April 13-17, 2010
Denver, Colorado, USA

Workshops: Description

Building and Evaluating Collection Dashboards - FULL

Piotr Adamczyk, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA
Michael Twidale, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Richard Urban, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

This workshop is now full.

Research on scientific and information visualization has led to the development of powerful and complex tools that are effective but costly. At the same time, there has been a dramatic growth in the development and availability of web services which can be used, often at no cost and with relatively little effort. Google Maps is a well known example of these trends, but there are many others. Even when these tools were never intended for cultural heritage applications, some can be harnessed to create useful collection visualizations.

Museums have mountains of data in the form of object records, unpublished archives, published scholarship, online and on-site traffic statistics and analytics. Too often key audiences, including those within the same institution, see too little of this information through too small a keyhole. As linked and open data formats and Application Programming Interfaces become more common for cultural repositories, providing a sense of the scope and shape of museum collections is moving from a problem of data access to one of presentation.

In this full day workshop we will cover the following:

  • A primer on information visualization techniques that can be applied to museum collections at low cost.
  • How to collect and format the data you already have for use by aggregators.
  • Challenges when using incomplete or re-purposed data to build visualizations.
  • Picking the right information visualization toolkit - e.g. Google Charts, Many Eyes, Flare / Prefuse, TheJIT, Processing.
  • How to deploy dashboards quickly using no-cost tools - e.g. IMA's Museum Dashboard, Yahoo! Pipes.
  • With whom to share your visualizations, when, and why.
  • Learning from third-party visualizations of your linked data.
  • How to evaluate dashboards for use by various museum stakeholders.

This workshop is appropriate for anyone with an interest in digging into data they already have and exposing more of what they collect. We will use real data in practical examples. We will build simple prototypes during the workshop and show how these can be extended to fit the needs of researchers, curators, colleagues and other targeted audiences. This workshop will provide a basic introduction to the concepts and techniques of visualization using tools that do not require knowledge of any particular programming language, though familiarity with programming concepts will be useful.

Designed presentation of collection information can have real, functional benefits. Visualizing collections gives visitors a better grasp on their contents, guiding them to highly sought-after resources. Exposing search logs and traffic patterns to online visitors can suggest new searches, but also show they might adapt their search techniques in context – helping with usability and, crucially, with findability. Importantly, in a global networked environment, collection dashboards can demonstrate how your collections stands with - or apart from - peer institutions.

Workshop: Collection Dashboards [Morning]

Keywords: dashboard, linked / open data, visualization, API, mashup, evaluation