Mitchell Whitelaw (University of Canberra)
In the age of digitisation, the question of how best to access digital collections is increasingly urgent. This paper presents a recent research project funded by the National Archives of Australia, investigating the interactive visualisation of an archival collection. The project focused specifically on providing a sense of large-scale structure, revealing patterns and relationships within the collection and supporting exploration and browsing, rather than targeted search.
Two prototype visualisations are presented: one showing all 57,500 Series in the Archives collection; the other navigating some 65,000 items in Series A1, a significant collection from the early decades of Federation. These prototypes demonstrate a range of novel techniques for the visualisation of complex relational structures in digital collections. They also demonstrate how, with digitisation of records and online access, visualisation can act as a dynamic, browsable, context-rich interface to the collection itself.
About the speaker
Mitchell Whitelaw is an academic, writer and artist with interests in new media art and culture, especially generative systems and data aesthetics. He has published in journals including Leonardo, Fibreculture, and Digital Creativity, and is the author of Metacreation: Art and Artificial Life (MIT Press, 2004). In 2008 he was granted the National Archives of Australia's Ian Maclean Award, supporting the Visible Archive project (http://visiblearchive.blogspot.com). He is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra, and blogs at The Teeming Void (http://teemingvoid.blogspot.com).