Category Archives: presentation

ESRC Research Methods Festival 2018

During the amazingly sunny weather a few weeks ago, I managed to spend a couple of days indoors, hiding from the sun at the ESRC Research Methods Festival at the University of Bath. Every 2 years, the National Centre for Research Methods have organised this conference to showcase unique and new methods from across the social sciences. The conference covered everything from ‘Multi-scale measures of segregation data’ and ‘Quantitative methods pedagogy’ to ‘Do participatory visual methods give ‘voice’?’ and ‘Comics as a research method’.

It was also fantastic to meet a range of academics and researchers who I would not normally meet. I met a number of people who I had communicated regularly with on Twitter, but never met in person before!

I was presenting in a session on ‘Multiscale measures of segregation data‘, where we were discussing different approaches to how deprivation can be measured across different locations. One of the major characteristics of grouped spatial data is the MAUP (Modifiable Areal Unit Problem), where the method used to group your data will have an impact on the results of any analysis. The session was a great collection of presentations, all of us looking at similar issues but often taking quite different methods to approach them.

I showed how using variograms based on the PopChange data set to look at spatial segregation can help avoid some of the impacts of imposing scales on the data, and instead use the data to tell us at what scales the variations are taking place.

Across the whole conference there was a range of content using scripting languages, and R and Python featured significantly across the board, to the surprise of some of the participants, including me:

Like most conferences, there were so many interesting sessions and it was often difficult to choose which track to attend! The keynotes were all thought provoking. Danny Dorling presented a range of interesting information on current levels of inequality in the UK, and warned us that it is likely to get worse before it gets better. Donna Mertens called on all of us to think about how our research can change things, and if it doesn’t, why not?

It was a great methods conference, and reminded me about how many different methods are out there. If you would like a chat about how using GIS could help with your research or work, please do give me a call on 01209 808910 or email at

Cross-posted from

GISRUK2015 and TravelOAC

I presented my work on TravelOAC at GISRUK this year, based at Leeds. The conference was great and it was a great opportunity to meet an incredible range of people involved in GIS, from engineers, historians, social scientists, spatial information scientists (as they like to be called!), mathematicians and, of course, geographers. We had a great crowd on Twitter as well (#GISRUK2015) who kept everyone up to date on proceedings, and I’d particularly like to mention @adjturner who has made his conference notes available online at . I was also involved in the GIS for Transport Applications workshop, which Robin has written up. Next year, we are at Greenwich, so see you there!

My slides and paper are available, and I have also written a post about how I created the cartograms I used in my work.

‘Hearing In’: Philosophical perspectives on sonification

I was invited to attend ‘Hearing In’ on Friday 10th October, a workshop organised by the Centre for the Study of the Senses, Institute of Philosophy, University of London. I was speaking about my work on sonification, alongside Chris Chafe (Stanford, US) and Paul Vickers (Northumbria, UK) and the aim of the workshop was to examine some of the theoretical challenges raised by sonification, and to explore the relevance of specific examples for our philosophical understanding of auditory and music perception. (Download programme, PDF, 53KB).

Chris Chafe showed us a wide variety of examples from his work as a musician, composing sonifications in collaboration with scientists and engineers. One of the areas he is interested in is whether a computer can be programmed to create human sounding music, with the hope this can aid our understanding of the creation of music. He also showed a range of installations, including a sonification of the ripening process of tomatoes and the tides.

My presentation was of my PhD work on sonification, evaluating ways of using sound to represent spatial data. I am very interested in how we combine sound with vision to represent additional spatial data, rather than using sound as a replacement for visual display of spatial data. The presentation is available below, and includes my PhD work with specific reference to my second case study on the UKCP09 (UK Climate Projections 2009) data set and how we could use sound to represent the uncertainty within this data set. I also discussed the conceptual model I have developed based on the results of my PhD, which is currently under consideration for publication. (Download presentation with multimedia, PowerPoint, 50MB).

Paul Vickers presented his work on the theory of sonification, considering how sonification compares with visualisation as a way of representing data. He adopted an approach of considering the semantics of the terms involved, highlighting the importance of the intent of the sonification designer and whether they wish the sonification to be a form of data communication, or a piece of work in itself (for example, as an art installation).

After each presentation and at the end of the workshop we had a wide ranging discussion of the issues mentioned by the presenters. It highlighted to me how much there is still to be done in understanding the theoretical side of sonification, including things such as the specific definition of what a sonification is, what it is not, and what the differences are between sonification and music. I believe Chris, Paul and I gave a fair overview of sonification to the Philosophy community, and that this is the beginning of a fruitful relationship between our communities.

Many thanks to Ophelia Deory for organising this event, to Barry Smith, Matthew Nudds and Emily Caddick for providing comments on our presentations, and to all the attendees to the workshop for providing a interesting and through provoking discussion.