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OUP discount offer on a range of books for all digifest participants

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To celebrate UCL digifest 2014, Oxford University Press are pleased to offer a 20% discount until 21 December 2014 on a special selection of books, featuring titles on: computer heroes, computing & society, and computer Science.

Please enter the code WEBDIGI14 in the promotional code box at the shopping basket to claim your discount.

How to Order
Please use this link to take a look at the titles on offer. Your final discounted price for each item will show up in your shopping basket after you have clicked on the ‘add to basket’ button on each individual product page.


Feedback Mechanisms

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Throughout the week, we are employing a range of different feedback mechanisms for session audiences to participate in. We will have sessions summed up in word clouds, in Chirps and even in song!

For the latter, Samer Abdallah from the department of computer science helped us build a very simple Google form that he managed to connect to Spotify where it generates a playlist based on form input.

You can listen to how digifest is feeling right now by clicking this link.

Notes from the Advocacy and Campaigns session #dfchange

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CC-BY Janina Dewitz

Notes from the Open Access 101 session #dfopen101

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Is this ok??

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Hello lovely digifest readers,

I was having a little browse and came across a slightly terrifying toy/’teaching tool’ called The Roboroach which started its life on popular crowdfunder Kickstarter.



Credit: backyardbrains.com

These guys have basically developed an electronic device that allows anyone to control the movements of a real live cockroach using their mobile phone app.  Backyard Brains claim this is a tool designed to pique, children’s interests in neuroscience…really?

There is a little procedure everyday punters must first operate on the animal, involving submersion in ice water, sanding, using a needle to make a small hole in the thorax to insert a wire and the cutting off of the antennae and the insertion of electrodes.  Now, I realise a lot of people anthropomorphise animals rather freely due in large part to Bambi, however, this still seems a bit wrong on a purely moral level right?  Fair enough using animals for the advancement of medicine but this toy can surely not stand behind such a argument.  Yeah it’s just a cockroach, their not very intelligent or cute but then where does one draw the line?  Will we be seeing remote control chinchillas soon?

Let us know what you think in the comments and take our poll  =)

UCL Museums: 3D scanning and printing at The Petrie

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Welcome to the second and final part of the UCL Museums series, where we share how UCL museums use tech and digital things to revolutionise artefact documentation and enhance user experience. This time we went to UCL’s Petrie Museum to take a peak at the technology behind their 3D scanning and printing of artefacts.

The sofware developer at the Petrie, Giancarlo Amati, graciously took us around the museum and spent some time explaining to us about the increased accessibility of artefacts through online curation and interactive apps. Check out these videos:

Part 1

Part 2

The digitisation of artefacts using a variety of technology, such as 3D scanning and printing, app tour and Augmented Reality (AR) has allowed greater accessability and interactivity between visitors and museum exhibits. Do drop by the Petrie Museum to experience this first-hand, or download The Tour of the Nile app available on Apple AppStore today.

YouTube Workshops: Production on a Shoestring

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Welcome to our third and final post in the YouTube workshop series!

This session deals with the dirty stuff: actually making and shooting the video, the equipment and tools needed, which can cost an arm and leg.

But for us who can’t afford to spend a few thousand quid, here are some basic gadgets and softwares you need to produce more than decent videos.


Image from TheNewCamera.com

Get a DSLR for superb, high-quality HD images. YouTube Space runs on Canon, but Nikon and Sony are also decent brands to go for. Amongst the recommendations are Canon’s ‘nifty fifty’  lens, which is a nice, affordable lens. The Canon EOS 600D has a flip screen, which is great for individuals working on their own. This allows them to face the camera and actually see how it comes out.


Image from Visual Science Lab

Lighting is important to produce a clearer footage. Some of the lights you can use:

  • 1st light – lights the best side (diffused)
  • 2nd light – dimmer on the other side (diffused)
  • 3rd light – aimed at back of the head to lift subject off the background (hard light)

All lights should be high up. Cheaper alternatives to lightings are:

  • Windows
  • Reflectors
  • Chinese lanterns lampshade (ikea Regolit)

Make use of what you have if you can’t afford to spend money on proper equipment!


Always use an external mic especially for DSLRs

Rode camera mic is the best for close ups

Or alternatively invest in:

  • Zoom h1
  • Zoom h4n
  • Omnidirectional condenser mic


After you’ve produced the raw footage, it’s time to edit you videos. Invest in a good editing software, which can range from cheap to really expensive:

  • Adobe premier (£18/month)
  • Adobe Creative Suite (£46/month)
  • Final cut pro (£200)


Another tip is to add colour effects to black to create moods and make your video more appealing. They also recommend nice round S curves for colour and contrast

So there you go, the more economical basics of video production! We must say mobile film making is the most economical of all, though of course the result does not compare. Check out our mobile film making journey and the finished product!


YouTube Workshops: Comedy Writing

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Welcome to the second video of the Youtube workshop series! This session is on comedy writing, delivered by Mark Douglas of The Key of Awesome.

In the words of Bill Cosby, good writing never goes out of style.

Mark gave us really useful tips on comedy writing and roping in audience to share some good laughs

Length: 2-3mins is enough (especially for comedy). YouTube audience has short attention spans and anything longer than that will lose them.

Here’s his 3:03 minute long collaboration video with AmericanHipster:

Preparation: Have a solid plan for your video to help you get organised. However, be prepared to improvise as things naturally happen. It’s helpful to try a lot of improv beforehand to practise. Try doing stand-up comedies to get yourself used to it.

Set a deadline: It’s quite difficult to get creative on demand. However, setting up a deadline helps you to get your creative juices flowing.

Appeal to the audience:

  • Do behind-the-scenes shots and out-takes to draw audience; bloopers are always fun to watch!
  • Respond to comments on camera
  • Give your audience a job at the end: “what should we do next? You decide!” It straight away takes the audience’s mind of what just happened & focuses on the next thing

Check out our post about YouTube creative strategy that could help with this!

The little details: Make the most of your thumbnail and meta data. This could influence whether viewers would click on your video based on the small details they see. Meta data is also useful for YouTube to index your content and bring it up in related searches.

Polish your skills: Take acting classes and practise your comedic talent!

And finally, enjoy this hilarious video that Mark recommended to us and see how they do it:






YouTube Workshops: 10 Fundamentals of a Creative Strategy

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A few weeks ago, the digifest team headed over to Youtube Space London for some exciting events revolving around the various facets of Youtube production, from audience development, budget and content production.

In the spirit of both digifest and YouTube, we’re here to share what we’ve learnt!

The first in the Youtube workshop series is: 10 fundamentals of a creative strategy, presented by Jessica Elvidge. Since we’ve been dabbing our hands in video-making, this workshop is very useful in helping us build solid content and strategy for a successful YouTube video. A creative strategy is important to build a trajectory of audience views and ratings.

So what are the 10 fundamentals in creative strategy?

1. Shareability

Will viewers share your video? What will they say about it? what 10 words will your friends use to sum up the video? What do they think of themselves when they share the video? Make it compelling; be relatable, topical, valuable. These qualities can contribute to the shareability of a video, and in turn reach new audiences.

2. Conversation

Is there an element of speaking to the audience? YouTube is a social platform that is meant to engage viewers. Take a look at this video:

The conversational element in this video builds a direct connection between the people in the video and the viewers. It doesn’t have to be directly speaking to/looking at the audience, it can be a short greeting and introduction in the beginning of the video, or a thank-you at the end.

3. Interactivity

A great way to rope in viewership is to involve the audience and give them a chance to participate in the production. A few simple ways of doing this is to discuss comments from the previous video in the next one, or ask viewers to contribute their ideas and what they want to see.

4. Consistency

A great  way to retain viewership is to include recurring elements in your videos; it could be the same format, theme, schedule, tone, etc. This helps subscriber to understand the channel and keep them returning to it. Sticking to a consistent schedule of video uploads can tap into people’s routines and make them know what and when to expect the videos.

This channel’s theme is re-making movie endings as how they think it should be, and viewers are roped in as videos on other movies are made.

5. Target

Do you have a clearly defined audience? More specialised topics or issues garner a specific audience set, so if you were planning on making videos like these, make sure you tailor it to the right audience.

6. Sustainability

If the audience loved you videos, you can continue to make it long-term. But several things to consider is the time, budget and resources to make those videos.

7. Discoverability

How easy is it for the videos to be found through search? How can it be reached by larger audiences? This could be done by addressing trending topics, or producing videos on evergreen topics, i.e. things that people routinely search for, like this:

One of the great things about a how-to video is that sometimes people need to actually see the demonstration instead of reading them. And this is how you can attract audiences!

8. Accessability

How easy is it for new users to understand what’s going on? How much context is required? Roping in viewers early on in the series can increase understanding in follow-up videos.

9. Collaboration

Is there a way to feature guest stars from other channels into your videos? Collaboration-based videos is a very helpful way to grow your audience or subscribers, since there will be double promotion – one on your side, and one on the collaborator’s side. However, it is important not to collaborate for the sake of collaborating; make sure it starts from the right idea.

10. Inspiration

Is it coming from a genuine place of passion? Be inspired and passionate because if this is a long-term project, it adds more zing to your videos if you continue to love what you’re doing as you go along through it.

Happy YouTubing!

UCL Museums: QRator Project at the Grant

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Welcome to part 1 of 2 of our UCL Museums series, where we share how UCL museums use tech and digital things to revolutionise artefact documentation and enhance user experience. The Grant Museum is one of the two museums in the world that runs the QRator project – which is pretty awesome!

So we had the manager of the Grant himself, Jack Ashby, to chat about this cool project. Check out the video:

Basically the QRator project uses iPads for visitors to put their thoughts and interpretations of the museum objects, which then become part of the display. It’s also a good way to capture feedback – and the comments aren’t moderated so some people tend to go crazy on it and it will still be published.

Next up in the UCL Museums series: 3D scanning and printing at the Petrie Museum – stay tuned!