Open Culture Data: success of cultural apps in the Apps for the Netherlands competition

This is part two of three blog posts about the Dutch initiative Open Culture Data, that aims to make cultural datasets available under open conditions and stimulate their re-use. In the previous blog post, we talked about aim and the the first months of the initiative. In this post, we’ll highlight the outcomes of these first steps, by going into the results of the Apps for the Netherlands competition in which the Open Culture Datasets were used.

Getting the data out there – Apps for the Netherlands hackathon

The Apps for the Netherlands competition was kicked off in September 2011, with the aim to stimulate developers to use open data from the Dutch government in new applications. A hackathon was held at the end of November in which various parties – developers, coders, civil servants among others – were brought together. The available datasets were presented at the beginning of the day by people from their respective institutions, and a workshop was held to present Open Culture Data.

Code Camping hackathon, 27 November 2011 in Amsterdam. Photo by: Breyten Ernsting

After a day of coding, the first demo apps were presented by the developers. Several of them had already incorporated open culture data.

Competition outcomes – large-scale use of open culture data
In total, 13 ‘culture’ apps were made made, 8 of which were deemed advanced enough by their developers to be submitted for the competition. The apps were very diverse, ranging from a cultural history quiz based on the Rijksmuseum dataset to historical videos enriched with various open datasets.

Rijks-quiz, made by Ronald Klip from ContenteContent, in which the user has to pick the correct maker of an artwork.

Open Images videos enriched with open data from e.g. Wikipedia and the Amsterdam Museum, made by Jaap Blom from the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision’s R&D department.

The Apps for the Netherlands prizes were awarded in January and handed out by the Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation Maxime Verhagen. Three apps made with culture data won prizes. The app that went home with the overall gold prize was ‘Vistory‘1, built and designed by Glimworm IT2. Vistory combines history and videos from the Open Images dataset3 by using a smart phone’s geo-location technology. By freezing a frame, the user can recognize a location and take a photo using an overlay “reverse augmented reality”4 function of the app. When the picture is taken, the video is tagged with the exact geo-location. Also, the specific time signature on the video is tagged with the photo of how the scene looks, creating a “then and now” effect.

Vistory website

The value of Open Culture Data

Eight of the 46 apps submitted for the competition incorporated one or more open culture datasets, even though in total there were around 150 datasets available. This large-scale interest in culture datasets in a competition mainly aimed at governmental data re-use shows that there is much value to be gained by opening up culture data. Similarly, the institutions that contributed their data have come into contact with a new and enthusiastic community that has provided new insights and results on how to re-use digital collections. We will discuss the lessons-learned and the official continuation of the project in the third and final installment of this series of blog posts.

Questions, ideas or any other input? Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Nikki Timmermans – Knowledgeland

Lotte Belice Baltussen – Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

Maarten Brinkerink – Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

Maarten Zeinstra – Creative Commons Netherlands

Lex Slaghuis – Hack de Overheid

Open Culture Data is an initiative of the members of the Dutch Heritage Innovators Network and Hack de Overheid, and is supported by Images for the Future and Creative Commons Netherlands.