In a talk where he jokingly said he felt “no pressure”, Mitchell Whitelaw presents a fascinating look at a number of projects he is involved in to preserve and visualise rich data about Australian cultural assets including photographs, prints and documents. As good as some of TED’s own great visualisation work, Mitchell’s work has won accolades across the Australian cultural sphere.
Museums, archives and libraries have spent the past decade digitising their collections. The result is a rich mountain of cultural data – a digital treasure trove – but when it comes to accessing these collections, we are stuck at search.
Search is like looking at a vast landscape through a powerful telescope: great if you know what you are looking for.
How can we see the “big picture” – understand the scope and structure of these cultural datasets? In projects such as The Visible Archive and commonsExplorer, Mitchell Whitelaw makes visualisations that deliver rich interfaces to cultural datasets, with a focus on exploration and context-building beyond the tight focus of search.