I have been working on the theoretical background of the benefits of the use of Tangible User Interfaces (TUI) as a base to explore information. The exploration focuses mainly on databases such as the ones hosted my museum organisations. More in specific will attempt to use a repository of several databases called Europeana. Europeana hosts databases from over 600 museums, libraries and archives around Europe, hosting thousands of objects.
Europeana manages their repositories under several ontologies specially designed for knowledge representation. This representation occurs based on concepts and sharing a vocabulary. Ontologies commonly describe instances, concepts, attributes and relations. The syntax used to work with the ontology will be RDF/XML where information is represented in triples to encode the organisation and data contained under the ontology. Europeana uses several ontologies which have been designed to describe specific concepts. Some of the ontologies used are: CIDOC that focuses on describing cultural heritage objects, FOAF that describes people and their relations and ORE describes aggregation and exchange of Web resources. On top of these ontologies, Europeana created their own data model (EDM) that unites previous ontologies and adapts them into a single working space within Europeana. By combining EDM, FOAF, CIDOC and other ontologies, there is an attempt to represent the world. I am currently in an initial stage where I will start prototyping and experimenting with few technologies via TUIs. For this, I have decided to start with an ontology called LIDO, a lightweight ontology based on CIDOC. This approach should allow me to choose an essential base of elements that need to be further represented visually and physically in the TUI system prototype.
To build the prototype I will work with a wide variety of technologies. Moreover, the system will be combining a tabletop system and several TUI frameworks such as tokens-constraints and pyfos. At this first stage I will learn to develop using a system called TUIO that was especially designed for tangible and tabletop interaction. On a parallel stage, I will attempt to retrieve RDF data from a database and visualise it on the TUIO system. Once I can demonstrate some of the queries, I will create a typology of elements to be uses in the system. These elements will be linked to the LIDO ontology in order to retrieve specific concepts from Europeana. Nevertheless, I am aiming to produce a barebones prototype in the next 4 or 5 weeks.