GLAM/Newsletter/February 2015/Contents/Switzerland report
First Swiss Open Cultural Data Hackathon
On the last weekend of February, some 100 software developers, artists, designers, researchers, Wikipedians, and members of the heritage sector gathered at the Swiss National Library to re-use more than 30 open data sets. The data and content provided by over 20 different institutions was re-used in a wide range of fields: for research purposes in the Digital Humanities and related areas, for the transmission of free knowledge in the context of Wikipedia/Wikimedia, for a variety of web-apps, and for artistic remixes. The hackathon was also an excellent means for heritage institutions to enter into dialogue with software developers, researchers, or Wikipedians, and to put cultural data and digitized collections to wider use. And, last but not least, the hackathon was about sharing know-how, insights, software code, and techniques in an open-minded and playful environment among participants of varying backgrounds.
The event was organized by the Swiss OpenGLAM Working Group, with the participation and support of the Swiss National Library, the Swiss Open Government Data Project, opendata.ch, Wikimedia CH, infoclio.ch, the ETH Library, Dock 18, and Migros Kulturprozent. A list of projects that were worked on during the two days is available at the event wiki. Here some examples:
The image collections made available by the Swiss National Library and the Swiss Federal Archives on Wikimedia Commons aroused considerable interest. Thus, both the Gugelmann Collection and Durheim's Police Photos of Stateless Persons were used in several projects: One application clusters the images from the Gugelmann collection in 3D space along dimensions that can be selected by the viewer (demo video). Another visualization made use of the geographical metadata in order to locate the images on a Swiss map, showing the user which locations have been depicted by the so called "Schweizer Kleinmeister" (Swiss 18th century masters) (image). A third project used the metadata of the police photographs to visualize family relationships between the depicted persons and to dig up other interesting facts (image). More playful uses included an interactive picture frame and various applications allowing to impersonate stateless persons from the police photo collection.
There were various direct contributions to Wikipedia/Wikimedia projects: First of all, the hackathon has triggered various image uploads to Wikimedia Commons, some of which were prepared during the hackathon itself (e.g. by improving metadata). Inspired by a publication by the City of Zurich the contents of which were largely made available under a free license, several Wikipedians worked on an article about "the first battle of Zürich" which took place in 1799 during the Napoleonic wars. On Wikisource, Kościuszko's Inventory was set up, relating to the Polish national hero Tadeusz Kościuszko who spent the last two years of his life in Solothurn. Another group started to systematically transfer Swiss monuments data to Wikidata, while another cooperation resulted in a tool that generates family trees based on Wikidata entries (see for example the familiy tree of Prince Charles; Wikidata users can enable the tool for their user account).