Added Value: new interfaces for cultural collections

Ben Ennis Butler (UC)
2017 Conference

In this paper I will argue that the creation of innovative digital interfaces allows increased public access to large digital cultural heritage collection as well as the emergence of new forms of collaborative practice. To demonstrate the value of these practices, I will present two case studies from my doctoral research. These were both undertaken through a partnership with the department of Australian Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Australia. The first, Subjects Explorer, allows a user to engage in visual information seeking, rather than using keyword-based search. The second, Timeline, provides a comprehensive data-driven overview of an artist’s career.

In these interfaces I introduce the concept of dynamic focus + context displays, which combine data visualisation techniques with modern web design methods in order to create new forms of exploration. Central to the creation of both interfaces was an emphasis on high quality and visually orientated design components, this was achieved through careful consideration of typography, layout and colour. I will place my interfaces within historical and theoretical contexts and will refer to specific concepts of serendipitous discovery, free-form exploration and generous interfaces. I will also discuss ways of overcoming technical constraints associated with the creation of experimental web-based interfaces.

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About the author

Lecturer, Discipline of Creative and Cultural Practice,

Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra

Dr Ben Ennis Butler completed his PhD, Escaping the search box: developing digital interfaces that encourage exploration and discovery, at the University of Canberra in 2017. He is currently a Lecturer in the Discipline of Creative and Cultural Practice, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra. He is an independent web developer with a focus on access to cultural collections.