Surprise machines | John Benjamins

“Although “the humanities so far has focused on literary texts, historical text records, and spatial data,” as stated by Lev Manovich in Cultural Analytics (Manovich, 2020, p.?10), the recent advancements in artificial intelligence are driving more attention to other media. For example, disciplines such as digital humanities now embrace more diverse types of corpora (Champion, 2016). Yet this shift of attention is also visible in museums, which recently took a step forward by establishing the field of experimental museology (Kenderdine et al., 2021).

This article illustrates the visualization of an extensive image collection through digital means. Following a growing interest in the digital mapping of images – proved by the various scientific articles published on the subject (Bludau et al., 2021; Crockett, 2019; Seguin, 2018), Ph.D. theses (Kräutli, 2016; Vane, 2019), software (American Museum of Natural History, 2020/2022; Diagne et al., 2018; Pietsch, 2018/2022), and presentations (Benedetti, 2022; Klinke, 2021) – this text describes an interdisciplinary experiment at the intersection of information design, experimental museology, and cultural analytics.

Surprise Machines is a data visualization that maps more than 200,000 digital images of the Harvard Art Museums (HAM) and a digital installation for museum visitors to understand the collection’s vastness. Part of a temporary exhibition organized by metaLAB (at) Harvard and entitled Curatorial A(i)gents, Surprise Machines is enriched by a choreographic interface that allows visitors to interact with the visualization through a camera capturing body gestures. The project is unique for its interdisciplinarity, looking at the prestigious collection of Harvard University through cutting-edge techniques of AI….”

New England Quaker Records to be Digitized

“The New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Records—rich and voluminous materials of Quakers going back to their mid-17th-century beginnings—will be the focus of a new digitization project by the Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center (SCUA), in the UMass Amherst Libraries. When the project is completed, the vital records and meeting minutes heavily consulted by historians and genealogists will be available in SCUA’s digital repository, Credo, on the web, and through the collaborative Massachusetts digital portal, Digital Commonwealth, of which SCUA is a member….”

Public Art Archive

“The Public Art Archive (PAA) is a free, continually growing, online and mobile database of completed public artworks throughout the U.S. and abroad. By uniting records from public art organizations and artists into one comprehensive resource, PAA aims to provide universal access to the complex stories that characterize public artworks not as static objects, but as dynamic, interconnected keepers of history, context and meaning. PAA’s mission “to make public art more public” has guided the program’s continued growth into one of the largest active databases of public art….”

Public Art Archive Launches New Website to Make Public Art Available for All

“The Public Art Archive™ (PAA) announces the launch of an expansive new website designed by digital agency Bilberrry. A project of the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), a US Regional Arts Organization, the PAA is a singular platform for connecting with public art in any community. The site, publicartarchive.org, includes a public art documentation database with interactive maps, bringing thousands of public artworks to visitors across the country and beyond. The newly redesigned website increases accessibility and user-friendliness within the resource built to discover the history, context, and meaning behind each work.

As general interest in public art has expanded, the site’s user experience needed to evolve from a platform designed as a visual library database —where users often know what they’re looking for prior to visiting the site — to a site that feels welcoming to the general public. The new platform is entirely device-responsive, allowing users to explore collections from desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. Through intuitive search filters, grid-view map results, and premium exhibition spotlights, users can now navigate the site with an optimized visual experience. Artwork record pages have also been revamped to enhance the way media, video, audio, and PDFs are displayed, including exclusive access to artworks not on view….”

Access to the Index of Medieval Art Database Will Become Free on July 1, 2023

“We are very pleased to announce that as of July 1, 2023, a paid subscription will no longer be required for access to the Index of Medieval Art database. This transition was made possible by a generous grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the support of the Index’s parent department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University….”

Giving students everywhere up-close access to a world of art – Harvard Gazette

“Since its inception, the database of cultural heritage images available for free online with IIIF capability has continued to grow. In 2022, the IIIF community estimated that between all their participating cultural heritage institutions, they’ve made available more than 1 billion items available.

“With IIIF, we’re investing in the cultural heritage image community,” Snydman said. “Our goal is global, universal, as open as possible. It’s not just about Harvard’s images; it’s about enabling students and faculty to interact in the very same way with images at Oxford, the Library of Congress, or the Vatican that they do with images held at Harvard. The code word for this is interoperability.”

Of the 1 billion IIIF-compatible items, about 6 million are held in Harvard’s library collections. Everything from 500-year-old maps to modern photographs are viewable in high resolution by anyone with an internet connection. Emily Dickinson’s pencil strokes can be magnified and examined, and Persian manuscripts like the one studied by Kim’s class can be compared with illustrations from the same region and period held at the Library of Congress….

“The fact that IIIF has been able to become a universal standard, and that it’s all open-source — that has exciting implications for democratized learning,” said Snydman. “Students and scholars of all ages have the opportunity to learn with images — not just in a physical classroom or library, not just during certain hours, and not just on Harvard’s campus. This is a great example of how technology can be used to minimize inequalities in education and give open access to knowledge.” …”

DPLA to make cultural treasures freely available on Wikipedia with new Sloan Foundation support | DPLA

“A $750,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to the Digital Public Library of America will fuel a multi-year effort to connect America’s cultural heritage institutions with Wikipedia, the world’s free online encyclopedia. This grant will offer an opportunity to make millions of cultural treasures from hundreds of American libraries, archives, and museums freely available online, including Renaissance manuscripts from Philadelphia’s Science History Institute; historic photos of the Pacific Northwest from Seattle Public Library; and portraits of 18th-century actors from the University of Illinois….”

Over €4.4 million granted to four new projects to enhance the common European data space for cultural heritage | Europeana Pro

“The Europeana Initiative is at the heart of the common European data space for cultural heritage, a flagship initiative of the European Union to support the digital transformation of the cultural heritage sector. Discover the projects funded under the initiative….

We are delighted to announce that the European Commission has funded four projects under their new flagship initiative for deployment of the common European data space for cultural heritage. The call for these projects, launched in spring 2022, aimed at seizing the opportunities of advanced technologies for the digital transformation of the cultural heritage sector. This included a focus on 3D, artificial intelligence or machine learning for increasing the quality, sustainability, use and reuse of data, which we are excited to see the projects explore in the coming months….”

CFP: Digital Heritage: Museum Data, Digitization and Digital Infrastructure ? dh+lib

“Digital Humanities scholar and digital heritage practitioner, Dr. Anne Luther (Digital Benin), is proposing a book project with Routledge and seeks proposals for book chapters that address the following:

History of Digitization in Museum: history of cataloging, history of digitization and computers in museums, today’s practices.

Digital Infrastructure: foundational texts that build an overview on internal and public infrastructure (who is interacting with data in museums [practitioners], what are data in museums [standards, vocabularies, thesaurus, data structures], what are databases [differences, uses, technical possibilities, use] how do museums publish data online [infrastructure, standardization, LOI, Wiki, online catalogues etc.], what are differences between internal data use and online publication [technical, social, monetary].

Ownership: copyright, access, authorship and the digital divide

Practice and Education: case studies in- and outside the museum

Impact and Change: case studies on restitution, accessibility and change in museum policies, practices, authorship and ownership

Short proposals of 500 words can be submitted until 31 January 2023 to contact[at]anneluther.info.”

Internet Archive Welcomes Digital Humanists and Cultural Heritage Professionals to “Humanities and the Web: Introduction to Web Archive Data Analysis” – Internet Archive Blogs

“On November 14, 2022, the Internet Archive hosted Humanities and the Web: Introduction to Web Archive Data Analysis, a one-day introductory workshop for humanities scholars and cultural heritage professionals. The group included disciplinary scholars and information professionals with research interests ranging from Chinese feminist movements, to Indigenous language revitalization, to the effects of digital platforms on discourses of sexuality and more. The workshop was held at the Central Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library and coincided with the National Humanities Conference. 

The goals of the workshop were to introduce web archives as primary sources and to provide a sampling of tools and methodologies that could support computational analysis of web archive collections. Internet Archive staff shared web archive research use cases and provided participants with hands-on experience building web archives and analyzing web archive collections as data….”

What is the Democracy’s Library? – Internet Archive Blogs

“Democracies require an educated citizenry to flourish– and because of this, Democratic governments, at all levels, spend billions of dollars publishing reports, manuals, books, videos so that all can read and learn. That is the good news.  The bad news is that in our digital age, much of this is not accessible.   Democracy’s Library aims to change this.   

The aim of the Internet Archive Democracy’s Library is to collect, preserve and make freely available all the published works of all the democracies– the federal, provincial, and municipal government publications– so that we can efficiently learn from each other to solve our biggest challenges in parallel and in concert….

Yes, this will cost a small fortune– but it is within our grasp– to collect and organize billions of documents and datasets, preserve the materials for the ages and make them available for many purposes.  While scoping projects in the United States and Canada have now begun, we estimate this project will cost at least $100 million dollars. The big money has not been committed yet, and we’re still fundraising. But to get things kicked off, Filecoin Foundation (FF) and Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web (FFDW), are supporting the project. The Internet Archive has ramped up government websites and datasets as well as digitizing print materials with many library partners.

Thankfully, we do not have the rights and paywall problems that have been strangling the Internet’s best feature: an essentially free information distribution system.  …”

Venkat Srinivasan: We need to push ahead for efforts in nurturing archives

“In 2009-2010, I was actively thinking about and doing scientific work during the day, conducting interviews after hours and over lunch, and doing my own writing over evenings and weekends. In hindsight, it was a formative period for me and led me to thinking critically about the form and content of archives going forward. I started to develop some basic ideas for the structure of an archive with interconnections to oral history interviews, publicly accessible information, and some methods to democratise description of historical objects. Of course, these are ideas that see parallels across generations, and one is merely building on others’ work. Again, I had luck on my side and was able to connect with the oral historian and archivist, Indira Chowdhury, in ~2012 and she was the one who very kindly connected me to NCBS, where I am now based. I was new to archiving then, and found the archiving community to be extraordinarily welcoming. I am so grateful that archivists from across the world shared ideas and material and really trained me in the past decade….”

The full edition is now online! | Darwin Correspondence Project

“For nearly fifty years successive teams of researchers on both sides of the Atlantic have been working to track down all surviving letters written by or to Charles Darwin, research their content, and publish the complete texts. The thirtieth and final print volume, covering the last four months of Darwin’s life, will be published in early 2023 and all the letter texts – more than 15000 between 1822 and 1882 – are now published online….”

National Archives at Riverside Collaborates With California Universities to Digitize Chinese Heritage Records | National Archives

“More than 2,200 Chinese Exclusion Act case files held by the National Archives at Riverside are now available online in the National Archives Catalog, thanks to a collaboration with the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California .

The project began in 2018 after a fortuitous meeting at a local American Archives Month event. Shortly thereafter, professors and students from California State University, San Bernardino, and the University of California at Riverside joined the team.  …”