By Lars Wieneke, Researcher at Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l'Europe.
In 2005, Time magazine declared 'You', the individual content creator on the internet, as its 'Person of the Year'. While Time didn't invent user-generated content, the accolade brought public attention to the effort of individual volunteers that have invested millions of hours of work on building large-scale repositories for video (YouTube), images (Flickr) and knowledge (Wikipedia). Since then, user-generated content (UGC) has become part of our everyday lives. Some of us now naturally create and share our stories and experiences with each other through UGC.
Very often this creation takes place outside of the institutional framework but some memory institutions have found ways and means to make user contributions a meaningful part of their mission. The Europeana Network Task Force on Understanding the Role of User-Generated Content in Europeana, which has nine members, wants to gather these experiences to encourage a discussion at the Network level about the role and relevance of user-generated content, the obvious and hidden challenges of its application and potential future ecosystems that could be shared between all members of the Network.
User-Generated Content Task Force meeting, Hilversum, The Netherlands
As a first part of this mission, we invite you to fill in a short survey so that we can find out more about the status quo of user-generated content. Who uses it and how? Who doesn't use it and why not? What can we learn from each other and what kind of services could the Europeana Network offer to turn user-generated content into a true asset for its stakeholders?
The survey launched at the beginning of May and so far more than 20 institutions have responded, showing a great diversity of uses. In the next phase of our Task Force, we will conduct individual interviews with members who want to share their best practices. Then in autumn this year, look out for the results! We will share them on the Europeana Network LinkedIn page, this blog and during the Europeana Network Annual General Meeting.
The survey is open until 28 May and takes less than 8 minutes to complete. Even if you have no experience with user-generated content, your voice is important to us, as we also want to find out more about the obstacles and concerns regarding UGC.
We are now halfway through the Wiki Loves Public Art photo contest, which runs throughout May 2013. Volunteers in Austria, Finland, Israel, Spain and Sweden have taken over 5,000 pictures of a total of 1,385 public artworks! All of these photos are uploaded under a free licence, so that they can be used, for example, in online projects such as Wikipedia.
The goal of the Wiki Loves Public Art (WLPA) contest is to get as many pictures of public art as possible available under a free licence on Wikipedia’s online database, Wikimedia Commons. The 5,000 photos uploaded so far can then be seen and used by anyone, anywhere. At the same time, the world’s sixth largest website, Wikipedia, will see a boost in its art coverage as photos in the contest can be added to illustrate articles in the online encyclopedia. The contest is organised by Wikimedia Sverige, Europeana and volunteers in the Wikimedia chapters and affiliated groups in each of the participating countries.
'Paparazzi statue in Bratislava', photograph by DMY, CC-BY.
'We are doing this to increase our common collection of photos of artworks and to make them easily accessible to everyone through Wikipedia. This is also a fun way to start contributing for volunteers', says the international WLPA coordinator, John Andersson.
The contest has been challenging to organise because most countries lack a national database of their artworks. In addition, the countries participating in the contest have a diverse set of copyright laws, which means that the public artworks that can be photographed and uploaded online for the contest differ between countries. For example, in Finland the contest focuses on outdoor sculptures made by artists who have been dead for 70 years or more. In Spain and Austria, on the other hand, any public artwork can be photographed.
'This has also made a difference to the amount of artworks photographed in different local contests. From Barcelona we have over 4,000 pictures, whereas from countries with stricter copyright laws we understandably have fewer contributions', states John Andersson.
To make it easier for people to find the artworks suited for the contest, volunteers in national Wikimedia chapters have put together lists on Wikipedia.
The photos uploaded for the contest will first be judged nationally, and the ten best pictures from each country will be sent to the international jury. The prizes for the three internationally best pictures – which will be announced in July – are travel gift certificates for 500 euros, 300 euros and 200 euros and on top of that Europeana has sponsored high quality prints of the winning pictures that will be sent to the winners.
To enter, go to wikilovespublicart.com.
For more information, contact John Andersson, Wikimedia Sverige, by phone: +46 (0)733965189 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today's blog introduces you to a great European Commission-funded project called Preserving Linked Data, or 'PRELIDA' for short. The project launched in January this year and is now looking forward to its first major working group meeting in June. A great opportunity, we thought, to tell you what it's all about.
The project aims to build bridges across the digital preservation and linked data communities, with the view of
- making the linked data community aware of existing outcomes of the digital preservation community; and
- working out the challenges of preserving linked data, posing new research questions for the preservation community, and developing a roadmap for addressing them.
The sheer amount of data offered and consumed on the internet, and the volume of data being digitally stored and exchanged, is growing exponentially. This generates the potential for many new types of products and services, and a whole new industry implementing services on top of large data streams. The impact of this emerging economic sector - the data economy - may soon outrank the current importance of the software industry.
Carlo Meghini, project coordinator and long-standing partner on Europeana projects, says, 'An important part of the data economy is the linked data movement, which is about using the web to connect related data that was previously not linked, or using the web to lower the barriers to linking data. With the increasing adoption of the linked data paradigm by governments and organisations, the requirements in terms of quality, usability and maturity increase. In order to continue to develop and increase uptake of linked data as a platform for publishing open data, we need to address the issues surrounding preserving linked data. For example, they are different to other data sets in that they are in RDF, they use URIs as identifiers, and they rely on shared vocabularies. Whilst these are all good features of linked data, they are likely to create preservation problems that other types of data do not have.'
Carlo Meghini, project coordinator. Image taken from a video lecture by Carlo on data preservation.
The PRELIDA team is convinced that the preservation problem of linked data can only be solved satisfactorily if the digital preservation and linked data communities come together with their complementary skills and technologies. So an important task of PRELIDA is to raise awareness of existing preservation solutions and to facilitate their uptake.
The project will produce a report on the current state of linked data and its preservation needs, and will develop a roadmap focusing on the most promising research paths, and the resulting problems to be addressed. This research will drive the scientific and technological development of the field, as well as future research programmes that the European Commission may wish to fund.
The challenges of preserving linked data are expected to be related to intrinsic features of linked data, including their structuring, interlinking, dynamicity and distribution. PRELIDA will implement its aims through a coherent collection of activities, including a working group, open consultations, holding three dedicated workshops, two summer schools, and a broad dissemination action, addressing the scientific community, technology providers, key user groups, and policy-makers.
The main partners for the project are CNR-ISTI (Italian National Research Council of the Institute of Science and Information Technology), APA (the Alliance for Permanent Access), the University of Huddersfield in the UK and the University of Innsbruck in Austria. As a leader in linked data thinking, Europeana is involved with PRELIDA in a sub-contracting capacity.
Members of PRELIDA are looking forward to the first workshop of their working group. The group is made up of around 20 world experts and has been formed to help PRELIDA achieve its goals. It will meet three times during the course of the project. The first meeting takes place in Tirrenia, Italy on 25-27 June. Then in September, the project will be represented at the European Semantic Web Conference (ESWC) Summer School in Kalamaki, Crete, running seminars on the topic of preserving linked data. We look forward to reporting on the discussions and developments that come out of these events.
By Ingrida Vosyliūtė, Coordinator of Hack4LT and Project Manager at Vilnius University Faculty of Communication.
Vilnius University Faculty of Communication and Vilnius University Library recently hosted the first cultural heritage and digital humanities hackathon in Lithuania - Hack4LT. The event was inspired by Lithuania's co-operation with both Europeana with its significant multilingual online collection of digitised cultural heritage, and DARIAH: Digital Research Infrastructure for Arts and Humanities, a major European digital humanities network.
The 2-day event took place in a recently opened National Open Access Scholarly Communication and Information Centre – the most modern library in the Baltic countries. It started symbolically on 4 April, also known as the day of St. Isidore of Seville, who is a declared patron of the internet, computers and computer users.
Hacking is fun! Photo - Darius Verseckas.
Hack4LT aimed to foster collaboration between scholars of digital humanities and software developers. The event encouraged technology-driven experimentation with existing Europeana datasets. Open access to this resource stimulates a broad public interest in European culture and challenges cultural institutions to seek new ways of engaging people and developing innovative tools. Because of the richness of Europeana's collections and the nature of preserved digital content, it is a valuable data source for digital humanities researchers and can enhance digitally-enabled research.
The hackathon brought together 20 young software developers, who were encouraged to try out their ideas for creative re-use of Europeana content in order to build applications showcasing the social and scholastic value of open cultural data. Two 500 EUR prizes were available for the best prototypes meeting the needs of digital humanities and the general public.
Dr E. Champion from DARIAH with the 'Manuscript' team, Digital Humanities category winners. Photo - Darius Verseckas.
The hackers formed small teams and worked on ideas they had discussed beforehand. Hacking ran till late in the evening with a few enthusiasts staying awake all night.
The 2 days of hacking resulted in 3 prototypes. After presentations of the results on the second day, the prototypes were judged by the jury of 7 experts.
The best prototype in the digital humanities category was ‘Crowdhwr’, developed by team ‘Manuscript’ (A. Gimbutas, J. Sadzevičius & M. Zimnickas). They created a crowdsourcing manuscript transcription system, tested using examples from Europeana. The prototype allows users to mark words in a digitised manuscript and prepare it for analysis. The winners were happy with the results and are planning to continue developing this prototype. Their goal is to create a tool allowing users to convert image to text in order to perform automatic search of a manuscript’s content.
The best prototype in the general public category was ‘Gamepad 2.0’, developed by team ‘CodeUnited’ (S. Mikalonis, K. Rutkauskas, M. Sorokin & M. Ūba). The team created a fun, educational quiz game, which uses Europeana data to generate questions, concerning various aspects of Lithuanian history, art and culture. The quiz encourages players to compete with each other by giving answers in a limited amount of time.
'CodeUnited' team, the winners in the General Public category. Photo - Darius Verseckas.
A consolation prize was also given to the third prototype developed by I. Bačius, M. Baranauskas, J. Jaronis & I. Pliavgo. They created a Europeana plugin, which can be set up in databases and web portals that use the Django framework. While using an existing search of digital objects, the plugin links the search with Europeana's data and shows similar results found on the Europeana portal.
Hack4LT participants with the rector of Vilnius University, prof. habil. dr. J. Banys (centre). Photo - Darius Verseckas.
The rector of Vilnius University, prof. habil. dr. J. Banys, congratulated the participants of Hack4LT saying: ‘You are a revolutionary part of our society, having so many great and fresh ideas. I am glad that these ideas matter. Moreover I hope there will be more of them in the future.’
Last week, EuropeanaTech released two major new documents. Today's blog looks at the work and the people behind one of them, interviewing Maarten Brinkerink and Marlies Olensky.
First of all though - a quick look at the two new documents.
The first, titled, 'Core Inventory of FLOSS in the Cultural Heritage Domain, second iteration' analyses the Free/Libre and Open-Source Software landscape and provides a baseline for the development of innovative applications in the Europeana Network.
The second, called 'Functional specifications for social semantic functions' is the first step in a process of building two prototypes that will articulate user-generated metadata with semantic functions in Europeana v2.0's R&D work package. It provides functional specifications and a description of prototypes. To find out what that's all about, we've spoken to two of the minds behind it.
Maarten Brinkerink and Marlies Olensky
What is your day-to-day role/where do you work?
Maarten: I'm a project manager for Research & Development at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, mainly working on projects that aim to provide meaningful access to digitised audiovisual heritage.
Marlies: I'm a researcher at the Berlin School of Library and Information Science (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) where I work on the Europeana v2.0 project. I've previously been involved in another Europeana project: Europeana Connect where I worked on the semantic data layer (2009-2011). I'm also doing my PhD, which is not related to cultural heritage but is about data quality in bibliometric studies.
What is your involvement with Europeana?
Maarten: For the Europeana v2.0 project, Sound and Vision works on several tasks within the 'innovation' work package, including one on the developers' network and FLOSS inventory and one on the development of innovative apps. The aim of the work package is to foster a research and development community around Europeana, to stimulate innovation that benefits the projects, Europeana Network and the broader cultural heritage domain.
Marlies: Like Sound and Vision, Humboldt University is a partner in the innovation work package, responsible for the Semantic Web & Linked Data and multilinguality tasks. The aim of the Semantic Web & Linked Data task is to make Europeana more 'semantics aware' and to integrate it into the emerging paradigm of Linked (Open) Data.
Tell us about the 'Functional specifications for social semantic functions' work. What problem are you trying to solve?
Marlies: The aim of the task was to demonstrate and try out some options for social semantic web functions that could be useful for Europeana. The semantic web is basically the idea of turning the web into a web of data that can be processed by machines, so it adds machine-readable metadata to human-readable web documents. The social part here means that we would like to employ the users to make this vision happen. In other words, we looked for ideas for what or how the user can contribute to existing content by tagging, correcting, or organising objects or their metadata. So, we tried to come up with innovative functionality that can be tested out using the prototype tools we developed.
Maarten: The functional specifications for social semantic functions and prototype code builds on earlier research done within the work packages on identifying open source tools for the cultural heritage domain (led by Sound and Vision) and the social semantic web (lead by Humboldt). It describes how two selected open source tools (the Waisda? Video Labelling Game and Crowdcrafting) can be further developed to support metadata enrichment via crowdsourcing. Waisda? is a crowdsourcing video annotation platform that has been released as an open source framework by Sound and Vision. Crowdcrafting/PyBossa is a platform for creating and running crowdsourcing applications that utilise online assistance in performing tasks that require human cognition, knowledge or intelligence such as image classification, transcription, geocoding and more.
Screenshot from Crowdcrafting/PyBossa
What was your involvement in this work?
Marlies: In the beginning, I researched what social semantic web solutions are already out there. Then we had several brainstorming sessions to discuss possible functionalities for the two selected tools. We had a very good and close cooperation between Maarten and his colleagues at Sound & Vision and myself which in the end led to a very satisfying document on functional specifications. Sound & Vision was then responsible for developing the prototypes.
Maarten: Sound and Vision supported Humboldt University in writing the functional specification and further developed the tools in the form of prototypes that showcase the functionality that is described in the deliverable.
What challenges did you encounter?
Maarten: When setting up these open source tools for datasets on Europeana, we noticed that only a few data providers are linking out to their digital objects in their metadata. We set out to make tools that could actually present rich content - instead of only metadata - to the users during the crowdsourcing tasks. Another challenge was to find suitable controlled vocabularies to support users in describing the material. Ideally, these vocabularies should fit with the content, be available in SKOS, be licensed for free re-use and be multilingual.
Marlies: For me, the main challenge was the one Maarten already mentioned: As we (along with data providers) employ controlled vocabularies to describe the information objects in a standardised way so as to make them retrievable. It was important to find suitable ones that match the terms that users would want to use to describe objects. Another challenge was narrowing down the functionality options we wanted to try out first and identifying those that seemed most feasible.
What have you achieved?
Marlies: Well, I think we've created an important showcase by demonstrating what kind of social semantic web functions could be leveraged to improve or augment Europeana content.
Maarten: By creating prototypes based on the functional specifications written by Humboldt, Sound and Vision was able to further develop two crowdsourcing tools, enhancing the opportunities to re-use them in the Europeana context. As a result of this work, it is now relatively easy for Europeana data providers and/or projects to set up their own instance of either or both tools. A European data importer was built for both tools, using the Europeana API, so others will be able to set up their own crowdsourcing tasks.
What are the next steps?
Maarten: Next we will further develop the prototypes to encompass all functionality that is described in the report and make the code available to the Europeana Tech community, allowing for Europeana projects and data providers to set up their own instances of the tools to enrich their metadata via crowdsourcing. The European Film Gateway has already shown interest in re-using the Waisda? Video Labelling Game technology.
Marlies: Indeed, and Humboldt will support Sound & Vision in this second development phase where needed.
Screenshot from Waisda?
What response are you looking for from readers?
Maarten: We look forward to feedback on the specifications, suggestions on further developing the prototypes and pointers to controlled vocabularies that could be used for a next iteration.
How can people contact you with their feedback?
Maarten: They can send me a message through Twitter: @mbrinkerink or drop me a line at mbrinkerink [at] beeldengeluid [dot] nl.
Marlies: You can get in touch with me at marlies [dot] olensky [at] ibi [dot] hu-berlin [dot] de.
Finally, a little something beyond Europeana. What do you do when you're not working?
Maarten: When I'm not working I write and record music. I used to perform quite a bit as well, but I'm currently in between bands. I'm also a volunteer for Wikimedia Netherlands, helping them to join forces with cultural organisations.
Marlies: At the moment, I don't have much free time, as most of my time is dedicated to my PhD research. But I do need some balance which I find in travelling, practising yoga and spending time with my family and friends.
What is your favourite item from Europeana?
Maarten: 'Het melkmeisje' by Vermeer. I chose this item not only because is it is a visually compelling and quite iconic piece of art. But for me it is also a best-practice example of how cultural heritage is accessible through Europeana. The Rijksmuseum has really raised the bar for providing open access to art collections on an international level. Their metadata is available through an open API under a CC0 licence, allowing for aggregation by, among others, Europeana. They explicitly mark the works in their collection that are in the public domain as such, using the Public Domain Mark and, last but not least, they provide links to beautiful high resolution digital representations of the artworks.
The Milkmaid, Vermeer. Rijksmuseum, public domain
Marlies: My favourite item in Europeana is a radio recording that is a curiosity about my home country, Austria and my current country of residence, Germany. It's a recording from 1978 when Austria beat Germany at the soccer world cup in Cordoba, Argentina, (for the first and only time in a world cup). And believe me, everyone in Austria is still proud of that victory and nobody in Germany even remembers that match any more! Listen to the recording.