Photo by Willemien Sanders
In November of last year we joined the SITIS conference in Bangkok where we presented our ideas on the contextualization of AV content, and the new publication formats currently being developed for our portal, among them our Video Poster: a new and exciting way of presenting and sharing videos (and text) online. In the process of developing this format, an EUscreenXL team participated in a Europeana Space hackathon in May 2015 and developed a scenario for the use of video posters in an educational context. This resulted in a concept for an educational application called the Carrot.
A proof-of-concept was also presented during the hackathon. Based on this work, Mariana Salgado and Willemien Sanders wrote a paper on the Carrot and how it supports engagement with audio-visual (cultural heritage) material, the development of students’ digital media skills, and contemporary media didactics. The paper also addressed why we need to develop such specific tools, and how they should be developed.
The “why” mainly related to the restrictions many Digital Humanities projects, including EUscreen, encounter; we’d rather not depend on proprietary tools and applications to access and curate our cultural heritage; and finally to the need to allow different kinds of communication and lift the weight of written assignments in favour of multi-media presentations, allowing for more personal and diverse expressions. The “how” of creating such tools related to the involvement of professionals with a range of perspectives, expertise and related interests which need to be aligned in order to develop something that is supported by all, based on real world scenarios, such as the one used for the Carrot.
The paper was subsequently presented during the eleventh Signal Image Technology & Internet Based Systems (SITIS) conference (programme, pdf), which this year took place in Bangkok, Thailand, 23-27 November. This conference has a rather technical approach to the internet and its affordances, with many presentations on technical developments, algorithms, and networks. The work on the Video Posters in the form of the Carrot was presented in a workshop called Visions on Internet of Cultural Things and Applications (VICTA). The workshops call for papers specifically focused on the Internet of Things and its applications to Cultural Heritage, including multimedia applications and services. The Internet of Things relates to the network of physical objects or ‘things’ embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. Think smart thermostats or watches. Although the Carrot does not relate to any material object, it does facilitate the creation of online artefacts based on networks and data-exchange.
The presentation yielded valuable feedback for the application and for the use of video posters in education. For instance, there was some concern about the amount of preparatory work involved for teachers and the need to collect best practices as examples. There was also some concern about how the complexities of analysing audiovisual material relate to the relative straightforward way of representing results in a single or a number of video poster(s). These concerns are taken forward in the development of the tools, tutorials and manuals.
In another notable presentation, researchers presented the results of an analysis of the shared appearance of Japanese politicians in news images broadcast by the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) over the past 12 years, and the social networks that emerged from those appearances. Arguably, such an analysis mainly informs us about the editorial practices of Japanese news editors rather than social networks, but this illustrates the need for developers and content experts to properly combine their knowledge and experience and work together – not only to build tools that allow for the analysis and (re-)use of content, but also to fully understand the results of their analyses. Such collaboration will be the topic of another presentation of work within the EUscreen Publication Builder and hackathon teams, at the fourth annual conference of L’Associazione per l’Informatica Umanistica e la Cultura Digitale (AIUCD) in Turin, 17-19 December.