The Visible Archive

In this TEDxCanberrra talk, Mitchell Whitelaw talks about the limitations of the search box paradigm and presents a project he is involved in to preserve and visualize rich data about Australian cultural assets including photographs, prints and documents.

The Visible Archive (now discontinued) was a research project on the visualisation of archival datasets, supported by the National Archives of Australia under the 2008 Ian Maclean Award. As part of this work Whitelaw developed two prototype visualisations of the Archives collection:

  1. The Series Browser, visualising all 65,000 archival series in the collection

2. The A1 Explorer, showing some 64,000 records in series A1

Building on techniques developed in the Visible Archive project, the Flickr Commons Explorer was created. The Explorer (also discontinued) presents a three-pane interface consisting of a term cloud, a single image view, and a thumbnail grid, with a central strip providing navigation and orientation.

Flickr Commons Explorer’s main interface

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

Overview

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.

Inside the National Museum of Brazil

Por dentro do Museu Nacional” is a Google Arts & Culture project that makes it possible to revisit the collection of the National Museum of Brazil before its fire of 2018.

A virtual guided tour presents 360° views of the main galleries of the Museum:

This room displays the oldest skeleton discovered in the Americas, popularly known as Luzia.

In other sections of the website you can explore geological and archeological works such as meteorites and pottery pieces:

Meteorite Bendego: the largest Brazilian meteorite and one of the largest in the world.

Vaso globular Marajoara: cerâmica brasileira de 3000 anos

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:

An interactive map that uses machine learning algorithms to detect fields and crops

OneSoil Map allows to explore and compare fields and crops in Europe and the United States (44 countries in total). The overview map helps to understand patterns of fields sizes and crops in different regions. Zooming in enables to know a specific field in detail: the hectarage, the crop, and the field score. Besides, the key feature of the map is that it allows users to see how these fields have changed over the past three years (2016 – 2018). The map reveals insights about local and global trends in crop production for farmers, advisers, and dealers. It helps to predict market performance at all levels and fosters smart decision-making.

Data collection and technology

The map was created by the startup OneSoil and is a continuation of the OneSoil digital farming platform, which automatically detects fields, identifies crops through satellite imagery analysis. The core technologies are based on AI, deep learning models, computer vision, IoT and original machine learning algorithms, which enable the company to process data in real time:

“First, we learned how to clean the satellite photos from artifacts to ensure correct processing of information. Second, we trained an algorithm to allocate field boundaries automatically. For the map, we simplified the boundaries so that the visualization is really fast. The accuracy of crop classification, or F1 score, is 0.91. Third, we trained another algorithm to automatically determine a crop that grows on a field. Fourth, we created what you can now see: the map.

 

 

Crotos: a project on visual artworks powered by Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons

Crotos is a search and display engine for visual artworks based on Wikidata and using Wikimedia Commons files.

The Wikidata extraction contains more than 133 866 artworks (September 2018) including 66 271 with HD image. This extraction is regularly automatically updated from Wikidata on the basis of the nature of the items and corresponds to visual artworks such as paintings, photographs, prints, illuminated manuscripts and much more.

The interface

Searches can be made by free or indexed search through a user interface. Results are displayed by chronological order with thumbnails. Links on thumbnails open a viewer with the image hosted on Wikimedia Commons.

It is possible to filter the results by type (painting, sculpture, print…) or to specify a period as a criterion.

By default, without criteria, a random selection is displayed. Besides with the Cosmos interface, it is possible to discover the artworks by indexation (par type d’œuvre, creator, movement, genre, collection…).

Descriptors

For each resulting image, the interface displays the title, the creator(s)  and the collection or the location where the artwork is maintained. These information are on Wikidata, a free, collaborative, multilingual, secondary database, collecting structured data to provide support for Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, the other wikis of the Wikimedia movement, and to anyone in the world.

Additional descriptors are date or period, nature of work, material used, inventory number, movement, genre, depicts, main subject, and so on. A full list of descriptors is mentioned here.

Contribution mode

The project has a contribution mode, useful for identifying missing information with facets. Finally, source is on github and the database of Crotos can be downloaded. Both are under Free Licence.

Sound heritage

Conserve the sound is an online museum for vanishing and endangered sounds. The sound of a dial telephone, a walkman, an analog typewriter, a pay phone, a 56k modem, a nuclear power plant or even a cell phone keypad are partially already gone or are about to disappear from our daily life.

Conserve the sound is a project form CHUNDERKSEN and is funded
by the Film & Medienstiftung NRW, Germany.