Thursday, 10 February 2011

PATHS - Personalised Access to cultural Heritage Spaces (by Mark Hall)

The PATHS project aims to provide improved access to digital Cultural Heritage collections. Currently access to the digital offerings provided by archives and museums is primarily built around search-based interfaces. This works well if you are interested in something very specific and know the correct keywords to use when searching. What it does not enable is a more exploratory approach or allow the users to be guided or guide themselves through the digital Cultural Heritage collection. It is this issue that the PATHS project addresses with its aim of providing personalised tour guides through the digital Cultural Heritage collection.

The PATHS system will allow curators, educators, and the general public to create tour guides through the Cultural Heritage collections that other uses can then follow. The research will focus on three aspects:

·         Investigating user interfaces that support both the tour guide creators and consumers;
·         Investigating methods for automatically adapting the consumer's interface to support their cognitive learning styles;
·         Investigating methods for recommending tour guides a consumer might be interested in.

Throughout the project a user-centred approach will be taken to ensure that the results match the potential users' needs and desires. This user-centred approach will include aspects such as interviewing domain experts to gain an understand of the methods used by curation experts when creating a collection, using a range of usability experiments to determine how people interact with digital tour guides, and evaluating the success of the various algorithms and systems that will be developed in the project.

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