Emerging Pixels and DigitalNZ

We’re excited to be collaborating with Digital Art Live on their Emerging Pixels programme this year. Emerging Pixels is a chance for students to develop and deliver an interactive work for the large screen in the Aotea Centre (see the image below). You can check out previous Emerging Pixels works here.

Digital Art Live

We’re encouraging creative technologies students to use openly licensed content from DigitalNZ in their work, and/or build something fun and creative using the DigitalNZ Application Programming Interface (API).

In this blog, we want to suggest some of the potential of the powerful DigitalNZ API and share some creative ideas of how it could be used for an Emerging Pixels proposal.

DigitalNZ’s API gives you access to the descriptive information (metadata) of 194 digital collections from 159 organisations across New Zealand.* There are over 28 million digital items in DigitalNZ, and you can group, highlight, animate, find patterns, and display this data in interesting ways to build new search portals, puzzles, artworks, stories, or interactive games.

A great place to find some examples and ideas is the blog of Tim Sherratt. Sherratt is the Manager of Trove at the National Library of Australia, and has created many ingenious things using Trove’s API.

Check out Eyes on the Past , an interface which uses face and eye recognition to pull out images from Trove’s digitised newspaper archive; this creates a poetic and slightly disconcerting way to access and think about their mammoth newspaper collection.

Eyes On The Past

Another fun idea is Europeana Creative’s 'Van Go Yourself’ tool. Europeana is an aggregator of cultural heritage material from institutions across Europe, similar to DigitalNZ. In ‘Van Go Yourself’ you can select a famous painting from their collections, re-create it by yourself or with friends, and then pair the two together.

Paintings   Van Go Yourself

Europeana Creative is also worth exploring for examples of how other developers are using Europeana’s data to make cool applications and tools.

Another option for those wanting to play with the API is data visualisation. It’d be fantastic to see some new and beautiful ways of displaying and giving meaning to the data DigitalNZ brings together from across the country.

Chris McDowall, who previously worked at DigitalNZ, created this dynamic visualisation of the collections:

Screen Shot 2014 03 17 At 11.56.48 Am

Late last year, the Tate Gallery in London made the data about their collections open and accessible. Check out a few examples of visualisations developers made using this data right here and here.

Another site worth checking out for data visualisations is David McCandless’s ‘Information is beautiful' project. McCandless and his team take data sets about particular issues and topics, and make them understandable and beautiful.

We’d love to see some visualisations of DigitalNZ’s data. Which collection has the most ‘cats’ in it? Or the most ‘beards’? Which collections relate to specific regions in New Zealand? What words were most common in newspapers in 1923? Can any interesting trends be traced? Or any relationships between content?

There is so much potential to build new and unknown tools with the data that DigitalNZ brings together. What new interfaces can be built for people to interact with New Zealand’s history and heritage? What games can people play with this information? What new discoveries can be made in the mining of this data? We’re excited to find out in our ongoing collaboration with Digital Art Live!

If you have any questions or thoughts, or are thinking of submitting an idea for Emerging Pixels and don’t know where to start, we’d be happy to help out. Email info@digitalnz.org or tweet @DigitalNZ.

* When signing up for an API key, you agree to the Developer API Terms of Use.