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“Blowing Up” the Book: Functional design challenges for book-to-online translation of cultural heritage

About the Talk

October 17, 2014 5:30 PM

Washington, DC

Washington, DC

In 2009, The Getty Foundation issued a challenge to eight art museums: translate a scholarly catalog rich with cultural heritage data, images, and interpretation into an online resource that strives to reach beyond the limitations of print in creative and useful ways. “Systematic catalogs” are a time-honored and resource-intensive method of publishing the core art historical data and art research associated with the cultural objects that these institutions hold in public trust. And so the Online Scholarly Catalog Initiative (OSCI) was begun with the goal of “blowing up the book”… not to eliminate or destroy, but rather to expand the utility and audience of these important resources.

In the spring of 2014, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC launched their OSCI publication of its Dutch Paintings of the 17th Century systematic catalog. Through thoughtful and elegant design, The Gallery translated the printed catalog into a sustainable digital publication that extends the audience, usefulness, and sustainability of the information contained within. This talk presents a case study on incorporating academic research information from a traditional printed publication into the public web site for the National Gallery of Art. It also offers lessons that can be applied to other information sites.

By describing our experience of transforming the Dutch Paintings of the 17th Century printed catalog into an integrated set of information-rich online resources and functions for users of all ages, we explore:

Strategies for discovering and prioritizing design requirements based on user research and academic literature review Multi-purpose interfaces providing clear, layered presentation of information for different user needs including researchers, knowledge workers, and the general public Translation of complex printed information to be flexibly presented in digital publication interfaces, thus providing elegant ways for users to interact with rich data Weaving new functionality into an existing online design experience allowing for future growth while maintaining design consistency Designing interfaces with the future of semantic technology and linked open data in mind Phased approaches to fielding functionality design elements when faced with resource constraints If you’re a user experience designer, information architect, content strategist, or publisher (or all of the above), you’ll find this session valuable for thinking about layered content, interactive tools to enhance users’ understanding of complex information, the sustainability and scalability of online scholarly information, and the future potential of open access for cultural education and scholarship.

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