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DIS Research Seminars



Presentation of the Sloane Lab project

By Antonios Bikakis, on 9 February 2024

Sloane Lab: Looking back to build future shared collections

The talk was delivered on 7 February 2024 by Dr. Andreas Vlachidis, Dr. Marco Humbel and Dr. Alda Teracciano, members of the team working on the Sloane Lab project, as part of the DIS research seminars series.

Funded by the ‘Towards a National Collection’ (TaNC) Program of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), UK, the ‘Sloane Lab: Looking back to build future shared collections’ devise automated and augmented ways that mend the broken links between the past and present of the UK’s founding collection in the catalogues of the British Museum, the Natural History Museum and the British Library. The project develops new technologies, including the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), to open up the contents of museums and collections in ways that are more intuitive and relevant to the way the public and academics want to discover and use them. The task of integrating these disparate records and facilitating interoperable access to them poses significant challenges. Sloane’s historical catalogues are especially difficult to represent digitally, because the descriptions of the objects are often incomplete or inaccurate. Therefore, it is crucial to adopt a critical digital heritage approach since the semantic representation of Sloane’s historical catalogues may produce datasets that contain uncertainty and biases. The project addresses such biases and absences, allowing for certain worldviews and answerings to this challenge of ‘multivocality’ by adopting a data modelling approach that focuses on the record than on the object, viewing records as different perspectives over the object. Moreover, the project employs a participatory research design methodology that unpacks the latent challenges in international collection data infrastructure development. The participatory design delves into research questions that address experiences of heritage organisations of participating in national and international digital infrastructure projects, explore factors that enable and impede heritage organisations in unifying siloed collections and investigate how these factors differ between institutions and countries.

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