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Title: Online Cultural Heritage : facilitating complex query making through Tangible User Interfaces
Author: Pereda, Javier
ISNI:       0000 0004 7224 8945
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis presents a novel approach to reduce the complexity and overload of information in Cultural Heritage (CH) on the Web through the use of a Tangible User Interface (TUI). It discusses how the Web and its technologies such as the Semantic Web have changed the interoperability and reach that knowledge, data and information can have. These technologies have allowed to link knowledge across CH organisations and helped to reduce uncertainty about the information used to create it. Nevertheless, it is cumbersome for a vast majority of online users to find relevant content, due to the overload of information available and the complexity of its nature. This research argues that this is because two main factors. The first factor is the dependency of Graphical User Interfaces on the Web that hinder complex exploration and technologic engagement for general users. The second factor identifies a requirement for CH organisations to become part of an Online Cultural Heritage ecosystem engaged through an interactive system on the Web. As a result, CH organisations do not have a meaningful system for their users to explore their content. This research addresses these problems by [1] developing an understanding on how CH knowledge is integrated across different organisations and different ways in which users engage and manipulate it and, [2] exploring how a TUI can facilitate the production of complex queries that enables the user to engage with the conceptual and technical information used to describe the knowledge about OCH collections. Chapter One presents an outline of the research problem, aims and objectives. It discusses the new challenges that CH organisation face when engaging with their users on the Web. Chapter Two presents a literature review of the current state of CH organisations, their information and knowledge and how they relate on the Web. Chapter Three argues that on the Web, CH organisations are conceptually and contextually integrated into a single entity that can be called Online Cultural Heritage (OCH). CH studies do not to consider that on the Web, visitors are no longer limited to a particular type of CH organisation (e.g. library, museum), nor to a particular collection held by that organisation. In addition, this chapter gives a brief introduction to Europeana as example of how information is shared across organisations on the Web, as it will be used as main case study later on. After describing the roles that data and information have on the production of knowledge, Chapter Three continues by presenting a literature review that highlights how users transform data into knowledge and their different needs of information when approaching information sources. It further identifies how users engage with Europeana’s information and the interfaces used to do it. Therefore, Chapter Four addresses the relevance that user interfaces have on accessing information, data or knowledge on the Web and particularly OCH. It explains how TUIs can boost performance by providing the required thought structure through physical activities and the use of constructivism as theoretical approach. It introduces interaction design principles (such as Token and Constraint (TAC) and OnObject) where physical affordances are used to convey information to users, thus reducing the complexity of an interactive system. Chapter Five presents the research framework general plan. It introduces the a-priori and aposteriori phases of the research, where the first one focuses on understanding users’ behaviours when querying Europeana and OCH, and Chapter Six will fully discuss Europeana as a case study. The research framework is fully described in Chapter 7 for the a priori section present the a-priori phase as a user centred design experiment where participants express their query behaviours. The test users included people with particular knowledge about cultural heritage objects (e.g. historians, archaeologists) analysing how they convert data into knowledge according to their different levels of need of information. The evaluated results are further used to contextualise the role of the interactive prototype to be designed. Such design process is presented in the following Chapter Eight. This chapter presents the integrated interaction design methodology adapted for the development of the TUI prototype. It presents the evaluation results for both experiments. It concentrates in Usability and UX evaluations to understand the engagement that users have with OCH information through the TUI. Such methods identify emotions and sense of helplessness related to the interactive process. It integrates a usability test to reveal users’ procedural task results that highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the system, which alter users’ engagement with the information. Chapter Nine concludes by reviewing the results obtained and highlighting the challenges posed, benefits that the Web and its particular technologies offer to CH organisations, and the need for the adoption of interactive systems such as these, that eases question making processes and allow users to explore complex datasets in a meaningful way, while it also describes future work that can be carried out.
Supervisor: Earl, Graeme ; Isaksen, Leif ; Yin, Yuanyuan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available