Sound and vision blog

19 May 2008

Opening Doors

As you may know from previous blog entries, the Archival Sound Recordings team is always looking for ways to improve the useability and functionality of our site.  This is why we were particularly pleased to join in with the Library’s 21st Century Curatorship visit to the Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute in Milton Keynes.

The Knowledge Media Institute was established in 1995 to move the Open University to the forefront of generating, understanding and sharing knowledge through new media.  As organisations such as the British Library expand their traditional services to include giving people remote digital access to their collections, we naturally want to know as much as we can about the whole field. 

Starting the day, KMI Senior Research Fellow Zdenek Zdrahal gave a presentation about Narrative Hypermedia, a concept and technical methodology he has developed to allow people to digitally group collection items that may not be obviously connected.  A visitor to a museum or gallery can thus annotate their visit using a pre-designed ontology and leave a record of their progress behind for other researchers.  This system has been used successfully by the Bletchley Park Museum which has created this readymade example.

Senior Lecturer in Knowledge Media Simon Buckingham Shum then demonstrated a number of tools that seek to extend traditional library and museum classifications to include points of view or arguments.  KMI’s most substantial relevant tool at this stage is called COHERE, which styles itself as an ideas management system for multiple users to compare and further each other’s research. Take a look at COHERE which provides a good example of how this works.

Lastly, Professor of Knowledge Media Stefan Rüger talked about a content-based Multimedia Information Retrieval System – which can retrieve images through a keyword search, or by specifying colours, textures, shape properties, etc.  This will help to break down the reliance of search engines on traditional, text-based semantics.  It will also allow automatic segmentation and indexing of digital video according to the user’s requests.

The British Library sees many benefits in learning more about KMI’s research and applications, and we would like to thank all at the Institute for their time and expertise on our visit. A reciprocal visit is being arranged to help determine just how beneficial a closer association might be.

The technologies and the thinking demonstrated have clear implications not just for the users of a website like Archival Sound Recordings, but potentially for the future of library and museum curatorship as a whole.


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