Almost 44 million objects. That’s how many digitised objects are available through the grand European digital library Europeana today. The digitisation of our cultural heritage is an almost mythical project which has been going on for about 15 years now. Despite all the big challenges and despite the almost impossible task of making digital reproductions of the millions and millions of objects kept in our libraries and museums, we are now at a point, where the enormous efforts taken by the cultural institutions are yielding impressing results.
Many institutions and museums have great digital collections online, millions of masterworks are available on the internet 24/7. This brings us now to a point where we can look further and ask the next questions. What can we do with this overwhelming cultural wealth? Are there other ways to use the digital collections than to put them up on a website and make them available through a search box?
Two recent events offered an occasion to take a look at this current search for new applications for cultural data: The final conference of the Europeana Creative project in Vienna on July 9/10, as well as the hackathon “Coding da Vinci”, which recently took place in Berlin for the second time.
Both events presented new applications and interface ideas for interacting with large cultural data bases. My article in Süddeutsche Zeitung today explored some of the projects and discussed some visions of where the search for more creative/open/collaborative interfaces for cultural data could be headed…
For those of you fluent in German: Here’s a PDF of the article.