Posts Tagged ‘history spot’

On the 19th September History SPOT celebrated its 1 year birthday, or rather we didn’t.  We completely missed the date.  However, the 1 year mark, while important, is not as important as what we intend to do for the near future.  A while back I mentioned that History SPOT was due for a small revamp.  The results of those plans are nearly upon us.

Soon we will be making History SPOT easier to navigate and access.  The podcast home page will feature a brand new index, and access to the live stream system.  The front page will offer clearer information on the contents within the site, and the whole of History SPOT is being more closely aligned to our parent website, www.history.ac.uk.  In fact, the links to the History website are the most fundamental change that we are making.

One of the big problems that we have faced is how to tell you what research training material is held within History SPOT without the need for you to be registered first.  We also wanted to link our online resources much more closely to that of our face-to-face training.  The online component, after all, is intricately linked with our in-person activities.  Thus, the revamped History SPOT will contain further information about the training materials on the training section of the History website.

This gives our visitors a choice.  They can either access us from the History SPOT home page or from the IHR History website.  Both routes take you to where you want to go and, we hope, will make finding these resources much easier.

So please watch this space for further news about the revamp as its coming very soon!

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I have some exciting news for you today.  In the first of many updates to the History SPOT website that we will be undertaking over the next few months, we have now made available all of our back-catalogue of podcasts available outside of the registration.

This means that you no longer need to sign-in to listen to our podcasts.  This also means that the IHR have now realised over 200 past events including seminars, conferences, workshops and lectures for free access on the internet (under a Creative Commons licence).  These include our Anglo-American conferences, seminars from Voluntary Action History, Sport and Leisure History, and Digital History  (to name but a few).

This summer, we will be working hard to make History SPOT easier to navigate and access.  The site will be more closely linked to our main website (www.history.ac.uk) especially where it overlaps with our research training programmes, and we will be releasing even more content in the form of podcasts, research training handbooks and modules, and a few new features that I talk about a bit more in future posts. 

For now, though, please do have a look around the podcasts in History SPOT to see what’s there, especially if you haven’t done so in the past.  If you like what you see please do register to be able to comment on the podcasts and to access our freely available research training content which includes handbooks on Databases, search engines, and podcasting (with much more to come). 

Tomorrow I’ll return to discussing our podcasts with a two part blog post about music-making in the time of Queen Elizabeth I.  So do stay tuned!

Click here to access the podcast pages on History SPOT

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I have been writing this blog ever since I took on History SPOT for the IHR over two years ago.  It took me a while to find my feet as I had never created or written a blog before.  My remit was to make the blog more interesting than just relaying update reports which would quickly become dull not only to read but also to write. 

“What we want is a ‘day in the life’ of a project officer” Jane Winters (head of IHR Publications) told me on my first day.  Looking back at my blog posts I don’t think I have ever actually done that.  I have discussed research training and the nature of podcasts.  I have narrated the highs and lows of live streaming.  I have summarised or reviewed numerous IHR podcasts and given the odd project update.  But I have never talked about my working day.  Perhaps, it is time to do just that.  Time to indulge in a little bit of ‘this is what I do’, although I won’t go on for too long I promise.

My working day begins at a railway station – queued up with other commuters in untidy columns approximated to where the train doors will open.  My train journey takes about 30 minutes, in which time I often listen to one of our podcasts and take notes.  This morning I was listening to a talk about the development of cricket as a sport in France.  Yesterday, the subject was ‘Memory’ as a focus for looking at the early modern period.  I never know what subject will come up next, which makes the process all the more fun. 

After dodging crowds of commuters its coffee time!  In the café I will generally write up my blog posts, usually from the recording I was listening to on the train.  Then it’s a short walk into the office where I pick up the audio recorders from seminars held the night before.  Once at work proper, I check my emails and upload the day’s podcast to History SPOT and add a new blog post to the History SPOT blog.  These are daily tasks Monday to Thursday which I tend to do early on so that I can start to work though my tasks list for the rest of the day. 

I then upload the audio file from the recorder to my computer and edit the file.  This usually consists of chopping off the beginning and end, adjusting the sound levels (as much as possible), and adding metadata to the finished mp3. 

For the rest of this morning I worked on the HISTORE project.  At the moment I’m working on a short case study about the John Foxe Online project as an example of semantic data.  Although John Foxe, and his Acts and Monuments was the focus of my PhD thesis, and despite helping out on some of the text transcription, I had thought next to nothing about what any of this meant in terms of the digital tools employed so this work is proving quite illuminating. 

In the afternoon I finished editing one of the Digital History videos – adding images to the video and zooming in and out where appropriate.  This is time consuming work but quite relaxing and enjoyable.  There is something satisfying about creating a short video. 

My next to final task of the day was to continue working on the Online Databases course that we are developing for launch in 2012/13.  Mark Merry (its author) provided me with additional text and images this morning so now it’s a matter of uploading this to History SPOT and making it into something that will display nicely.  This often involves working with some straightforward html coding and working out in what format the data should be displayed.  Again, time consuming work, but quite enjoyable to do once I get into it.

The final task of the day is to set up the audio recorders for tonight’s seminars.  This varies.  Some nights there won’t be any to record.  Today is one such day.  As far as the seminars are concerned we are still in the Easter period so groups have temporarily grinded to a halt.  Other nights there can be anywhere between one to three events scattered throughout Senate House and Stewart House.  This can mean some running around and up and down stairs. 

So, in a nut shell, that is roughly a day in the life of the History SPOT Project officer.  From tomorrow I’ll get back to posting some more summaries of our podcasts.                    


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History SPOT is a continually evolving platform providing provision of Institute of Historical Research seminars, conferences, and workshops as podcasts or live streams and research training materials as handbooks and online training courses.  

At the moment we have quite a back-log of podcasts ranging from seminars to conferences which we wish to make available as soon as possible.  With the new semester almost upon us and even more events scheduled to be recorded we feel that now is the time to begin to shift through these older podcasts.  Over the coming months you will also see an increase in SPOT Newsletter content and its further integration into the podcast pages (where possible).  We really believe that History SPOT should not just be a place to upload podcasts with basic metadata attached but a place where the podcasts are one piece of a larger resource.  From our end we plan to include opinion pieces, abstracts, bibliographies and links where we can, but we also would like help from our visitors as well.

If you have enjoyed a podcast or have any thoughts about them please do post a comment to the relevant page.  If you think that additional metadata tags would be useful for identifying the podcast please feel free to add your own (you will find this option as a tab near the top of each podcast page).  The more people interact with the resources the more useful we believe they will become. 

In the meantime please do have a look at our range of latest podcasts freely available.  If you haven’t yet please do register for a History SPOT account.  Its free, quick to do, and gives you acess to over 200 archived podcasts, related resources, and research training handbooks.

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With the launch of History SPOT the Institute of Historical Research have also launched a brand new handbook written by our own Dr Mark Merry on the subject of designing databases for historical research. Mark is the primary tutor on our various Databases course and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of database structure and function. As such this handbook provides both tuition and guidance for historians on what purpose a database should have and, once built, what can be done with it.

The handbook basically provides an introduction to designing databases for use in historical research; providing an overview of important concepts – both historical in nature and in terms of databases – that the historian will need to consider before embarking upon designing a database. It also provides a number of starting points for overcoming certain design problems that specifically affect historians when they come to wrestle their sources into a database.

So for anyone out there who wishes to make better use of databases, needs a refresher, or would simply like to gain a glimpse at the type of training we can offer on a face to face basis please check out History SPOT and Mark’s Databases handbook.

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Amelia Opie, by John Opie (died 1807). See sou...

Image via Wikipedia

 British History in the Long 18th Century
8 June 2011
Isabelle Cosgrave (Exeter University)
A Quaker convert and the writing of fiction: the case of Amelia Opie

Amelia Opie was a prominent English author who wrote novels, short stories, and poems between 1790 and 1834.  Her output was, however, curtailed when she joined the Quakers in 1825 at the age of 55.  The Quakers believed that all fiction writing was tantamount to lying meaning that Opie was prohibited from her former occupation.  Opie, Isabelle Cosgrave argues, truly believed in the Quaker ideals and that her decision was religiously motivated.  However, Cosgrave makes this argument based on a much wider reading of Opie than has generally been achieved in the past.  Cosgrave focuses on the manner of her conversion and her early radicalism.  She also attempts to explain why Opie’s radical views do not appear in her conservative writings. 


Please click the logo for the podcast 

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Franco-British History
19 May 2011
Catherine Hall (UCL)
Troubled Memories: histories of the British slave trade and slavery

An example of the slave trade (Arab slave traders and their captives along the Ruvuma)

Catherine Hall asks and answers a lot of questions about the construction and reconstruction of histories and memory of the British slave trade.  How is the slavery business remembered?  What has been remembered and what has been forgotten?  How was the past of slavery constructed and presented in the present?  And what has been left silent? 

Between the 1780s-1830s slavery was intensely debated in Britain.  The focus of historical discourses was on the process of emancipation, such as the ‘heroes’ who had brought it about (e.g. Wilberforce), and the glorification of British liberalism.  The objectionable history of slavery itself is only more recently being debated and discussed properly.  This is where the Legacies of Slave Ownership Project  fits in.  Catherine Hall talks about memories and silences connected to those that directly or indirectly benefited from the slave trade.  Using the key examples of the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) and the 1st Baron Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) who was also an English historian, essayist and politician, Hall demonstrates how compensation given to owners of slaves upon abolition could have a significant impact on the individual and collective whole and has helped to shape Britain today.   

Please click the logo for the podcast and also look at the

Spotlight link for biographies, opinion pieces, and further details

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