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Community building through the DM2E project

- 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

Spaghetti Open Data

- July 2, 2014 in Events/Workshops, Featured, Linked Open Data


Photo by Marco Giacomassi

Last march Bologna hosted the second rally of the Italian Open Data Community (Spaghetti Open Data). The event lasted three days: one for the real “conference”, one for the hackathons and one for the workshops. The first day had the aim to share best practices across many Italian institutions, open data users and projects. The objectives for the other days were to enable tech and non-tech people to hack around ideas, to define requirements to be transformed into code and projects or just to rush on an idea or a group of datasets transforming them into real things. A great addition to this year’s conference was the late afternoon “ask a civic hacker”-session, where non-tech people could chat with tech people to get help on specific situations.

One of the hackathons involved the analysis of the data structure of the CulturaItalia dataset in order to provide the data to the public domain calculator, a project by OKF France. The CulturaItalia portal declares as the main objective the “guided access to the world of Italian culture”.  It exposes a set of curated explorations of the content, as well as a SPARQL backend. During the hackathon we explored the data and analyzed its quality, and the result is not amazing, but at least comforting: the data is exposed in a very complicated manner and is very difficult to manage, even due to performance problems, but it is very complete and detailed, a factor that is very important in discussing about GLAM data (maybe even more important than the ease of use).

Other groups worked on other non-GLAM datasets and projects, like infographics / datajournalism (Real estate confiscated from Criminal Organizations), epidemics and roundtables on the evolution of the Italian citizen-driven funding monitor (, discussions and sprints within the Italian OpenStreetMap community, and much more.

Open Humanities Awards: deadline extended to 6 June!

- May 30, 2014 in Featured, Linked Open Data, News


Are you planning a project that uses open content, open data or open source tools to further humanities teaching and research? Are you interested in linked open data, and would you like to build upon the research, tools and data of the DM2E project? This is your chance!

Submit your project to the second round of the Open Humanities Awards for a chance to win €20,000 worth of prize money in one of two dedicated tracks: an Open track and a DM2E track. We have just extended the deadline until Friday 6 June 2014: more information is available from this blog or on

Featured tool: Pundit – open annotation

- February 5, 2014 in CultureLabs, Featured, Linked Open Data, Tools


Pundit, one of the tools featured in our OpenGLAM Culture Labs is a useful tool for creating annotations in Linked Open Data. With Pundit, researchers can add annotations in a digital text and link them to related texts or other resources on the net such as DBPedia, Freebase and Geonames. This is done via a so-called RDF-triple, which is a statement linking two pieces of information together (saying for example “quote A” is a comment on “quote B”). In this way scholars are able to publish, share and collaborate around their annotations: a great example of how open digital cultural objects can facilitate new ways of research.

DM2E Pundit Introduction from DM2E on Vimeo.

Developers and designers have been working hard on a new version of Pundit, which will make it possible to annotate faster, more easily and with less distractions. If you want to hear more about Pundit, come and join the Pundit UX/UI event on 2 April in Berlin and share your ideas on Pundit’s User Interface and User Experience. Further details are available on the Pundit website.

Pundit has been developed by the DM2E Project, which is focused on building tools and communities that enable humanities researchers to work with manuscripts in the Linked Open Web. The tool is fully open source: the code and documentation is hosted on Github.

Nearly all German National Library metadata now available under CC0 license

- January 16, 2014 in Featured, Linked Open Data, News

Since July 2012 the German National Library (DNB) has been releasing more and more of their title data as Linked Open Data under a Creative Commons Zero license, making it possible for everyone to use and re-use this information without any restrictions. As part of their strategy the DNB introduced a moving wall, through which more data becomes available as Linked Open Data every year.

Starting from 1 January 2014, approximately 95% of all metadata of the DNB is under an open license. This includes all 10 million authority records, all 1.5 million records for digital publications, all 500.000 records for serials and about 8 million further title records. The only data which is not yet freely available is the metadata of printed monographs, cards, music sheets and music recordings from the years 2013 and 2014 in MARC 21 and an extended csv-title-pro format. In all other formats, including RDF and CSV, the complete metadata is already open. The DNB plans to publish the complete metadata sets under the CC0 license on 1 July 2015.

Information on how to obtain the data can be found on this page. A background interview with Lars Svensson, Advisor for Knowledge Networking at the DNB, about what this move has meant for the library is available from this earlier blog post.

LODLAM Joins the OpenGLAM Network

- April 22, 2013 in Featured, Linked Open Data


We are very pleased to announce that the LODLAM Network has joined the OpenGLAM Network.

LODLAM is Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives, and Museums. is an informal, borderless network of enthusiasts, technicians, professionals and any number of other people who are interested in or working with Linked Open Data pertaining to galleries, libraries, archives, and museums.

Linked refers to Linked Data, or the concept of connecting data using W3C standards. Open refers to the use of open licenses, such as the Public Domain Mark, Creative Commons Zero, Creative Commons Attribution, and Creative Commons Attribution-Alike. Data can be raw data, metadata, descriptive data, bibliographic data, etc. is designed to be a central place for sharing resources and connecting and collaborating with other interested individuals. There is also a Google Group, and the #LODLAM hashtag is used extensively on Twitter for shared news, questions, and projects regarding LODLAM.

We’re looking forward to collaborating with the LODLAM Network around the development of our tools for digital scholarship and crowdsourced data enrichment as well as working with them to further explore the potentials of Linked Open Data in the cultural heritage sector.

Jon Voss, founder of LODLAM, said:

In the last few years we’ve seen a growing convergence of communities working toward usability and discovery of openly licensed cultural heritage assets and data. Increasingly, the institutions that have for so long provided stewardship of these materials and their accompanying data are embracing and investing in new ways of providing access to this information, opening a new world of possibilities for how we celebrate our shared global history. While many industries are litigating in the face of change, galleries, libraries, archives and museums are instead increasingly playing a leading role in innovating for the common good.

The interests of and people within the LODLAM and OpenGLAM communities have so much overlap that it’s a natural fit for the two to be aligned as part of the OpenGLAM network. It’s my hope that the shared knowledge and resources of the network will continue to strengthen the collaborative culture that makes a free and open World Wide Web possible.

For more on the history of LODLAM, see the paper Radically Open Cultural Heritage Data on the Web, presented at Museums and the Web, 2012.

The LODLAM Network joins a host of other organisations including the Internet Archive, Wikimedia, Creative Commons and Europeana who we are collaborating with to help our cultural institutions reach their potential in the digital age.

If you’re an organisation working with cultural institutions and helping them to open up their holdings online and would like to join out Network email [email protected].

German National Library announces “GND ontology”

- October 3, 2012 in Linked Open Data, News

A while ago, we blogged about the German National Library releasing more open data under a more open license. Now they have gone a step further and announced their own “GND ontology”

GND stands for “Gemeinsame Normdatei” (Integrated Authority File) and offers a broad range of elements to represent authorities.

The ontology aims to transfer the experiences made by libraries to the web community by providing a vocabulary for the description of conferences or events, corporate bodies, places or geographic names, differentiated persons, undifferentiated persons (name of undifferentiated persons), subject headings, and works.

To ensure compatibility, the GND ontology aligns with already established vocabularies such as the FOAF vocabulary as well as with new ones like the RDA Vocabularies.

The present results have to be considered as work in progress. Gradually, we will integrate additional information, such as the descriptions for each element and alignments to a number of additional vocabularies and ontologies.

GND is a Linked Data system, in that it based around the idea of linking together a Web of decentralised descriptions. A GND document, unlike a traditional Web page, can be combined with other GND documents to create a unified database of information. It also allows it to be combined with other vocabularies and ontologies and to be used usable with the wide variety of generic tools and services that have been created for the Semantic Web.

For more info click here.

What is Linked Open Data? Europeana releases an animation to explain

- February 21, 2012 in Front Page, Linked Open Data

Linked Open Data is getting more attention from the information world, as well as from memory institutions. But what exactly is it and more important, why is it a good thing? To explain this, Europeana  has released an animation.

Linked Open Data from europeana on Vimeo.

The concept of Linked Open Data is attracting Europe’s major national libraries: the Bibliothèque nationale de France recently launched its rich linked data resource, while the national libraries of the UK, Germany and Spain, among many other cultural institutions, have been publishing their metadata under an open licence.

Europeana is making data openly available to the public and private sectors alike so they can use it to develop of innovative applications for smartphones and tablets and to create new web services and portals.

Support for Open Data innovation is at the root of Europeana’s new Data Exchange Agreement, the contract that libraries, museums, and archives agree to when their metadata goes into Europeana.


The Data Exchange Agreement has been signed by all the national libraries, by leading national museums such as the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, and by many of the content providers for entire countries, such as Sweden’s National Heritage Board. The new Data Exchange Agreement dedicates the metadata to the Public Domain and comes into effect on 1 July 2012, after which all metadata in Europeana will be available as Open Data.


German National Library releases more Linked Open Data under a more Open License

- February 9, 2012 in Front Page, Linked Open Data

Good news from Germany: The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (DNB), the German National Library, has launched a Linked Data version of the German National Bibliography under Creative Commons Zero meaning that the information can be re-used without legal restriction.


Julia Hauser, from the DNB, explains in an email to the  World Wide Web Consortion (W3C):


“In 2010 the German National Library (DNB) started publishing authority data as Linked Data. The existing Linked Data service of the DNB is now extended with title data. In this context the licence for linked data is shifted to “Creative Commons Zero.

The bibliographic data of the DNB’s main collection (apart from the printed music and the collection of the Deutsches Exilarchiv) and the serials (magazines, newspapers and series of the German Union Catalogue of serials (ZDB) have been converted. This is an experimental service that will be continually expanded and improved.”

The release of the bibliographic data as Linked Open Data means that the DNB joins a host of other cultural heritage institutions such as the British Library and the Swedish National Library who have taken a similar course.

Linked Open Data makes sure that information from one cultural dataset can be linked with information from another dataset in a meaningful way. This could be two datasets from different institutions, or, indeed, two datasets from the same organisation. The possibilities are endless as long as everybody uses unique URI’s for their data. More information about how Linked Open Data works can be found here.

Now that more and more cultural institutions see the importance of Linked Open Data, Richard Wallis, from the Data Liberate blog,  predicts that this will be the first of many such announcements this year.