DECIPHER is a three year, €4.3 million Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP) supported by the European Commission.
It aims to support the discovery and exploration of cultural heritage through story and narrative. To do this, the project is developing new solutions to the whole range of narrative construction, knowledge visualisation and display problems for museums.
Digital heritage and semantic web technologies hold out the promise of nearly unlimited access to cultural knowledge. The problem is that cultural meaning does not reside in individual objects but in the patterns of knowledge and events, belief and thought that link them to each other and to the observer. This is why story is so important to the communication of, and meaningful understanding of culture.
The solutions the project is exploring will change the way people access digital heritage by combining much richer, event-based metadata with causal reasoning models. This will result in a reasoning engine, virtual environment and interfaces that can help curators and visitors to present digital heritage objects as part of a coherent narrative that is directly related to the user’s interests. This will allow the user to interactively assemble, visualise and explore, not just collections of objects, but the knowledge structures that connect and give them meaning.
The partners bring together great skills and experience in the technical fields required by the project, with the authorial and curatorial authority of national institutions, the innovative impetus of a technology-based SME, and the drive to market of a large company that combines heritage and media interests.
The project is currently working to deliver tangible outcomes in the form of:
· Published semantic workflow models and formalised representations of the curatorial processes.
· Published schema and software tools for describing cultural content in terms of their relationships to events, places, people and themes, and the user’s purpose and cognitive profile.
· Search, retrieval and aggregation software tools that harvest cultural content from public sources across domains (art, music, dance etc.) in such a way that it can be semi-automatically described with the event schema.
· Reasoning-based software tools that support the individual organisation and exploration of content across historical periods and cultural domains.
· A software Demonstrator built of Open Source components that creates a robust and sustainable repository of narrative that is linked to the collections of digital cultural objects held by partner institutions and external networks. This will be designed for subsequent exploitation on a Software as a Service model.
· Standard-based user interfaces that deliver a personalised, rich media experience that use any browser-based device capabilities for visualisation, including 3D and stereo image and sound.