The Vienna Time Machine project is part of the European Time Machine initiative, with which the Austrian Academy of Sciences is heavily involved. The first stage of the project aims to integrate data from two data resources relevant to the city of Vienna: the DIGITARIUM, an online edition of several hundred historical issues of the Wiener Zeitung newspaper, will be semantically enriched with information from the Wien Geschichte WIKI (Vienna Historical Wiki).
A key task is to link the people, places, institutions and events mentioned in Wiener Zeitung editions with entries in the Wien Geschichte Wiki. The project will evaluate the following three methods:
- automatic matching of character strings (taking into account historical spelling variance);
- application of machine learning approaches that support the identification of candidate pairs;
- information extraction by trained taggers for named entity recognition.
The idea is to compare, and also to combine, the results of these promising approaches. Convergence tests will be used to assess the extent to which the editions of these historical newspapers can be further contextualised using also data from other digital portals, data collections, and knowledge resources.
It is hoped that this semantic enrichment will add considerable value to the DIGITARIUM data: users will be able to directly access the reliably verified information already offered by the Wien Geschichte Wiki, in an integrated way (e.g. as a digital map of the city, or with further bibliographic references).
This research will form the basis of discussions on bringing together a wide range of data on Vienna’s cultural heritage, currently stored in a number of institutions and research facilities. The draft of this digital information system called Vienna Time Machine will enable data to be combined and reused, securing and deepening our historical knowledge of the city.