EuropeanaTech 2015 – Beauty, Culture and Technology

25 February 2015 Comment

From 12 to 13 February 2015, the Bibliothèque national de France (BnF) turned into a lively space, a venue uniting people interested in all of the technical aspects of Europeana. The EuropeanaTech Conference, organised by the Europeana Foundation, the BnF and many other helping hands, not only featured inspiring keynotes, but also provided an open space for fruitful and stimulating discussions. This was possible as the participants came from not only Europe, but from all over the world – even Australia, the US and Japan!

The Master of Ceremonies – Bill Thompson at his best – opened the Tech Conference by introducing the first keynote speaker, Ruth Nicholls. She told the audience about the ‘97ers, a generation that does not differentiate between life online and offline. Afterwards, five ignite talks showcased various applications that make European Cultural heritage accessible online. The following two sessions highlighted the importance of data quality and open access. Participants then had the opportunity to visit many inspiring parallel sessions with Ruben Verborgh, Ted Fons, Paul Clough and Akihiko Takano (just to mention a few).

Max Kaiser moderates the session "Open Data, Open Source"; (CC-BY-SA eCreative)

Living in Europe means being surrounded by an enormous variety of languages. How does one deal with this blessing and not turn it into a curse? This was debated in the lively session on “Multilingualism”. In a parallel conference track there was a deep discussion about re-use: How to go about it and which tools are available to do so.

The first conference day ended with an inspiring Keynote from Dan Cohen, Andy Neale and Tim Sherratt in which re-use and online heritage platforms from all over the world were presented. This inspiring talk pointed out that sometimes working with digital heritage is not about perfection, but about the passion with which you engage your profession.

James Morley on Europeana Labs, outcome of the project Europeana Creative; (CC-BY-SA eCreative)

Twitter turned out to be a platform for parallel stimulating discussions during the day, with participants going into fascinating detail about certain aspects of the presentations online. Have a look for yourself at #eurtech15.

The second day started with a presentation by Europeana Labs entitled “a playground for remixing and using cultural and scientific heritage”. One of the highlights of the day followed: Chris Welty’s talk on “Cognitive Computing”, which was peppered with pop art and enlightening quotes, gave us a glimpse into the future. Welty showed us where we are now, what will be possible in the future, and the next steps that have to be taken in order to get where we want to go.

Seb Chan knew that there is “No End in Sight” and proved that a digital pen is the only thing a visitor to a museum needs in order to explore an exhibition, showing us innovation and user-friendliness at its best. The last keynote to round up this year’s EuropeanaTech Conference was held by George Oates, a lively woman brimming with ideas about how to efficiently utilise what the digitised world has to offer. This was an excellent talk to end the day with and to send one highly motivated back to work.

The two days of EuropeanaTech offered the chance for creative industries, cultural heritage institutions and developers to discuss the needs and challenges they are facing, to align with each other and find common ground. Each of the parties involved was given the floor to show what they have already achieved and what their next steps will be. Showcases from Europeana and other related projects proved how past visions have become present reality.

For those who were not privileged to attend the meeting in Paris, the conference website will soon provide videos of all sessions. Stay tuned to see everything you might have missed!