AddressingHistory: crowdsourcing the past


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Presented at the American Association of Geographers meeting: Working Digitally with Historic Maps. New York, 25 February, 2012

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  • UK Digitisation programme Developing Community Content strand of the JISC Digitisation and e-Content programme Welsh Voices of the Great War in Wales – Cardiff University
  • Online engagement tool based on web 2.0 principles Galaxy Zoo is an online astronomy project which invites members of the public to assist in classifying over sixty million galaxies Old Weather is a web-based effort to transcribe weather observations made by Royal Navy ships around the time of World War I The Great War Archive , was a 2008 project led by the University of Oxford that asked members of the general public to digitise any artefacts they held relating to the First World War and upload them to a purpose built website.
  • Bank directory listing banks and banking companies Educational directory listing educational institutions and teachers by their subject Law directory listing juridical institutions and practitioners Medical directory listing medical and surgical institutions and practitioners Insurance directory listing insurance companies Rich source of adverts which give an idea as to lifestyles, spending habits, Of interest to genealogists, local or family historians, academic researchers
  • 44,000 historical maps of Scotland – county maps, town plans, admiralty charts (coastline), military maps, Historic OS series Plus 600 of Edinburgh and its environs Images, OCR text Creative Commons licences - IPR free - Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 UK: Scotland Internet Archive team based at the National Library of Scotland for scanning the Scottish Post office Directories used in the project.
  • Registered users Google Geocoding API assigns a georeference with scales of accuracy – from town to street to intersection to building
  • Act as an interface for Public and community engagement with academic research and research based deliverables We need the power of the crowd to ensure that the tool and sundry utilities reach their full potential
  • with in-kind support from NLS alternative name searching (Soundex)
  • POI’s in this case are POD entries – namely Address, Name and profession
  • AddressingHistory: crowdsourcing the past

    1. 1. AddressingHistory - Crowdsourcing the Past Stuart Macdonald Associate Data Librarian EDINA & Data Library University of Edinburgh [email_address] Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting - Working Digitally with Historical Maps, New York Public Library, 25 Feb. 2012
    2. 2. Phase 1 JISC-funded Community Content project 6 months (April 2010 – September 2010) Partner with National Library of Scotland Advisory Board
    3. 3. To create an online crowdsourcing tool which will combine data from digitised historical Scottish Post Office Directories (PODs) with contemporaneous historical maps Similar to Australian Historic Newspapers project provided by National Library of Australia where members of the public correct and improve OCR’d text of old newspapers - JISC-funded Great War Archive (Univ. Oxford) that asked members of the general public to digitise any First World War artefacts and upload them to a purpose built website.
    4. 4. PODs offer a fine-grained spatial and temporal view on social, economic and demographic circumstances They provide residential names, occupations , and addresses. Each contain 3 sub-directories: general, street, and trades May also contain misc. trade directories e.g. banking, education, law, insurance, medical
    5. 5. Phase 1 focused on 3 vols. of Edinburgh PODs: 1784-5; 1865; 1905-6 Historic Scottish maps geo-referenced by NLS PODs digitised by NLS in conjunction with the Internet Archive c.700 PODs (1773 to 1911) covering 28 of Scotland's towns and counties now online Public domain (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5)
    6. 6. Using Open Layers as web-based mapping client Tool allows ‘the crowd’ to georeference a POD entry by moving a ‘map pin’ on a digitised map thus facilitating the addition of an grid reference to the OCR’d POD held in XML format in a database structure (PostgreSQL) API available allowing web developers access to the raw data in multiple output formats (JSON, XML, CSV) Geo-coding of POD addresses parsed against Google geocoder
    7. 7. <ul><li>Image by yelnoc - - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 </li></ul>Interface had to be easy-to-use for a range of users Robust and scalable to accommodate c.700 digitised Scottish PODs Mechanism to check user-generated content such as geo-references, name or address edits/annotations Crowdsourcing of geo-coded grid references View original scanned directory page
    8. 8. Search people, place, profession Search results Download options View original Historic Map overlay selected Record edits by the ‘crowd’
    9. 9. Edinburgh Beltane – Beacon of Partnership & CHSS knowledge transfer office Amplification of tool and API via Social Media Channels – Facebook, Google Groups, Twitter, Blog, Flickr, YouTube
    10. 10. <ul><li>Feb. – Sept. 2011 ( EDINA Sustainability Funding) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New content (Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh for 1881 & 1891 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Re-evaluate (and enhance) parsing tool performance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Old parser : </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exact geotag – 60% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Professions – 25% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New parser (no configuration file): </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exact geotag – 72% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Professions – 76% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New parser (with configuration file) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exact geotag – 88% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Professions – 82% </li></ul></ul>Phase 2 sought to develop functionality to resonate with JISC’s vision to build sustainable and durable deliverables and to compliment phase 1 by broadening both geographic and temporal coverage
    11. 11. <ul><li>Other additional features include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Spatial searching (bounding box) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Associate map pin with search results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search across multiple address </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Aid searching by applying Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes to Professions </li></ul></ul>P h a s e 2
    12. 12. Augmented Reality An AddressingHistory layer has been created and published for use with the ‘Layar’ Application for either iPhone or Android Geo-referenced Points of Interest (POIs) are uploaded into the BuildAR CMS POIs (e.g. each profession or SIC Code) have an image associated with it The App allows users to compare their current location (from phone) with the geo-referenced AH records in order to establish which names and professions are located in the local vicinity
    13. 14. <ul><li>Sustainability </li></ul><ul><li>Given the broad applicability of the resource a range of communities may be interested in the longer term curation of the project tools e.g. the Open Street map community, NLS </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation of possible business models for sustainability: </li></ul><ul><li>revenue generation via online donations </li></ul><ul><li>subscription model (e.g. per annum, per month, per use) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ freemium model’ (e.g. free API download of a certain number of records with payment for further downloads) </li></ul><ul><li>academic advertising. </li></ul>
    14. 15. Second last slide… New content and features to be made available start of March 2012 Gauging the success of the project goes beyond the delivery of engaging and innovative online tools. It will be ultimately be measured by continual and extended use within the wider community.
    15. 16. Credits: Image by aroid - - CC BY 2.0 Image by konqui - - CC BY-NC 2.0 Image by mosilager - - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Image by racoles - - CC BY-NC 2.0 Image by James Bowe - (CC BY 2.0) Image by yelnoc - - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Image by - - CC BY 2.0 Image by bek30 - - CC BY-NC 2.0 Image by karen horton - - CC BY-NC 2.0 Image by lofaesofa - - CC BY 2.0 Image by Psycho Delia - - CC BY-NC 2.0 Image by wdj(0) - .com/photos/davidjoyner/534893725/ - CC BY-SA 2.0 Image by Symic - - CC BY-SA 2.0 Image by ~milj - - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Acknowledgements: JISC - NLS Geo-referenced maps and applications - Visualising Urban Geographies (VUG) project – Edinburgh City Libraries – http:// Website: THANKING YOU!