is the extent to which unreality is perceived as reality. These elements are facilitated by technologies such as transmedia and pervasive computing, VR and AR, wherein readers/observers or audience members experience a high level of ‘presence’, and can readily switch between the role of observer, participant or creator.

These developments compel us to investigate how performance documentation will evolve in terms of changing audience and readership behaviours. Moreover, the means by which theatre and dance are produced will inevitably have to respond to the burgeoning demands of online participatory culture beyond existing documentation techniques.

DocPerform 2 invites submissions for papers, performative papers, subjects for plenaries, workshop activities, or “provocations” from scholars and artists working in the areas of performance documentation, digital arts, library & information science, social media technologists, internet archaeology, audience participation, immersive theatre, and archives. We are especially interested in works relating to dance and theatre.

We anticipate that formal papers will last for 20 mins, including questions, but we are open to suggestions for the timing of other activities. By extending the symposium to 2 days, we are allowing more time for discussion, networking and planning.

Topics for activities may include but are not limited to:

Theme 1: Technological Concepts

  • Why do we document performance? Who are we documenting for?
  • Performance as a document, documents as performance
  • What is missing in our current documentation, the records and archives of performance?

Theme 2: Technologies for Creation

  • Innovative use of technology to create performance
  • Distributed or diffuse performance systems using transmedia technologies
  • Performance created using social media
  • Online performances

Theme 3: Technologies for Documentation

  • Innovative use of technology in recording, preserving and re-experiencing performance
  • The potential functions of performance documentation beyond creating a record of evidence (new works, remixing)
  • Approaches to exceeding the document as a record of evidence
  • Models of documenting using interactive interfaces
  • Documentation systems that incorporate user-generated interfaces
  • Potential role of archivists, documentalists and information professionals in theatre and dance production processes

Theme 4: Technologies for the Audience

  • Changing readership/audience behaviours in the context of digital culture
  • Models of audience participation online platforms
  • Elisions between spectator/performer, author/reader

Theme 5: Technologies of the Imagination

  • Offline/online/onlife…what next?

Please send suggestions/abstracts, plus 100 word biography, to both Lyn and Joe [,] by Friday September 15th. Submissions should be no longer than a single page of A4. Authors of successful submissions will be notified in early October 2017. The selection panel will comprise members of the DocPerform Team.

Abstracts for accepted presentations will be published on our website around the time of the Symposium. Full papers of accepted presentations will be considered for publication after the event. We are interested to hear from open access publications interested in working with us.

Over the Threshold

mat collishaw thresholds

Mat Collishaw: Thresholds []

Today I experienced my first 6 minutes of immersive, interactive virtual reality (VR), at Thresholds, Mat Collishaw’s artistic interpretation of William Henry Fox Talbot’s first photography exhibition in 1839.

“Using the latest in VR technology, Thresholds will restage one of the earliest exhibitions of photography in 1839, when British scientist William Henry Fox Talbot first presented his photographic prints to the public at King Edward’s School, Birmingham.”

This differed from my previous encounters with VR, which have used Google Cardboard apps. Whereas Cardboard offers a 360 degree visual experience, the sense of presence, or immersion in the unreal world is limited; whilst it is possible to look around at everything filmed by the camera/generated by the app, it is not possible to interact with or impact upon the scripted world.

There is an often-overlooked difference between 360-degree video and virtual reality, in that the latter offers opportunity for participation in a simulated world, alongside a fuller sense of immersion or presence in the simulation. VR requires more computer processing power, hence its association with head mounted displays and earphones (HMDs) connected to a computer, rather than a viewer holding a smartphone against the eyes.

I have, nonetheless, enjoyed Google Cardboard apps immensely, although after today these charming worlds will seem a bit tame.

Thresholds then, employs sophisticated technology to simulate an environment in which the viewer can walk around freely, and in which there is some further sense of presence afforded by the ability to see the hands as orange clouds, by holding them up in front of the headset (there was a short, second or two, time-lag until the ‘hands’ appeared). The virtual hands could interact with documents in cabinets within the environment; swiping at a document caused it to ‘leap’ out so that it could be examined more closely. This did not work for me however, although I managed to summon up one leap, the document pretty much smacked me in the face and then scurried swiftly back to its place in the cabinet. ( I felt a bit like Ron Weasley in Harry Potter, when the spell simply doesn’t work for him..) Further swipes, tried on all the other documents, were ineffective. On querying this with one of the technicians, I was told it was likely to be my bad swiping technique.

There are clearly implications for libraries/archives/museums here however. The short briefing given before we entered the environment, recounted that archivists had been consulted in the design of the program; this type of simulation could allow anyone, anywhere, to examine virtual renderings of rare, fragile documents, at a time and place convenient to them, personally (assuming good swiping technique).

I found the alloted six minutes too short. I really wanted to stay in this unreal world, which although somewhat cartoon-like, was delightful. I dutifully noted features mentioned to us in the briefing – the mice scampering across the floor, the cobwebs in the crevices, the moths fluttering around the lamps and the swirling smog outside the virtual windows. The sounds of the 1839 rioters seemed a bit remote, but I remember hearing them. The fireplace emitted real heat, although to me, the flames appeared as bright green. The background sound of the clock, shown above the entrance, ticking, was somehow comforting.

I didn’t like the heavy headset. We were warned to make sure the contraption was comfortable before we entered the simulation, but even though my apparel seemed comfortable to begin with, I soon felt the need to readjust the way the visor sat against my eyes. I felt I had made the headset too tight, in order to stop it slipping. I soon felt it was pulling at my lower eyelids, and consequently, my vision seemed a little blurry.

Other participants appeared in the simulation as white ghosts, to avoid collisions – there was another time-lag effect here as people appeared (to me) to be either stationary, or to move at lightening speed to another postition.

Another participant asked about glasses – the headsets don’t adjust for vision impairment, and in a short demonstration such as this, I would agree this is a bit too much to hope for. However, vision correction is something that VR designers should think about, as wearing glasses under a headset is annoying and uncomfortable.

I haven’t commented on the exhibition itself; the artist Mat Collishaw did not set out to recreate the original event, but to create something new, based upon original likenesses, documents, and archival materials. I don’t think it matters that we don’t have enough knowledge about the original exhibition to recreate it exactly. We are in a different time now, and the artist’s creative connection with the past was certainly enough to spark interest in the history of photography, and indeed the social context in which photographic developments occurred.

There are parallels in this virtual recreation of Fox Talbot’s first photography exhibition, with attempts to recreate performances from archival documents. Notably, to what extent it is ever possible to recreate an event, or an occasion of any sort? Our DocPerform project considers this question, along with the more fundamental issues of how we define and record documents, and how we approach the processes of documentation. What can technologies such as VR offer in documenting performance?

Leaving the conceptual questions of documentation aside, technology itself raises issues. How can we remove the interface? The face visor is clumsy. It reminds even those of us who are more than willing to jump into virtual worlds, that we have something physical and uncomfortable stuck to our face. How could we improve the design of VR systems? Contact lenses perhaps? Some other small, un-noticeable brain-computer interface?

Further, a more immersive environment could be encouraged by enhanced use of sound, and by employing technologies to replicate smell and touch.

But no matter. Mat Collishaw (@matcollishaw) is to be contragulated on this fabulous installation. Look at what is there. And look at what we see through the headset. It’s not bad.

*Read CityLIS student @adafrobinson ‘s account of the Thresholds exhibition! Thresholds and Time Travel.