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
As 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 the Europeana 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.
In 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
As 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.
It has been a great experience being part of the DM2E consortium: following the project end, the OpenGLAM community will be sustained and build 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.