Last week saw the kick-off meeting in Dublin for DECIPHER, a 4.2 million, 3 year research project supported by the European Union.
The aim of DECIPHER is to develop and test technology that can be used by visitors and curators to present digital heritage objects as part of a coherent narrative. This will allow the user interactively to assemble, visualise and explore not just collections of objects, but the knowledge structures that connect and give them meaning.
Over the past decade we have seen a significant shift in how digital cultural objects are accessed and used. This has taken us from handcrafted web presentations, and their textual search, to new ways of querying, exploring and recommending cultural media objects. Although we have new ways of accessing cultural objects, the narrative structures and arguments that could be found in a handcrafted presentation are often lost. The problem is that cultural meaning does not reside in individual objects but in the patterns of knowledge and events, belief and thought that link them to each other and to the observer.
This is why story is so important to the communication of, and meaningful understanding of culture. DECIPHER is developing new solutions to the whole range of narrative construction, knowledge visualisation and display problems. This will draw on work in data mining, semantic web technologies, language technologies, multimodal interfaces and digital heritage applications. The resulting DECIPHER tools will help change the way people access digital heritage by combining much richer, event-based metadata with causal reasoning models.
Our project partners are Dublin Institute of Technology, National Gallery of Ireland, Irish Museum of Modern Art, System Simulation, Brno University of Technology and Alinari 24 Ore.