Centre for 21st Century Humanities leads funding bid to develop ground breaking software platform

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The University of Newcastle’s Centre for 21st Century Humanities (C21CH) is leading a bid for funding to build a powerful software platform called the ‘Time-Layered Cultural Map of Australia’ (TLCMap). TLCMap will allow humanities researchers to search the data held in different Australian repositories by location and time and compile new data sets. They could then add their own data and visualise the combinations through a map and a time series chart. A module to detect place names and time references in official records, diaries, newspaper articles and books is also part of the plan.

Professor Hugh Craig

C21CH is collaborating with the University of Melbourne, Deakin University, the University of Tasmania, and Edith Cowan University in their application for $483,000 funding for the TLCMap from the ARC Linkage, Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) scheme.

Director of the C21CH and Chief Investigator for the TLCMap project, Professor Hugh Craig, said Australian scholars and scholars of Australia worldwide are exceptionally well served with digital resources and tools to deepen the understanding of our country and its historical and cultural heritage, however there are barriers to use.

“Combining data from separate sources is difficult, integrating data and maps and is slow and expensive, and place and time data in texts like newspaper articles has to be manually geocoded and date-stamped to serve in maps and timelines. The planned TLCMap will provide tools, data and an umbrella infrastructure related to time and place, activating and drawing together existing high-quality resources in new and exciting ways,” Professor Craig said.

Professor Craig said the TLCMap would have many applications across various disciplines and would allow new discoveries in Australian history and culture to be made from the hidden patterns that emerge from this new tool kit.

“The map will mean we can create new and revealing visualisations of humanities research in all kinds of publications, including online. TLCMap will provide ready access and new interpretive tools for humanities researchers to take advantage of resources already created, and in turn to enrich those sources with tagging and cross-referencing.”

“For example: I plan to use the TLCMap in a collaboration with Professor Deb Loxton and Dr Xenia Dolja-Gore for the UON Priority Research Centre in Generational Health and Ageing to analyse domestic violence data. TLCMap will provide visualisation of the geographic and temporal distribution of domestic violence reports.”

“This technology will also be used by C21CH member Professor Victoria Haskins in relation to her current research on the kidnapping of Indigenous women and children in the mid-19th century in California and Queensland where a map could show the comparative geographical movement of kidnappers. Professor Haskins works closely with people from the Indigenous community researching their own family histories and there is a high potential for this technology to be used in assisting and developing such work, for instance in the form of online resources or documentaries,” Professor Craig said.

Professor Ros Smith, also a C21CH member, will use the TLCMap to visually represent literary true crime sites in urban and rural Australia, building on work developed in her project Dark Places: True Crime in Australia.

“One of the features of true crime is that the same stories reappear at different times in different locations, often over centuries. The mapping of such circles of redaction from the source location undertaken in this LIEF proposal will provide not only new ways of presenting evidence of reuse that characterises the genre, but will also provide maps of authorship and readership located not around single publication instances but around extended ‘publication events’,” Professor Smith said.

The announcement about the successful LIEF applications will be made in late October or early November this year

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.