All posts by rasvaan

DigiBird prototype

We extended the DigiBird website with new functionality showcasing the DigiBird integration pipeline. The main additions:

  • Annotation wall shows objects of crowdsourcing initiatives to which recently information has been added
  • Species page allows searching through multiple collections at once by entering the common name of a bird

Check it out on The code of the prototype is available at github.


Two birds, one stone: Bridging cultural heritage collections with crowds and niches

Crowdsourcing is a valuable source of data and metadata in cultural heritage. In this workshop speakers from Naturalis, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision and the Rijksmuseum will provide their insights on crowdsourcing by discussing the following points:

  • Relevance: Why is crowdsourcing relevant to my institution
  • Tooling: Which tools do we use
  • Lessons learned: What are the lessons we learned

Sustainability is one of the problems encountered by many crowdsourcing projects. In the fourth talk we discuss how we approached this problem in the DigiBird project, which integrates multiple initiatives and shows how results can be leveraged for collection integration.

Date & venue

14:00-17:00 Monday 31st of October, at Sound and Vision, Media Parkboulevard 1, Hilversum


Session 1

14:00-14:20 What’s That? Video Tagging Games for Audiovisual Heritage Collections
Maarten Brinkerink, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
14:20-14:40 Every Feather and Song: Crowdsourcing and Co-curation from a Natural History Perspective
Sander Pieterse, Naturalis
14:40-15:00 Break

Session 2

15:00-15:20 Accurator: Consolidation and Integration of Annotations
Saskia Scheltjens, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
15:20-15:40 DigiBird: on the Fly Collection Integration using Crowdsourcing
Chris Dijkshoorn, VU University Amsterdam

Session 3

15:40-17:00 Practical session: try out the crowdsourcing systems


Participation in the workshop is free of charge. Places are limited, which is why we invite you to register.
Register here

For questions regarding the workshop you can send a mail to, more information about the DigiBird project can be found on

This workshop is supported by the Dutch national program COMMIT/.

Stitch by Stitch: Annotating Fashion at the Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum – Modemuze – COMMIT/ SealincMedia – Wikimedia Nederland

Saturday 23rd April 2016 – Cuypers Library, the Rijksmuseum

Fashion heritage, collected over centuries, can be found everywhere in museums: costumes, accessories, paintings, prints and photographs. But while some clothes and accessories are easily found and identified, others are obscure and require a trained eye to describe. What are we looking at? What kind of sleeve is this? Which materials and techniques have been used? More specific descriptions of the images facilitate better use of digital collections and enable users to wander through them in detail.
The Rijksmuseum and Modemuze are looking for specialists and enthusiasts with a passion for fashion and costume to join an expedition through their digital collections.

Modemuze is an online platform and network of 11 Dutch museums, including Rijksmuseum, with a fashion and costume collection: Amsterdam Museum, Centraal Museum Utrecht, Fries Museum Leeuwarden, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Museum Rotterdam, Paleis Het Loo, Rijksmuseum, Tassenmuseum Hendrikje, TextielMuseum, Theatercollectie Bijzondere Collecties UvA, Tropenmuseum, Afrika Museum, Museum Volkenkunde.

Annotating the collections

Researchers from VU University Amsterdam, Delft University of Technology and the Centre for Mathematics and Informatics and the Rijksmuseum (in the context of the COMMIT/ SEALINCMedia project) have developed Accurator: an online tool to improve the process of annotation of digital collection objects, e.g. being able to find relevant objects to annotate, annotate specific parts of an object, etc. Following ‘Birdwatching in the Rijksmuseum’, this time the Accurator tool will be used to describe fashion related objects from the Modemuze and Rijksmuseum collections.

Participants in the fashion annotation event are also invited to record their findings in the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, Wikimedia Commons and in Wikidata, Wikipedia’s open database. Wikipedia volunteers as well as staff from the Rijksmuseum and Modemuze will be present for support throughout the day.


9.30 – 10:00 Registration and Coffee
10:00 – 10:10 Introduction of the Accurator tool
10:10 – 12:00 Annotating fashion in the digital collections (using Accurator)
12:00 – 12:30 Discussion on the use and future of fashion annotation

Participation in the event is free, but registration is required. To register, please send an email to: with your name and your interest in fashion. (We will take your subject preferences into account when setting up the Accurator tool.) If you have any questions regarding the event, please feel free to email them to this address.

IMPORTANT: The event will take place in the Cuypers Library of the Rijksmuseum. The following guidelines need to be taken into account:

  • On the 23rd of April you can report at the RIJKSMUSEUM desk in the Atrium. Please bring your confirmation of registration. Without this, entry can be denied.
  • Bring your own laptop. There are strict safety guidelines in the Library, which limit the use of laptop power supplies. Please make sure the battery is fully loaded to last for 3 hours without further charging. (general info) (annotation tool) (Web & Media group at VU)

Birdwatching Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum – Naturalis Biodiversity Center – Wikimedia Nederland & COMMIT SealincMedia present a unique birdwatching event

Birds are everywhere. In your own garden, in nature, and also in art. Among the Rijksmuseum’s 1,2 million collection objects are many prints, paintings and artefacts that have bird species depicted on them. Among the 37 million objects in the Naturalis collection are many birds from all over the world that have been collected in the last 200 years, as well as historical drawings of plants and animals in which many birds are depicted.

Wikimedia Commons

Some of the depicted birds are easily identified. Others require a trained eye to determine which species the artist has pictured. The Rijksmuseum and Naturalis are looking for experienced bird watchers and other avian enthusiasts to join an expedition through their digital collections and help the museums identify bird species in works of art.

The Rijksmuseum and Naturalis are currently in the process of donating large parts of their digitized collections of bird images to Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia’s open multimedia library. Participants of the birdwatching day are challenged to collaboratively identify as many bird species depicted on these images as possible and record these in Wikimedia Commons and in Wikidata, Wikipedia’s open database.


For this purpose COMMIT/SealincMedia,  a consortium of Dutch researchers from the VU University Amsterdam, Delft University of Technology and the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (centre for mathematics and informatics), has developed a dedicated online tool for the Rijksmuseum. With this tool, called Accurator, common and scientific names of species depicted in artworks can be recorded in an intuitive way. Participants of the birdwatching day will use this tool to tag bird species. Wikipedia volunteers as well as curators from the Rijksmuseum and Naturalis will be present for support throughout the day.

During the birdwatching day the RijksmuseumNaturalis, Wikimedia Netherlands (the organization behind the Dutch version of Wikipedia) and the COMMIT/SealincMedia researchers want to learn how we can best collect your knowledge as a bird enthusiast and apply it to enrich our art collections. We also hope to learn how we can make Accurator more user-friendly.

Can’t wait? Here’s a preview of birds in the Rijksmuseum!
You can start adding information using Accurator here:


10.00 Start
10.10 Introduction and presentation Erik Hinterding, birdwatcher and curator Rijksmuseum
10.30 Presentation Steven van der Mije, head Vertebrate collections Naturalis
10.50 Introduction editing Wikipedia
11.15 Introduction Accurator
11.30 Start edit-a-thin
13.30 Wrap-up by Erik Hinterding
14.00 End

14.30 Tour (optional, registration required)


Participation is free but due to the limited number of available places registration is required and can be done via For questions, mail us at


The event will take place in the Cuypers Library of the Rijksmuseum. The following guidelines need to be taken into account:

1. No food, drinks or smoking allowed.
2. Due to the limited number of available places registration in advance is required. On the 4th of October you can report at the desk in the Atrium. Please bring your confirmation of registration. Without this, entry can be denied.
3. If possible, bring your own laptop but there are very strict safety guidelines in the Library. Therefore it is not possible to use your own power supply or adaptor unless your device is not older than a year (please bring proof of purchase). Make sure the battery is fully loaded.

ArtTagger: Labeling Works of Art by a Crowdsourcing Game

Games can be a powerful way to motivate people to participate in crowdsourcing. Cultural heritage institutes are eager to adopt crowdsourcing to let the public participate in cataloguing and curation, and allow for collection exploration and information discovery by non-professionals.

I, Dick de Leeuw, am a student Information Sciences and am doing my Master Project at the Web & Media group at the VU University Amsterdam. The ArtTagger crowdsourcing game is part of my Master Project, during spring 2014. I am supervised by Chris Dijkshoorn, who focuses on personalized semantic search in a linked cultural heritage environment.

The ArtTagger website — based on previous work by the SEALINCMedia project — aims to obtain high quality labels for works of art through crowdsourcing. Users can play a game to tag paintings with their respective category. The game consists of a query image (i.e., the painting to label) and six candidate labels placed below the image. The candidate labels are accompanied with prototypical images and a description. Users score one point for every processed query image and score ten bonus points when their choice agrees with the choices of art experts.

The aim of my research is to investigate the effects of an aesthetically pleasing and usable crowdsourcing website in the cultural heritage domain on people’s motivation. At the time of writing, I am still looking for people who are willing to play the ArtTagger game. By doing so, you help museums and improve your art knowledge.

Linking Birds Part 1: Converting the IOC World Bird List to RDF

In SEALINCMedia presentations about Accurator we often use the example of a print described as “bird near red leaf”. Although this description captures what is seen in the print,  it can be much more precise. Questions such as what sort of bird is depicted,  What is the type of the red leaf, etc. can be further answered.

This is an ideal case for the Accurator framework. We engage the appropriate niche (bird enthusiasts) to help annotate the bird prints of the Rijksmuseum with bird names from a structured vocabulary. The only problem was that we did not have such a structured vocabulary at hand.

This is where the experts at Naturalis came in. They pointed us to the IOC World Bird List, het Nederlands soortenregister and provided us with data of their own specimen collection. Since we aim to integrate these different datasets to create a comprehensive list of birds, we turned to RDF. In this blog post I describe the conversion of the IOC list.

The IOC World Bird List is available in multiple file formats. Using the Cliopatria server extended with the xmlrdf package I started the conversion process by loading the available XML file. Xmlrdf automatically turns the hierarchy embedded in the XML into a graph structure. Using rewrite rules such as the one below, the graph can be refined.

common_name_property @@
{ A, birds:englishName, B }
{ A, txn:commonName, B@en }.

As you can see the rule above replaces the property created by xmlrdf with one from the TaxonConcept ontology. This ontology contains a lot of concepts useful for modelling species data and I reused as much of these concepts as possible. Initially all the concepts in the graph are blank nodes. Using the same sort of rewrite rules, I created IRI’s of the form: The IRI’s consist of the namespace, the level in the hierarchy (e.g. genus or species) and the scientific name.

Another useful resource is available on the IOC website: a spreadsheet with bird names in 19 different languages. Using the scientific names I found the corresponding species IRI in the graph and added the different commonNames with the corresponding language tags. An example of information linked to the birds:species-phoenicurus_auroreus resource:

Predicate Value
rdf:type txn:SpeciesConcept
txn:authority “(Pallas, 1776)”
birds:breedingRegions “EU”
birds:breedingSubregions “c,e”
txn:commonName “rehek mongolský”@cs, “Amurrødstjert”@da,
“Spiegelrotschwanz”@de, “Daurian Redstart”@en,
“Colirrojo Dáurico”@es, “mustselglepalind”@et,
“laaksoleppälintu”@fi, “Rougequeue aurore”@fr,
“tükrös rozsdafarkú”@hu, “Codirosso daurico”@it,
“ジョウビタキ”@ja, “Spiegelroodstaart”@nl,
“Aurorarødstjert”@no,”pleszka chińska”@pl,
“Сибирская горихвостка”@ru, “žltochvost zrkadlový”@sk,
“Svartryggad rödstjärt”@sv, “北红尾鸲”@zh
txn:inGenus birds:genus-phoenicurus
birds:nonbreedingRegions “s China, ne India”
txn:scientificName “Phoenicurus auroreus”

Many of the objects are currently literals, while some of them could be linked to external vocabularies. Linking the regions to GeoNames is something I will look into in the future, although parsing the more specific regions will be troublesome (e.g. “w slope of the e Andes in c Colombia”).

In a following blog post I will describe the conversion of the collection data of Naturalis to RDF and how I link that information to IOC World Bird List. This conversion was done at the Web & Media group at the VU University Amsterdam, if the work sparked your interest have a look at my site.