My Europeana Plenary, part I: Europeana 1914-1918 and the eCloud

My last week was very much dominated by first preparing for and then attending our bi-annual plenary. I thought I’d share a summary and some thoughts of the event from my perspective. If that sounds boring just check out my colleague Neil’s photo-montage below and then bounce!

In the plenary programme there were two entries that were my responsibility, the hackathon and the product development session, and two were I took part, the Europeana 1914-1918 debriefing and the eCloud installation. I’ll do the latter two in this post and follow up with the first in a second (I’m highly logical that way…).

Europeana 1914-1918

My part of the Europeana 1914-1918 was pretty much to report on the recent re-design of the site. We also discussed some possible major further developments, like e.g. to shift from the current “moderate first, publish afterwards”-model to a “publish afterwards, moderate afterwards if needed”-model. Further, we discussed making completely separate contribution forms for spontaneous online submissions and for the catloguers who facilitate during Collection Days. A third idea worth mentioning was to create a specific Expert role for historians of the First World War in order for them to be able to provide contextual information to the stories and memorabilia from the public.

I’d pretty keen on doing all of the above to be honest! Let’s hope we can shake loose some resources for it. And for some more changes based on the feedback from the Web Critique of Europeana 1914-1918 (more about that in Part II).

The eCloud

Since I’d missed the first time we showed the immersive 3D eCloud in Brussels I was happy to be able to catch it this time! I took some part in the design of the experience and it was satisfying to see how it had all turned out so well. It was also good to meet with Sarah Kenderdine, who’s the real brain behind the eCloud,  after only having meet via mutiple Skype calls this last spring.

The eCloud In 3D, with music and in the dark it’s quite the experience!

Developing the eCloud was quite an investment for Europeana. So I hope we get to display it at more events and venues, but also that we can find a way to release the software that powers it as Open Source. That would not only fit the Europeana ethos, but would also open up the software for further and collaborative development.

Developments like e.g. changing the control of the experience from an iPad (acting as a remote control) to one of motion control via e.g. Microsoft’s Kinect. Or switching from where one person controls the experience to a multiple-controllers experience (Split-screen? Shuffling stories back and forth Minority Report-style?). Finally, the software could be developed to support more back-ends than the Europeana API thus allowing it to be used by many more GLAMs than ourselves.

I’m sure there are many other development possibilities for the eCloud. What would you like to see?

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