British photographic history

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Research call: Similarity Engine for Researching About Photographic History (SERAPH)

In recent years, the proliferation of online resources has shifted the balance of research away from physical archives towards online searching and browsing. However, keyword searches do not make it easy to browse for interesting ideas and relevant information when one is not sure exactly what one is looking for, even though it is often easy enough to recognise the potential of such information when one sees it.

Yet arguably browsing behaviour is just as important as targeted searching for developing new ideas and making discoveries, particularly when beginning a new project and before precise questions have been formulated. SERAPH aims to develop a “similarity engine”, a research tool that embodies the serendipitous nature of the physical browsing environment, analogous to browsing library shelves, to support research into photographic history. Users will be able to frame search queries, view results of similarity searches in an interactive 3D network of data nodes, zoom in and out of results, annotate, save and share their results with others. 

The project team invite expressions of interest from researchers, students, scholars, dealers and anyone else engaged with photographic history to join a panel of experts for this project.  Expert panel members will help the project team to understand what a similarity engine needs to do in order to be most useful.  They will help to specify and test the user interface and evaluate the performance of the similarity engine and associated tools.

The total work entailed is a maximum of 10 hours, for which a small honorarium of £200 plus expenses will be available if the funding proposal is successful.

For further details please contact Professor Stephen Brown

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