LOUD Linked Open Usable Data
2019 > 2020
Although several hundreds of thousands of heritage objects held by the Belgian Federal Scientific Institutions are related to each other to various degrees, they are still largely considered and treated as separate & individual entities. By making explicit the relationships between objects, actors, and events that are currently only implicit in our siloed databases, we can contribute to a better knowledge representation of the lives of the works, their context, their origin, etc., across multiple institutions and heritage domains.
The Belgian Federal Scientific Institutions hold and manage several hundreds of thousands of heritage objects, spanning all aspects of human history and society. Although many of these objects are related to each other to various degrees i.e. through their provenance (same artists, same auction...), or nature (same material type of objects, similar subject representation...), they are still largely considered and treated as separate & individual entities. Not only the objects themselves remain isolated, there is also a tendency to consider the collections from individual institution as separate and closed “silos”. Moreover, the objects and institutions concerned pertain to traditionally different heritage sectors, including libraries, archives and museums (LAMs), or belong to different types of collection (natural history versus art collection). As a result, the current technology stack makes it difficult to create and publish the many possible interconnections between objects and related actors, within one institution and across institutions and disciplines.
Recent developments in digital heritage technology, such as the Linked Art, Linked Open Usable Data model (LOUD) and the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), offer important new perspectives. By making explicit the relationships between objects, actors, and events that are currently only implicit in our siloed databases, we can contribute to a better knowledge representation of the lives of the works, their context, their origin, etc., across multiple institutions and heritage domains. This will lead amongst other things to a better user experience through the easier connections across collections and vocabularies, the sharing of machine readable objects data to support applications, and the creation of “generous” web interfaces, allowing new and more intuitive ways to discover heritage objects and traverse collections. Tearing down the walls between collections with Linked Open Data and IIIF will have a beneficial impact on the state of research in the field of art history and natural history. Transforming static, isolated, local collections into a global linked web of knowledge responds to Europe’s 2018 cultural heritage year motto to ‘open to the world’ and helps the FSIs to valorise the results of BELSPO’s digitisation programs (DIGIT01, DIGIT03..) on a world-wide scale.
This proposal encourages a long-term collaboration, with an effective, more structural knowledge exchange on a more frequent basis. This should ultimately lead to a successful collaboration at an institutional level, in particular, but not limited to, the Linked Art community. The proposed network could also be a catalyst for other collaborations between the various institutions involved in the project. All partners share a common vision on digitisation, on the use of metadata and on related tools and techniques. The proposed networking project aims at creating a context for sharing information, techniques and best practices on the use of Linked Open Usable Data, in support of their application in the particularly complex multidisciplinary and multilingual Belgian Federal heritage context. It will invite international domain experts to assist us with this specific task.
One of the key aims of the proposal is therefore facilitating an internal knowledge transfer within the institutions, to make sure the use and principles of Linked Open Usable Data become embedded in the institutions’ digitisation workflows or digital strategy and are no longer depending on individual initiatives.
At the end of the project, all partners will have a clear understanding of the requirements necessary to embrace Linked Open Usable Data in the context of the Linked Art model community. The Belgian institutions will especially be well positioned to implement the Linked Art model in support of future research projects, such as the follow-up on DIGIT03, which will benefit from the lessons learned.
To close the project, the partners will organize a final series of workshops and a conference on the use of Linked Open Usable Data in a cultural heritage context.
Coordination: Royal Museum for Central Africa (Archives & Collections Management)
Partner institutions: Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (Digital Museum) / Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA – Documentation) / The J. Paul Getty Trust (Getty Digital).