Category Archives: Cultural heritage

Media Integration and Communication Center cultural heritage projects

VIVIT. Vivi l’Italiano web portal

VIVIT is a three-years project led by Media Integration and Communication Center (MICC) and Accademia della Crusca, funded on government FIRB funding. As a part of this project, the VIVIT web portal has been developed by MICC in order to give visibility to culture-related contents that may appeal to second and third generation Italians living abroad.

Vivit web portal

Vivit web portal

The main aim of the VIVIT web portal is to provide people of italian origins with quality content related to the history of the nation and that of the language, together with learning materials for self-assessment and improvement of the viewer’s language proficiency.

The development of the VIVIT web portal has officially started in 2010, when the information architecture and content organization were first discussed. The VIVIT project stated that the web portal should give users and potential teachers ways to interact with each other and to produce and reorganize contents to be shown online to language and culture learners. Given these premises, it was decided to make use of a CMS (Content Management System), the possibility of user roles definition and interaction being part of its nature.

VIVIT is being developed on Drupal. Free and open-source PHP-based software, Drupal has come a long way over recent years in features development and is now considered one of the best CMS systems together with the well-known WordPress and Joomla. A large amount of user-contributed plugins (modules, in Drupal terms) and layout themes is available, since the development process itself is relatively simple and widely documented.

At this time, the architecture of the VIVIT portal is mostly complete: users may browse content, comment on it, bookmark pages and reorganize them from inside the platform (users with the role of teachers may also share these self-created content units with other users, to create their own learning path through the contents of the web portal); audio and video resources are available as well as learning materials that allow user interaction granted by the use of a custom jQuery plugin developed internally at MICC.

It is also possible, for users with enough rights, to semantically process and annotate (that is, assign resources that describe the content) texts inside the portal by using the named entities and topic extraction servlet Homer, also developed at MICC: the tagging possibility is part of Drupal core modules, while the text analysis feature is a combination of the contributed tagging module and a custom module written specifically for the VIVIT portal. The Homer servlet is a Java application based on GATE, a toolkit for a broad range of NLP (Natural Language Processing) tasks.

LIT. Lexicon of Italian Television search engine

LIT. Lexicon of Italian Television search engine

The VIVIT web portal gives access to additional resources related to the same cultural field: in particular LIT (Lexicon of Italian Television) and LIR (Lexicon of Italian Radio). The former, LIT, is a Java search engine that uses Lucene in order to index about 160 video excerpts from Italian TV programs of about 30 minutes each, chosen from the RAI video archive. LIT also offers a backend system where it is possible to stream the video sequences, synchronize the transcriptions with the audio-video sources, annotate the materials by means of customized taxonomies and furthermore add specific metadata. The latter, LIR, is a similar system that relies on an audio archive composed of radio segments from several Italian sources. Linguists are currently using LIT and LIR for computational linguistics based research.

LIR. Lexicon of Italian Radio backend

LIR. Lexicon of Italian Radio backend


Enrich is a targeted project funded under the eContentPlus programme. Its objective is to provide seamless access to distributed digital representations of old documentary heritage from various european cultural institutions in order to create a shared virtual research environment especially for study of manuscripts, but also incunabula, rare old printed books, and other historical documents. It builds on the Manuscriptorium Digital Library ( that has already managed to aggregate data from 46 collections from the Czech Republic and abroad.

Manuscripts found by Enrich system

Manuscripts found by Enrich system

The project groups together almost 85% currently digitized manuscripts in the national libraries in Europe. These collections will be enhanced by substantial amount of data from university libraries and other types of institutions. The consortium will make available more than five million digitized pages.

Manuscriptorium is a result of 15 years of work and development carried jointly by two important czech institutions: AIP Beroun LTD and the National Library of the Czech Republic. It is the richest digital manuscript resource in Europe putting at disposal more than one million digitized pages, having a safe digital archive, enjoying of state support for digitization, and talking in czech and english languages. Ca. 50% of its users come from abroad and it operates a special clone for support of teaching and learning in secondary schools. Its origins are in the Memory of the World programme of UNESCO; therefore, the National Library of the Czech Republic received the UNESCO world Jikji award in 2005. The Manuscriptorium-related digitization knowledge and know-how have been taught and shared in many countries of the world.

Manuscriptorium builds on a robust xml schema the most important part of which is the european master format for electronic description of manuscripts based on TEI.

The basic corpus of data is made available from the digital storage facilities operated by AIP Beroun LTD in the Czech Republic. The Enrich project will integrate even more data from remote foreign digital libraries. The metadata records for the central database will be preferably collected via the OAI protocol; they will contain links to images stored in remote image databanks. Necessary transformation routines will be created and tuned for each partner. Specialized on-line tools will be also developed to enable Manuscriptorium schema compatible metadata structuring and output validation for those partners that have digital data with no presentation tools and will like to make them available.

Enrich target user groups are content owners/holders, libraries, museums and archives, researchers and students, policy makers, and general interest users. The project will allow them to search and access documents which would otherwise be hardly accessible. Besides images, it will be also able to offer access to TEI-structured historical full texts, research resources, other types of illustrative data (audio and video files) or large images of historical maps. The Enrich consortium will closely cooperate with TEL (The European Library) and will become a component part of the European Digital Library when this becomes reality.

The users will get tools that will assist them to create their own documents and personal digital libraries in Manuscriptorium using any analytical objects of which the documents consist. Tools for usage of more languages will be offered for application in Manuscriptorium as well as multilingual ontologies enabling search in local languages and retrieval of data in source languages.

The Enrich consortium consists of 18 partners and the project is also supported by a number of other institutions among which there are many important content owners.

The project is coordinated by the National Library of the Czech Republic together with other two Czech partners: AIP Beroun LTD and Crossczech Prague Inc.

The interest to cooperate has been expressed, among others, also by the national libraries of Hungary, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Sweden, and Turkey as well as by the university libraries in Bratislava, Bucharest and Heidelberg. The list of associated partners will grow during the project duration.

DanThe. Digital and Tuscan heritage

DanThe is an online service, developed and implemented by Tuscany Region and MICC – Media Integration and Communication Center – University of Florence, to promote the resources related to digital cultural heritage of Tuscany. DanThe provides a direct access to collections, databases, regional museums, libraries and catalogues of cultural heritage.

Danthe. Digital and Tuscan Heritage

Danthe. Digital and Tuscan Heritage

The “catalogue of collections” provides a selection of the Tuscan digital documents (texts, images, video, audio) concerning cultural heritage (artistic, historical, archaeological, ethno-anthropological, archival and bibliographical). These collections were previously catalogued by the Michael Project (Multilingual Inventory of Cultural Heritage in Europe). Within the universe of European digital resources Danthe identifies a Tuscan subset of collections and make it accessible to different users.

The “catalogue of cultural heritage” is designed to collect and make available descriptive and informative catalogue records – in accordance with local owners (municipalities, museums, institutions etc.) – and realized using the standards ICCD and the CART free software, produced by the Tuscany Region and carried out by the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa.

In accordance with the guidelines of Michael Project, Danthe selected digital collections regarding people, works and cultural heritage of Tuscany, promoted, financed or produced by Tuscan institutions and regional offices of national or foreign institutions. The collections presented in Danthe, as those ones published on the European portal of Michael, are available online and/or offline, are free, or available on the registration fee and may be completed, planned or in progress.

In future the system will enable an innovative technological regional application to provide services that manage digital contents regarding cultural heritage and it will be able for the integration with the Regional Cooperation Application of Tuscany – CART

In this perspective, the Regional Information System will be able to:

  • hold copies of data on cultural heritage (regional databases and third party) and their metadata in a centralized repository;
  • allow automatic updating of data through the application infrastructure for cooperation;
  • interoperate with Information systems of external structures (Michael, CulturItalia, Europeana) using appropriate protocols and server (OAI-PMH);
  • allow the use of such digital contents by the web interface unified Danthe.

DanThe is part of a national strategy (portal CulturItalia) and (Europeana) which aims to combine and enhance digital assets in Europe, to consolidate descriptive standards and to set minimum standards in the development of resources of various nature and non-traditional format, generated using innovative technologies and for heterogeneous users.

Because of the deep analysis of the existent carried on digital resources relating to cultural heritage, the European project Michael was the basis to fill and populate DanThe database. The close cooperation between national European project of Michael, the regional cataloguers and the editors of DanThe allowed to use the expertise and knowledge of the local census of digital collections and to personalize the presentation and the fruition of the digital resources themselves.

Even though DanThe borrowed from Michael all the entities structured and divided according to the descriptive standard of the project, the Tuscany recourses are presented in a singular and personal way. In particular, it were not censed catalogues of libraries when they gave no services other than paper, to consider as digital collections not only the resources derived from analogical source (books, art works and objects of art, etc..) but also those formed from digital material (videos, Word documents, audio files, etc..) and to give a direct access to the collections online providing, where possible, the specific URL of the resource rather than to the generic website or the catalogue containing it.