ClosAR: A Multidisciplinary Research Project on Audiovisual Archives and AR

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Within the context of the Images for the Future project the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision is – as mentioned before on this weblog – exploring potential of mobile and location-based access to digital heritage. The goal is to explore how digital heritage can be combined with mobile technology and location awareness to offer an augmented reality (AR) to different types of end users. In this context AR functions by augmenting the physical reality of end users with contextual information using digital means.

As part of this exploration Sound and Vision partnered with the V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media to initiate a multidisciplinary research project (later named ClosAR). The goal of the collaboration was explore new approaches to bring the audiovisual (AV) archive closer to its audience using innovative methods of presentation and interaction, such as augmented reality. The ClosAR group is comprised of five members with a background in new media studies, art science, industrial design engineering, and virtual games.

In their final report (you can download a PDF version here) Bas Bergervoet, Kate Cunningham, Aestha van Dam, Shauna Jin and Connie Yeh propose seven concept directions as possible starting points for Sound and Vision and V2_, with references to the background research and intermediate process:

The classic archive is static: a tomb where “official” documents, media, and information collect dust. Digital technology opens opportunities for information access and presentation, and most notably, participation. As the archive only exists to be accessed, the relationship between itself and its audience is quite important. Augmented reality (AR) brings dynamic information into the physical world. While Beeld en Geluid seeks to improve its visibility outside of its “Experience” and on- site archive search through mobile access, we explored the off-site extreme. How does moving the context of the archive open up possibilities for new interactions? What is the minimum amount of technology needed to achieve this?


Waisda? Video Labeling Game: Evaluation Report

Monday, January 18th, 2010

The Waisda? (which translates to What’s that?) video labeling game was launched in May 2009. It invites users to tag what they see and hear and receive points for a tag if it matches a tag that their opponent has entered. Waisda? is the world’s first operational video labelling game. The underlying assumption is that tags are most probably valid if there’s mutual agreement. Over 2,000 people played the project and within six months, over 340k tags have been added to over 600 items from the archive. Initial findings have been published earlier, when the pilot period was still running. This evaluation report (PDF download, in Dutch), includes a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the tags, as well as a usability study of the game environment and a study into the incentives that apply to people playing the game. The evaluation report is written by Lotte Belice Baltussen, in collaboration with Maarten Brinkerink and Johan Oomen of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision R&D Department. Researchers at the VU University Amsterdam, Business Web & Media Section, also provided crucial input. The VU University Amsterdam carries out this research in light of their involvement in the PrestoPRIME European research project.

The evaluation report provides evidence that crowdsourcing video annotation in a serious, social game setting can indeed enhance retrieval of video in archives. It features success factors organizations need to take into account in setting up services that aim to actively engage their audiences online. The main conclusions are listed below:



German Federal Archive publishes photos on Wikipedia under Creative Commons license

Monday, December 8th, 2008

On December 6th, the German Federal Archive and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia announced their cooperation in making publicly available 100,000 digitized images under Creative Commons licence (CC-BY-SA) in exchange for linking the photos to Wikipedia’s Persondata. A big step for opening up public content and data.

The commons

In September 2007 the German Federal Archive already made 113,000 images available on their own online digital archive. In total the Federal Archives keeps approximately 11 million still pictures, aerial photographs and posters from modern German history. The cooperation with Wikipedia is the next big step for the German Federal Archive in opening up the archive, as the vice president of the German Federal Archive Dr. Angelika Menne-Haritz said during the press conference.

Photo: Raimond Spekking, Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0.

The photos are not of the highest resolution, about 800 pixels on the longest side. But, this is an enormous addition to the commons. According to Wikimedia, the repository of free content images, sound and other multimedia files on Wikipedia, the donation by the German Federal Archive of 100,000 images is the single largest one to Wikimedia Commons so far. This is even more than the archival project Flickr Commons makes available now in cooperation with 16 archival partners around the world.

Click here for the image gallery:


Photo: Mitglieder des Deutschen Reichstag, German Federal Archive (1889). Author: Braatz, Julius. Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0.

Creative Commons License

The images by the German Federal Archive are licensed Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License (CC-BY-SA). This means that you are free to share and remix the images under the condition that you give attribution and spread this with a similar or compatible license. The Federal Archive can do this because they own sufficient rights on the images to be able to grant this kind of license. To use such a free license for archival material is really exciting. Few archives work with Creative Commons licences. One of the rare examples is the McCord Museum and the Brabants Historisch Informatiecentrum. And, the archival project Flickr Commons works with “no known copyright restrictions”.


The other part of the cooperation between the German Federal Archive and Wikipedia is a tool for linking people from a list compiled by the Federal Archive to the German Wikipedia Persondata and to the person authority file of the German National Library. Something German Wikipedia has already been doing since 2005. Around 27% of 100,000 photos is already done. The expectation is that because the cooperation is now public, the tempo will speed up. Moreover, the users will add new information to the images. You can find the To Do list here.


Though projectleader Creative Commons Germany, Markus says that this is only a small revolution for German notions, this could very well set an example for other archives to make their content publicly available and therefore grow bigger. It will be very interesting to see where we can find the photos and in which (rich) context. Because that will make a strong argument for archives to experiment with this.


What do young filmmakers want?

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Nisimasa, a European network of young film professionals, students and enthusiasts for European cinema, devoted their March edition of their online magazine to the topic Film Archives. According to chief editor Caroline Fournier, young film professionals don’t really know much about this topic and are closed off because of bad access. At the same time archives have great potential to contribute to their future work through reuse of the material.

“These images can become part of the artistic process, in a society which wants to recycle its heritage, which likes to reuse old images in order to realise something new”

There are interesting initiatives going on to give better access the material. Film Archives Online for example gives free access to catalogue information of film archives from all over Europe, via a multi-lingual web portal. At the Moving Images Archive you can view around 2000 films from the Prelinger Archives. But, do these facilitate young filmmakers in reusing the archives enough? What do young filmmakers expect from the archives? How can cultural heritage contribute to their work and how would they like to have access? If you have an opinion on this topic, please comment.


The Commons – Library of Congress photo’s on Flickr

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

The Library of Congress and Flickr together announced a pilot to put a selection of the photo collection of the LOC on Flickr. The community will tag. Will it also capture the imagination of other institutions?

Out of some 14 million prints, photographs and other visual materials at the Library of Congress, more than 3000 photos from two of the most popular collections are being made available on the new Flickr page. Including only images for which no copyright restrictions are known to exist.

The Library of Congress is not the first putting their archive on Flickr to gain more visibility and accessibility. A lot of prominant museums already did, like the Brooklyn Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Powerhouse Museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum & the Renwick Museum. They all put their collection in a place where people actually spend more time than on the website of the museum itself.

The Commons
So, would this grand announcement be just a clever marketing trick to get the attention of the internet savvy youth? Maybe. But The Library of Congres doesn’t want to be just another collection on Flickr. They officially partnered with Flickr to move the Flickr community to tag the photo’s and baptised the pilot “The Commons”.

Their goal is to increase exposure to the collections and to facilitate the collection of general knowledge with the hope that this information can feed back into the catalogues, making them richer and easier to search. With this pilot the Library of Congress embraces the “power of the web”, as we can read on their blog:

We’re also very excited that, as part of this pilot, Flickr has created a new publication model for publicly held photographic collections called “The Commons.” Flickr hopes—as do we—that the project will eventually capture the imagination and involvement of other public institutions, as well. From the Library’s perspective, this pilot project is a statement about the power of the Web and user communities to help people better acquire information, knowledge and—most importantly—wisdom.

I hope that this pilot will get the attention of other institutions and encourage them to explore the rules of the web more profoundly. If you take a look at the collection already tagged it is impressive to see that some objects already have 25 tags. Somebody got payed to do this?

For the press release of the Library of Congress pilot on Flickr click here.