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Photomediations: An Open Book

Joanna Zylinska - May 11, 2015 in eSpace, Featured, News

The Europeana Space project aims to create new opportunities for employment and economic growth within the creative industries sector based on Europe’s rich digital cultural resources. As part of this, pilots within six thematic areas (TV, Photography, Dance, Games, Open and Hybrid Publishing, Museums) explore different scenarios for the re-use of digital cultural content, with a special focus on the re-use of the content accessible via Europeana.

The team from the Open and Hybrid Publishing pilot are pleased to announce the launch of Photomediations: An Open Book. The pilot redesigns a coffee-table book as an online experience to produce a creative resource that explores the dynamic relationship between photography and other media. Photomediations: An Open Book uses open (libre) content, drawn from various online repositories (Europeana, Wikipedia Commons, Flickr Commons) and tagged with the CC-BY licence and other open licences. In this way, the book showcases the possibility of the creative reuse of image-based digital resources.

Through a comprehensive introduction and four specially commissioned chapters on light, movement, hybridity and networks that include over 200 images, Photomediations: An Open Book tells a unique story about the relationship between photography and other media. The book’s four main chapters are followed by three ‘open’ chapters, which will be populated with further content over the next 18 months. The three open chapters are made up of a social space, an online exhibition and an open reader. A version of the reader, featuring academic and curatorial texts on photomediations, will be published in a stand-alone book form later in 2015, in collaboration with Open Humanities Press.

Blog image Photomediations: An Open Book’s online form allows for easy sharing of its content with educators, students, publishers, museums and galleries, as well as any other interested parties. Promoting the socially significant issues of ‘open access’, ‘open scholarship’ and ‘open education’, the project also explores a low-cost hybrid publishing model as an alternative to the increasingly threatened traditional publishing structures.

Photomediations: An Open Book is a collaboration between academics from Goldsmiths, University of London, and Coventry University. Apart from being part of Europeana Space, it is also a sister project to the curated online site Photomediations Machine:

Project team: Professor Joanna Zylinska, Dr Kamila Kuc, Jonathan Shaw, Ross Varney, Dr Michael Wamposzyc. Project advisor: Professor Gary Hall.

Romania’s first Open Culture Hackathon

Lieke Ploeger - May 7, 2015 in Events/Workshops, Featured, Hack days

On the 18th and 19th of April, Timisoara hosted the first Romanian Open Culture Hackathon.  In this blog, Silviu Vert (Smart City Association Politehnica University Timisoara and Open Knowledge ambassador for Romania) reports on the the main applications that were developed during this event.

On the 18th and 19th of April, almost 30 hackers, graphic designers, artists and representatives of cultural institutions worked about 15 hours to develop 4 applications that promote local and national artworks. Monuments, postcards, paintings, portraits of the royal family that can usually be found on museums’ or archives’ websites can be soon downloaded on mobile devices.

iG4ycLm Timisoara City Art is a mobile application that helps both residents and tourists to explore Timisoara’s public space monuments. The app has multiple functionalities, such as the possibility to identify on the map where the monuments are located, the distance and the means of transport that takes you there. It also allows users- art consumers to find out information about the sculpture or the building through augmented reality. Timisoara City Art

Open MarT is an alternative website for the Museum of Art from Timisoara. Besides the online exposure of works of art owned by the museum, the platform offers information about 50 paintings, allowing virtual visitors to comment on the works and to find out masterpieces using a keyword-based search engine. Thus, the website changes the culture of dialogue between the public and the museum.

Open MArT

My Postcard links postcards from twenty century Bucharest, provided by The National Museum of Art of Romania and pictures from nowadays. Users can locate on the map the buildings caught in the postcards and what have they been replaced with. The platform testifies the changes in the city’s architecture and urban planning.

My Postcard

The Royal Album is a gallery of portraits of the Romanian Royal Family, turned into a platform that allows users to identify the members of the Royal Family and to discover personality treats that made them famous.

Royal Album

The event was organized by the Romanian Coalition for Open Data, the Department for Online Services and Design – Romanian Government, Smart City Association, Kosson Community, Open Knowledge Romania, Polytechnic University Timisoara, The West University Timisoara and the Timisoara City Hall. The event was supported by the SEE Grants 2009-2014 through the NGO Fund in Romania.

Europeana Space Technical Workshop

Matt Moore - April 10, 2015 in eSpace, Events/Workshops, Featured

As part of the Open Knowledge systems administrators team, I was recently invited along to the Europeana Space technical workshop which was held in Brussels at the end of March. Europeana Space aims to increase and enhance the creative industries’ use of online collections of digital cultural content such as Europeana, One of the spaces the project will build is the Technical Space, a framework for storing, accessing and processing cultural heritage content and metadata. The current technical workshop focused on presenting the architecture and implementation choices for the Technical Space, as well as informing participants about the latest developments of Europeana Labs.

After a couple of short plane journeys, I arrived in Brussels on the Sunday evening. The weather was lovely and Brussels is a wonderful city, so after a short stroll I arrived at the iMinds building bright and early on Monday morning keen to find out more about Europeana Space. The first and second talks by Antonella Fresa and James Morley provided us all with a introduction to the project and to the Europeana Labs. Then after a short coffee break we got into the technical part of the day, which was a series of talks by Nasos Drosopoulos on the eSpace technical infrastructure and Remy Gardien on practical experiments using Europeana Labs. The day was then finished with a series of discussions which everyone participated in about potential options for the direction of the Europeana APIs. The second day continued with discussions on how to use and develop the API further.


I found the idea of an API for accessing a large number of digital museum and gallery objects to be a really interesting one. While the Europeana Labs project is still in early stages there is a lot of promise with what has already been done. I’d like to highlight a couple of projects which use the API to show people what’s possible. These two are my personal favourites. Firstly, there is, which uses the API in a quite modest way to enhance a site which also uses other data sources. Secondly is VanGoYourself which works on the simple premise of recreating famous paintings with a photograph. It’s a lovely little whimsical website and the photos are great fun to spend a bit of time browsing.

The conference was very enjoyable and I for one look forward to seeing what Europeana Labs and Europeana Space produce in the future. Also it’ll be great to see what use people make of the API.

A full album of photos can be found here on Google plus.  All slides and another summary is available here, and you can watch recordings made during the event through this channel.

Community building through the DM2E project

Lieke Ploeger - April 9, 2015 in Digital Humanities, Featured, Linked Open Data, Projects

This blog is cross-posted from the Open Knowledge blog.

During the past three years, Open Knowledge has been leading the community building work in the Digitised Manuscripts to Europeana (DM2E) project, a European research project in the area of Digital Humanities led by Humboldt University. Open Knowledge activities included the organisation of a series of events such as Open Data in Cultural Heritage workshops, running two rounds of the Open Humanities Awards and the establishment of OpenGLAM as an active volunteer-led community pushing for increased openness in cultural heritage.

DM2E and the Linked Open Web

dm2e_logoAs one of its core aims, the DM2E project worked on enabling libraries and archives to easily upload their digitised material into Europeana – the online portal that provides access to millions of items from a range of Europe’s leading galleries, libraries, archives and museums. In total, over 20 million manuscript pages from libraries, archives and research institutions were added during the three years of the project. In line with theEuropeana Data Exchange Agreement, all contributing institutions agreed to make their metadata openly available under the Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication license (CC-0), which allows for easier reuse.

Since different providers make their data available in different formats, the DM2E consortium developed a toolset that converted metadata from a diverse range of formats into the DM2E model, an application profile of the Europeana Data Model (EDM). The developed software also allows the contextualisation and linking of this cultural heritage data sets, which makes this material suitable for use within the Linked Open Web. An example of this is the Pundit tool, which Net7 developed to enable researchers to add annotations in a digital text and link them to related texts or other resources on the net (read more).

Open Knowledge achievements

Open Knowledge was responsible for the community building and dissemination work within DM2E, which, apart from promoting and documenting the project results for a wide audience, focused on promoting and raising awareness around the importance of open cultural data. The presentation below sums up the achievements made during the project period, including the establishment of OpenGLAM as a community, the organisation of the event series and the Open Humanities Awards, next to the extensive project documentation and dissemination through various channels.


OpenGLAM-logoIn order to realise the value of the tools developed in DM2E, as well as to truly integrate the digitised manuscripts into the Linked Data Web, there need to be enough other open resources to connect to and an active community of cultural heritage professionals and developers willing to extend and re-use the work undertaken as part of DM2E. That is why Open Knowledge set up the OpenGLAM community: a global network of people and organisations who are working to open up cultural content and data. OpenGLAM focuses on promoting and furthering free and open access to digital cultural heritage by maintaining an overview of Open Collections, providing documentation on the process and benefits of opening up cultural data, publishing regular news and blog items and organising diverse events.

Since the start in 2012, OpenGLAM has grown into a large, global, active volunteer-led community (and one of the most prominent Open Knowledge working groups to date), supported by a network of organisations such as Europeana, the Digital Public Library of America, Creative Commons and Wikimedia. Apart from the wider community taking part in the OpenGLAM discussion list, there is a focused Working Group of 17 open cultural data activists from all over the world, a high-level Advisory Board providing strategic guidance and four local groups that coordinate OpenGLAM-related activities in their specific countries. Following the end of the DM2E project, the OpenGLAM community will continue to push for openness in digital cultural heritage.

Open Humanities Awards

openhumanitieslogosAs part of the community building efforts, Open Knowledge set up a dedicated contest awards series focused on supporting innovative projects that use open data, open content or open source tools to further teaching and research in the humanities: the Open Humanities Awards. During the two competition rounds that took place between 2013-2014, over 70 applications were received, and 5 winning projects were executed as a result, ranging from an open source Web application which allows people to annotate digitized historical maps (Maphub) to an improved search application for Wittgenstein’s digitised manuscripts (Finderapp WITTfind). Winners published their results on a regular basis through the DM2E blog and presented their findings at conferences in the field, proving that the awards served as a great way to stimulate innovative digital humanities research using open data and content. Details on all winning projects, as well as final reports on their results, are available from this final report.

DM2E event series

Over the course of the project, Open Knowledge organised a total of 18 workshops, focused on promoting best practices in legal and technical aspects of opening up metadata and cultural heritage content, providing demonstration and training with the tools and platforms developed in the project and hackdays and coding sprints. Highlights included the Web as Literature conference at the British Library in 2013, the Open Humanities Hack series and the Open Data in Cultural Heritage workshops, as a result of which several local OpenGLAM groups were started up. A full list of events and their outcomes is available from this final report.

og_fringe_okfest14Open Data in Cultural Heritage Workshop: Starting the OpenGLAM group for Germany (15 July 2014, Berlin)

It has been a great experience being part of the DM2E consortium: following the project end, the OpenGLAM community will be sustained and built upon, so that we can realise a world in which our shared cultural heritage is open to all regardless of their background, where people are no longer passive consumers of cultural content created by an elite, but contribute, participate, create and share.

More information

Gallipoli: Through the Soldier’s Lens

Alison Wishart - April 8, 2015 in Curator's Choice, Featured, Public Domain


To mark the 100 years since Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) fought the Gallipoli campaign of WW1, Alison Wishart, Senior Curator of Photographs at Australian War Memorial, explores the remarkable photographic record left by the soldiers. Made possible by the birth of Kodak’s portable camera, the photographs give a rare and intimate portrait of the soldier’s day-to-day life away from the heat of battle.


2015 marks the centenary of one of the most commemorated events in Australia’s military history. One hundred years ago, at dawn of 25th April, boatloads of Australians and New Zealanders quietly landed on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula at a beach that became known as Anzac Cove.

Had Australia’s military commanders and elected leaders known how significant this event was to become in Australia’s history and the development of its national identity, they might have thought to send official photographers or war artists. But they didn’t. Instead, the photographic record of the nine month Gallipoli campaign relies primarily on the images taken by soldiers.

Fortunately, Kodak had released its ‘Vest Pocket’ camera in 1912, which made taking a camera to the front more feasible. Kodak encouraged enlistees to do this, marketing their new model as ‘the soldier’s Kodak’. Below is pictured the camera used by Sergeant P E Virgoe at Gallipoli from May-October 1915.

Vest pocket Kodak camera belonging to Sergeant P E Virgoe, 4 Light Horse Regiment, AIF (ca. 1913) / REL33223 – Source.

Officially, soldiers were not allowed to take a camera to the front. This was stipulated by Britain’s Secretary of State for the War, Lord Kitchener, after the bloody allied defeats of 1914 made it clear that manipulation of the public record of the war would be necessary to maintain enthusiasm for it. However, while the ruling was strictly enforced on the Western Front, it was barely given a cursory nod at Gallipoli. This allowed amateur and semi-professional photographer-soldiers to practice their focusing and framing skills in between their duties.

Approximately half of the Australians who fought at Gallipoli – nearly 25,000 recruits – left for their great overseas ‘adventure’ with a compact camera in their kit. Many of the nurses tending the wounded on the nearby Greek Island of Lemnos also carried a camera.

Informal portrait of Sister Emily Cornelia (Corrie) Parish, of 2nd Australian General Hospital, holding a camera (ca. 1915) / P05382.018 – Source.

Little did they know that by creating their own visual diary, they would also be contributing to Australia’s only photographic record of the Dardanelles campaign. Of the 6,332 Gallipoli images from 1915 in the Australian War Memorial’s collection, soldiers took about 60 per cent. After the war, soldiers or their families donated their photographs to the Memorial, often in the form of personal albums or loose prints.

As ‘soldier photographers’, when they opened the shutter, they had a completely different purpose in mind from creating an official record of the war. This gives their photographs a raw, unmediated honesty.

Landing stores at Watson’s Pier, Gallipoli, Turkey (1915) / P00649.008 – Source.

The men documented their daily life which was often boring and monotonous. In between battles, there were long stretches of ‘fatigues’ such as digging trenches and dugouts, carrying water up from the beaches or wells and going on sentry duty. As soldiers, they were not in a position to photograph their fighting, so they took snaps of their daily life instead. What the photographs lack in composition, they make up for in their poignant and candid simplicity.

Left: A soldier carrying water in two kerosene tins (1915) / C00776 – Source. Right: Army cooks outside the dugout which serves as the cookhouse for the headquarters of the 4th Light Horse Regiment, 1st AIF (1915) / P00859.002 – Source.

The photographs complement the soldiers’ written records. Sapper Victor Willey, a 22 year old from Victoria (service no. 134) wrote about his awful rations in a letter to his parents dated 7 September 1915:

We are fed up with this life, and the strain upon our constitution is terrible. In fact, some of us who have been in the trenches since 25th April and are now as weak as cats and no wonder! [. . .] in the morning we get a piece of bacon about six inches long [. . .] (but it is nearly all fat) and about a pint of tea with hard biscuits. On rare occasions we also get a loaf of bread. For dinner [lunch], we have three courses – water, tea and sugar (lovely). For tea, we have bully-beef stew (done to perfection). This happens every day, barring the bread – but at times the bread is forgotten altogether.

The Memorial does not hold any photographs taken by Willey but it does hold many photographs of the food he speaks of.

The 1st Australian Field Bakery established on ‘K’ Beach, Imbros / C04618 – Source.


Officers of D Company, 10th Battalion eating a meal in their dugout mess. Left to right: Lieutenant (Lt) William Howard Perry, MC; Lt William Stanley Frayne (killed in action 6 August 1915); Lt John de Courey Harrison; Captain Felix Gordon Giles, DSO, Officer Commanding; Lt David Leslie Todd (1915) / A00715 – Source.

Staff Sergeant Hector Dinning of the Australian Army Service Corps wrote in his 1918 memoir: It’s the monotony that kills; not hard work, nor hard fare. We have now been disembarked on the Peninsula rather longer than three months. But there has been little change in our way of living. Every day there is the same work on the same beach, shelled by the same guns, manned by the same Turks…

Colonel Charles Snodgrass Ryan, a surgeon with the Australian Army Medical Services, took a remarkable collection of over 180 photographs at Gallipoli and Egypt in 1915. His images, taken with a stereo camera, also depict daily life at Gallipoli, but are composed with a practised eye.

Two soldiers of the Supply Depot, 1st Australian Division, standing on the beach amongst stacked boxes of corned beef and canned meat (1915) / P02648.012 – Source.


Officers and soldiers conferring in a trench reinforced with sandbags on one of the ridges at Gallipoli (1915) / P02648.008 – Source.

Corporal Albert Savage was stationed in the x-ray ‘department’ of the 3rd Australian General Hospital on Lemnos Island, 96km from Anzac Cove and the destination for casualties evacuated from Gallipoli. The Memorial holds over 300 photographs taken by him on Lemnos which provide a valuable insight into the workings of a field hospital on an arid island.

Dawn at Lemnos (1915) / A02706 – Source.


Evacuation of patients from No. 3 Australian General Hospital (3AGH) by ambulance to the wharf for ship transport to Egypt (1916) / J01503 – Source.

Padre Walter Dexter also had a camera at Gallipoli. As an Australian army chaplain who officiated at burial services he had to come to terms with death, and some of his photographs depict this. He also photographed soldiers at the latrines. These sort of candid images would never be within the remit of official photographers.

Four unidentified men using a latrine high above the beach at Anzac Cove (1915) / J03659 – Source.


Bodies of dead soldiers lying in a row in a trench, having been covered with blankets or other items as shrouds (1915) / J04734 – Source.

One of Dexter’s photographs was acquired by Colarts Studio in Sydney and colourised and popularised by them.

A view of Anzac Cove looking north toward New Zealand Point. A hand tinted colour print produced by Colarts Studio, Sydney (ca. 1925) / P01130.001 – Source.


War correspondents Phillip Schuler and Charles Bean travelled with their cameras as well as their typewriters. Before embarking for Gallipoli, they photographed each other on the same pyramid in Egypt.

Left: Captain C E W Bean on top of the Pyramid of Cheops (1915) / PS1399 – Source Right: Phillip (Peter) Schuler, the Age special correspondent, standing on the same pyramid (1915) / G01651 – Source.

The Memorial holds more than 2000 of Schuler’s evocative photographs from Gallipoli and the western front (where he was killed in June 1917) including a much reproduced image after the battle of Lone Pine.

A trench at Lone Pine after the battle, showing Australian and Turkish dead on the parapet (1915) / A02025 – Source.

Charles Bean, Australia’s only official war correspondent at Gallipoli, felt that photographs should tell the “plain, simple truth”. He disagreed vehemently with the practice of Ernest Brooks, who staged photographs for dramatic effect, such as the photograph seen below. Brooks was appointed by the British Admiralty to photograph British and Australian troops at Gallipoli.

A staged photograph: The original Admiralty caption to this photograph reads: “An Australian bringing in a wounded comrade to hospital. Notwithstanding the unhappy situation, they joked as they made their way down from the front.” (1915) / G00599 – Source.

Charles Bean went on to help establish the Australian War Records Section in 1917 and write the Official History of the Australian Imperial Forces in the First World War. His photographs, such as that of an outdoor communion service, helped him recall the events of the Great War.

An open-air communion service at Anzac (1915) / G01432 – Source.

For the 25,000+ Australian soldiers who took cameras to Gallipoli, their photographs also served as memory triggers. When they returned from the war, the images reminded them that amidst the monotony of trench life – the flies, heat, dust, stench and thirst of the summer stalemate – they found people and events worth photographing. A century on, we are grateful to these soldier photographers for giving us a glimpse into their life at Gallipoli. Devoid of hubris, but often full of humour and pathos, these photographs provide a unique record of life at the front line. As Australians and New Zealanders around the world gather at dawn this Anzac Day, I hope we will remember not just the soldiers who landed on the beaches, but also the remarkable photographic record they created.


Alison Wishart has worked as a curator and/or collection manager since 2003 at the Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville and the State Library of Queensland (Brisbane) before moving to Canberra in 2008 to work at the National Museum of Australia and now the Australian War Memorial where she holds the position of Senior Curator of Photographs. She has a BA (Hons) from the University of Queensland and a Masters in Museum Studies and Cultural Heritage. Alison is currently researching the psychological, social and physical impacts of food at Gallipoli and online memorialisation.

To learn more about Australian War Memorial visit their website and browse their digital collection.

This post is part of our Curator’s Choice series, a monthly feature consisting of a guest article from a curator about a work or group of works in one of their “open” digital collections. Learn more here. See this post in all its full page width glory over at The Public Domain Review.


BYTE into open cultural data

Anna Donovan - March 26, 2015 in Featured, Projects

This is a guest blogpost by Anna Donovan on The Big data roadmap and cross-disciplinarY community for addressing socieTal Externalities (BYTE) project. The BYTE project is looking at open cultural data as part of the relationship between open access and big data in Europe. BYTE is also collaborating with Europeana to put open cultural data and linked metadata in focus as an exciting example of open cultural data.

byteLogoOpen cultural data, including metadata, provide us with cultural value as well as the potential to access digital works for reuse and innovation. Cultural data consisting of digitised versions of text, artefacts, sound recordings, images and objects raise unique opportunities. Forging new connections between diverse cultural artefacts, providing open access to publicly held data, encouraging private and public cooperation and encouraging the re-use of cultural data by different communities are just a few of the possibilities with open cultural data.

Europeana and OpenGLAM provide the BYTE team with exciting examples of initiatives that push open cultural data in the pursuit of these possibilities and more. Cultural data is unique in that it is not as easily converted into numbers and codes that can be “crunched” and analysed. Despite this, open cultural data initiatives and policies shed some light on the activities that are already stimulating the re-use of cultural heritage data, and providing frameworks for the facilitation of open access to big data in the cultural sector. They also indicate that considerable social, financial and operational benefits could arise from better use of data in the cultural sector. We are testing these possibilities further by conducting the case study into big data and culture, which focuses on Europeana to produce evidence-based, clear and precise questions that illuminate opportunities and problems related to big cultural data and possible solutions to be further investigated in the BYTE roadmap.

Our examination of big data and culture has led us to recommend that the cultural sector at large embrace value creation and market success by utilising cultural data currently held by public sector organisations, and by collaborating with private sector companies through the reuse of open cultural data. The predicted benefits are in addition to the current social and cultural value added to European society through open cultural data. We also aim to assist in making recommendations to diminish barriers to open cultural data, such as restrictive licensing agreements, which remain relevant to ensuring the data is genuinely open. These impacts and more were also the topic of the BYTE focus group on big data in culture, which was held in Munich on 23 March 2015. Texts, artefacts and objects are the most enduring types of data generated by human societies, and making them accessible has exciting potential.

For further information about our work with the BYTE project, please contact Anna Donovan of Trilateral Research & Consulting at: / @annadonovan_TRI.  You can also follow the BYTE project on Twitter through @BYTE_EU.

Project Mosul: Protecting Iraq’s Cultural Heritage

Marieke Guy - March 19, 2015 in eSpace, Featured

This is a guest blogpost by Dr. Marinos Ioannides, Chance Coughenour and Matthew Vincent (see author details at the bottom of the page).


Neville Chamberlain famously said “In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers.” Lives are lost, homes and livelihoods are damaged and culture is erased. In the following post fellows from Project Mosul explain how they are trying to protect and rebuild Iraq’s cultural heritage and explain how you can support their work. Author details are given at the end of the post.

In Iraq, a country devastated by invasions and divided by civil war, destruction of cultural artefacts has become common-place. The last few months have seen Islamic State militants burning books from libraries, destroying ancient artefacts housed in the Mosul Museum and more recently bulldozing the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud.

While it has since transpired that many of the Mosul Museum artefacts destroyed were replicas, some of the larger objects were indeed real. This wanton destruction of cultural heritage has resulted in an outcry from the digital heritage community and beyond. The historically important city of Mosul holds artefacts of huge cultural and historical importance and the Mosul Museum is the second largest museum in Iraq after the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. The museum was first looted during the Iraq war in 2003 and millions of pounds of sculptures and images taken. The Mosul Museum has had a rough ride and needs the support of the GLAM community.


Photo of Ishtar temple lion from Project Mosul website. Photo in public domain. Special thanks go to the volunteers who have submitted the images: Suzanne E. Bott, Col. Mary Prophit, and Diane Siebrandt

Positive action has now been taken by the Initial Training Network for Digital Cultural Heritage (ITN-DCH), a Marie Curie Actions training project that is part of the EC Seventh Framework Programme, through the instigation of a volunteer project. Project Mosul is seeking volunteers to help virtually restore the Mosul Museum. This includes finding photos, processing data, contributing to the website and generally helping out with organising the effort to identify the museum artefacts.

espaceOther EU projects such as the Europeana Space and the 4D-CH-WORLD are joining their forces to help and support this volunteer effort of the young Marie-Curie researchers.

The main volunteer activities that support is needed for are:

  • Uploading pictures of the artefacts found in the Mosul Museum
  • Developing the Web platform
  • Mask images using photoshop
  • Spreading the word about the project
  • Getting the word out
  • Processing an artefact using automated photogrammetry to create three-dimensional models

To find out more about how you can support the volunteer activities see the Project Mosul website or join the Google Group.


Some of the artefacts already submitted

The project will run so long as it is needed until the destroyed artefacts can be completely reconstructed and re-produced by using latest novel technologies like the 3D printing. All the reconstructed objects will be available under Open Access licenses and will be ‘exhibited virtually’ on the Cloud under the project’s web portal.

Project Mosul is aligned with the scope of the Europeana Space Project. Open Knowledge is a consultant on the Europeana Space project supporting activities related to open licensing.

eu_logo-150x120Europeana Space has received funding from the European Union’s ICT Policy Support Programme as part of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, under GA n° 621037.



Dr. Marinos Ioannides, coordinator of the EU FP7-PEOPLE Marie Curie Project ITN-DCH

marinosDr. Marinos Ioannides is chair of the newly established Digital Heritage lab of the Cyprus University of Technology in Limassol, which is the fastest growing research centre on the island. After obtaining his MSc in Computer Science at the University of Stuttgart, Germany he received a fellowship from the same University in the faculty of Mechanical Engineering. He specialized in 3D Reconstruction from Digitized Data for his PhD. His 3D-Reconstruction engine was developed in cooperation with IBM Germany and is available and running in more than 32 research centers around the world. Dr. Ioannides was a member of the CY committee negotiating the accession of Cyprus to the EU. He is also a member of the EU Digital Library Europeana Network as well as representing Cyprus in the European Commission Group of Experts of the Digitization and Preservation of Cultural Heritage (CH) Content. In 2007 he was appointed for four years as the first Cypriot Seconded National Expert (SNE) at the European Commission in the DG-Research, where he was a Scientific and Policy Advisor for the setup of the EU Horizon 2020 Framework programme. He was the organizer and chair of CIPA/VAST2006, VSMM2008, EuroMed2010 and the 2012 CY-EU Council Presidency conference on CH and the EuroMed2014. He is also the holder of the Tartezos 2010 award from the Spanish and European Virtual Archaeology Association.

Fellow Chance Coughenour

chanceChance’s background ranges from archaeology and history to computer science. He received his BA in History at West Virginia University in the United States where he focused on the historiography of the British Empire in the founding of Hong Kong. Later, he obtained his MA in Archaeology and Heritage through distance learning with the University of Leicester in England. The primary objective of his MA research was focused on Classic Maya landscape archaeology and ritualistic assemblages. Recently, he completed a specialized Master’s course in Virtual Archaeology and Heritage directed by the Spanish Society of Virtual Archaeology. Over the past few years he has participated in the topographic survey and excavations of a Classic Maya commoner site with the Rio Bravo Archaeological Survey in northwestern Belize. Since 2012, he has been the Mapping Director of the project. His involvement on the FP7-PEOPLE Marie Curie ITN-DCH project is with the Institute for Photogrammetry at the University of Stuttgart in Germany. His specialisation currently is applying photogrammetric modeling techniques to cultural heritage for purposes of dissemination and conservation.

Fellow Matthew Vincent

matthewMatthew Vincent, originally from the United States, is an Early Stage Researcher with the Initial Training Network for Digital Cultural Heritage, a Marie Curie Actions programme funded by the European Commission. Matthew first got a taste of archaeology during his undergraduate studies at Walla Walla University in eastern Washington State. What he thought would be a once-off experience has now become the primary career goal and life focus. While he is a dirt archaeologist and loves the experience of discovery and exploration that archaeology offers, he is also a technophile and has been since a very young age, primarily due to a nuclear engineer for a grandfather and the free access that afforded him to a school of engineering while still in grade school. Matthew is now working on ways in which archaeology and technology can be mixed together to enhance both and help preserve heritage for generations to come.

Strange Contests in the Netherlands

Harry van Biessum - March 17, 2015 in Curator's Choice, eSpace, Featured, Public Domain


Harry van Biessum, from Open Images, gives a little tour through some of the collection’s stranger films, in particular those Dutch newsreels from the 1930s which centred on reporting a wide-variety of bizarre competitions.

Competition can drive people mad and make them do strange things. Especially in times when being recorded with a movie camera was quite unique. People still make make a fool out of themselves on Youtube, true, but to make your dog smoke a cigar, is something you do when your moral compass does not point perfectly North… Or when living on a different end of the human timeline of course. Well, these videos were all shot in the 1930s, so let’s just say it’s the latter.

In 1933 the Dutch organised an event where ostriches and humans combined forces in a weird race against time. The ostrich can run at a speed of about 45 miles per hour. However, when burdened with carts and humans the maximum speed of the wonderful African bird is limited. The combination of these two non-flying species is not unheard of: In some parts of the world you actually still can ride an ostrich.

The year: 1937, when things like cigars, smoking animals and Charlie Chaplin moustaches were still accepted in public society. In those happy times a jury was formed in order to determine who was the best smoker in Den Bosch. It certainly wasn’t the man who ‘accidentally’ sucked his cigar on the wrong end.

Drivers of two 30 horse-powered cars are flooring their pedals, but the cars aren’t moving. How is that possible? The answer to this riddle can be found in the muscular arms of a strong man who is attached to both of the cars by ropes. In an attempt to prove his strength some more, he lets people hit him in the stomach whilst looking around casually, undaunted, as if flies were landing on his stomach instead.

With a typewriter and a lot of time on your hands, apparently the best thing to do is to make a piece of art, or that is what the teacher of a 1937 classroom full of young adults thought anyway. As we can see in this video the typewriter was transformed from a tool for dull letters into a tool for true artists. Pictures of camels, goalkeepers and children pass along. Typewriters were not only used for visual. In the 1950s Leroy Anderson used the typewriter to compose an orchestral piece called “The Typewriter”.

These videos have been published on Open Images, an initiative by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, in collaboration with Kennisland, that publishes open video collections (including Public Domain material). These items are free to be used and re-used in other contexts (for example by Historiek, an online history magazine). Sound and Vision is actively uploading these videos to Wikimedia Commons, the media repository of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. People writing on Wikipedia use these videos in their articles (e.g. in this article on the Ostrich), providing valuable context-information and reaching a huge audience.


Harry van Biessum holds a master degree in media studies (Utrecht University) and works for the Research and Development department at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. The main mission of the projects he works for centres around opening up digital cultural heritage, via Open Images (open video), Europeana Sounds (sound related objects in Europe), the Amateur Film Platform (Dutch non-profit films and home movies) and Digitale Collectie (the Dutch dark aggregator for digital cultural heritage objects). Furthermore he is supporter of the Long Now Foundation, an initiative that is trying to make long-term thinking more common, which can be considered as an important step for a sustainable future

To learn more about Open Images visit their visit the website, and browse their wonderful collection.

This post is part of our Curator’s Choice series, a monthly feature consisting of a guest article from a curator about a work or group of works in one of their “open” digital collections. Learn more here. See this post in all its full page width glory over at The Public Domain Review.


Coding da Vinci 2015

Helene Hahn - March 16, 2015 in Contest, Events/Workshops, Featured, Hack days

More than 325.000 open cultural data files are just the beginning – Coding da Vinci sets goals for 2015 in Germany
CC-BY Coding da Vinci, Volker Agueras Gaeng

CC-BY Coding da Vinci, Volker Agueras Gaeng

Last year, Coding da Vinci (the first open cultural data hackathon in Germany) was an exciting experience for everyone involved: 150 attendees and 16 cultural heritage institutions from all over Germany jointly developed apps, visualizations and games based on open cultural data sets for both the public and the cultural sector itself. Over 325.000 media files have been contributed in total.

 From “zzZwitscherwecker” over “Old Berlin” to “Mnemosyne” – just to name a few examples – great ideas have been implemented and demonstrated the great potential of digital culture heritage.

For us, the hackathon only marked the beginning of a bigger movement towards more freely available and usable open cultural data in Germany. For 2015 we set the goal to contact more institutions and help them open up data in preparation for the hackathon.

 Whereas a classic hackathon offers its participants only a short time frame – typically a weekend – to develop software applications, Coding da Vinci runs for a total of 10 weeks. Since it was the first event of its kind, combining the formerly separate worlds of technology and cultural heritage, the organizers chose this more extensive time frame in order to provide the much-needed space to interact with and learn about each other.

At the beginning of the 10 weeks, a two-day inaugural event takes place in Berlin on the 25th & 26th of April 2015. The purpose is to  offer sufficient time for the institutions to present their data sets, and for the participants to make contact with the GLAMs in order to develop project ideas and to form teams for their realization. The teams then can use the coming 10 weeks to develop prototypes, that are presented and evaluated at a public award ceremony on the 5th of July 2015 (sprint phase).


Currently, more than 20 cultural heritage institutions are set to participate in the hackathon as data providers – among them galleries, libraries, archives, museums and even theatres. All institutions and data sets will be announced shortly on our webpage. 

All those who are eager to work with cultural data are invited to join the hackathon in Berlin: . Please register online and let us know, if you would like to apply for our travel grants.

We are looking forward to your ideas!

Coding da Vinci – Der Kultur-Hackathon is a community project of Deutsche Digitalen Bibliothek (DDB), Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland e.V. (OKF DE), Servicestelle Digitalisierung Berlin (digiS) and Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. (WMDE).

Contact: Helene Hahn Project Lead Coding da Vinci vicarious for all organizers Project Lead Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland e.V. I +49 30 57703666 2

ESpace IPR Workshop: Spaces of possibility for the creative re-use of digital cultural content

Marieke Guy - March 9, 2015 in eSpace, Featured

Last week the Europeana Space (ESpace) Project co-opted the beautiful St. Mary’s Guildhall in Coventry for a one-day workshop on Intellectual Property and related technologies.

Coventry Cathedral by Marieke Guy, CC0

Coventry Cathedral by Marieke Guy, CC0

The ESpace Project aims to create new opportunities for employment and economic growth within the creative industries sector based on Europe’s rich digital cultural resources including Europeana. espaceAs is naturally the case when looking at reuse of content, IPR and copyright issues are at the forefront of the minds of many involved. The IPR workshop was an opportunity to begin to explore some of the issues that are likely to arise during the project as pilots and tools are developed and as open content is monetised.

After Project Manager Tim Hammerton had introduced us to Coventry, with tales of Lady Godiva, peeping Tom and bombed cathedrals, Project Co-ordinator Sarah Whatley from Coventry University officially opened up the event. She highlighted that the ESpace Project brings together 29 partners from 13 European countries representing research groups, artists, broadcasters, cultural institutions, museums, collections, SMEs, technology companies and more, to develop best practice with using digital tools to enrich users’ experience of, and engagement with, Europe’s cultural heritage. The 6 pilots from the project (Europeana TV, Photography, Dance, Games, Open and Hybrid Publishing, Museums) have now begun development and dates for the forthcoming series of hackathons are emerging (the TV hackathon takes place in early May 2015 in Amsterdam).

Tim Hammerton and Sarah Whatley, photo by Kelly Mostert, CC0

Tim Hammerton and Sarah Whatley, photo by Kelly Mostert, CC0

Open Licensing

The first module of the day “beyond the question of All or Some Rights Reserved – Identifying Rights Clearance and Hybrid Licensing Models for the Creative Industries” was led by Prodromos Tsiavos from LSE, PostScriptum and Associate at Avgerinos and Partners Law Firm. Prodromos gave a highly comprehensive overview of how IPR exploitation works for those wanting to use open content: covering licensing, orphan works and the chains of activities involved. He used the Greek Parthenon Frieze which forms part of the Elgin Marbles as an example. Officially people can’t take pictures of the frieze without agreement from government. However this has to be weighed up alongside a need to encourage interest in the frieze and highlight current ownership struggles. Prodromos explained that “you increase ‘value’ of cultural heritage objects by increasing access” and that “when there are licensing issues the flow stops“. Understanding IPR is so essential “when every act on the internet is related to copyright licences” and stakes are raised by money being involved. For those approaching the licensing problem in Europeana there are main two steps: knowing the licence of a digital object and knowing who is responsible for that digital object. Prodromos explained that users are left in a worse position not knowing a digital object’s licence than if the object has clearly licensing restrictions. This is primarily due to the costs incurred for searching and negotiation. To conclude Prodromos advocated for tools such as the public domain calculator that aid clarity to licenses and data visualisation tools that support enrichment of data.

Watermarking: state of the art and applications

The following 2 modules were led by the iMinds team – iMinds is a Flanders’ based digital research center with expertise in image security-related standardisation activities. The first presented by Ann Dooms and Frederik Temmermans looked at the application of watermarking. Ann explained that the need for watermarking comes from a requirement for authenticity and provenance sometimes driven by photo scandals. Watermarking is effectively “getting your name in the pixels”, a form of ‘CSI multimedia’! Examining an image more closely shows the pixels within it and variation in colour. Every pixel represented by 3 numbers RGB, offering 256 possibilities. When you photoshop an image these numbers are changed. You need to know particular key and can then read the value within. It is important to remember that watermarking changes your raw image data, not your metadata. Many in the commercial sector are interested in watermarking in an effort to curb stealing of images. Despite many viewing online images as ‘fair game’ Ann was keen to point out that “stealing images is the same as stealing chocolate“. iMinds are advocates of embedding watermarking in the workflow process, avoiding it as a laborious after thought.

Frederik Temmermans went on to explain how Linked Data approaches are being used in this area. iMinds have recently been involved with the JPSearch framework which decouples image metadata from images and provides better interoperability during image search.

Frederik Temmermans, photo by Kelly Mostert, CC0

Frederik Temmermans, photo by Kelly Mostert, CC0

Jpeg Standards

In the final module of the day Peter Schelkens also from iMinds talked about Jpeg standards and technologies for security and interoperability related to ISO, IEC and ITU-T ecosystems. Peter looked at privacy and control issues: for example sensor data is often coupled with images, which has serious implications. As part of the ESpace Project specifications to ensure the security of transaction, protection of contents (IPR), and protection of technologies (IP), and that allow applications to generate, consume, and exchange JPEG Secured bitstreams will be investigated and deployed. Peter spoke of the paradigm shift caused by computational imaging approaches, a change he sees as disruptive for the photography markets as the migration from analog to digital pictures.

Break-out Groups

Post plenaries we were given the opportunity to discuss some of the challenges that had emerged through the course of the day and opportunities to think about how we could add IPR activities to existing workflow. A number of the break-out groups pointed out that while Cultural Heritage Institutions may not necessarily want to police the use of their images many are interested in tracking content and monitoring reuse. There was some enthusiasm for the idea of a ‘Google analytics for image reuse’. During discussions some interesting case studies were highlighted:

  • In the Netherlands there has been much discussion about the Reclaim app, a tool which allows you to place a watermark on your photos to make them less attractive for possible reuse. The tool specifically targets Facebook and their terms and conditions, which allow them to use Facebook content for commercial use in a different country of origin. The reclaim app has faced serious opposition from Facebook and the watermarking process is reversed.
  • In some countries there has been use of watermarking for medical photographs when used as part of insurance claims. This is due to issues of claimants manipulating photographs so they can be used as evidence during a claim.
  • The British Library have put effort into monitoring reuse of their images. Peter Balman has tracked the 1 million Flickr images and gauging their impact using various techniques for the ‘Visibility’ project funded by the Technology Strategy Board. Methods include Googling using image search, using TinEye reverse image search, looking at the taxonomy of website using dmoz, searching for information on the domain the images are on using, detecting the language using Alchemy language API, Dbpedia for more info about the URL.
  • In late 2014 Yahoo (owners of Flickr) sold canvas prints of photos licenced openly. These photos were under CC-BY allowing for commercial use of the images however it became clear that many photographers didn’t understand the implications of the licence they were using. The situation provided an opportunity for further discussion and education but actually caused a media panic. Note that Flickr capture a lot of data when images are uploaded however much of this data is stripped out and stored internally (so users can’t access it).

Discussions also surfaced some interesting tools including: which provides a way to search that collection by a perceptual hash, which matches an image even if it’s been moved away from Commons, resized, and had its format changed. Culture Cam is a web cam based similarity search tool with the aim of stimulating creative people to access and reuse Europeana content in a fun and playful way.

Free resources from Ruth Gibson and Bruno Martelli exhibition shared at the ESpace IPR workshop, by Marieke Guy, CC0

Free resources from Ruth Gibson and Bruno Martelli exhibition shared at the ESpace IPR workshop, by Marieke Guy, CC0


The main conclusion from the break-outs was that there is a need for further clarity regarding IPR and privacy. Many users are unsure of the expectations of different situations and the ESpace Project has a role to play in sharing more explicit ‘rules’ and guidance related to sharing content (here social rules, ideas on boundaries and case-studies were seen to be useful). It was suggested that a tool that it might be pertinent for ESpace pilots or hackathons to develop is an app which shows what data is being collected when an image is uploaded or used.

The ESpace IPR workshop offered some really interesting talks and was a great networking event. As Charlotte Waelde, Professor of Intellectual Property Law at University Of Exeter and Rights management lead for the ESpace Project, finished the day by saying – it had allowed project partners and others outside of the project to consider the tensions the monetisation of Cultural Heritage content is likely to surface and to begin to develop contingency plans for dealing with such challenges.

Open Knowledge is a consultant on the Europeana Space project supporting activities related to open licensing.

eu_logo-150x120Europeana Space has received funding from the European Union’s ICT Policy Support Programme as part of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, under GA n° 621037.