Digital scholarship blog

4 posts categorized "eResources"

06 September 2023

Open and Engaged 2023: Community over Commercialisation

The British Library is delighted to host its annual Open and Engaged Conference on Monday 30 October, in-person and online, as part of International Open Access Week.

Open and Engaged 2023: Community over Commercialisation, includes headshots of speakers and lists location as The British Library, London and contact as openaccess@bl.uk

In line with this year’s #OAWeek theme: Open and Engaged 2023: Community over Commercialisation will address approaches and practices to open scholarship that prioritise the best interests of the public and the research community. The programme will focus on community-governance, public-private collaborations, and community building aspects of the topic by keeping the public good in the heart of the talks. It will underline different priorities and approaches for Galleries-Libraries-Archives-Museums (GLAMs) and the cultural sector in the context of open access.

We invite everyone interested in the topic to join us on Monday, 30 October!

This will be a hybrid event taking place at the British Library’s Knowledge Centre in St. Pancras, London, and streamed online for those unable to attend in-person.

You can register for Open and Engaged 2023 by filling this form by Thursday, 26 October 18:00 BST. Please note that the places for in-person attendance are now full and the form is available only for online booking.

Registrants will be contacted with details for either in-person attendance or a link to access the online stream closer to the event.

Programme

Note that clocks change back to GMT in UK on Sunday, 29 October.

9:30     Registration opens for in-person attendees. Entrance Hall at the Knowledge Centre.

10:00   Welcome

10:10   Keynote from Monica Westin, Senior Product Manager at the Internet Archive

Commercial Break: Imagining new ownership models for cultural heritage institutions.

10:40   Session on public-private collaborations for public good chaired by Liz White, Director of Library Partnerships at the British Library.

  • Balancing public-private partnerships with responsibilities to our communities. Mia Ridge, Digital Curator, Western Heritage Collections, The British Library
  • Where do I stand? Deconstructing Digital Collections [Research] Infrastructures: A perspective from Towards a National Collection. Javier Pereda, Senior Researcher of the Towards a National Collection (TaNC)
  • "This is not IP I'm familiar with." The strange afterlife and untapped potential of public domain content in GLAM institutions. Douglas McCarthy, Head of Library Learning Centre, Delft University of Technology.

11:40   Break

12:10   Lightning talks on community projects chaired by Graham Jevon, Digital Service Specialist at the British Library.

  • The Turing Way: Community-led Resources for Open Research and Data Science. Emma Karoune, Senior Research Community Manager, The Alan Turing Institute.
  • Open Online Tools for Creating Interactive Narratives. Giulia Carla Rossi, Curator for Digital Publications and Stella Wisdom, Digital Curator for Contemporary British Collections, The British Library

12:45   Lunch

13:30   Session on the community-centred infrastructure in practice chaired by Jenny Basford, Repository Services Lead at the British Library.

  • AHRC, Digital Research Infrastructure and where we want to go with it. Tao Chang, Associate Director, Infrastructure & Major Programmes, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • The critical role of repositories in advancing open scholarship. Kathleen Shearer, Executive Director, Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR). (Remote talk)
  • Investing in the Future of Open Infrastructure. Kaitlin Thaney, Executive Director, Invest in Open Infrastructure (IOI). (Remote talk)

14:30   Break

15:00   Session on the role of research libraries in prioritizing the community chaired by Ian Cooke, Head of Contemporary British Publications at the British Library.

  • Networks of libraries supporting open access book publishing. Rupert Gatti, Co-founder and the Director of Open Book Publishers, Director of Studies in Economics at the Trinity College Cambridge
  • Collective action for driving open science agenda in Africa and Europe. Iryna Kuchma, Open Access Programme Manager at EIFL. (Remote talk)
  • The Not So Quiet Rights Retention Revolution: Research Libraries, Rights and Supporting our Communities. William Nixon, Deputy Executive Director at RLUK-Research Libraries UK

16:00   Closing remarks

Social media hashtag for the event is #OpenEngaged. If you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected].

02 August 2023

Writing tools for Interactive Fiction - an updated list

In the spring of 2020, during the first UK lockdown, I wrote an article for the British Library English and Drama blog, titled ‘Writing tools for Interactive Fiction’. Quite a few things have changed since then and as the Library launched its first exhibition on Digital Storytelling this June, it seemed like the perfect time to update this list with a few additions.

Interactive fiction (IF), or interactive narrative/narration, is defined as “software simulating environments in which players use text commands to control characters and influence the environment.”

The British Library has been collecting examples of UK interactive fiction as part of the Emerging Formats Project, which is a collaborative effort from all six UK Legal Deposit Libraries to look at the collection management requirements of complex digital publications. Lynda Clark, the British Library Innovation Fellow for Interactive Fiction, built the Interactive Narratives collection on the UK Web Archive (UKWA) during her placement. Because of Legal Deposit Regulations, most of the items in the Interactive Narratives collection can only be accessed on Library premises – which also extends to other collections in the UK Web Archive, such as the New Media Writing Prize collection.

Lynda also conducted analysis on genres, interaction patterns and tools used to build these narratives.

 

Many of these tools are free to use and don’t require any previous knowledge of programming languages. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but it might be a useful overview of some of the tools currently available, if you’d like to start experimenting with writing your own interactive narrative. We are also very excited to be able to offer a week-long Interactive Fiction Summer School this August at the Library, running alongside the Digital Storytelling exhibition.

For an easier navigation, these are the tools included in this article:

 

Twine

Twine is an open-source tool to write text-based, non-linear narratives. Created by Chris Klimas in 2009, Twine is perfect to write Choose Your Own Adventure-like stories without knowing how to code. The output is an HTML file, which facilitates publishing and distribution, as it can be run on any computer with an Internet connection and a web browser. If you have any knowledge of CSS or Javascript it’s possible to add extra features and specific designs to your Twine story, but the standard Twine structure only requires you to type text and put brackets around the phrases that will become links in the story (linking to another passage or branching into different directions). There is an online version or a downloadable version that runs on Windows, MacOS and Linux. Twine has multiple story formats, with different features and ways to write the interactive bits of your story. The Twine Reference is a good place to start, but there is also a Twine Cookbook (containing ‘recipes’, instructions and examples to do a variety of things).

Example of text from Cat Simulator 3000. 'You dream of mice. You dream of trout. You dream of balls of yarn. You dream of world domination. You dream of opening your own bank account. You dream of the nature of sentience.' Followed by the prompt 'Wake up'.
Some quality cat dreams.
(from Emma Winston’s Cat Simulator 3000)

 

As the most used tool in the UKWA collection, there are many examples of IF written in Twine, from cat and teatime simulators (Emma Winston’s Cat Simulator 3000 and Damon L. Wakes’ Lovely Pleasant Teatime Simulator), to stories that include a mix of video, images and audio (Chris Godber’s Glitch), and horror games made for Gothic Novel Jam using the British Library’s Flickr collection of images (Freya Campbell’s The Tower – NB some content warnings apply). Lynda Clark also authored an original story as a conclusion to her placement: The Memory Archivist incorporates many of the themes emerged during her research and won The BL Labs Artistic Award 2019.

 

ink/inky & inklewriter

Cambridge-based video game studio inkle is behind another IF tool – or two. Ink is the scripting language used to author many of inkle’s videogames – the idea behind it is to mark up “pure-text with flow in order to produce interactive scripts”. It doesn’t require any programming knowledge and the resulting scripts are relatively easy to read. Inky is the editor to write ink scripts in – it’s free to download and lets you test your narrative as you write it. Once you’re happy with your story, you can export it for the web, as well as a JSON file. There’s a quick tutorial to walk you through the basics, as well as a full manual on how to write in ink. ink was also used to write 80 Days, another work collected by the British Library as part of the emerging formats project and currently exhibited as part of the Digital Storytelling exhibition.

A side by side showing the back end and front end of what writing in ink looks like.
A page from 80 Days, written using ink. To read in full detail, please click on the image.

 

inklewriter is an open-source, ready-to-use, browser-based IF “sketch-pad”. It is meant to be used to sketch out narratives more than to author fully-developed stories. There is no download required and the fact that it is a simple and straightforward tool to experiment with IF makes it a good fit for educators. Tutorials are included within the platform itself so that you can learn while you write.

This year’s Interactive Fiction Summer School at the British Library will teach attendees how to write interactive fiction using ink, with a focus on dialogue and writing with the player in mind. Dr. Florencia Minuzzi will lead the 5-day course, together with a number of guest speakers whose work is featured in the Digital Storytelling exhibition – including Corey Brotherson, Destina Connor, Dan Hett and Meghna Jayanth. The school runs from Monday 21st to Friday 25th August – no previous coding experience necessary!

A screenshot from 80 Days Ⓒ inkle. Two men facing each other with the prompt 'begin conversation'.
A screenshot from 80 Days Ⓒ inkle.

 

Bitsy

Bitsy is a browser-based editor for mini games developed by Adam Le Doux in 2016. It operates within clear constraints (8x8 pixel tiles, a 3-colour palette, etc.), which is actually one of the reasons why it is so beloved. You can draw and animate your own characters within your pixel grid, write the dialogue and define how your avatar (your playable character) will interact with the surrounding scenery and with other non-playable characters. Again, no programming knowledge is necessary. Bitsy is especially good for short narratives and vignette games. After completing your game, you can download it as an HTML file and then share it however you prefer. There is Bitsy Docs, as well as some comprehensive tutorials and even a one-page pamphlet covering the basics.

GIF animation from the Bitsy game 'British Library Simulator'
Shout-out to the Emerging Formats Project
(from Giulia Carla Rossi’s The British Library Simulator)

 

To play (and read) a Bitsy work you should use your keyboard to move the avatar around and interact with the ‘sprites’ (interactive items, characters and scenery – usually recognisable as sporting a different colour from the non-interactive background). You can wander around a Zen garden reflecting on your impending wedding (Ben Bruce’s Zen Garden, Portland, The Day Before My Wedding), alight the village fires to welcome the midwinter spirits (Ash Green’s Midwinter Spirits), experience a love story through mixtapes (David Mowatt’s She Made Me A Mix Tape), or if you’re still craving a nice cuppa you can review some imaginary tea shops (Ben Bruce’s Five Great Places to Get a Nice Cup of Tea When You Are Asleep). You can even visit a pixelated version of the British Library and discover more about our contemporary and digital collections with The British Library Simulator.

 

Inform 7

While Twine allows you to write hypertext narratives (where readers can progress through the story by clicking on a link), Inform 7 lets you write parser-based interactive fiction. Parser-based IF requires the reader to type commands (sometimes full sentences) in order to interact with the story.

A how to guide showing what text options are available for playing text based explorer games in Inform. Helpful tips like 'Try the commands that make sense! Doors are for opening; buttons are for pushing; pie is for eating!'
How to Play Interactive Fiction (An entire strategy guide on a single postcard)
<style="font-family: inherit;">Written by Andrew Plotkin -- design by Lea Albaugh. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License

 

Inform 7 is a free-to-use, open-source (as of April 2022) tool to write interactive fiction. Originally created as Inform by Graham Nelson in 1993, the current Inform 7 was released in 2006 and uses natural language (based on the English language) to describe situations and interactions. The learning curve is a bit steeper than with Twine, but the natural language approach allows for users with no programming experience to write code in a simplified language that reads like English text. Inform 7 also has a Recipe Book and a series of well-documented tutorials. Inform also runs on Windows, MacOS and Linux and lets you output your game as HTML files.

While the current version of Inform is Inform 7, narratives using previous versions of the system are still available – Emily Short’s Galatea is always a good place to start. You could also explore mysterious ruins with your romantic interest (C.E.J. Pacian’s Love, Hate and the Mysterious Ocean Tower), play a gentleman thief (J.J. Guest’s  Alias, the Magpie) or make more tea (Joey Jones’ Strained Tea).

 

ChoiceScript

ChoiceScript is a javascript-based scripting language developed by Adam Strong-Morse and Dan Fabulich of Choice of Games. It can be used to write choice-based interactive narratives, in which the reader has to select among multiple choices to determine how the story will unfold. The simplicity of the language makes it possible to create Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style stories without any prior coding knowledge. The ChoiceScript source is available to download for free on the Choice of Games website (it also requires writers to have Node.js installed on their machine). Once your story is complete, you can publish it for free online. Otherwise, Choice of Games offer the possibility of publishing your work with them (they publish to various platforms, including iOS, Android, Kindle and Steam) and earn royalties from it. There is a tutorial that covers the basics, including a Glossary of ChoiceScript terms. The Choice of Game blog also includes some articles with tips on how to design and write interactive stories, especially long ones.

Genres of works built using ChoiceScript are again quite varied – from sci-fi stories exploring the relationships between writers and readers (Lynda Clark’s Writers Are Not Strangers), to crime/romantic dramas (Toni Owen-Blue’s Double/Cross) and fantasy adventures (Thom Baylay’s Evertree Inn).

 

Downpour

Downpour is a game-making tool for phones currently in development. Created by v buckenham, Downpour is a tool that will allow users to make interactive games in minutes, only using their phone’s camera and linking images together. There is no expectation of previous programming knowledge and by removing the need to access a computer, Downpour promises to be a very approachable tool. Release is currently planned for 2023 on iOS and Android – if you want to be notified when it launches you can sign up here.

Downpour banner (purple writing over pink background)
Downpour banner.

 

More resources

As I mentioned before, this is in no way a comprehensive list – there are a lot of other tools and platforms to write IF, both mainstream as well as slightly more obscure ones (Ren’Py, Quest, StoryNexus, Raconteur, Genarrator, just to mention a few). Try different tools, find the one that works best for you or use a mix of them if you prefer! Experiment as much as you like.

If you’d like to discover even more tools to build your interactive project, Everest Pipkin has an excellent list of Open source, experimental, and tiny tools.

Emily Short’s Interactive Storytelling blog also offers a round-up of very interesting links about interactive narratives.

If you want to be inspired by more independent games and interactive stories, Indiepocalypse offers a curated selection of video and/or physical games in the form of a monthly anthology.

To conclude, I’ll leave you with a quote by Anna Anthropy from her book Rise of the Videogame Zinesters:

“Every game that you and I make right now [...] makes the boundaries of our art form (and it is ours) larger. Every new game is a voice in the darkness. And new voices are important in an art form that has been dominated for so long by a single perspective. [...]

There’s nothing to stop us from making our voices heard now. And there will be plenty of voices. Among those voices, there will be plenty of mediocrity, and plenty of games that have no meaning to anyone outside the author and maybe her friends. But [...] imagine what we’ll gain: real diversity, a plethora of voices and experiences, and a new avenue for human beings to tell their stories and connect with other human beings.”

This post is by Giulia Carla Rossi, Curator for Digital Publications

14 July 2023

Share Family: British National Bibliography (Beta) service is live

Contents

Introduction

Share Family and National Bibliographies

       What is a National bibliography?

       BNB in the Share Family

Benefits

Future developments

Beta service

Further information

 

Introduction

The British National Bibliography (BNB), first published in January 1950, is a weekly listing of new books and journals published or distributed in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.  Over the last seventy-three years, the BNB has adapted to changing customer needs by embracing new technologies, from cards in the 1950s to mark-up languages for data exchange in the 1970s and CD-ROM in the 1980s. The BNB now provides online access to details of over 5 million publications and forthcoming titles, ranging in scope from computer science to history, from novels to textbooks.

 

Two examples of bibliographies including information like title, author, place of publication, year, description, prices etc.
1. Examples of British National Bibliography records, April 19th 2023. Please click the image to see it in full size & detail.

In 2011, the Library launched the Linked Open Data BNB.  At that time, linked data was an emerging technology using Web protocols to link data sets, as envisaged in Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s concept of a Semantic Web[1].  Our initial foray into linked data was successful from a technical perspective. We were able to convert BNB data held in Machine Readable Cataloging (MARC) format into linked data structures and make it available in a variety of schemas under an open licence.  Nevertheless, we lacked the capacity to re-model our data in order to realise the potential of linked data.  As the technology matured, we began to look around for partners with whom we could collaborate to take BNB forward.

As described in my September 2020 blogpost, British Library Joins Share-VDE Linked Data Community, the British Library joined the Share Community (now the Share Family) to develop our linked data service. The Share Linked Data Environment is “a global family built on collaboration that brings libraries, archives and museums together with a common goal and joins their knowledge in an ever-widening network of inter-connected bibliographic data.” (Share Family, 2022).

 

Share Family and National Bibliographies

“The Share Family is a suite of innovative tools and services, developed and driven by libraries, for libraries, in an international collaborative, consortial effort. Share-VDE enables the discovery of knowledge to increase user engagement with library and cultural heritage collections.”[2]

Screenshot: Share family components showing layers like Advanced API, Advanced Entity Model, Authority Service, Deliverables etc.
2. Share family components[3]. Please click the image to see it in full size & detail.

The Share Family has supported us through the transition from our traditional MARC data to linked open data.  We provided a full copy of the British National Bibliography to the Share team for identification and clustering of entities, e.g. works, publications, persons. Working with colleagues from other institutions on Share-VDE working groups we contribute to the development of the underlying data structures and the presentation of data.  This collaborative approach has enabled delivery of the British National Bibliography as the first institutional tenant of the Share Family National Bibliographies Portal

What is a National bibliography?

“National bibliographies are a permanent record of the cultural and intellectual output of a nation or country, which is witnessed by its publishing output. They gather the bibliographic information of current publications to preserve and provide ongoing access to this record.”

IFLA Bibliography Section

The IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) Register of national bibliographies contains 52 entries, ranging from Andorra to Vietnam.  National bibliographies vary in scope, but each provides insights into the intellectual and cultural history of society, literature and publishing.  The Share Family National Bibliographies Portal offers the potential for clustering and searching multiple national bibliographies on a single platform.

BNB in the Share Family

Screenshot of the BNB home screen stating 'Search for people, original works and publications
3. Screenshot BNB home screen. Please click the image to see it in full size & detail.

The British Library is proud that the British National Bibliography is the first tenant selected for the Share Family National Bibliographies Portal.

BNB is now available to explore in Beta: https://bl.natbib-lod.org. You can search for publications, original works and people, as illustrated by these examples:

You can use the national bibliography to search for a specific publication, such as a large print edition of the novel Small island by Andrea Levy.

Screenshot: Bibliographic description of large print edition of Small Island by Andrea Levy.
4. Screenshot: Bibliographic description of large print edition of Small Island by Andrea Levy. Please click the image to see it in full size & detail.

 

You can also find original works inspired by earlier works:

Screenshot: Results set for publication of the work, Small island by Helen Edmundson
5. Screenshot: Results set for publication of the work, Small island by Helen Edmundso. Please click the image to see it in full size & detail.

 

Alternatively, you can search for works by a specific author… 

Screenshot showing original works by Douglas Adams
6. Screenshot: Original works by Douglas Adams. Please click the image to see it in full size & detail.

 

…or about a specific person

Screenshot showing original works about Douglas Adams
7. Screenshot: Original works about Douglas Adams. Please click the image to see it in full size & detail.

 

…or by organization

Screenshot showing results set for BBC
8. Screenshot: Results set for BBC. Please click the image to see it in full size & detail.

 

Benefits

What benefit do we expect to gain from this collaboration?

  • We profit from practical experience our collaborators have gained through other linked data initiatives
  • We gain access to a state of the art, extensible infrastructure designed for library data
  • We gain a new channel for dissemination of the BNB, in aggregation with other national bibliographies

We are able to re-tool our metadata for the 21st Century:

  • Our data will be remodelled and clustered making it more compatible with current data models, including the IFLA Library Reference Model, RDA: Resource Description and Access, and Bibframe
  • Our data will be enriched with URIs that will make it more effective in linked data environments
  • The entity-centred view of the British National Bibliography offers new perspectives for researchers

 

Future developments

Conversion of the BNB and publication in the National Bibliographies Portal is only the beginning. 

  • The BNB data from the Cluster Knowledge base will also be published in the triple store
  • Original records will be available to the British Library as Bibframe 2.0, for dissemination or reuse as linked data
  • Users will be provided with access to the data via data dumps and a SPARQL endpoint
  • Our MARC records will be enriched with original Share URIs and URIs from external sources
  • Other national bibliographies will join BNB in the national bibliographies portal

The British National Bibliography represents only a fraction of the Library’s data.   You can explore the British Library’s collection through our catalogue, which we plan to contribute to Share-VDE in future.

 

Beta service

The British National Bibliography in the Share Family is being made available in Beta. The service is still being tested. The interface and the functionality are subject to change and may not work for everyone.  You can tell us what you think about the service or report problems by contacting [email protected].

 

Further information:

British National Bibliography https://bnb.bl.uk  

Share VDE http://www.share-family.org/

Share Family wiki https://wiki.share-vde.org/wiki/Main_Page

Share VDE Virtual Discovery Environment in linked open data https://svde.org/

National Bibliographies in Linked Open Data https://natbib-lod.org

British National Bibliography Linked Open Data Portal https://bl.natbib-lod.org

 

Footnotes

[1]  Berners-Lee, Tim; James Hendler; Ora Lassila (May 17, 2001). "The Semantic Web". Appeared in: Scientific American. (284(5):34-43 (May 2001). 

[2] Share-VDE: supporting the creation, management and discovery of linked open data for libraries: executive summary. Share-VDE Executive Committee. December 7th, 2022. Share-VDE Website (viewed 19th June 2023)

[3] Share Family – Linked data ecosystem. How does it work?  http://www.share-family.org/  (viewed on 23rd June 2023)

04 May 2023

Webinar on Open Scholarship in GLAMs through Research Repositories

If you work in the galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM) sector and want to learn more about research repositories, then join us on 18th May, Thursday for an online repository training session for cultural heritage professionals.

Image of man looking at a poster that says 'Open Scholarship in GLAMs through Research Repositiories - Webinar on 18 May, Thursday - Register at bit.ly/BLrepowebinar

This event is part of the Library’s Repository Training Programme for Cultural Heritage Professionals. It is designed based on the input received from previous repository training events (this, this and this) to explore some areas of the open scholarship further. They include but are not limited to, research activities in GLAM, benefits of research repositories, scholarly publishing, research data management and digital preservation in scholarly communications.

 

Who is it for?

It is intended for those who are working in cultural heritage or a collection-holding organisation in roles where they are involved in managing digital collections, supporting the research lifecycle from funding to dissemination, providing research infrastructure and developing policies. However, anyone interested in the given topics is welcome to attend!

 

Programme

13.00                  Welcome and introductions

      Susan Miles, Scholarly Communications Specialist, British Library

Session 1          Open scholarship in GLAM research  

13.15                  Repositories to facilitate open scholarship

     Jenny Basford, Repository Services Lead, British Library

13.40                 Scholarly publishing dynamics in the GLAM environment

     Ilkay Holt, Scholarly Communications Lead, British Library

14.05                  Q&A

14.20                 Break time

Session 2          Building openness in GLAM research  

14.40                  Research data management

      Jez Cope, Data Services Lead, British Library

15.05                  Digital preservation and scholarly communications

      Neil Jefferies, Head of Innovation, Bodleian Libraries

15.30                  Q&A

15.45                  Closing

 

Register!

The event will take place from 13.00 to 15.45 on 18 May, Thursday. Please register at this link to receive your access link for the online session.

 

What is next?

The last training event of the Library’s Repository Training Programme will be held on 31 May in Cardiff, hosted by the National Museums Cardiff. It will be an update and re-run of the previous face-to-face events. More information about the programme and registration link can be found in this blog post.

Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions or comments about the events.

 

Previous Events

31 January, in-person, Edinburgh, hosted by the National Museums Scotland

8 March, online, hosted by the British Library

31 March, in-person, York, hosted by Archeology Data Service at the University of York

 

About British Library’s Repository Training Programme

The Library’s Repository Training Programme for cultural heritage professionals is funded as part of AHRC’s iDAH programme to support cultural heritage organisations in establishing or expanding open scholarship activities and sharing their outputs through research repositories. You can read more about the scoping report and the development of this training programme in this blog post.

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