Collections in archives, museums, and at cultural heritage sites contain a wealth of digital texts, images, audio-visual content and 3D representations of objects or scenes as well as other information such as multispectral or thermal imaging revealing the actual state of conservation, which are largely inaccessible to both computers and humans. In addition, human beings as members of their societies can be regarded as natural archives entail information about the complex semantic and conceptual knowledge organizing a society in its cultural settings and stored in non-verbal practices and rites as well as in language.
Humans can easily extract meaning from individual digital assets but are quickly overwhelmed by the sheer number of items which are usually spatially and/or temporally disconnected and of different digital quality. New technologies can be a valuable instrument to process large amounts of data in order to identify new correlations and interpretations and extract new meaning from our cultural and intellectual heritage. To close, or at least narrow, the "semantic gap" would present a major step forward in digital humanities and other sciences related to European heritage, memory, identity and cultural interaction. Likewise, it is of immediate relevance to find new ways of accessing the complex information embodied in culture-related human ‘natural archives'. In addition, the increase and growing complexity of digital cultural material raises new challenges as regards its preservation over time, an essential condition for re-use and study.
In order to better understand and inform the present by richer interpretations of the past, actions should create affordable and efficient digital access, documentary methods analysis and preservation services for cultural resources. This should be achieved by tackling issues such as automatic contextualisation and identification of content and by developing analytical tools, including methods for automatically finding content which is semantically similar to a given item, or content which is related to a given high-level concept. This aspect also calls for fundamental work related to the philosophy of meta-data designs especially of language-based data that should be in close coherence with the architecture and typology of human conceptual systems. Actions should also develop innovative tools and methods to extract meaning from digital artefacts (including video recordings, audio recordings, digital images, text, multispectral and thermal information and 3D representations of objects or scenes) considering also the spatio-temporal dimension and the quality of the digital content in order to allow the study and preservation of European heritage. The work must fundamentally address the issue of data quality and interoperability.
Work will be performed in close collaboration with Humanities and Social Sciences researchers.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 and 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
New ways of taking into account the state of the art in computer science and big data management, of searching European digital content which used to be inaccessible, buried among huge amounts of data and not sufficiently tagged with adequate metadata.
Improve the understanding of the rich diversity of European cultural heritage and create added value for the society by providing humanities researchers, journalists, policy makers and the interested public with new ways of finding answers to their questions about European cultural heritage and history.