British Library digitised image from BL Flickr Collection – When Life is Young: a collection of verse for boys and girls by Mary Elizabeth Dodge
The BL Labs Symposium 2023 is taking place on Thursday 30th March as an online webinar.
This year we will be exploring two themes – digital storytelling and innovative uses of data and AI. As always, we are aiming to hear from some guest speakers, as well as showcase the recent work using the British Library digital collections. The programme also include an update of BL Labs, including our new website and services.
We hope this will spark many further ideas and collaborations.
The full programme for the BL Labs Symposium is as follows:
14.00 – Welcome
Part 1: Digital Storytelling
14.05 – How to bring the magic of VR to audiences – Zillah Watson
14.15 – There Exists – A VR experience about hidden narratives – Anrick Bregman and Grace Baird
14.25 – Curating a Digital Storytelling exhibition – Stella Wisdom and Ian Cooke
14.35 – Panel Q&A
15.00 – In Memoriam Maurice Nicholson
15.05 – Break
15.15 – BL Labs Update – Silvija Aurylaite
Part 2 – Data and AI
15.35 – Ithaca: Restoring and attributing ancient texts using deep neural networks – Yannis Assael
15.45 – Living with Machines: Using digitised newspaper collections from the British Library in a data science project – Kalle Westerling
15.55 – Locating a National Collections through audience research. How cultural heritage organisations can engage the public using geospatial data – Gethin Rees
16.05 – Panel Q&A
16.30 – END
You can register for the BL Labs Symposium here.
We are currently planning an evening networking session at the British Library, starting at 18.30 for those who can join us in London. We are aware of the train strike planned for this day, so will confirm details nearer the time.
Below are a few details about our speakers:
Zillah Watson led the BBC’s award winning VR studio, winning a host of awards at festivals around the world, including an Emmy nomination. She led pioneering work taking VR to audiences in libraries around the UK. She now consults on the metaverse, and content and audience growth strategies for organisations including Meta, London & Partners, the BFI, International News Media Association, Arts Council England, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She’s had a long and varied media career, including 20 years at the BBC, where she was a TV and radio current affairs journalist, head of editorial standards for BBC Radio and led R&D research on future content. She is a lecturer at UCL and the new London Interdisciplinary School. She recently co-founded Phase Space, a tech for good start-up to use VR to support mental health for students and young people.
Anrick is director and founder of an R&D studio that explores the future of spatial immersive storytelling by creating experiences built with virtual and augmented reality, computer vision and machine learning. His mission is to find new and interesting ways to merge technology with meaningful narratives which explore the human experience.
Grace is a Producer with twelve years’ experience working on audience-centred projects in the Arts, TV, and Immersive industries. She is experienced in immersive and digital production and distribution, particularly entertainment content. Grace has produced a variety of innovative projects including site-specific installations, an interactive feature-film, and social-VR experiences.
Stella is Digital Curator for Contemporary British Collections at the British Library. Promoting creative and innovative reuse of digital collections, encouraging game making and digital storytelling in libraries, including collaborating widely with The National Videogame Museum, AdventureX, International Games Month in Libraries, the New Media Writing Prize and on research projects with University College London’s Institute of Education and Lancaster University. Stella research interests also explore the archiving of complex born digital material, examining methods for the collection, preservation and curation of narrative apps, digital comics and interactive fiction.
Ian is Head of Contemporary British Publications at the British Library. He has worked in academic and research libraries with a focus on 20th and 21st-century history and social sciences. His interests are in the role of publishing in contemporary communications, and the everyday experience and expression of politics.
Silvija Aurylaite is BL Labs Manager. She previously worked on the British Library Heritage Made Digital Programme. Her interests and domain of expertise include copyright, curation of digital collections of museums, archives and libraries, data science, design, creativity and social entrepreneurship. Previously, she was an initiator of a new publishing project Public Domain City that aimed to bring a new life into curious & obscure historical books on science, technology and nature. She also organized a retrospective dance film festival Dance in Film, Choreography, Body and Image, and media dance educational activities at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius.
Dr. Yannis Assael is a Staff Research Scientist at Google DeepMind working on Artificial Intelligence, and he is featured in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” distinguished scientists of Europe. In 2013, he graduated from the Department of Applied Informatics, University of Macedonia, and with full scholarships, he did an MSc at the University of Oxford, finishing first in his year, and an MRes at Imperial College London. In 2016, he returned to Oxford for a DPhil degree with a Google DeepMind scholarship, and after a series of research breakthroughs and entrepreneurial activities, he started as a researcher at Google DeepMind. His contributions range from audio-visual speech recognition to multi-agent communication and AI for culture and the study of damaged ancient texts. Throughout this time, his research has attracted the media’s attention several times, has been featured on the cover of the scientific journal Nature, and focuses on contributing to and expanding the greater good.
Dr Kalle Westerling is a Digital Humanities Research Software Engineer with Living with Machines, a collaboration between the British Library, the Alan Turing Institute, and researchers from a range of UK universities. Kalle holds a Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance Studies from The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY), where he visualised and analysed networks of itinerant nightlife performers around New York City in the 1930s. Prior to joining the British Library, Kalle managed the Scholars program at HASTAC and the Digital Humanities Research Institute at CUNY, both efforts across higher education institutions in the United States, aiming to build nation-wide infrastructures and communities for digital humanities skill-building.
Gethin’s role at the British Library includes helping to manage the non-print legal deposit of digital maps and coordinating the Georeferencer crowd-sourcing project. He is interested in helping research projects to get the most out of geospatial data and tools and was principal investigator of the AHRC-funded Locating a National Collection project. Before taking up his current position in 2018 he worked on two collaborative history projects funded by the ERC and as a software developer. His PhD in archaeology from University of Cambridge made use of Geographical Information Systems for spatial analysis and data management.