Pauliceia 2.0: collaborative mapping of the history of São Paulo (1870-1940)

The Digital Humanities Laboratory (LHuD) of the School of Social Sciences (FGV CPDOC) is organizing an open lecture about the project “Pauliceia 2.0: collaborative mapping of the history of São Paulo (1870-1940)”, coordinated by professor Luis Ferla (Unifesp).

The project developed and made available a historical digital cartographic base of the city of São Paulo, referring to the period of its urban-industrial modernization (1870-1940). The lecture aims to discuss the online platform, disseminate its use and motivate the participation of scholars. The digital cartographic database is associated with an interface that allows interactivity and collaboration: researchers can both search for spatializable events on the map and feed the database with other geolocated events.

The lecture will take place at Acervo CPDOC (Rua Jornalista Orlando Dantas, 60, Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro) on May 29, 2019 (2:00 p.m.). Further information and registration can be found here.

The project was sponsored by Fapesp’s eScience program.

Breve: a meta-visualization of tabular data

Breve is a meta-visualization for tables with editing built in. The application is designed for researchers who have to work with very incomplete and messy data. Historical data is often full of inconsistencies and errors that can be difficult to see when scrolling through a spreadsheet. Breve gives the user a meta-view of tabular data and also lets the user drills down to records and columns, and edit values.

Breve is being developed by Humanities + Design (a Research Lab at Stanford University), funded by a grant from the Office of Digital Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Visualization of a reference library

Fontanes Handbibliothek (only in German) is a project by the Urban Complexity Lab that investigates explorative ways of knowledge acquisition and representation in the digital space as well as to develop a prototype for Theodor Fontane’s digitized reference library. The reference library located in the Theodor Fontane Archive in Potsdam contains about 150 books and is complemented by a bibliographical database of the “virtual library”. This virtual inventory includes works that have been read by Fontane, but which are not in the collection of the archive (anymore). In a future digital presentation of the collection, the current and virtual library will be united and the approximately 63,000 individual pages of the reference library will be made available in their entirety for the first time.

Interaction on the tool’s user interface

The resulting interactive visualization will open up new and insightful perspectives on a unique author’s library and make it usable and explorable for researchers as well as the public. Fontane as a reader, but also as a commentator on the works of other authors will become visible. Especially the reading traces in the form of numerous annotations and comments in his own handwriting make for a great attraction and value of the collection.

In light of the large, although by the reference library to some extent limited, data space this project not only poses questions concerning the visual exploration of the data, but also the contextualization of Fontane and his reading habits. In an interdisciplinary collaboration with the Theodor Fontane Archive, these questions will be substantiated and put into a cultural-philosophical context. In the final prototype, the theoretical findings will result in an implementation in the form of a novel graphical user interface, which should invite viewers to explore a manifold author’s library.



PixPlot is a project by Yale Digital Humanities Lab Team. The tool facilitates the dynamic exploration of tens of thousands of images. Inspired by Benoît Seguin et al’s paper at DH Krakow (2016)PixPlot uses the penultimate layer of a pre-trained convolutional neural network for image captioning to derive a robost featurization space in 2,048 dimensions.

Improved Dimensionality Reduction

In order to collapse those 2,048 dimensions into something that can be rendered on a computer screen, we turned to Uniform Manifold Approximation and Projection (UMAP), a dimensionality reduction technique similar to t-Distributed Stochastic Neighbor Embedding (t-SNE) that seeks to preserve both local clusters and an intrepretable global shape.

Dynamic Visualization

The resulting WebGL-powered visualization consists of a two-dimensional projection within which similar images cluster together. Users can navigate the space by panning and zooming in and out of clusters of interest, or they can jump to designated “hotspots” that feature a representative image from each cluster, as identified by the computer.

Future Developments

PixPlot provides new ways of engaging large-scale visual collections. Initial experiments underway at Yale use the tool to look at thousands of cultural heritage images held in the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale Center for British Art, and the Medical Historical Library.

Video recordings of Information Plus Conference

Information Plus is a biennial conference on interdisciplinary practices in information design and visualization. The last edition took place in Potsdam Germany from 19 to 21 October.

Organizers have just updated the website with video recordings of the first conference day and photo documentation of the workshops, exhibition and dialog dinner. The remaining videos will follow over the next weeks.

Presentations I watched so far:

Digital technologies to preserve and disseminate Brazilian cultural collections

The fire that destroyed the National Museum in Rio in September this year sparked the alert for the state of conservation of the Brazilian collections and has motivated initiatives from different sectors of civil society. Tomorrow (September, 27), a group of researchers, curators, and educators will meet to discuss how digital technologies can help preserve, disseminate and popularize national cultural collections.

Coordinator of the Vision and Computer Graphics Laboratory of IMPA (Visgraf-IMPA), and one of the guests of the “I Panorama in Digital Technologies for Museums” (“I Panorama em Tecnologias Digitais para Museus“), Luiz Velho knows the theme well. For over two decades, Visgraf has developed projects related to different processes of safeguarding, researching and disseminating museum collections.

At the round table “State of the art of technological solutions, reflections on experiences implemented”, Velho will present part of the work done by Visgraf. One of them is the 3D Museum, a modeling and visualization project, which resulted in the creation of a website and a CD with the virtual exhibition of a collection of clay sculptures, part of the collection of the Folklore Museum of Rio.

Velho will also present projects created for the Astronomy Museum (MAST) and the Antônio Carlos Jobim Institute. Recently, Visgraf partnered with the Moreira Salles Institute (IMS) to research and develop applications regarding IMS’s photographic cultural heritage.

The event will be held at the auditorium of the FGV headquarters (Praia de Botafogo, 190), from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Registration is free and can be done here

Updated (28 November)

Slides of the presentation Media Technologies in the New Museum

Participants of the round table “State of the art of technological solutions, reflections on experiences implemented”

Luiz Velho talk

Velho presents IMPA and IMS project aiming IMS’s photographic collections.

Evolution of GIS in the Humanities: from Historical GIS to Spatial Humanities

The Digital Humanities Laboratory of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (LHuD-FGV) holds tomorrow (November 21, at 6:00 pm) the open session “Evolution of GIS in the Humanities: from Historical GIS to Spatial Humanities” (“Evolução dos SIG nas Humanidades: dos Historical GIS às Spatial Humanities”), with Professor Daniel Alves.

Daniel Alves is a researcher at the Institute of Contemporary History of the New University of Lisbon. He holds a Ph.D. in Contemporary Economic and Social History, specializing in Urban History, History of Revolutions and Digital Humanities.

The event will be held at the Casa Acervo CPDOC (Rua Jornalista Orlando Dantas, 60, Rio de Janeiro). More information can be found here.


On this session, Daniel presented a series of  projects related to the areas of Historical GIS and Spatial Humanities:

History Projects:

Literature projects:

Some photos of the open session:

An overview of the evolution of historical GIS

Peripleo is a search engine to data maintained by partners of Pelagios Commons.

Georeferencer (David Rumsey Map Collection) allows you to overlay historic maps on modern maps


Digital technologies for museums

The School of Applied Mathematics (EMAp) and the School of Social Sciences (CPDOC) from  Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV) will organize and host the First Panorama in Digital Technologies for Museums (I Panorama em Tecnologias Digitais para Museus) on November 27, 2018.

The objective of this Panorama is to present the demands of the museological sector, as well as reflections on previous experiences. Given the scenario of the recent disaster of the National Museum of UFRJ, it is necessary a reaction of all the actors involved in the theme: managers, researchers, educators and other sectors of society.

The event will discuss the strengthening of a knowledge network around the use of digital technologies in the museum context. Likewise, it is necessary to consider impacts related to the diffusion of the collections of these museums, understanding that the society’s engagement with the issue, as well as the development of a close relationship between population and museums, is one of the ways of preserving, collecting and maintaining investments in these institutions.

Representatives of diverse institutions will participate as speakers in this event. Among them, my Ph.D. co-advisor and coordinator of the Visgraf Laboratory, Luiz Velho.

Experiments by Google explore how machines understand artworks

Google Arts & Culture initiative promotes experiments at the crossroads of art and technology created by artists and creative coders. I selected two experiments that apply Machine Learning methods to detect objects in photographs and artworks and generate machine-based tags. These tags are then used to enhance accessibility and exploration of cultural collections.

Tags and Life Tags

These two demo experiments explore how computers read and tag artworks through a Machine Learning approach.

Tags: without the intervention of humans, keywords were generated by an algorithm also used in Google Photos, which analyzed the artworks by looking at the images without any metadata.

The user interface shows a list of tags (keywords) followed by its number of occurrence in the artwork collection. Selecting the tag ‘man’ reveals artworks containing what an intelligent machine understands to be a man. Hovering an artwork reveals other tags detected on that specific representation.

The user interface shows a list of tags (keywords) followed by its number of occurrence in the artwork collection. Selecting the tag ‘man’ reveals artworks containing what an intelligent machine understands to be a man. Hovering an artwork reveals other tags detected on that specific representation.

Life Tags: organizes over 4 million images from the Life magazine archives into an interactive interface that looks like an encyclopedia. The terms of the “encyclopedia” were generated by an algorithm based on a deep neural network used in Google photo search that has been trained on millions of images and labels to recognize categories for labels and pictures.

Labels were clustered into categories using a nearest neighbor algorithm, which finds related labels based on image feature vectors. Each image has multiple labels linked to the elements that are recognized. The full-size image viewer shows dotted lines revealing the objects detected by the computer.

The overall interface of Life Tags looks like an encyclopedia

Kitchen is a categoria clustering labels using a nearest neighbor algorithm.

Selecting a specific photo expands it and reveals the labels recognized by the machine.