THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Maps and views blog

16 posts categorized "Events"

17 February 2015

Found: more maps than we’d reckoned

Add comment

Without looking, you can’t know what’s there. That was our experience locating maps amongst the one-million British Library images released to the public domain. We had not guessed that 50,000 images of maps were lurking there. So how were they singled out?

Answer: with the help of our friends (the crowd!) using several methods.

Semi-manually: A dedicated team of volunteers looked at individual images and applyied the tag “map” on flickr.  The work was organised using a synoptic index in Wikimedia Commons, providing a systematic method of looking at each volume and tracking shared progess. Over 29,000 map images were identified in this way.

Day-long event

The British Library hosted a one-day event, in concert with Wikimedia UK, to which volunteers were invited to kick-start the effort.  In between working, the 30 participants enjoyed tours and talks from speakers representing online mapping efforts, including OpenStreet Map and Stroly.  The day’s activities were captured in Gregory Marler’s engaging description, Lost in Piles of Maps, and a series of photographs from ATR Creative.  

Tagathon1a
One corner of the room - detail of photo by Machi Takahashi of ATR Creative who joined the event from Tokyo and was one of the speakers. CC BY-SA 2.0

Ongoing crowd activity

The bulk of the work took place online over the next two months. With the wiki tools built by J.heald to guide and coordinate contributions, 51 volunteers approached the work, book by book, often focussing on geographic areas of interest. Together, they made short work of what was a huge task; 28% of the books were completed after the first 72 hours; 60% were reviewed in the first 20 days; after five weeks over 20,000 new maps were found in 93% of the source volumes.

Automated methods

But surely maps can be identified automatically? It’s true that well before the organised effort just described, one user  produced algorithm-guided tags for this image set, which resulted in the addition of well over 15,000 map tags.

By the end of December 2014, every image in every book had been reviewed, and between the manual and automatic tagging, over 50,000 maps had been found. Since then, we have been working to clean up the data, including reviewing rogue tags, rotating images, splitting maps, and removing duplicates, to derive a final set of data. Next step: georeferencing.

The tagging project was presented on 12 February 2015 at the EuropeanaTech 2015 conference as a short talk and poster, Case Study: Mapping the Maps.

This achievement represents the work of many. Special thanks go to Maurice Nicholson, BL
Georeferencer participant; Jamed Heald, Wikimedia volunteer; and Ben O’Steen of BL Labs

04 November 2014

Maps Tag-a-thon: it’s online

Add comment

Online participation in the Maps Tag-a-thon, launched 31 October with an event here at the Library, is open!  We invite remote enthusiasts to get involved in the tagging so that maps can be identified and then georeferenced so as to offer full geo-functionality (public domain!). The aim to is to find every map from amongst the million images.

   BL Maps tagathon2

Nearly 33% of the books have been reviewed, with over 6,000 maps found, since Friday - that's only five days! If you can join us in this amazing effort, have a look at the instructions on Wikimedia Commons.

A report on the event will come soon, but I wanted to flag up this opportunity. Thanks to all the help from the British Library Digital Research Team, OpenStreetMap and Wikimedia Commons!

29 September 2014

Maps Tag-a-thon Event

Add comment

Maps are still hidden in amongst the million images on Flickr, and we want to find them!

You are invited to the British Library for a day-long digital maps tag-a-thon event on Friday 31 October. The main activity will be reviewing Library images in Flickr to identify those that are maps. Once we have the maps consolidated, they can be included in the next round of BL Georeferencer, which will place them to their geographic location, increasing findability and allowing overlays on modern mapping. Register to attend here!

BL Maps tagathon

Above is one example of what can be discovered. This map of Cerro de Pasco in Peru is from a 1868 book.  The volume was scanned and images released on Flickr; this one was tagged "map", and so was included in the last round of BL Georeferencer. Sure, that effort was successful, but it has been estimated that there are 10,000 more maps in Flickr that we do not know about! We need help finding them.

Participants do not need to possess technical knowledge, but rather an interest in historic maps and a desire to bring them to life digitally. We are lucky to have experienced wiki-editors who will be present on the day to edit the wiki, answer questions, and update our statistics online. (Jheald provides a explanation of the technical process he designed and how it will work.)

Other activities are planned for the day, including a visit to the Maps area, brief updates on digital activities, and a look at the Gothic exhibition. See the event details and full agenda and registration here.

This is a joint event sponsored by the British Library Labs project and supported by OpenStreetMap and Wikimedia UK. I hope to see plenty of map aficionados and BL Georeferencer participants there as well, and I encourage our Maps and Views blog readers to attend!

 

04 July 2014

Tour de British Library: day 2 begins!

Add comment

They cycled, oh how they cycled. The Tour de British Library meandered, weaved, jinked and possibly even jived, and in the dark arrived last night in Grantham, 225 k from their starting point on the Euston Road 13 hours earlier.

Today is a new day. The lycra band's quest to ye Boston Spa is given fresh impetus due to, amongst other things, it not being quite so far away, but also because of the many riders who have travelled down from the British Library north to cycle the 171.6 k back with them.

Amongst them shall be Kevin, who solved my latest computer glitch yesterday and will be sitting at the head of the peleton. All follow Kevin, if you know what's good for you.

As with yesterday, their track shall be accurately plotted stage-by-stage on the 'Anglia Figura' of 1536-7, one of the British Library's great cartographic treasures.

Onward!

CropAnglia=tour-startday2

03 July 2014

Tour de British Library: stage 6

Add comment

Stamford Lincolnshire is a pretty market town, and apparently one of the happiest places in the UK to live. Try telling that to the peleton as they hurtle through it (or close to it anyway), reaching 186.5 kilometres in the process. Go team!

CropAnglia=tour-7

Tour de British Library: stage 4 live (sort of)!

Add comment

The intrepid cyclists have reached St. Ives, which would at first suggest some cataclysmic error with their navigation systems (and no little superhuman pedal-power), but does in fact mean that they have arrived at St. Ives, Cambridgeshire. Phew!  

CropAnglia=tour-5