System Simulation / System Simulation and Dublin Institute of Technology team win UK Hack4Europe
System Simulation and Dublin Institute of Technology team win UK Hack4Europe
The Hack4Europe award for the Best App for building Social Inclusion across Europe was presented by Neelie Kroes, a vice president of the EU commission to a team of developers from System Simulation and Dublin Institute of Technology.

The app, The Casual Curator, offers a new way of accessing and using the 18 million museum object descriptions in Europeana.

It is really hard to find what you want in all that data. So we used the open Freebase API to help us to work out what the user wanted and to get a more accurate search into the huge Europeana dataset. So maybe the user was thinking about Dutch oil paintings: The Casual Curator would help the user to work out which artist or period they were interested in, and get a better search result - in this case, lots of Dutch oil paintings from museums and galleries all over Europe.

Then we scatter all the images over the tablet's screen and allow the user to move them around, grouping them into different areas of the screen: maybe all the ones with rich fabrics in one pile, and all the domestic scenes in another. The user can use the app to zoom in to different items and seem information about them: painter, date, which gallery it's in, etc. And the user can start to write their own story about these paintings - why they like the paintings, what the paintings remind them of, and so on.

Of course, with 18 million objects to choose from, we aren't limited to paintings: there is everything in Europe's museums: dinosaurs, cars, trains, jewellery, money: everything you can imagine.

Finally the presentation and the story can be published up to facebook so your friends can see it, or maybe you are doing your school homework and you can e-mail it to your teacher. Or maybe you are planning a real museum exhibition and you are really A Serious Curator!
Technical information
On June 9th 2011 a team from Dublin Institute of Technology joined forces with a team from System Simulation Ltd. to develop a mobile app for Europeana. Hack4Europe! is a series of hack days organised by the Europeana Foundation and its partners the Collections Trust, Picasso Museum, Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center and Swedish National Heritage Board. The hackathon roadshow was held simultaneously in four locations (London, Barcelona, Poznan and Stockholm) in the week of 6 - 10 June and provided an exciting environment to explore the potential of open cultural data for social and economic growth in Europe. Each hackathon brought together about 30 developers from the host country and the surrounding area. The teams were given access to the diverse and rich Europeana collections containing over 18 million records, Europeana Search API and Europeana Linked Open Data Pilot datasets which currently comprise about three million Europeana records available under a CC license. The "hackers" were then encouraged to try out ideas for creative reuse of the Europeana content and build an application showcasing the social and business value of open cultural data.

The Casual Curator application is based on ideas and technology from the DECIPHER project. The prototype uses Open Data from the Freebase website to focus searches on specific cultural domains and use the results to semantically support further searches in the Europeana dataset. The final result is presented on an Android tablet using the Visualiser technology developed by System Simulation under the FABRIC project.

DECIPHER is a three year, €4.3 million Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP) supported by the European Commission. It aims to support the discovery and exploration of cultural heritage through story and narrative. To do this the project is developing new solutions to the whole range of narrative construction, knowledge visualisation and display problems for museums. The outcome will change the way people access digital heritage by combining rich visualisations, event-based meta-data and causal reasoning models.

FABRIC (Fashion and Apparel Browsing for Inspirational Content) is a collaborative project funded by the Technology Strategy Board, developing innovative technology to improve browsing, retrieval, and management of digital images throughout the textile and clothing industry, cultural heritage, and other sectors that access digital image collections.