We attended the LoCloud Hackathon

On 11 February 2015 we participated in the LoCloud Hackathon in Paris, France. The event took place at the Google Cultural Institute. This gave us the opportunity to find out what Google is working on in the cultural heritage preservation domain. We could learn a lot about Google Art Project and see the its art pieces on an amazing gigapixel screen.

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Mateusz, Aleksandra and Artur at the Hackathon 

At the beginning of the event all the participants were introduced to the LoCloud project. LoCloud representatives showed us its components and introduced us to the API of the LoCloud services. They also explained how to use the MORE aggregator and its API.

The lunch break gave us  a chance to meet the other participants and talk over our project ideas for the hackathon. We started to work after lunch. 

We decided to work in a team of three participants from PSNC - Mateusz Matela,  Aleksandra Nowak and Artur Pecyna - to share responsibilities and use the short time available as much effectively as possible. Our project was called LoTrips and we wanted to utilise geo-localisation data accessible in LoCloud’s collections.

The main idea was to create an application where users could see some objects from LoCloud collections on a map, choose the objects that are most interesting to them and filter them using additional criteria. The application would then create a route between these points as a proposition for sightseeing trips in real life.

We thought this could be a good tool to show the geographical or historical context of objects stored in LoCloud libraries and museums. Cultural institutions would also be able to choose the objects they want to promote using LoTrips, present the maps on their web pages or even organise trips for their users.

We started our work with downloading the data using the MORE API. The data was indexed using Solr, to enable the creation of search queries and faceting on it. The following stage was to access the data stored in Solr via its HTTP API and then show it on a map using Google Maps API. An example route is shown on the picture below. 

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Example route 

Unfortunately the time for “hacking” was quite limited and we could not implement all the functionalities that we aimed to. However, we believe that a further development of this application will be quite easy since the main points have been developed. We also think that the tool for indexing the data into Solr might be integrated into the MORE workflow so that the data would automatically appear in the index.

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Aleksandra presenting their application

After the coding was finished we presented our idea to the jury and to the other participants.The jury made its choice and the winning project was announced.

Several teams of developers took part in the hackathon. Most of them focused on extending the MORE aggregator. In particular, they presented a community extension for the MORE aggregator that instantly shows tasks performed by other users, a plugin which could move cultural objects closer to social media, an idea for integrating MORE with a cloud sourcing platform that improves geolocalization metadata, and the winning project - a metadata validator where users can define specific rules to check the validity of their metadata.

As a general suggestion, it would be good to extend the duration of future hackathons by a few hours or even a couple of days. This would allow us to present not just a prototype but possibly a working application.

We had great fun at the LoCloud Hackathon. It gave us the opportunity to find out more about the project and to work with new tools and APIs. It was a great experience for us and we look forward to taking part in future LoCloud hackathon.

 

Aleksandra Nowak
Team Leader, Data Aggregation and Enrichment Team
PSNC