Live streaming: building the Re. atlas

My name is Tabs. I design and develop digital content for the Research Centre for Deep History (RCDH). Developing and maintaining the main website has been my primary focus thus far, as well as posting updates to the ANU’s School of History website. This is shifting to designing and developing a digital atlas – a technical deliverable of the ARC Laureate program ‘Rediscovering the Deep Human Past’ – and mapping projects… We hope to have an alpha version ready by late 2021.

Working as a developer with humanities research can be a challenge. The context in which we’re building affects the design and development process; most notably, who we’re collecting data from and who we’re designing for. There are additional layers of complexity involved surrounding ethics protocols and sanitising data. Communicating the difficulties and nuances of technology to non-developers requires practice. Transforming academic research into something understandable and potentially enjoyable by a wider audience requires a skillset beyond the ability to code; incredible experiences are quite often created by entire teams for this reason.

As a result, I’ve been thinking about how to help people understand more about the work I’m involved in as part of my ongoing interest in supporting training and capability development. One of the ways I’m planning to do this is live streaming.

Live streaming – broadcasting online in real time – has increased significantly in number of streamers and viewership with the onset of COVID-19. The most popular streaming platform, Twitch, surpassed five billion hours watched as of Q2 2020. The number of viewers increased, and so did the number of streamers – Twitch alone now has more than nine million unique channels. I have one of them.

I started streaming for two reasons: I wanted to handle myself in front of a camera (a lifelong struggle!), and to engage with the wider technical community. Since mid-2020 I have been coding live, gaming live, and hosted community ‘slackathons’ (like a hackthon minus time-constraints, and not restricted to code). It’s been an unexpectedly valuable learning process.

Project types generally streamed are SaaS apps, small business websites, or games. While they’re amazing and it is fantastic accompanying streamers working through the creative process that is coding, project field diversity is lacking. Software projects related to the Arts or Social Sciences are few and far between, and academic involvement in projects is near non-existent.

I intend to give the work I do for RCDH some visibility. If the average developer learns about transforming academic research, or a non-developer understands that design and development can be a hair-tearing process, I’d be ecstatic.

I will likely be streaming work-related content on Mondays, and will add streams to my schedule ahead of time. You will only require a Twitch account if you’d like to type in chat. Please feel free to engage, provide feedback, and ask as many questions as you like. I have had viewers keep quiet in an effort not to distract me – but if I didn’t want to be engaged with I wouldn’t be coding on a platform that encourages it!

Please note that Twitch is similar to Twitter in the sense that personal and work content can be inextricably intertwined. I stream personal projects and content outside of my work. All opinions are my own.

My channel is

If you have any queries, comments, or ‘slackathon’ project suggestions I can be contacted via my ANU email or Twitter.