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CrossCult: Empowering reuse of digital cultural heritage in context-aware crosscuts of European history

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CROSSCULT (CrossCult: Empowering reuse of digital cultural heritage in context-aware crosscuts of European history)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2017-03-01 al 2019-02-28

Far from being a collection of unconnected events, human history is a mesh of interrelated facts and concepts. Although this has been long understood in the context of Humanities taught in universities, history is mostly presented to the public in a simplistic and localistic manner. The goal of the CrossCult project is to spur a change in the way European citizens appraise History, fostering the re-interpretation of what they may have learnt in the light of cross-border interconnections among pieces of cultural heritage, other citizens’ viewpoints and physical venues. The project has fulfilled the three original objectives:
1) Humanities objective: Develop pilot experiences gaining insight into the question: “How the same facts may be interpreted differently from different social realities and by individuals with different cognitive/emotional profiles (meta-history)”?
2) Innovation objectives: i) Create a semantic knowledge base that interrelates an unrestricted set of digital cultural heritage resources and venues across different repositories, on the grounds of common properties or crosscutting, transversal concepts, ii) Assess the impact of state-of-the-art technologies of geolocalization, micro-augmentations of reality, social networking, content adaptation and personalization in mobile edutainment apps for smart cities and smart venues and iii) Automate the generation of narratives and the composition of digital cultural heritage resources to deliver meaningful interactive experiences to individuals and groups, taking into account their cognitive/emotional profiles, as well as temporal, spatial and miscellaneous features of context.
3) Exploitation objective: Design business models and plans for the exploitation of the project resulting in collaboration with a new network of researchers, scholars, ICT professionals and specialists of digital heritage.
The project has built a highly flexible software services platform dedicated to Cultural Heritage venues, which is completed by four mobile applications ecosystem. The platform integrates the CrossCult Knowledge Base, extending the CIDOC-CRM standard, which facilities inter-connections among digital resources and venue collections, enabling semantic-based reasoning, linking and retrieval across disparate data, and data enrichment and augmentation through a formally expressed classification of domain concepts. Our four pilots have demonstrated the potential of the CC platform through the apps ecosystems, and have open new research perspectives on reflection and historic re-interpretation driven by technologies. The Living Lab, by involving has led to gather feedback, co-design and work with external stakeholders, facilitating the application design and the experiments, but also bringing scientific and business contacts during the project.

The project has produced 10 assets with high market potential, for which we have established business and revenues models. A dual licensing is adopted, where open licenses allow free use to ensure the research community can benefit from the project outcomes, and special licenses allow commercial exploitation. In the continuity of the project, each partner either exploits directly a part of the outcomes or builds on the contacts and business opportunities made during the project to build new experiments, projects or services. Moreover, we have designed a legal framework, centered on a non-for-profit organization, to manage the assets created during CrossCult in the future and ensure the sustainability of the project.

Projects outcomes have been communicated through its website (40.422 visits), social media (327 followers on Facebook, 90 members in LinkedIn group, on average 6.6K impressions on Twitter), conferences and journals (around 50 scientific publications) , living lab activities and events organized by partners (35). Today, 16 business opportunities are identified, completed by 30 prospects all over Europe and potentially Africa and America.

During the first year of the project, building blocks have been designed and implemented: scenarios and requirements for the pilots; evaluation framework to assess user experience towards reflection and history re-interpretation; ontological models to describe cultural heritage sites, artifacts, content and knowledge; a preliminary version of the CrossCult service platform (CC Platform) and its components, supported by a professional development environment; a communication and dissemination plan including a Living Lab (LL) framework and a preliminary business study. During the last two years, we have fully developed and documented the CrossCult platform, its services, its knowledge base and its four application ecosystems demonstrators, implemented the four pilots and conducted user studies on reflection and reinterpretation supported by IT technologies, built awareness of the project through scientific dissemination, communication and living lab activities involving meeting and working with external stakeholders, and defined concrete business plans for the future.
From a scientific perspective, the project has laid the foundations for the identification of connections between cross-border narratives. Thanks to the platform, to the pilot Apps and to the narratives written for the reflective topics, users can experience new knowledge through situated and serendipitous discovery of cross-border connections, that promote not only an extension to individual culture and personal cultural literacy, but also to disclose unforeseen elements both of a temporal continuity across History and of a shared cultural heritage in the European states. The theme-centered narratives encourage reflection and led participants through the process of (re) interpreting situations and events using their own experiences. The use of artefacts aims at offering to the user a view that artwork is a human expression and a manifestation of beliefs that can be interpreted in different ways.
The CrossCult platform combines state-of-the-art technologies and produces new added-value services and apps for cultural heritage sites and stakeholders. The platform is generalizable and extendable by design and can accommodate a wide range of apps and user groups. This is the first platform in the Cultural Heritage realm able to cohesively gather and manage such rich information about users and, thereupon, enable many different types of recommendations, driven by preferences, personality traits, context features, etc. In terms of impact, the platform as a whole has the potential to become a reference for future research in personalised, adaptive and context-aware applications in the realm of cultural heritage. Furthermore, the aids offered to create new applications provide a very cost-effective solution for venues and cities of all sizes –especially, small and medium-sized ones– to make the most of their digital cultural heritage resources.
Last, the CrossCult Knowledge Base constitutes a valuable extension for the CIDOC-CRM standard, providing in particular an innovative semantic modeling of the Reflective Topic concept, supported by a set of complementary semantics for defining related media resources and narratives. The structural elements of the definition promote a modular and, when required, a recursive arrangement of topics, capable of supporting automated generation of narratives.
CrossCult Logo
CrossCult team during the Kick Off meeting
Final Review in Brussels with EU PO and experts