Digital scholarship blog

01 September 2020

Taking a Virtual Walk on the Wild Side

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, summer is drawing to a close and autumn feels hot on its heels. On recent walks I’ve noticed blackberries ripening in the hedgerows, tree leaves turning colour and bats darting through the air.

Thinking of nature and the senses, today is the first day of Sound Walk September, the yearly global festival celebrating sound walks. If you want to check some of these out, there is a comprehensive list of walking pieces on their website and also many interesting events planned. Including one about virtual walks; exploring how we can enjoy the great outdoors, by using digital technology to experience virtual nature, when staying indoors.

Blue graphic of a stick person wearing large headphones
Sound Walk September, 1-30 September 2020

We'd love for you to join us for this online Virtual Walks panel discussion on Wednesday 16th September at 7pm (BST), booking details are here.

This event will be chaired by Sue Thomas, author of “Nature and Wellbeing in the Digital Age”, who champions how we can use technology to feel better without logging off.

Sue will be joined by cultural geographer and digital media artist, Jack Lowe, who will talk about a genre of video games known as ‘walking simulators’ and his research in developing location-based online games, as a method of place based digital storytelling.

Virtual Whitby Abbey, one of the British Library’s “Off the Map” gothic winning entries. Created by Team Flying Buttress, i.e. six students from De Montfort University, Ben Mowson, Elliott Pacel, Ewan Couper, Finn McAvinchey, Kit Grande and Katie Hallaron.

Use of atmospheric sound recordings is very much part of the ambience of virtual walking simulators and videogames. Completing the panel will be British Library Wildlife and Environmental Sounds Curator, Cheryl Tipp and myself discussing how digitised sound recordings from the Library’s sound archive have been innovatively used in videogames made by UK students, as part of the "Off the Map" initiative.

If you are inspired to make your own digital sound walk, then you may want to take a read of this previous blog post, which has lots of practical advice. Furthermore, if you use any openly licensed British Library sound recordings in your walk, such as ones on the "Off the Map" SoundCloud Gothic, Alice or Shakespeare sets, or these ones on Wikimedia Commons, then please do let us know by emailing digitalresearch(at)bl(dot)uk, as we always love to share and showcase what people have done with our digital collections.

This post is by Digital Curator Stella Wisdom (@miss_wisdom

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