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Big Heritage, Big Quilts, and Big Canvases

Being able to visualize large collections of data is absolutely vital in the domain of cultural heritage—both for scholarly work and public consumption. Recent work explores novel and engaging ways to visualize and explore cultural heritage data collections and tell little stories with big data. See demos of applications built on Microsoft PixelSense and Surfaces that demonstrate the architecture of intimacy and public interactives. These range from digital memorials to multitouch interaction to explore large-format artworks in their rich context of related artworks, annotations, and guided tours. We will also explore the technological and social challenges of creating interactive exhibits around the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the largest community-created piece of folk art in the world. These applications are a beachhead on the untouched shores of big humanities research. They are what we can expect today and are also first steps towards what might define an ideal user interface.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. How can technology help us to move seamlessly between "big data" visualizations to compelling storytelling that centers on personal stories?
  2. How does an architecture of intimacy manifest in public spaces and how can this help us to connect not only to data, but to each other?
  3. What is a natural user interface? Does such a thing exist or do all widely adopted user interfaces gradually become habituated over time?
  4. What are best practices to define an interface that illuminates data while simultaneously fading from the user experience in order to highlight the intellectual and emotional impact of the data being explored?
  5. What current technological trends are contributing to the architecture of intimacy and how will this shape the digital interactive experiences of the near future?



Donald Brinkman, Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research

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