New technologies using Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing are currently driving the booming enterprise search sector. These applications produce powerful, easy-to-use search and discovery tools. These ‘semantic’ tools and techniques have not been applied to museum collections. Some ‘2.0’ have begun to see application in the museum domain, but have not been integrated into a common framework.
We describe the Delphi framework of semantic tools and community annotation for museum collections. The toolkit includes linguistic analysis tools, services that produce an easy-to-use faceted browsing user interface (UI) that makes it simple and fun to explore and understand museum collections. Personalization and social media tools allow creation and sharing of favorite sets of objects. The tools abstract the core technologies, and so can be used by designers and information architects without requiring specialized technical knowledge.
We deployed Delphi for the large collections at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology with good success. We describe our experience with this deployment and lessons learned along the way. We explain the major components of the Delphi open source toolkit, and we discuss ongoing research that builds upon the platform.
Keywords: semantic search, faceted browser, social media, community annotation, collections browser, open source