ISKO event – digital cultural heritage

ISKO Seeing is Believing : New technologies for cultural heritage

9 Jun 2010, UCL

A set of interesting talks from researchers, museum staff and a technology supplier on digital heritage. Common themes were enhancing interaction and engagement with collections through digital media and the crowdsourcing of transcription work with its attendant risks and benefits. Crowdsourcing is seen having particular potential at a time when it is hard to secure funding for digitisation and online projects.

1. David Arnold, University of Brighton

David Arnold presented on advances in 3D object representations for heritage collections. Not really my area this, so I only picked up a few points:

  • 3D Coform Project – part of big EU project with museums.
  • Phased adoption of technology – first phase just reproduces what you do manually. Subsequent phases only possible with tech.
  • Every time we digitise, we create potential legacy problems with the data


  • triangulated laser scanning, KULeuvan ARC 3D tool
  • Sourceforce FOSS mesh processing

Example: – map + 3d pics

Metadata: 3D COFORM adopted CIDOC-CRM & extension to “Digital Provenance”

2. Andy Hudson-Smith, UCL (cf Digitalurban blog)

Andy spoke about a new project aimed to attach memories to objects: Tales of Things and electronic Memory (TOTeM). Site is:

tales of things website

You take a photo of an object/building etc.. of personal significance to you, upload it to their website and get a QR code sticker. API under development.

The object is then tagged and you can add your memories to it via the web. Object also tweets on updates. Audioboo for the audio tagging.

Apps: talking Oxfam objects (what happened to my old trousers?), artist adds QR to art to record people’s reactions to his art.

Plan to make QR code out of mosaic tiles for Shoreditch church.

Tagging is Connecting” paper M/C journal

Follow project at

Alzheimers link – triggering memories in sufferers.

3. Melissa Terras, UCL

Melissa spoke about her “Transcribe Bentham” Project & Crowdsourcing the transcriptions.

Jeremy Bentham – large amount of papers & material on him at UCL.

Crowdsourcing roots. Often those outside institutions took lead in exploiting new tech. Old idea – e.g. metal detectors revolutionising archeology with uptake by enthusiasts.

Holley, R D-Lib Magazine. “Crowdsourcing: how and why should libraries do it?”

Crowdsourcing successes:

  • Galaxy Zoo – 60 million galaxies classified
  • Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program 9000+ members thousands of lines corrected
  • V & A – crowdsourcing best crops of images from collections. 14,000 to date.
  • Family search indexing of family trees

and many more..

Learning from crowdsourcing experience:

  • Majority of work is done by 10% of users
  • Personal interest & reward – use of cognitive surplus
  • Pensioners, disabled, terminally ill particularly keen
  • Builds up IT expertise, “addictive”, rewards = ranking
  • .

Rose Holley’s checklist (on dlib). Launching system in July.

..system will be based on mediawiki

Issues :

  • linking transcription, catalogue & image
  • Undoing vandalism
  • Quality control


4. Fiona Romeo, National Maritime Museum

Fiona also presented a range of NMM digital projects including crowdsourding of transcripts also.

“Your Paintings” project with BBC. Public Catalogue Foundation.

NMM photos on Flickr. Get foreign language tags as well as semantics (content related) . Some additional annotations. Get questions, which helps guide information design. Indicommons project, make it easier to share content. Naval history community – connected with them and got them to work on a set of scans – CC sharealike licenced.

NMM have a new wing under development dedicated to digital interaction and a number of interesting ideas for social sharing and enhancement of objects in the collection.

5. Sascha Curzon, Gallery Systems

Sascha presented the eMuseum federated search system, a nonprofit project which enables museums and galleries to expose their catalogues, enabling end users to search across collections. The aggregated data will also be available as XML and RDF.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *