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Open Rubens – the new and improved Rubens Online

Joris Janssens - October 14, 2014 in Case Studies, Featured, Guest Blog Post

This is a guest blog post about the Open Rubens platform written by Joris Janssens of Packed, one of the partners of the Europeana Space (eSpace) project. Open Rubens won the public prize during the Opencultuurdata.be competition 2013. PACKED is a centre of expertise in digital heritage and promotes the use of standards for the creation, preservation and online dissemination of cultural heritage content.

In 2004 the Rubenianum, a centre dedicated to the study of Rubens, developed the Rubens Online website, which holds information on all works by the Flemish baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens whiopenrubens1ch have been or are present in Belgian public collections. The website is a product of its time and we could nowadays easily present the collection in some refreshing manner without much effort. Since the Rubens Online dataset was available under an open license (http://opencultuurdata.be/2013/03/26/rubenianum-rubensonline-be/) we used it create some new ways to explore this collection. You can find the result at www.openrubens.eu.

You can browse the collection through:

1) Some random images which are loaded from the dataset. If you click on an image you get a detail view of the work.

openrubens22) Since there was geographical information in the data we could show all the works on a map and if a work has been in different locations we can track these movements.

openrubens33) A timeline shows the works in the collection in a chronological order

Timeline using timeline js

Timeline using timeline js

On the detail page we added some social sharing functionality, the possibility to add tags to the images and to add comments.

Most of the images are available in a low resolution: we therefore implemented the functionality to do a Google Image search for similar images, in the hope of finding some higher resolutions. Since the works are public domain, even a larger resolution should not fall under copyright. This however could be different from country to country.

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Google Image search with different sizes

In addition to the Rubens Online dataset the detail page of a work shows some results from a search by title using the Europeana API. This however does not always provide nice results: sometimes because their just isn’t any relevant content to show, but also because searching and filtering is a bit limited – which will hopefully improve in a future version of the Europeana API.

Results from Europeana search

Results from Europeana search

Open Rubens was submitted for of the Opencultuurdata.be competition 2013, where it won the public price.

Case Study: Remixing Openly Licensed Content in the Public Space

Joris Pekel - July 8, 2013 in Case Studies, Featured, Guest Blog Post

This post is written by Merete Sanderhoff, who works at the Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK), the National Gallery of Denmark, as researcher and project manager, leading a number of projects providing open access to the museum’s digitized collections, and using digital media to freely share knowledge and resources with fellow institutions as well as users. She is also a member of the OpenGLAM Advisory Board

In 2012, the Statens Museum fur Kunst (SMK) in Copenhagen decided to make a small batch of 160 high quality digital images of their public domain collection openly available on the web. The museum’s choice of open licenses is driven by a strong wish to encourage sharing and creative and innovative reuse of our digitized collections. Pilot projects have taught us that the need for openly licensed images and cultural heritage data is growing – not only among fellow institutions, but in the educational sector, Wikipedia, and on social media platforms in general – and likewise, that the willingness to share high quality images and data in the Danish museum community is growing.

The art pilots at work. Click for more images

In order to move from good intentions to concrete action, SMK has started a couple of initiatives to encourage museums to share their digitized collections, and the public to put them into use in new interactive ways. One of our recent initiatives is HintMe – a shared mobile museum platform – described at length in this case study on the Europeana Pro blog.

Here I will talk about a more recent initiative: Remix art on the Copenhagen metro fences.

The Copenhagen Metro is being expanded, predictably causing frustration for the people living next to the construction sites. As a positive countermove, the Copenhagen Metro Company works very creatively with decorating the metro fences, often in partnership with local communities. SMK has entered such a partnership, using our charter collection of open images as the raw material.

This partnership has allowed SMK to explore several aspects of being an OpenGLAM institution (according to the OpenGLAM principles):

  • To bring our collections to the public
  • To collaborate with external communities of users
  • To provide the framework and resources, and then step back and see what people do with the digitized artworks
  • To let go of control over how our collections are perceived, used, and create meaning and value to people

In our partnership with the Copenhagen Metro Company, SMK is represented by Young People’s Laboratories for Art (ULK) – a community of young “art pilots” who meet at SMK once a week to do volunteer work on creative projects. So far, they have mostly worked peer-to-peer with other young people, for instance at Roskilde Festival. As I mentioned in my talk at Open Culture in London July 2nd the Metro project has offered them a new set of challenges. Collaborating with all kinds of locals living by the metro fences – families with kids, elderly people etc. – they have run into highly diverse perceptions of art and what is permissible to do with the artworks.

To the art pilots, so-called ‘digital natives‘, it’s a natural and deeply rooted thing to remix the digitized artworks, do mashups, collages and Photoshop manipulations, in a seemless blend of “high and low” culture. To some of the locals around the construction sites, especially those of older generations, this approach to art seemed at first almost like an assault to the original artworks. This resulted in a lot of very productive discussions and negotiations between the art pilots and the locals who participated in project meetings and workshops.

To SMK it has been interesting to discover that our own efforts to let go of control over our digitized artworks that are in the Public Domain – and therefore may be used by the public without restrictions – can offend the art perception of some users. Paradoxically, in this case it is not so much the museum, but the users, who worry about misuse and vandalism towards the artworks’ integrity when they are shared openly with the public. As such, the Metro project is a learning process for SMK where we reap new knowledge about how the public may wish to share and reuse digitized cultural heritage, and how they create new value for themselves and each other in the process. Opening up our digitized collections is all about letting go of the monopoly to define what art is and can be used for.

Here and here, more photos can be found of the two metro fence revamps we have contributed to.

Our initiatives with open images are inspired by the ideas behind Shelley Bernstein’s crowd-curated exhibitions at Brooklyn Museum, and by design principles in Nina Simon’s book The Participatory Museum (2010), among others.

Walters Art Museum Removes Non Commercial License

Joris Pekel - April 25, 2013 in Case Studies, Featured

In early January, we wrote about the Walters Art Museum as a case study in sharing. The museum is a pioneering open advocate and worked extensively with Wikimedia. They have donated over 18.000 images to Wikimedia Commons and hired a dedicated intern to enrich Wikipedia articles with openly licensed content from their collection.

The Walters has also set up a website with a dump of all their high quality scans of manuscripts and the corresponding metadata. The images can be downloaded in different file sizes, from a very small thumbnail, to the extremely high quality .tiff file of about 150 megabytes. Having images of this size available for re-use makes them a great resource for scholarly research and image annotation.

However, the readme page still mentioned at that point that commercial re-use of these images was not allowed. As mentioned previously on the OpenGLAM blog, this greatly reduces the possibilities for re-use. The images can for example not be used in Wikipedia articles and we were also not able to feature them on the Public Domain Review. For that reason we contacted the web manager and we are very happy to see that the Walters has now changed their licensing to the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license (CC-BY-SA).

You are free to download and use the images and descriptions on this website under the licenses named above. You do not need to apply to the Walters prior to using the images. We ask only that you cite the source of the images as the Walters Art Museum.

The Walters also explicitly distances itself from the non-commercial restriction:

Note these terms mark a change from our previous license, which placed a noncommercial restriction on the use of these materials. The noncommercial restriction no longer applies, and this license supercedes the previously advertised license, and replaces that found in many of the archival TIFF image headers. This change follows the Walters Art Museum’s licensing policy. More information on the Walters’ intellectual property policy can be found on the Walters website: http://art.thewalters.org/license/.

It is great to see that the Walters has made a clear and explicit statement about the licensing of their images. Very often still we run into vague or non-existent statements that greatly reduce the possibilities for third parties to re-use the data and content. For that reason one of the five OpenGLAM principles is: “When publishing data make an explicit and robust statement of your wishes and expectations with respect to reuse and repurposing of the descriptions, the whole data collection, and subsets of the collection.” The statement of the Walters Art Museum can be seen as a good example how to do this.

For more beautiful digitised manuscripts see The Digital Walters webpage.

One year later: Linked Open Data in the German National Library

Joris Pekel - April 19, 2013 in Case Studies, Featured

A little more than a year ago, the German National Library (DNB) announced that it would release more data as linked data under an open license. It was decided that the metadata would be released with as little restrictions as possible by using the CC0 rights waiver. This means that anybody can use and reuse the data in any way possible, also for commercial purposes.

Now one year later, we talk with Lars G. Svensson, Advisor for Knowledge Networking at the DNB, about what this move has meant for the library.

Welcome Lars, thank you for taking the time.

Thank you for having me!

Frankfurt Lesesaal by Raimond Spekking – CC-BY-SA

Could you tell me why the library decided to open up the metadata?

In September 2011 the Conference of European National Librarians (CENL) decided to adopt CC0 licensing for their data. The DNB had started to publish authority data as linked data in spring 2010. We first used a home-grown license based partly on CC BY-SA but with the restriction that commercial entities needed to register before they can use the data. Since our Director General had been one of the supporters of the CENL decision it was natural for us to move in the same direction. One of the key points with linked data is that other people have to be able to reuse and connect the data with other sources. For that reason we decided last year to discontinue the license based on CC BY-SA and go for CC0 in order to have as few restrictions as possible for reuse. Currently, we publish two datasets: The first one is the authority data, which consists of data for names of persons, organizations, events, places, and works. Since January 2012 there is also bibliographic data available with title, publisher etc., which re-uses the authority data. The data is available under CC0 in many formats including RDF. The only exception is bibliographic data in library specific formats (MARC 21 and MARC XML) from the last two years but we expect that this restriction will disappear after 2015.

And have you seen interesting cases of reuse so far?

Yes definitely. One of my favourite projects is the Museum Digital. This is a German digital open platform where smaller institutions can put their content. The museums curate and manage their own database on the site and enter their own metadata. The site included our metadata to create more links from and to the content available on the platform. They also found out that we include a link to DBpedia in our data. This allowed them to import that data into the platform in various languages. This greatly enriches the information on the platform.

Not all libraries are in the position to release their own metadata because they make use of services and are therefore not the owners of the data. How does that work in the DNB?

We are in the fortunate position to be the national library, so it is basically our job to create this data in the first place. That allows us to freely distribute it in any way we want to. The authority data is curated together with the German library networks, so that is not really our data, but it was not a problem to agree on the open license.. As we are all public institutions, openness helps us to reach out to the public.

Does the German National Library also provide access to digitised books?

We are a relatively young library which was founded in 1913. For that reason we don’t have that much material that is in the public domain. So we do digitise our collection, but since we are not the owners of the rights we can only show the material to people in the reading rooms in the library. We try to make the books that are out of copyright as accessible as possible. We started for example with a collection with 100 classic books such as the works of Goethe and Schiller. These are freely accessible – also in Europeana – as they are in the public domain and we currently have large digitisiation projects also comprising out-of-copyright material. A further service we offer is digitization of tables of contents; Those are very popular among our users since they offer both more terminology we can index in our catalogue and more contextual information making it easier for our patrons to decide whether the publication they found suits their needs or not.

Great to hear, and what’s next for the library?

We are still in the transition phase so not all metadata is yet openly available in all formats, we expect that this will happen in the next few years and then our metadata will be completely open. We keep improving our linked datasets and work hard to also get to make more content available.

That’s great, thank you very much for taking the time for this interview!

My pleasure!

Dutch National Library gives full access to in copyright material

Joris Pekel - March 11, 2013 in Case Studies, Featured

The National Library of the Netherlands has made over the last years some great digitisation efforts. Amongst others, they have published their medieval manuscript collection and made their newspaper archive available under an open license. To make this material available they have to overcome many copyright issues. Their huge collection of material is created by many different authors. It can take years to track all the inheritors to ask for permission. For that reason they have experimented with an ‘opt-out’ model where they asked authors or inheritors to contact them when they did not want something to be published.

Page from the magazine “Op de Hoogte, een maandschrift voor de huiskamer” (Up to Date, a magazine for the living room), 1903.

In September 2012, the National Library of the Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB) announced that they would publicise their digitised magazines collection from 1890-1939. Some of the articles or photos in the magazines are still under copyright because the material is only out of copyright 70 years after the death of the author. Because magazines are filled with content from many different authors, some parts of a magazine can be out of copyright, but others are not. They calculated that looking for all the inheritors of all the authors in the magazines would take them about 5 years and a lot of money, money that can be used a lot better to actually digitise material. For that reason they announced that they would make all available and requested authors to let them know if they had a problem with that. They exactly got one response from a family member of an author which loved the idea that his grandfather’s material would be made available again.

They also got a letter from two collective copyrights management organisations. They informed the KB they were representing some of the authors, and suggested to settle the copyrights. Because no complete and practicle inventory of rightholders and members of copyright organisations could be made, the KB has agreed on a collective license for all under copyright material. The Royal Library can show all the magazines and everybody is able to browse through them and use them for research. However, when somebody wants to reuse them commercially, they have to get in touch with the rights management organisations.

It is a great achievement that material of which parts of are potentially still under copyright can be made available without doing years of research first. While the commercial value of these magazines is very little, there are great opportunities for research as these magazines give a great insight in what was going on in the Dutch society during that period. Right now, 80 magazines can be found online with a total of 1,5 million digitised pages. In the coming months, more magazines will be added and a stunning total of 6,5 million pages will be made available.

However, because it was not posible to use one clear and open license, it remains rather unclear when a user has to ask the collective rights organisation for approval. As we have written before, it is very hard to define when a digitised work is being used commercially. It is for example not clear if we can feature these works on the Public Domain Review while this is clearly a not-for-profit effort. We hope that someday the material which is most likely completely out of copyright can be made available free to reuse without any restrictions, as all material in the public domain should be.

All the magazines can be found on their website.

Case Study: Rijksmuseum releases 111.000 high quality images to the public domain.

Joris Pekel - February 27, 2013 in Case Studies, Featured

When it come to open cultural heritage data and content, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is widely recognised as a pioneer. What started as an experiment, has now resulted in 111.000 (and counting) high-quality images of famous paintings such as the Nightwatch as well as numerous other works of art by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Goltzius etc. becoming openly available on the web.

In 2011, the Rijksmuseum has started to look into the possibilities of releasing some of their images on the web. At that point the Dutch Open Cultuur Data initiative contacted the museum and asked if they could make some images available for the Apps4Amsterdam competition. At that point, it was decided that also the high quality scans of their most famous works should be made accessible in order to promote the collection of the museum to a wider audience. They continued working on clearing the rights and to get the descriptive information right. This has now resulted in 111.000 digital images of artworks that are in the public domain that they can offer without any copyright restrictions. The images are made available as a download, but also via an API.

At the end of 2012, this was accompanied with the launch of the Rijksstudio where people can more easily get access to the material and create their own exhibition. It is encouraged to take and reuse the images in any way possible and to share the results with the Rijksmuseum.

At the same time the museum sells images via their image bank. While the high quality images of about 2 mb are freely available, the museum charges a small fee for the huge tiff files of about 150 mb. The museum has indicated that so far they have not seen a drop in the amount of images they sell to commercial companies and they now occasionally sell images to regular users as well. Also at the tourist shop no decline in sales has been noticed so far.

Metrics:

  • 300.000 people visit the Rijksstudio each month.
  • 500 times a year an API-key is requested
  • 30 apps that use data from the Rijksmuseum can now be found in the different app stores.

Besides that, as being one of the first institutions to open up on this scale, the Rijksmuseum is now being used as an example all over the world which has generated a lot of positive attention.

Walters Art Museum: A case study in sharing

Sarah Stierch - January 22, 2013 in Case Studies, GLAM-Wiki, US

The Ideal City, attributed to Fra Carnevale, created between circa 1480 and 1484. This was the first image contributed to Commons by the Walters Art Museum.

The Ideal City, attributed to Fra Carnevale, created between circa 1480 and 1484.This was the first image contributed to Commons by the Walters Art Museum. 

The Walters Art Museum, located in Baltimore, Maryland, is a model OpenGLAM institution. With a forward thinking staff aimed at opening their collections in unique and innovative ways, and a collection consisting of over 35,000 objects that are public domain, the Walters is prime real estate when it comes to OpenGLAM.

In early 2012, the Walters started partnering with volunteers from the Wikimedia community. The idea for the partnership was hatched out of GLAM Baltimore 2011; a series of events that brought volunteers from the Wikimedia community to the Walters to present about GLAM-Wiki projects. GLAM-Wiki is a project that focuses on fostering relationships and projects between cultural institutions and the Wikimedia community, the community that maintains websites like Wikipedia.

This case study, written by myself and Dylan Kinnett, Manager of Web and Social Media at the Walters, showcases the projects that evolved out of this ongoing partnership. It summarizes key aspects of this partnership:

    • The image donation of over 18,000 images to Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository that supplies websites like Wikipedia with images. These images are used in thousands of Wikipedia articles in over 40 languages. They have been viewed on Wikipedia over 10 million times and additional metrics are included.
    • The changing of licenses on the Walters website to be more open, allowing the public to utilize the Walters website, or Wikimedia Commons, as locations to collect media and curatorial descriptions without copyright restriction.
    • An internship modeled after the Wikipedian in Residence concept. This internship is structured for museum studies students interested in new media and open culture. The first Wikipedia intern wrote numerous articles about artworks in the museum, and learned skills focused around art history research, Wikipedia mark-up and policies, collaborative editing, and other skills that can only improve a resume.
    • The importance of outreach events in bringing together GLAMs and OpenGLAM community members. Without the GLAM Baltimore event, this partnership may have been delayed or not happened.

The case study will be expanded to include coverage about the newly developed transcription project, which has the Walters working with Wikimedia community members to transcribe and translate rare Latin documents in the museum collection. These documents will then be shared via Wikisource, a free online library.

We hope that this case study will inspire and engage others to develop open sharing projects and programs. Please forward, share, and brainstorm how your GLAM can share its collections and knowledge holdings to provide further access to the public through OpenGLAM.

Open Culture Data Awards

Joris Pekel - January 17, 2013 in Case Studies

Yesterday evening, the winners of the Dutch Open Culture Data competition were announced. 27 applications were created with 35 openly licensed datasets. The challenge of the competition was to advance the cultural field with apps that contribute and improve the public outreach.
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The winners

The first prize was awarded to the Muse app. With this application people can compile and remix their own artwork with fragments from world famous ‘Old Masters’. The judges said about the app: “The first succeeded attempt to develop a really creative webtool for museums”. The developers of the application announced that they will continue working on this project and add new datasets and functionalities.

The second prize was awarded to Histagram. This application very easily allows the users to create e-cards from old photos from the ANEFO photo archive. Just select a photo, add a text and you are ready to go.

The third prize was awarded to SimMuseum, a game where the user can be a museum director themselves and buy and sell artworks from several Dutch museums.

Finally, a special prize was awarded by the National Archives of the Netherlands to an application that specifically made use of their ANFEO photo collection. Head of the Archives awarded this prize to tijdbalk.nl (timeline.nl) which uses Timeline JS to create nice timelines on different topics.

Open Cultuur Data

The Open Cultuur Data network organised this year for the first time a competition for applications that use open data from GLAM institutions. The idea behind this competition was, besides public outreach, to get Dutch developers in touch with openly licensed collections and the institutions that provide them. At the moment, 35 collections are openly available but this number will grow in 2013.

We congratulate Open Cultuur Data with this great success and are looking forward to more applications being built with open cultural data. All other apps being built can be found here

For more info about the initiative, see this blog by Lotte Baltussen

Project Bamboo: advancing arts and humanities research through the development of shared technology services

Joris Pekel - October 29, 2012 in Case Studies, Featured, Guest Blog Post, Projects

The following post is written by Seth Denbo who is the program coordinator of Project Bamboo.

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There is no lack of digitized cultural content available on the Web. This ever increasing bounty creates problems of discovery, management, and use of both content and metadata. Alongside the proliferation of content there’s a related burgeoning of tools for performing these tasks. A scholar faced with finding, curating, exploring and analyzing a collection needs reliable information about these tools and their use.

Project Bamboo has been working to facilitate the discovery of tools for scholars interested in digital research by developing Bamboo DiRT , a community site for information about digital research tools. Developed by Project Bamboo, DiRT is an evolution of Lisa Spiro’s DiRT wiki that makes it easy for digital humanists and others conducting digital research to find and compare resources ranging from content management systems to music OCR, statistical analysis packages to mindmapping software.

Bamboo DiRT also aims to capture the broader ecosystem of resources used by digital humanists and includes entries drawn from the original DiRT wiki, the Humanist discussion list, DH Answers, and other discussion fora. Each entry includes as much information as possible about the resource, including a prose description, supported platform(s), cost, screenshots, and technical information. While Bamboo DiRT is not itself a documentation repository, it contains fields for links to end-user, API, and general technical documentation. Authenticated users can indicate that they use a particular resource (following the model of the “like” button) and add tips for other users of that resource.

The aim is not to provide a centrally managed resource, but rather to enable the digital scholarship community to build and maintain a site that meets its needs. The site allows any registered user to add tools, provide additional information about existing entries, and comment about their own use of the tools. Anyone who uses or creates digital research tools is encouraged to contribute. To foster the community, ensure that the information provided by the site is of the highest quality possible and to maintain site-wide coherence, there is a diverse volunteer editorial board.

The future development plans for Bamboo DiRT include a robust API that will lay the groundwork for integrating Bamboo DiRT information with other parts of the Bamboo infrastructure and affiliated digital humanities websites built on common platforms (Drupal and WordPress). For example, projects listed on DHCommons that use a particular tool could be automatically listed alongside the tool’s entry on Bamboo DiRT. CUNY Academic Commons users could search Bamboo DiRT within the Commons, and the tools they’ve indicated they use could be listed in their profile. By participating in a rich ecosystem of data exchange, Bamboo DiRT will help users find the tools they need, improve the way they work with the ever growing wealth of data available, and build upon each others’ workflows to encourage better research.

Have you used Bamboo DiRT? We would love your feedback on all aspects of the site, so get in touch on email or via the contact form, and please get involved by adding or commenting on your favorite tools.