The Venice Time Machine project

The Venice Time Machine project

How about getting on a time machine and visiting Venice in 1014?

The Venice Time Machine (VTM) project is a joint eVTMffort between EPFL, Università Ca’ Foscari and Archivio di Stato di Venezia that aims to convert 80 km worth of archival records documenting 1000 years of Venetian history into open-access big data.

Mr. Michele Petochi, Senior Advisor the President of EPFL and Managing Director of EPFL Venice presented the VTM project to potential counterparts from industry and academia in Japan at the Embassy of Switzerland.

Under the scientific leadership of Prof. Frederic Kaplan’s Digital Humanities Lab, VTM brings together an international pool of researchers from different disciplines ranging from X-ray tomography and robotic scanners, history of libraries and written communication to metadata. The specialists will work closely to digitize the 2.5 billion pages of materials, transcribe the hand-written documents and then create a structured database for data mining. The outcome is expected to enable future historians to study thousands of materials for their studies instead of only a few documents. This may help to dig deeper and include new perspectives and insights on how society and economy evolved.

EPFL is also considering creating the first Master of Science degree course recognizing humanities as a technological field. The focus would be on the creation, processing, representation and interpretation of big data. EPFL has already started a summer school in Venice in 2013 in collaboration with the Università Ca’ Foscari as an advanced graduate training program in digital humanities. The main goal of this short-term program for PhDs, post-docs and other selected students is to model the city throughout the centuries.

The VTM presentation was jointly organized by the Science & Technology Office Tokyo, Swiss Embassy and the Italian Embassy. A networking reception was hosted by the Ambassador of Switzerland to Japan so participants could exchange opinions and ideas on the project.


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