Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Visible Archive

I signed the contracts thismorning on a research project that I'm really excited about: a grant from the National Archives of Australia to develop interactive visualisations of their collection. That collection has over nine million items, grouped into some thirty thousand series (or sets); it's basically all of the Federal government's paperwork, but also includes photographs, AV material and other stuff. You can search the collection via the Archives site - and access digital copies of the original records in some cases.

The Visible Archive aims to do what the search interface doesn't: provide a sense of context and orientation, revealing structures and relations within the collection. The visualisations should be useful for both archivists and archive users; and the techniques developed should also be useful for other archives and collections.

The idea seems to have some currency - you may have seen Lev Manovich recently announce a project on Visualizing Cultural Patterns, working with collaborators including Noah Wardrip-Fruin.

Read more and follow the project at its own, freshly minted blog. And if you have any pointers to other related work in the visualisation of cultural datasets, especially archives, please send them along.

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