Friday, 6 May 2011

The data's on the Wall

I've been having a bit of a poke around different digital collection interfaces lately, and one of the most appealing I've found is the National Museum of Australia's History Wall.

The History Wall is developed by Tim Sherrat (@wragge). It brings together a range of data sources: the National Library's People Australia and Australian Newspapers projects, the Australian Dictionary of Biography, the collection of the National Museum of Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Flickr collections of the National Archives of Australia and the Powerhouse Museum, and the discussions of a historians' workshop held at the Museum in November 2009.

Items from these sources are presented in the context of 100 'defining moments'. Each time you visit the site or refresh the page the items that are presented change, giving you a different view of history. I can quite easily imagine the presentation writ large as a touchscreen interactive.

The thing I like most about this project - apart from the polished design - is that it lightly mixes curated, handcrafted content (the 100 defining moments) with data pulled directly from the content sources (ie. straight from catalogues and websites) (I assume it's pulled directly, there may be some magic happening behind the scenes). Digital collections rise and fall on the state of their metadata - this lightweight mixed approach provides anchors of carefully prepared material that collections items can be clustered around.


National Museum of Australia said...

Hi Courtney,

We're glad you like it. Tim has done a refined version of the wall for our Irish exhibition with additional functions. There are settings for some of the data sources and the 'more' of each event in the timeline retrieves filtered data from the NLA's newspaper collection. So you get contemporary articles on historical events. Cheers, Tikka Wilson, Manager, Multimedia and Web, National Museum of Australia.

Courtney Johnston said...

And the URl