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QVIZ (Query and context based visualization of time-spatial cultural dynamics) – making the European archives more accessible

Research project QVIZ will research and create a framework for visualizing and querying archival resources by a time-space interface based on maps and emergent knowledge structures.

A common dilemma for European cultural heritage institutions is that the organization and presentation of archival information are so complex that they restrict easy access to the material. Another problem is that knowledge within communities of practice is often neglected. QVIZ wants to solve these problems through constructing a web based search tool for easy access to archival resources, based on location in time and space QVIZ will also give communities of practice a possibility to share sources and knowledge.

Project overview

Project period:

2007-12-17 2008-04-30

Funding

Finansår , 2006, 2007, 2008

huvudman: Patrik Svensson, finansiar: EU-medel, y2006: 5019, y2007: 7528, y2008: 2509,

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Humlab

Research area

Digital humanities, Religious studies and theology

Project description

Challenges

A common dilemma for European cultural heritage institutions is that the organization and presentation of archival information are so complex that they restrict easy access to the material. Another problem is that knowledge building within communities of practice is an emerging practice not yet adopted by the archives. Archival records and knowledge in communities of practice are commonly related to administrative units, such as parishes and municipalities. End users, however, are not often allowed to explore the material on this basis. While such access would be advantageous, it is made complex because administrative units frequently change over time and because archival systems rarely provide a rich time space context. Could these issues be solved, cultural heritage institutions could provide marketable services unavailable today; Thereby increasing the usage of archival material among local historians, the educational systems, researchers and the general public.

Key results

QVIZ will research and create a framework for visualizing and querying archival resources by a time-space interface based on maps and emergent knowledge structures. The framework will also integrate social knowledge building software in order to utilize knowledge in existing and new communities of practice. QVIZ will lead to improved information sharing and knowledge creation, easier
access to information in a user-adapted context and innovative ways of exploring and visualizing materials over time, between countries and other administrative units. The common European framework for sharing and accessing archival information provided by the QVIZ project will open a considerably larger commercial market based on archival materials as well as a richer understanding
of European history.

Main outcome

The QVIZ project has succeeded in producing an advanced prototype of the integrated software solution. The product provides new and better ways to explore the archives and interact with content holders and researchers of similar interests. Several archives are now working on digitalizing their material in order to enhance access and preserve the fragile content in the archives. They will benefit greatly from using the QVIZ-portal to facilitate the search for information in the complex archives they hold. The QVIZ integrated platform consists of the following software services and content:

1. A dynamic map that can display administrative units over time and a timeline that assists in the process of narrowing the search.
2. A faceted query with pre-selected administrative unit categories that facilitate the search process.
3. Social knowledge building component that provides ways to communicate, publish and interact.
4. Social bookmarking tools which enables storing of archival reference in a in a social web context