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Name of Collaboratory :


Collaboratory for Annotation, Indexing and Retrieval of Digitized Historical Archive Material (COLLATE)


Logo :


URL :  

Collaboratory Status :

Completed   Start Date : 2000 End Date : 2003 Info Last Updated : Thu, Dec 9 2010 2:00am PST

Primary Collaboratory Function :

  Community Infrastructure Development  

Secondary Collaboratory Functions :

  Product Development, Expert Consultation, Distributed Research Center  

Domain(s) :

  MATHEMATICS/COMPUTER SCIENCES >Computer Science >Information Science and Systems
HUMANITIES >History >History, General
Cultural heritage

Brief Description of the Collaboratory :


The overall goals of the COLLATE project were to implement and evaluate in real life a “collaboratory in use” that offers new ways of document-centered knowledge work to distributed user groups. In an interdisciplinary approach, research and development within COLLATE focused mainly on two target areas, i.e. establishment of
• an innovative, comfortable working environment for domain experts and information consumers providing task-based, context-aware support of the users’ collaborative work with digitized data,
knowledge and metadata included in COLLATE’s digital repository;
• a comprehensive digital library/archive for European historic film documentation that has thoroughly been analyzed, interpreted, indexed and annotated by a multi-national team of film

For a prototypical application domain they chose the heritage of European film making in the 20ies and 30ies. They incorporated a large body of multiformat, multimedia documents in the digital collection. The COLLATE system technologies, however, were designed to be easily adaptable to other – similarly information- intensive – application domains and usage contexts.

The COLLATE project documents the experiences of the domain experts’ real-life work using the collaboratory for in-depth indexing and annotation of the document collection as well as for detailed case studies on film censorship.


COLLATE will develop a Web-based collaboratory for archivists, researchers, and end-users to access and work with digitized cultural materials from three major film archives in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Using an XML document repository system, COLLATE will allow access to domain experts and end-users to index, annotate, and search. The multi-format, multimedia archives consist primarily of historic textual documents as well as a subset of enriched film documentation including photos, posters, and film fragments. The three archives will act as the first pilot users.

COLLATE's goals are to ensure collaborative accessibility of cultural heritage and establish evidence for the acceptability of a collaboratory in the historical domain. On top of the distributed digital repository, COLLATE will function as a "collaboratory in use," supporting distributed user groups by dedicated knowledge management facilities like content-based access, comparison, and in-depth indexing/annotation of digitized sources. Historians and domain experts will provide in-depth annotations in an effort to create an expert knowledge base. Professionals' experience with the system will be documented and empirically evaluated.


Access to Instruments :

  The software is available on the Website, but is password-protected.  

Access to Information Resources :

  Remote access to distributed database containing digitized archive and expert annotations.

The developed system technology incorporates cutting-edge document pre-processing facilities, XML- based content management and advanced content-based retrieval functionalities. The document pre- processing modules employ innovative technologies for digital watermarking of documents, automatic intelligent document analysis/recognition and automatic content-indexing of image and video material. The COLLATE core system modules for data management and access/retrieval are complemented by a multi-agent-based collaboration layer and user interface system that offers situation-dependent, pro- active assistance to the COLLATE users in their collaborative indexing and annotation work.

As a virtual knowledge and working environment for distributed user groups, the COLLATE system provides content-based access to the repository and appropriate task-based interfaces for analyzing, comparing, indexing and annotating the material. It supports the users’ individual and collaborative work with the sources, continuously integrating the user-created knowledge (metadata, annotations, etc.) into the system. This growing body of metadata is exploited by the COLLATE system using intelligent document processing and advanced XML-based content management and retrieval functionalities.

Access to People as Resources :

  Not Applicable  

Funding Agency or Sponsor :

European Commission
Information Society Technologies - Eurpean Commission (IST)
Preservation and Enhancement of Cultural Heritage Unit - IST - European Commission (DigiCULT)

Notes on Funding Agencies/Sponsors:
European Commission under the IST Programme's Cultural Heritage action lines (IST-1999-20882)


Notes on Participants/Organizations:


Communications Technology Used :

  Standard groupware products, plus:
1. integration of advanced document processing and groupware functions to allow for collaborative inspection and interpretation of source material, e.g., tagging, annotating and interlinking;
2. support of specific tasks and conventions in scholarly work, such as protection of intellectual property where individuals or groups contribute unpublished parts of their work or assets;
3. organization of discussions and typical procedures of scholarly work, such as preparing a source edition or assembling and creating material for an exhibition or publication.

Technical Capabilities :

  Management of technical resources
Access control/login facilities
Support for transition between synch and asynch
Directory of services/experts/resources
Asynchronous object sharing
Index/metadata, General search capability, Vetted knowledge based of multiple authors, Email/attachments
Asynchronous conversation
Annotation on objects, Threaded discussion, Web forms, Email
Synchronous object sharing
Telepointers/annotation, Application sharing
Synchronous conversation
Instant messaging/chat
  Key Articles :  

Stein, A., Keiper, J., Bezerra, L., Brocks, H., & Thiel, U. (2004). Collaborative research and documentation of European film history: The COLLATE Collaboratory Journal of Digital Information Management, 2(1), 30-39.


Project-reported performance data :

  Images of the Collaboratory:  
COLLATE architecture
COLLATE architecture
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