Balsamo and team create digital experiences for 2012 AIDS Memorial Quilt
Posted June 1, 2012
Communication professor Anne Balsamo and her research team from the Annenberg Innovation Lab have been working
with the NAMES Project Foundation for the past year to design several digital interactive experiences that augment viewing the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which will be on display this summer in Washington, D.C.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt is a unique work of international arts activism that reflects the worldwide scope and personal impact of the AIDS pandemic.
Balsamo and her team are in the process of creating a mobile Web application called AIDS Quilt Touch that enables people to search for a specific name on a panel, contribute comments to a digital guest book, and locate the display of a specific panel when it is laid out on the National Mall.
To create these and other experiences, Balsamo (pictured, left) and her team are collaborating with a nation-wide network of artists, computer scientists, industry researchers and digital humanists.
"What we're learning through these collaborations," Balsamo said, "is that this project that began in the digital humanities - with its emphasis on the digital dissemination and preservation of an important piece of international cultural heritage - also raises interesting challenges for computer science and research."
For example, Balsamo and her co-PI, Dale MacDonald (also of the Annenberg Innovation Lab), have been working with Microsoft developer Lei Yu to create a prototype of an analysis tool for the AIDS Quilt Digital Archive that would allow a user to filter the database of quilt images according to specific parameters: state, birth date, age, gender, submission date, etc. Such a sophisticated search capacity will enable researchers to investigate new dimensions of the creation of the Quilt, such as how it grew over time and the global distribution of panel submissions.
In the course of producing the prototype, Lei Yu learned that the scale and size of the database strains the capacity of consumer grade computers. This means that the creation of this analysis tool is going to require a breakthrough in the computation over large sets of meta-data rich images.
Balsamo and her team created a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the AIDS Memorial Quilt Web Application. If you would like to contribute, please visit their Kickstarter page.
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Annenberg Innovation Lab
AIDS Quilt Touch