Tuesday, 13 March 2012

WP3 kick-off meeting and widget brainstorming session

A few of us at the OU held a kick-off meeting for WP3 yesterday, that included a short brainstorming session on the sorts of widgets that could be developed using Pelagios data. The meeting included some participatory design with five example end users from both the Classics department at the OU and also the Institute of Educational Technology (many thanks to our volunteers!), who worked with members of the Pelagios project team to devise some example scenarios or ideas for widget functionality.

We came up with a reasonably large number of ideas in a short space of time, including:
  • a widget to provide more data about museum artefacts, e.g. link to Flickr photos etc - conversely, if the data is all text, provide pictures of artefacts if possible (e.g. from Flickr or other data source)
  • link to an overview of a particular place e.g. Wikipedia article, through clicking on a specific icon
  • prioritise/sort data before displaying (how? what should be the context for doing this?)
  • maybe have different icons for different data
  • show the geographical spread or related works in a nearby geographical area, e.g. if you're interested in a mosaic, show other mosaics or potteries/kilns within a e.g. 20 or 50 mile radius
  • use maps more - can maybe have different overlays/filters according to what you want to see. Could be a small version in e.g. side menu bar, which when you click on it, becomes larger/a pop-out
  • network diagrams: how to show the link between 2 documents from 2 different places
  • use for students/teachers: aggregator service - allow students and teachers to sort/filter
  • map interface: allow 'faceted browsing' to browse (or search) for specific things - able to tick/untick boxes to show or hide data - but not discard anything
  • ability to connect ancient and modern places - e.g. placenames but also maybe bring together different maps? use place as the central core concept - look at the relationship between past and present
  • increase use of pictures: Flickr, Panoramio etc. but potential problems in terms of relevance
  • option to download CSV data from aggregated data sources would be great - very useful to large number of academics, who would come back time and again
  • idea of being able to upload/share user data - could have private/public access - to enable sharing of datasets/networks
  • consider layers of narratives attached to artefacts - these could be 'official' historical sources, factual sources, mythology/legends/stories or personal 'human' stories/experiences - can tap into material culture studies
  • looking at how artefacts travel/move around the world
There is some cross-over between some of these ideas, and some are more problematic than others - for example, it would be fantastic to be able to run a query, get a load of aggregated data about it and then download it as a CSV file that could be used for subsequent tasks - but the lack of standardisation between Pelagios partners and the sheer variety of data makes this difficult, to say the least.

I really love the idea of attaching stories - or layers of stories - to artefacts and /or places, also in looking at how they travel around the world - it reminded me of the Tales of Things project, where personal stories are attached to objects, such as those donated to Oxfam charity shops, via QR codes. Another idea that one of our volunteers came up with after the meeting is to see if we can somehow tie in with the Oympics - as they are being held in London this year, it seems an obvious way to join in the celebrations and maybe get some increased media coverage for Pelagios2 (both now and on a 4-yearly basis!).

As a result of this meeting, we're now finalising plans for developing our first widget and also finishing off our last bout of eliciting end user requirements - all very exciting! :D Watch this space... we'll be posting further details in due course...

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