Ligatus news

Artivity project meeting (2015-12-01)


On the 1st of December Sebastian and Moritz from Semiodesk visited Chelsea College of Arts for a day long project meeting about Artivity. This was to conclude phase 2 and prepare for the proposals for phase 3.

We began the day talking about sustainability, based on a text that Sebastian and Moritz had started. This was improved and enhanced following various reports and guidelines provided on the Software Sustainability Institute website. Daniela Duca from JISC joined us in that discussion with some very useful comments.

We then met with people from the UAL IT department and specifically from the team which is responsible for the deployment of applications to the managed machines in the university. We discussed possibilities in relation to Artivity and received very useful feedback.

We had a meeting with our administrators' team about the proposed budgeting for phase 3 and talked further about the pitches for the forthcoming sandpit.

Busy Artivity days!

Gino Ballantyne's contribution


Having completed nearly all of the testing sessions for the second phase of Artivity I have began publishing the resulting data in figshare. The first batch is already up from the artist Gino Ballantyne, but I will be getting the second machine with the rest of the data over the weekend so I will be publishing more. For reference this data is here:

Gino Ballantyne's contribution for Phase 2

Gino's contribution was produced from the 3rd of November to the 6th while Gino was visiting Chelsea College and was spending time with the MA students in the studios. Some of his outputs can be seen here.

Artivity artists for phase 2


I have been meaning to write a blog post about the artists who are testing Artivity tools and producing some data for us and today I managed to get some time to do it. The two Artivity laptops have been setup and have been travelling up and down the country. We have been lucky to have contributions from a number of artists:

Most of them have already worked on their projects and their contributions will soon appear in the repository. Others are scheduled to received the computers in a few days. I will try to post separate items for each artist's contribution. For the time-being I am posting here the screenshots from their websites for you to get a flavour of the kind of work they do.

A few more artists have also expressed interest but their have been more interested in Adobe software so they are standing by for testing when we are able to support Photoshop and Illustrator. They are:

Artivity laptops ready


The past few weeks have been extremely busy and I had hardly any time to update the Artivity blog. This is what we have been doing:

  • Sebastian and Moritz have now ported the whole Artivity deamon and Explorer to mono making it potentially cross-platform for Linux, Windows and MacOSX. Although the plugins for Inkscape and Krita have not been ported yet, the expectation is that small tweeks will be needed for the different versions of Inkscape and Krita. Switching to mono now means that in Phase 3 we can start working on supporting Adobe software.
  • Sebastian and Moritz have also delivered a version of the Krita plugin which is now available in the Ubuntu repository.
  • We have been working hard and consulting with Graham Klyne about storing Artivity data as PROV RDF. We think we have mapped the Artivity data model successfully. We are editing a document which describes the mapping and this will soon be available on the Bitbucket repository under deliverables.
  • I have been contacting the artists who have been willing to work with Artivity and provide outputs and data. I now have a good schedule over the next few weeks with the two Artivity laptops being couriered around the country. So I am looking forward to receiving some data and try to build some narratives.

The future of Artivity and Zeitgeist


Since the inception of this project the idea of capturing contextual research data started after looking at the idea of the semantic desktop. The main implementation of the semantic desktop was through the respective KDE and GNOME communities and particularly the Zeitgeist framework which was a core component allowing applications to interact with semantic desktop data. So Zeitgeist has been in the heart of this project from the beginning.
During recent discussion with the guys from Semiodesk we have come to the decision that although the idea of the semantic desktop is still very much the driving force behind the project, Zeitgeist is no longer the right choice for us. These are some reasons:

  • Zeitgeist is very much a GNU/Linux piece of software with certain dependencies such as DBus which are difficult to implement when porting to other platforms. This became an issue when we starting considering scaling Artivity up to support MacOSX which is an inevitable choice for artists and designers.
  • Zeitgeist runs well on GNOME and especially Debian-based distributions. But the software has not had a major release since 2011. The members of the Zeitgeist community have moved on to other projects and making changes to the software is not easy.
  • The Zeitgeist data model is somewhat limiting for the kind of tracking we are undertaking. It is designed to track events on the desktop but it does not really allow storing structured data from each application. This became an issue when we started considering how to export Artivity data and we considered the Artivity data model more carefully.

We wouldn't have decided to abandon Zeitgeist if a better option was not available. We were looking for open source software which would not limit us if we wanted to adopt different data models for the various Artivity applications, which would be cross-platform for at least GNU/Linux, MacOSX and MS Windows and which would rely on popular open source software with a much stronger presence than Zeitgeist.
As it happens, and this is the reason Semiodesk become a partner in the first place, Trinity is an open source platform that ticks all the boxes:

  • It is based on Mono so it can run on the three major platforms.
  • It adopts an RDF store as a backend database which means that any data model that can be expressed in RDF can be used to contribute to Artivity's tracking.
  • It relies on openlink virtuoso for storage which is an extremely popular RDF store.

Artivity's current tools have already been ported to MacOSX and MS Windows using Trinity and we are in the process of finalising the Artivity new data model and its mapping to two main ontologies. We will keep you updated on our progress here.

Export formats


I have been looking recently at the issue of sharing Artivity data. I did a short bibliographical review (attached at the bottom of the post) and it confirms that the idea of the semantic desktop was particularly popular around the middle of the 00's but it never really took off although the open source community embraced it (especially KDE and GNOME projects).

Some interesting projects came up in the review:

and of course

  • Gnowsis, an implementation of NEPOMUK alongside the rest of NEPOMUK inspired implementations.

It is sad that NEPOMUK is losing its momentum with the open source communities but the idea of the semantic desktop is very much alive, only it seems it will be implemented at the application level with increasingly better adoption of semantic standards.

The question at this stage for Artivity is which would be a reasonable path for sharing data. We are currently looking at three possible candidates which model interactions of Agents (including both users and software) with Resources through Activities:

  • Activity Streams which is a W3C recommendation with wide industry adoption but focusing on social media,
  • CIDOC-CRM which is an ISO standard more focused on resources as physical objects and
  • PROV which is again a W3C recommendation focusing on the provenance metadata of resources with more interest in digital resources.
  • Abela, C., Staff, C. and Handschuh, S. (no date) ‘Collecting and Analysing Personal Information Management Data.’ Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • An Introduction to Topic Maps (no date). Available at: (Accessed: 1 September 2015).
  • Baldauf, M., Dustdar, S. and Rosenberg, F. (2007) ‘A Survey on Context-Aware Systems’, Int. J. Ad Hoc Ubiquitous Comput., 2(4), pp. 263–277. doi: 10.1504/IJAHUC.2007.014070.
  • Bardram, J. E., Jeuris, S. and Houben, S. (2015) ‘Activity-Based Computing: Computational Management of Activities Reflecting Human Intention.’, AI Magazine, 36(2). Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • Cheyer, A., Park, J. and Giuli, R. (2005) ‘IRIS: Integrate. Relate. Infer. Share.’, in. 1st Workshop on The Semantic Desktop. 4th International Semantic Web Conference, p. 15. Available at: (Accessed: 1 September 2015).
  • Chirita, P. A., Gavriloaie, R., Ghita, S., Nejdl, W. and Paiu, R. (2005) ‘Activity based metadata for semantic desktop search’, in The Semantic Web: Research and Applications. Springer, pp. 439–454. Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • Cozzi, A., Farrell, S., Lau, T., Smith, B. A., Drews, C., Lin, J., Stachel, B. and Moran, T. P. (2006) ‘Activity management as a web service’, IBM Systems Journal, 45(4), pp. 695–712.
  • Decker, S. and Frank, M. (2004) ‘The social semantic desktop’, in WWW2004 Workshop Application Design, Development and Implementation Issues in the Semantic Web, p. 10. Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • Dix, A., Catarci, T., Habegger, B., Kamaruddin, A., Katifori, A., Lepouras, G., Poggi, A., Ramduny-Ellis, D. and others (2006) ‘Intelligent context-sensitive interactions on desktop and the web’, in Proceedings of the international workshop in conjunction with AVI 2006 on Context in advanced interfaces. ACM, pp. 23–27. Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • Franz, T. and Staab, S. (2005) ‘SAM: Semantics Aware Instant Messaging for the Networked Semantic Desktop.’, in Semantic Desktop Workshop. Citeseer. Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • Garrelfs, I. (2015) From inputs to outputs: an investigation of process in sound art practice. PhD Thesis. University of the Arts London.
  • Gaugaz, J., Costache, S., Chirita, P.-A., Firan, C. S. and Nejdl, W. (2008) ‘Activity based links as a ranking factor in semantic desktop search’, in Web Conference, 2008. LA-WEB’08., Latin American. IEEE, pp. 49–57. Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • Groza, T., H, S., Möller, K., Minack, E., Jazayeri, M., Mesnage, C., Reif, G. and Gudjónsdóttir, R. (2007) ‘The NEPOMUK project - on the way to the social semantic desktop’, in In Proceedings of I-Semantics’ 07, JUCS, pp. 201–211.
  • Hu, Y. and Janowicz, K. (2012) ‘Improving personal information management by integrating activities in the physical world with the semantic desktop’, in Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Advances in Geographic Information Systems. ACM, pp. 578–581. Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • ‘ISO 21127:2014 Information and documentation -- A reference ontology for the interchange of cultural heritage information’ (2014). ISO.
  • ‘ISO/IEC 13250:2003 - Information technology -- SGML applications -- Topic maps’ (2006). ISO. Available at: (Accessed: 1 September 2015).
  • Konstantinos, A. and Ioannis, R. (2015) ‘Activity Ontologies for Intelligent Calendar Applications’, in Proceedings of the 7th Balkan Conference on Informatics Conference. ACM, p. 17. Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • Nejdl, W. and Paiu, R. (2005) ‘I know I stored it somewhere-Contextual Information and Ranking on our Desktop’, Future Digital Library Management Systems: System Architecture and Information Access, p. 9.
  • NGO, B.-H., BAC, C., LE, Q.-T. and SILBER-CHAUSSUMIER, F. (2006) ‘TOWARD ONTOLOGY-BASED FILE SYSTEMS’, in Conférence nationale des technologies de l’information, Dalat University (VN). Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • Pammer, V. and Bratic, M. (2013) ‘Surprise, Surprise: Activity Log Based Time Analytics for Time Management’, in CHI ’13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. New York, NY, USA: ACM (CHI EA ’13), pp. 211–216. doi: 10.1145/2468356.2468395.
  • Rath, A. S., Devaurs, D. and Lindstaedt, S. N. (2009) ‘UICO: an ontology-based user interaction context model for automatic task detection on the computer desktop’, in Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Context, Information and Ontologies. ACM, p. 8. Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • Schmidt, B., Stoitsev, T. and Mühlhäuser, M. (2010) ‘Activity-centric support for weakly-structured business processes’, in Proceedings of the 2nd ACM SIGCHI symposium on Engineering interactive computing systems. ACM, pp. 251–260. Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • Strang, T. and Linnhoff-Popien, C. (2004) ‘A Context Modeling Survey’, in Workshop Proceedings. First International Workshop on Advanced Context Modelling, Reasoning And Management at UbiComp 2004, Nottingham, England, September 7, 2004, Nottingham, UK. Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • Strang, T., Linnhoff-Popien, C. and Frank, K. (2003) ‘CoOL: A context ontology language to enable contextual interoperability’, in Distributed applications and interoperable systems. Springer, pp. 236–247. Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • Thalmann, S., Seeber, I., Maier, R., Peinl, R., Pawlowski, J. M., Hetmank, L., Kruse, P. and Bick, M. (2012) ‘Ontology-based standardization on knowledge exchange in social knowledge management environments’, in Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Knowledge Management and Knowledge Technologies. ACM, p. 12. Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).
  • Wang, X. H., Zhang, D. Q., Gu, T. and Pung, H. K. (2004) ‘Ontology based context modeling and reasoning using OWL’, in Pervasive Computing and Communications Workshops, 2004. Proceedings of the Second IEEE Annual Conference on. Ieee, pp. 18–22. Available at: (Accessed: 28 August 2015).

Artivity: Call for contributions (paid)

What is Artivity?

Artivity is a set of software applications which capture contextual data produced during the creative process of artists and designers while working on a computer. The captured data can be used as evidence about the creative process of artists and it can also be used as a way to document technique. Artivity software can also be used as part of a self-archiving tool for artists who wish to document their practice.

What is this call?

Artivity wishes to commission work by artists and designers to test which aspects of the creative process is captured by the software. We currently support work on vector and raster images only (support for other types of creative software is planned). The work will have to be undertaken primarily on a computer around October 2015. The original artwork will remain the property of the artist.

Why new work is needed?

We are currently testing the types and usefulness of the contextual data recorded by Artivity. We need external artists to undertake research and provide this data in relation to a finished artwork to allow us to examine datasets we are not familiar with and find out whether we can make reasonable conclusions about the artistic process from the contextual data.


Commission fees will be discussed individually with each artist/designer.

If you are interested in contributing please contact Athanasios Velios (

Artivity is funded by JISC and it is a collaboration between the University of the Arts London and Semiodesk.

Call for PhD applications

Ligatus, a research centre of the University of the Arts London, in collaboration with Oxford University are inviting applications for a PhD research project in the subject of machine learning in bookbinding history.
Ligatus is the leading centre in the study of bookbinding history with a strong interest in documentation methods. Recent projects include a survey of 4,000 books (including photographs) from the medieval library of the Monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai, Egypt and a thesaurus of bookbinding concepts (Language of Bindings Thesaurus) which can be used for classifying content. This PhD project will look at image recognition and the automatic extraction of bookbinding features from photographs of books.
The ideal candidate will have a computer science degree with relevant projects and a strong interest in cultural heritage or a relevant humanities degree with proven knowledge of machine learning and image analysis techniques.
For more information please contact Dr Athanasios Velios ( Funding for this position may be available if applications are received by the deadline of the 30th of November.

On the Matter of Books and Records. Forms, Substance, Forgeries, and Meanings Beyond the Lines

We are pleased to announce the forthcoming international workshop on the materiality of written culture in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe: On the Matter of Books and Records. Forms, Substance, Forgeries, and Meanings Beyond the Lines, organised by the AR.C.H.I.ves Project (Birkbeck, University of London), the Ligatus Research Centre (University of the Arts London) and the History of Design Programme (Royal College of Art / Victoria & Albert Museum).
The conference will take place on 23 November 2015 at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Please see the programme ​below , also available at , and

Visit our Facebook page at:


10.00-10.30 Registration and Coffee
10.30-10.45 Filippo de Vivo and Marta Ajmar: Introduction

10.45 – 12.15
First Session - Supports: Papyrus, Parchment, and Paper
Danae Bafa (UCL):
From Boats to Book-rolls: Unfolding the Materiality of Papyrus in Graeco-Roman Egypt
Jessica Berenbeim (Magdalene College, University of Oxford):
What Parchment is, and What it Means
Maria Alessandra Chessa (V&A Museum):
From the Nature of Paper to Meaning and Function

1.30 – 2.30
Second Session - Binding Books and Documents
Anna Gialdini (Ligatus, UAL) and Alessandro Silvestri (Birkbeck):
Binding and Rebinding Records in Late Medieval Sicily. A Material Approach to Administrative History
Carlo Federici (Ca’ Foscari, University of Venice):
Bindings, Parchments and Papers. My Pathway to the Archaeology of the Book
2.30-3.00 Coffee Break

3.00 – 4.10
Third Session - Forgery in Books and Documents
Emily Taylor (British Museum):
Book Forgeries: A Composite Fake and Egyptological Conundrum from the British Museum’s Collection
Alfred Hiatt (Queen Mary University of London):
Forgery of Documents in the Late Middle Ages

4.10-4.30 Ian Sansom, University of Warwick: Closing remarks: The Paper Museum

5.00 Wine Reception

Registration to the workshop is now open. Places are limited and we recommend you register as soon as possible. Shall the number of registrations exceed that of available places, we will be running a waiting list. Please register at within 15 November 2015.

We are also happy to announce that a small number of travel bursaries are available to enable graduate students to attend (see ​ ​ We would be grateful if you could circulate the information among potentially interested students. Applications should be sent to by 15 October 2015.

For any further enquiries visit or feel free to get in touch with the organisers:

Alessandro Silvestri:
Anna Gialdini:
Maria Alessandra Chessa:

Artivity goes on to phase 2


Following the JISC sandpit on the 13th and 14th of July, Artivity is now funded for another 4 months by JISC. This is great news for the project as it will give us the opportunity to develop a new plugin for Krita which is a raster image editing package. You can see the full sandpit presentation on slide share, including the deliverables for phase two. You can read Daniela Duca's announcement here and a nice DCC blogpost by Angus White.
The challenges for the new phase are:

  • Come up with a robust plan of how to scale-up Artivity from a small proof of concept project to a wider user-base deployment.
  • Capture a few extended examples to showcase the value of Artivity data.


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