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Challenge Entry : Canvas – Spatial Interaction of our Collections with Linked Open Data

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Voting closed 15 Dec. 2012. 17 Liked

Title: Canvas – Spatial Interaction of our Collections with Linked Open Data

Team: Canvas

Short Description

Using the spatial concepts of landscapes and pathways, I’m experimenting with new ways of visualizing museum collections that entice the curious explorer. My work identifies themes and narratives within collections and showcases the connections that objects have with one another. I’m planning on using Linked Open Data to enrich the collection data-sets : giving greater context to the objects and enriching the connections between them.

More Info

My research looks at rethinking the way we navigate museum collections on the Web. I investigate new spatial conventions for browsing and exploring that are based on metaphors of pathways and landscapes : the idea of a visitor seamlessly navigating across vast information spaces and losing themselves amongst the objects. Rather than present a search box or a list of categories, visitors are presented with paths that diverge and change – slowly unravelling the collection as they explore further. This concept challenges the current status quo of containment – the categorization of objects, the presentation of lists and menus, and isolation and decontextualisation of objects and their elements.

Canvas and CollectionWeb are two software frameworks I used to realise this concept.

Canvas refers to the immersive “front-end” experience that places the visitor as one that navigates a series of pathways that branch and diverge according to shifting themes. The paths diverge and intersect, using natural language to reveal a narrative of the themes as they are unfolded by the visitor.

CollectionWeb refers to the back-end processes that harvest, aggregate, enrich and analyse museum meta-data to realize the implicit semantic connections that generate these pathways. The pathways don’t represent explicit connections depicted by Linked Open Data : rather, they are manifestations of concepts that can be derived from enriched data sources.
I want to look at ways of using Linked Open Data to enrich existing museum meta-data from a number of public APIs, such as the Brooklyn Museum, the Powerhouse Museum and the Rijksmuseum APIs. I want to link objects to the people, events and the places that surround them : providing them with a richer context to build more meaningful connections.

My investigation will determine the efficacy of using Linked Open Data as part of the meta-data ingestion process for the software framework CollectionWeb, identify any challenges in doing so, and provide a demonstrator for a novel and compelling browsing experience for LOD enriched museum collections.

If my project is successful and I win the LODLAM challenge, I will consider the challenging prospect of applying my work to even more museum data-sets and APIs : federating multiple, disparate collections and presenting them as a single LOD-enriched mega-collection. I will also consider new ways of representing connections and browsing experiences that are built from the the then enriched data sets.

The IP for my software framework and row results derived from my research are retained under myself (Tim Wray) and the University of Wollongong. However, I may choose to open-source part or all of my codebase (CollectionWeb and Canvas) once I am satisfied with its completeness.


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Photo Credits

Montreal skyline photo CC BY from Flickr Manu_H
BAnQ elevator/stairs CC BY-NC-SA from Flickr 917Press