The development of image matching functionality for the Bodleian Library’s Integrated Broadside Ballad Archive is one of those innovations which arise during a Jisc Programme. Often we do not make too much of these innovations. Perhaps we think that they are par for the course; a natural consequence of being involved in innovative programmes of work. Such an attitude can negate opportunities for enhancing impact far beyond the outputs of a project.
People tend not to be interested in tools, unless they are directly useful to the work in hand, or have been developed for very specific purposes, but tools, though practical, might also change our perceptions of the world or how we think about a particular practice. This is the change we seek when we foster innovation.
The Broadside Ballad project, working in collaboration with the Engineering Science Department of the University of Oxford, has developed something which could have profound effects on image research. Giles Bergel of the Faculty of English at the University of Oxford initially acted as Project Manager for the Ballads project. Here he, together with Andrew Zisserman and Relja Arandjelovic, presents the potential that Image Match offers for enhanced bibliographies and for new scholarship in the Arts and Humanities.
Of course developing a tool is only the first step, disseminating it for use is then requisite to allow take-up by others outside the institution where it originated, hopefully leading to onward development for new purposes. That is why an early version of the engine is already open-sourced here
The current programme will naturally lead to a number of innovations and these will be highlighted here over the next few months as two programme strands draw to a close and there is the final push of the mass digitisation projects to produce some very exiting digital resources.
The Integrated Broadside Ballad Archive will launch on 23 February at the English Folk and Dance Society (EFDS). More details can be found here.