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Web person at the Imperial War Museum, just completed PhD about digital sustainability in museums (the original motivation for this blog was as my research diary). Posting occasionally, and usually museum tech stuff but prone to stray. I welcome comments if you want to take anything further. These are my opinions and should not be attributed to my employer or anyone else (unless they thought of them too). Twitter: @jottevanger

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hakia, semantic enrichment, and EDL

Moving in the same direction as Reuters, with its OpenCalais service, Hakia has started offering two new APIs, one related to search and the other to content summarising and enhancement (see RWW's story). Perhaps it has some way to go before this is a really useful service in terms of the quality of its output (if RWW's experience is any guide) but it's early days. In any case, putting this alongside Calais and Yahoo!'s Term Extractor (not to mention other semantic enhancement services extracting, for example, location data), this shows at least that there are quite a few people out there that think there's a market for this sort of service.

Semantic enhancement (as well as data validation) is a service that I've mooted as a possibility for Europeana. With a specialist and very authoritative data set, it could appeal to those needing to enrich cultural heritage content. There may not be a lot of money in it, but as Harry Verwayen pointed out to me, that's not necessarily the only benefit to the service provider (or I doubt Reuters would be in this game). Building traffic around the site and strengthening the brand is a benefit. Similarly, increasing the use of the ontology/thesauri used by EDL increases its influence.

Harry is putting together a presentation for next week's WG1 meeting after the EDL plenary, and he's generously put my name on the front too although I have little to contribute beyond these slightly flaky suggestions. We'll be throwing these ideas into the mix in a discussion of business models for EDL when it goes live.


T Tague said...


Tom Tague from Calais here.

I'd like to encourage you to jump in and start experimenting with the various semantic enrichment tools. While none of these tools have been developed with the museum / collections community in mind - I do believe they have immediate value to offer as they are.

You may have seen the application of Calais at the Powerhouse Museum already (http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/australian_museum_uses_open_calais.php) - I think it’s a great example of a pragmatic use of Calais to add value quickly. Rather than waiting until Calais has developed a richer vocabulary – they have taken what it does today and exposed a much richer navigation and exploration capability to their users.

The ability to navigate and search collections (and even better – collections of collections) by person, place, organization, etc can add significant value with very little effort (and in the case of Calais - no cost) very quickly.

We’ll be partnering with at least one major museum in the upcoming months to extend the Calais vocabulary in the area of collections. In the meantime – feel free to experiment and see what you can make happen today.

Jeremy said...

Hi Tom,

Thanks very much for this, it's really encouraging news, especially that you're already working with museum data. I'm back from the Hague now where I was bigging up Calais. Just before I went I was playing around with it (although it was hard to experiment until I found the Calais Viewer - maybe this should go on the Calais front page!)

Seb Chan and co did a great job using your service on the Powerhouse Museum's site, and I'm sure other museums will follow. It certainly showed that, even without cultural heritage-specific data, Calais could enriched museum content in a very worthwhile way.

For Europeana, Calais is an opportunity to enrich that dataset directly, but it's also a model of the sort of service that Europeana itself could offer, using a dataset of millions of objects from across European museums, libraries and archives. There's a second prototype due in November and it might be a good time now to start a dialogue between Calais and EDL/Europeana - perhaps there's scope for collaboration?