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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

First Swiss Open Cultural Data Hackathon

Beat Estermann - March 4, 2015 in Featured, Hack days

The First Swiss Open Cultural Data Hackathon which took place on 27 / 28 February 2015 at the Swiss National Library in Bern was a great success: Some 100 software developers, artists, designers, researchers, Wikipedians and members of the heritage sector gathered to re-use more than 30 open data sets. The data and content provided by over 20 different institutions was re-used in a wide range of fields: for research purposes in the Digital Humanities and related areas, for the transmission of free knowledge in the context of Wikipedia/Wikimedia, for a variety of web-apps, and for artistic remixes. The hackathon was also an excellent means for heritage institutions to enter into dialogue with software developers, researchers, Wikipedians, and to put cultural data and digitized collections to wider use. And, last but not least, the hackathon was about sharing know-how, insights, software code, and techniques in an open-minded and playful environment among participants of varying backgrounds.

CH-NB-Swiss Open Cultural Hackathon 2015-Picture-031

The artefacts developed during the hackathon have been documented on the hackathon wiki; here some examples:

"Picture This"

Carl Durheim’s police photographs of stateless persons from the mid-19th century inspired several projects. One of them is “Picture This”, which consists of a “smart” frame showing a police photograph. By looking at the picture, spectators trigger a face detection algorithm that analyses both the onlooker and the stateless person’s gender and age as well as the mood of the person on the portrait. Information about the person on the photograph appears. Thus, spectators become part of the system judging the homeless person, and the person on the picture is once again at the mercy of the onlooker.

The Project “Schweizer Kleinmeister – An Unexpected Journey” shows a large image collection in an interactive 3D-visualisation: Some 2300 prints and drawings by the so-called “Schweizer Kleinmeister” (Swiss 18th century masters) from the Gugelmann Collection of the Swiss National Library form a cloud in the virtual space. The images are grouped according to specific parameters that are automatically calculated by image analysis and based on metadata. The goal is to provide a fast and intuitive access to the entire collection. Based on the criterion of analysis chosen (e.g. techniques or image features) the images are projected onto 3D space, where they can be explored.

There are many other things you may want to explore:

This blog was cross-posted from the Swiss OpenGLAM  local group website, OpenGLAM.CH

Europeana Space project: TV hackathon

Marieke Guy - February 2, 2015 in eSpace, Events/Workshops, Featured, Hack days

espaceThe Europeana Space project, which is creating new opportunities for employment and economic growth within the creative industries sector based on Europe’s rich digital cultural resources, will be running a 3-day Europeana TV hackathon from 8th – 10th May 2015 in Amsterdam.

The hackathon will be aimed at creatives, entrepreneurs and developers of content, hardware and/or code.

They will get the opportunity to experiment with Smart Audio/Video formats and come up with inspiring applications that create new TV experiences for the public or private domain, using Europeana content.


Europeana TV pilot activity is one in a series of six pilots which will cover the following thematic areas: Europeana TV, Photography, Dance, Games, Open and Hybrid Publishing, Museums. The pilots will be a means to 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.

EuropeanaTV exploits the opportunities of re-using Europeana content in SmartTV applications to create new TV experiences. A technical framework will provide an environment to analyse, personalize and present Europeana content. The pilot will support and evaluate two scenarios in which video material is brought out of the archive and onto the viewer’s screen.

banner Tv hackathon

The hackathon will take place from Friday 8th May 2015 at 4:00pm till Sunday 10th May 2015 at 4:00pm at the Waag Society, Nieuwmarkt 4, 1012 CR Amsterdam. For full details and information on how to register see the Europeana Space project website.

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.


1st Swiss Open Cultural Data Hackathon

Lieke Ploeger - November 27, 2014 in Events/Workshops, Featured, Hack days, Working Group

On 27-28 February the local Swiss OpenGLAM working group will be organising first Open Cultural Data Hackathon in Switzerland. The event will take place at the Swiss National Library in Bern, and focuses on using cultural heritage data/content online for research purposes in Digital Humanities and related areas, as well as in the context of Wikipedia and Wikimedia. Participants are welcome to re-use the open data/open content provided for other purposes, such as the development of apps or artistic re-mixes. 

In preparation for the event, the Swiss OpenGLAM Working Group is calling on all Swiss heritage institutions to provide data and content for the upcoming hackathon. The event is an excellent means for heritage institutions to enter into dialogue with software developers, researchers, and Wikipedians, in order to put their data and digitized collections to wider use.

Datasets from Swiss institutions are listed on the event wiki: more information on the event is also available from this event page. A preparatory meeting for data providers will be held in the afternoon of 23 January 2015 at the ETH Library in Zurich.

Swiss National Library, Photo: Marianabeauty, CC by-sa 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Swiss National Library, Photo: Marianabeauty, CC by-sa 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hack the Bells – The world’s first interdisciplinary open license contest celebrating the carillon!

Sarah Stierch - July 10, 2014 in Contest, Featured, Hack days

Image credit: Michael Pihulic (CC BY SA 4.0)

Image credit: Michael Pihulic (CC BY SA 4.0)

In this blog (cross-posted from her blog The Culture Feed) Sarah Stierch introduces the world’s first interdisciplinary open license contest celebrating the carillon: Hack the Bells, running from 1 July – 1 September.

An esteemed jury of cultural visionaries will be awarding $1,000 USD and the opportunity for the grand prize winner’s work to be exhibited and acquired by the University of California, Berkeley and the Anton Brees Carillon Library.

What makes this so groundbreaking?

One, it celebrates the peoples instrument – the carillon – a bell tower of epic proportions found in cities around the world, including the famous Campanile at the University of California’s Berkeley campus. Carillon’s ring out the time of the day on the hour, and at noon, concerts take place around the world, freely able to be heard (and felt) by anyone within the right distance, as carillonists perform original and classic works written specifically for the world’s largest instrument. (Learn more, here).

Second, all works submitted are freely licensed under Creative Common’s Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. These works will be legacy pieces – allowing others to find inspiration in their creations, the works to be forever attributed, and newly created works using the submitted works being published under the same free license forever. All compositions, recordings, and media we have provided are licensed under the same license by carillon composers & photographers. Creative freedom takes a bold stance here, and we are shouting from Sather Tower about it.

The above video features Tiffany Ng, my co-organizer, talking about carillon’s and performing.

Third, it’s interdisciplinary and international. Anyone can submit in any language and any type of creative and innovative work. The opportunities are endless: performance art, remixes, smartphone apps, paintings, poetry, short stories, video art, robots – anything! Get creative! We’re encouraging applicants to consider submissions related to: the 2014-15 Centennial of the Campanile, accessibility in the tradition of the campanile providing music for public space, and openness related to open culture and licensing.

Our jury comprises of awesome innovators. 

  • Jeff Davis - University Carillonist, University of California, Berkeley
  • Alex Freeman – Director of Special Projects, New Media Consortium
  • Lizzy Jongma – Data manager, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
  • Susan Miller – Program Manager, Consortium for Interdisciplinary Research, University of California, Berkeley
  • Greg Niemeyer - Professor of Art Practice, Director of the Berkeley Center for New Media, University of California, Berkeley

Learn more about who they are and what they do, here.

Thank you to our sponsors: Berkeley Center for New Media, Anton Brees Carillon Library, Meyer Sound, the Open Knowledge Foundation’s OpenGLAM initiative, The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, and the Hargrove Music Library at UC Berkeley.

Submission: deadline September 1 2014 by 11:59 PST

Please visit the Hack The Bells website to learn more and submit your entries. (#hackthebells!)


Mediahackdays – how to make the most out of a hackathon

Thorbjørn Wulf - May 13, 2014 in Featured, Guest Blog Post, Hack days

Picture taken by Mads Johansen,

Picture taken by Mads Johansen,

From 2-4 May the MediaHackDays took place in Aarhus, Denmark. The event, organised by the Danish chapter of Hacks/Hackers, aimed to bring together developers and journalists and mix up their combined skills to create innovative solutions. Thorbjørn Wulf was there on behalf of the National Gallery of Denmark and reports on the success of the event, which will inspire the next edition of the Danish HACK4DK event in September 2014.

The MediaHackDays event was in many ways a far more inspiring hackathon than I have had before and it was for a number of reasons:

  • That there was a strong and committed facilitator throughout the weekend, who managed to create a forum where creative ideas could emerge

  • That there was a “movement” behind as organizers (Hacks/Hackers)

  • That there was ongoing media coverage (Danish newspaper “Information” blogged from the event)  which added seriousness to the event

  • That there was a generous sponsor – CCI Europe – that provided the event with a very nice venue, meals, snacks, drinks, music and a lot of gadgets to play with

  • And, most importantly, that the relationship between journalists and developers was 2:1

The fact that there were both journalists and developers was crucial to the success of the event, because in this way developers were facing specific problems and the journalists being the majority ensured that the process was driven by content and not by technology. Therefore the end product was far more useful and not just an exercise for programmers to parse some random data and visualize it with the Javascript library that they just think is cool now.

Picture taken by Mads Johansen,

Picture taken by Mads Johansen,

In my eyes, this proved how a hackathon can help to break down the barrier between technology and content. This barrier is broken because you meet with a common goal of wanting to show how new technology can enrich and transform data. With that objective in mind, a hackathon can actually serve as empowerment of non-technical people with good ideas, so they can stand up to heavy content management systems and enterprise-thinking with words like open APIs, Linked Data and NoSQL databases. And it can also turn them into digital agents when they return from the hackathon, with the experience that developers actually will say ‘yes’ when you come up with a good idea .

Picture taken by Mads Johansen,

Picture taken by Mads Johansen,

The practical experience I want to share from the weekend was with Julie, a journalist and editorial developer of Funen Media. She pitched a problem: a news story can cover hundreds of articles spanning a long period. She needed an easy and navigable visualization – News Navigator – and was frustrated that her own CMS could not do that. So .. who could help her out? I decided to join her team thinking I could contribute with data crunching. We were also joined by a graphic designer and two more journalists. We could have used a frontend developer, but nevertheless we achieved (from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) to go from an open news API (The Guardian has indexed their data with Solr), via our own datastore (MongoDB) through to a visualization based on Timeline.js. Our solution is available on It’s static but with a few more hours it would have been dynamic. But that was really not what is was about. More importantly the process had been very giving for all of us in the team and interestingly enough we received an email from Julie three days later:

“Thank you so much for putting all that hard work into my idea. It was so much fun, and I really learned a lot. I have been talking to our developers and my boss and we will try to do this.”

This proofs – as I see it – that we as cultural institutions can make more of a hackathon than just getting “an outside look at our data, and the opportunities they offer that we as agents and institutions that can reflect or build on afterwards”. Julie was given the opportunity to control technology in terms of content, thus providing technology with direction and intentionality. I was on the other hand given a use case for a specific piece of technology that I find interesting – a NoSQL database – and through this kind of joint effort the exercise ended up as a concrete usable product – albeit a static one. But most importantly thanks to the experience she had during the hackathon she could go home and challenge company-technology and hardcore technologists in such a way that her problem might be solved – and even if it in the end turns out not to be solved – she was taken seriously!

In this way, we can achieve more than just getting free labour to test our software. Just imagine Kasper Monrad turns up and asks for a visualization of the Golden Age or an art-guide asks for a simple yet complex and responsive Art Navigator to bring in the exhibition – then we will really get to walk the frontiers of our data.


On 26-27 September we will be organising another edition of HACK4DK – Hack your heritage, an annual hackathon on cultural heritage organized by major heritage institutions in Denmark. The set up of this hackathon will hopefully be inspired by the successful mediahackdays event, so that we can make the most out of bringing people with different skills together.

Coding Da Vinci Open Culture Hackathon – first round started

Helene Hahn - May 2, 2014 in Events/Workshops, Featured, Hack days


“So much culture in here…” is what Julian Kücklich writes on his paper roll, on which he is graphically following the hackathon. This is not surprising, because the first round of Coding da Vinci, the German open cultural data hackathon, started in the weekend of 26/27 April, with loads of coffee and Mate. Participants set themselves the challenge to develop apps using open cultural data sets.

150 participants and 11 cultural heritage institutions from all over Germany had the opportunity to exchange views on digital cultural heritage and furthermore develop projects for the cultural sector as well as the public.

Tinkering, programming, hacking

A total of 24 project ideas were pitched during the weekend. Kati is programming a Cyberbeetle based on data from the National Science Museum, that could for example dance to the drumming beats of the music instruments of the Ethnological Museum. With their project “Poetic Relief” Flo, Noa and Ruperta create new access to the Jewish grave inscriptions of the Steinheim Institute, while Kai, Dierck and Frederike give a new data-look to “the list of harmful and undesirable writings” to make Nazi banned literature and authors visible again.

All projects are presented online on this Hackdash page for everyone to benefit from – those who are eager to join the groups or start their own project, should drop us a few lines!


What’s next?

During the next 10 weeks, all team members will further develop their projects. We will meet again on 6th of July, when prizes will be awarded to the best projects at the end of the hackathon.

Coding da Vinci – the culture hackathon is a joint project by the German Digital Library, Service Centre Digitization Berlin,Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, Wikimedia Germany.

Press reports:

RLUK Hack Day – 14 May 2014

Mike Mertens - April 16, 2014 in Featured, Hack days

RLUK_logoResearch Libraries UK (RLUK) represents 34 of the leading and most significant research libraries in the UK and Ireland. Working with The European Library, RLUK will soon be releasing over 17 million bibliographic records as Linked Open Data. We want to invite developers from the library, academic and general coding community to realise the full impact of this very large open dataset. We want to encourage people to engage with the data, reuse it and make it usable for others in the pursuit of research and learning that will benefit all.

As such following on from the launch of the dataset, RLUK is running an initial Hack Day at Senate House Library, London. A one-day event, the day is aimed at encouraging direct development of the dataset, and will be a hands-on bring your own device set of sessions for those with a practical interest in or experience of developing services and prototypes using Linked Open Data.

Competition Themes

There will be several themes (and associated prize categories, to be announced) for the day:

  • Linking Up datasets – a prize for work that combines data from multiple data sets
  • WWI
  • Eastern Europe
  • Delivering a valuable hack for RLUK members

Further details, as well as the option to register for this event, are available through this Eventbrite page.

Promoting Linked Open Data innovation in libraries

In addition, as part of this cooperation between The European Library and RLUK, The European Library is running an awareness tel_logodownloadcampaign to promote Linked Open Data (LOD) innovations in libraries across Europe. The European Library has designed a set editorials that will highlight 6 LOD use cases across Europe:

  • The British Library
  • Cambridge University Library
  • The French National Library
  • The Spanish National Library
  • The National Library of The Netherlands (KB)
  • The German National Library

The first use case features the British Library; the editorial is now available here:



OpenGLAM on the eve of OKFest

Joris Pekel - September 16, 2012 in Events/Workshops, Hack days, Updates, Workshops


The last few weeks, it has been relatively quiet on the OpenGLAM blog. The main reason for this is the amazing OKFestival, which is about to start tomorrow and will welcome more than a thousand people during the week. We have been working together with great people from the Aalto University, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Europeana and many more on creating a program that is appealing to anybody with an interest in cultural heritage. Here a quick overview of what we are planning to do.

Open Culture and Science hackday

We will kick off on Tuesday with a collaborative hackathon together with the people of the Open Science working group, a field which has a lot more in common with opening up cultural heritage institutions than one might think at first. After all, treasures that are hidden in archives, libraries and museums are of great value for researchers as well. New ways of interacting with these documents, for example digitised manuscripts, with new tools can push the ways we do research further and help us get new insights in history and science. We have gathered lots of datasets and tools for this event to work on/with. It will be the first hackathon where people get a chance to work with the more than 20 million objects in the Europeana database that have been released under a CC0 license last week. We are also very happy with the fact that a number of Finnish cultural institions have been working very hard to prepare their data as good as possible especially for this hackathon. For a complete overview of all the datasets and tools, have a look at the OKFest page

Building the Cultural Commons

There are many people and organisations around the world that are doing great work in opening up cultural data. The OpenGLAM initiative has taken this opportunity to gather all these people to share experiences, discuss current issues and decide on next steps to be taken. We are delighted that representatives from organisations such as Wikimedia, Communia, Europeana, Creative Commons, the Open Rights Group and several Finnish institutions are joining us for this day. All results will be shared on the OpenGLAM blog.

OpenGLAM workshop

On the Thursday, we host a workshop for Finnish cultural heritage institutions where we discuss the idea of open data for cultural institutions. Here we demonstrate and discuss how opening up your cultural data will work for you as an institution. Unfortunately, there are still many problems in opening up data. Here we will especially focus on the licensing issues of the data. Besides that, we have invited several people who will demonstrate the work they have been doing with open data. This includes both cultural institutions, as well as users such as scholars and developers.


Finally on the Thursday afternoon, right after the workshop, we will invite Michael Edson from the Smithsonian Institute to take the stage at the INSPIRE auditorium and give a keynote for the entire festival. For a bit of a flavor what to expect click here.

As mentioned above, in the coming weeks we will post several write-ups, results and reports coming out of the OKFestival. If you want to keep updated about these, do sign up for the OpenGLAM mailing list!

Hacks Up from Hack On the Record at the UK’s National Archives

Sam Leon - April 24, 2012 in Front Page, Hack days

Photo of the National Archives by Nick Cooper (CC-by-SA)

A few weeks back I posted on here about an up-and-coming Hackathon at the UK’s National Archives. Jo Pugh, who organised the event, has now posted all the hacks that came out of the weekend, a summary of which can be found below:

At the close of the event, 11 teams opted to present. They were: