In addition to digitising a huge variety of material (text, sound, images, moving images…) tracing about 500 years of British and international history, culture, life and society, the great majority of digital collections funded under the JISC Digitisation programme has also developed learning resources and tools to help teachers and students make the most of a digital “sea of stories”, and prevent drowning in it.
This presentation introduces some of the recently launched digital collections and highlights key interactive features that can be used by teachers and learners to complement more traditional teaching methods, including e-learning framework (Newsfilm Online); interactive writing frame and maps (Cabinet papers 1915-1978) and path creation scheme (First World War Poetry Digital Archive).
The slides also highlight some of the key issues for digitisation projects and provide examples of how these have been handled by projects within the JISC Digitisation programme including:
o Content selection
o Licensing and IPR
o User engagement
as well as references to useful resources and toolkits.
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There has been plenty of publicity about the eye-wateringly beautiful digital images produced by Madrid’s Prado museum in association with Google Earth.
Detail from Rubens’ The Three Graces, Prado Museum, Madrid. Taken from Google Earth.
Contrary to what some art critics have written, this is, in some ways, a more powerful experience than seeing the original, where glass, ropes and bollards block such an intense close-up experience.
However, like Google’s project to recreate classical Rome, such resources are great for the general public they are not quite good enough for a university audience.
A researcher or lecturer certainly wants high-quality images, but they also want
- the ability to easily download and manipulate the image
- related tools that can comapre and contrast images
- a stable URL to cite the digital address of the image
- good quality information about the painting (i.e. catalogue / metadata stuff)
- to be able to search all paintings in the Prado (in fact the whole world) – not just the highlights!
- clear copyright terms and conditions about using.
Do that for us Google and we will be very happy.
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Improving your online presence is an essential component of any digitsation project; without visitors to your site there is little point having the material digitised and available online.
Much of the web’s curent usability is dependent upon the effectiveness and effeciency of web crawlers, most prominent among these is, of course, the Google bot. The question for digitisation projects with little or no marketing budget is how to maximise your online presence to allow web crawlers access to your data. How can small scale projects organically grow their presence so that they are able to achieve that holy grail of a Google ranking?
Alastair Dunning produced a presentation on being a good data provider which offers an excellent introduction into this area.
To compliment the presentation I have compiled some key areas that should be addressed when you are considering your online presence, and how web crawlers can index even the ‘deep’ areas of your pages and data:
- Keywords : What’s your key content and messages? Compare your key words with Google AdWords, and their trends
- Monitoring Performance and Reputation: Check what noise your site is creating, and whether you are successfully attracting visitors. Tols such as: Google Analytics, Technorati, Google Alerts can be used to track your reputation and performance.
- URLs : Make sure URLs are stable. Also pay attention to your Title Tags, ensuring you include key words, your ‘brand’, and any themes.
- Sitemap : Google Sitemap - allows you to create an XML file containing all the URLs on your (public) web pages along with relevant information. Sitemaps are particularly useful for Database and Dynamic content.
- Website Architecture : Aim for fast response times, use CSS, create 404 error pages, bread crumb navigation.
- Images : Have a meaningful landing page, title attributes, file name with key words, social tagging, comments, and, enable Google Image Search!
- Build Links : Think about the groups and websites you would like to link to you, and contact them.
- Be (very) Sociable : Social media (Facebook, Second Life, YouTube, Twitter, Google Groups…), Share content (RSS, bookmarking…), Contribute (Blogger, Wiki, Twitter, Yahoo Answers…), Images and Video (Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Picasa).
This is just a brief overview of some of the key areas you will want to think about to enhance your sites visibility, useability, and ultimately the experience that your user has in both finding and using your site and its contents.
The Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) in conjunction with the JISC’s Strategic Content Alliance recently ran a three day workshop looking at how you can improve your online presence simply and inexpensively. Many of the points raised in this article were developed and discussed in the workshop, and applied directly to cultural heritage institutions. Due to the overwhelming success of the course it is hoped that another workshop will be arranged in the next few months, further information will be made available on this blog, and the Strategic Content Alliance’s blog.
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The EU recently held a meeting in Luxembourg to inform potential applicants about their the ICT Policy Support Programme.
25million Euros have been allocated to the digital libraries strand with the specific objectives of
- Developing services to improve the usability of Europeana
- Aggregating content for Europeana
- Digitising content for Europeana
- Open access to scientific information
- Use of heritage content for education
For those wanting further detail on the call, Kate Fernie produced a report on the meeting on behalf of JISC.
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The National e-Science Centre (NeSC) has announced a new 5 day workshop on The Influence and Impact of Web 2.0 on e-research infrastructure, applications and users. The event is open to all and will be held between 23 March – 27 March at the e-Science Institute, 15 South College Street, Edinburgh.
Aimed at the e-research and e-science communities, as well as researchers in the arts and humanities, this five day workshop will introduce web 2.0 technologies, examine cloud-based computing, users and usability, application based activities, and on the final day will hold a more interactive session and discussion.
The number of Web 2.0 services and applications, widely used by Internet users, academics, industry and enterprise, are growing rapidly, which demonstrates Web 2.0′s solid foundations. These technologies and services are based on the open standards that underpin the Internet and Web, and are used in many forms, e.g. blogs, wikis, mashups, social websites, podcasting and content tagging. This field is having a significant impact on distributed infrastructure and applications, and on the way users and developers interact. The area needs to be thoroughly investigated and understood to encourage the development of new services and applications for e-Research.
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The JISC Digitisation programme is pleased to announce that a new funding call will be issued shortly, towards the end February-beginning March 2009.
The call will focus on 3 key themes:
1) institutional skills and strategies, including activities aimed at embedding digitisation into institutional strategies and practices, eg development of institutional skills, policies and capacity to perform digitisation; creating, or building on existing, institutional infrastructure, workflows and processes to streamline digitisation; developing partnerships and collaborative models at regional or other levels aimed at carrying out digitisation in a more cost effective way, for example by reaching economies of scale, or capitalising on institutions’ own particular areas of expertise in different aspects of digitisation activity, and through fostering knowledge exchange and sharing of good practice;
2) enhancing existing online digital collections in order to increase their current use, including enhancing interfaces, enriching existing metadata, improving resource discovery mechanisms, for example by making use of Web2.0 networks and functinalities or search engine optimisation, promotion and marketing activities within relevant research and teaching communities as well as embedding resources into teaching and learning;
3) clustering of existing online digital collections, in order to create critical mass of content and increase its current use, including bringing together collections which have been identified as being complementary from a thematic, chronological or format point of view or making use of existing platforms and services to deliver digital content through a variety of entry points. This may involve merging the metadata or technical infrastructure for related resources; developing cross-search functionality; exploiting Web2.0 methodologies such as data mash-ups to ‘cross-fertilise’ the content in existing resources.
A total funding of just over £2m will be available, and projects will be expected to start in September 2009 and be completed by March 2011.
Higher and Further education institutions based in England and Wales only will be able to apply as lead institutions. However, partnerships are welcomed.
More information on the funding call will be available through this blog as well as the JISC web site.
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JISC Digital Media is the new name for the Technical Advisory Service for Images (TASI). The JISC Digital Media team will continue to provide advice, training and guidance on the creation and use of digital media collections, with the expanded service now providing expertise in moving images and sound in addition to still images and their use in learning, teaching and research.
From help with finding and using the right media, to advice on creating and delivering digital formats or consultancy on managing a digitisation project, JISC Digital Media promotes good practice, technical expertise, the use of appropriate standards and the sharing of knowledge within the UK FE and HE communities.
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Not much time is left to register for the Digital Lives Research Project conference on 9-11 February 2009 at the British Library in St Pancras, London. It is the first Digital Lives Research Conference on Personal Digital Archives in the 21st Century. The conference is free, although only a limited number of places are available for each day.
The aim is to explore a wide range of aspects of digital lives and the curation of personal digital archives.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, it is a participatory and collaborative conference bringing together researchers, professionals, creators and the digital public: a conference in the character of 2.0.
The Conference and Conference Series will be inaugurated by Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library.
An introduction to the project and the conference gives some background to the project and usefully outlines the themes of the conference. A full programme and list of speakers is also available, and it is well worth checking out the projects blog for some interesting posts and more conference information. Further information is available through:
Digital Lives Research Conference
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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In a previous post (What’s your priority for digitisation? ), we mentioned the JISC-funded DiSCmap project, Digitisation in special collections: mapping, assessment, prioritisation, which aims to produce, among other things, a “top priority” list of special collections held within the UK Higher Education sector (including libraries, archives, and museums) for potential future digitisation, based primarily on the needs of researchers and teachers.
DiSCmap invites responses to an online survey from Librarians, Archivists and Collection Managers within UK Higher Education institutions who will be able to nominate collections within their institution which are considered to be a priority for future digitisation.
The initial long list obtained from the responses to the survey will subsequently be refined through the feedback of users such as researchers and teachers. The second stage of the project will be to produce a “short-list” of priority collections held within UK HEIs for potential future digitisation.
The outcome of this project will provide useful evidence for users’ demand for digitised content, and inform JISC’s future digitisation strategy and activity.
If you haven’t completed the survey yet, please do so by mid-February, and make sure your institution contributes to mapping the digitisation needs for the UK Higher Education sector.