One of the primary avenues of research at MATRIX has been to develop more useful and accessible multimedia & digital archives. From a trip to the Louvre, the Library of Congress, or ancient Egypt through the Theban Mapping Project, the Internet has given students, educators, and researchers unparalleled access to information. Not only is digitization opening massive amounts of information to public consumption it is also preserving for generations to come through digitization efforts. This trend has been helped through lower technology costs in digitization and preservation, as well as the creation of emergence of new standards and practices created by the library community that speak to the digital age.
While all these factors have made the availability of online materials flourish, it has also led some to rethink the term access and what it means to make digital objects accessible online. When at one time it was enough to simply make a digital object accessible through a browser or media player, it is now argued that many digital objects are only accessible to users as they are contextualized and given meaning through the resources around them. While the library and archive community has been instrumental in developing those standards that have brought the proliferation of content online, the trope of the library has limited access and use of those objects. The notion of the singular object, the solitary book on the shelf seems to have been transferred from the walls of the library to online repository. Trends in metadata have illustrated this. While standardized metadata is necessary for cataloging and maintaining a digital object, it also restricts the ways it can be described and used. If a digital object is to become truly useful and accessible to any number of discipline and audiences, its metadata must also allow discipline and audience specific information to be attached to it. It must also leave the notion of the single object behind, and strive toward thick or complex objects that help user truly understand a digital object by allowing it to be seamlessly tied to other objects and contexts within the same system.
To this end, MATRIX has developed KORA (originally called Project Builder), an open source application that cultural and educational institutions can use to preserve digital materials and display them online. KORA is particularly well suited for working with digital objects of all media types and for easily creating displays of these objects in multiple ways that enhance their educational and research value. MATRIX has built and enhanced this application in the course of seven years of research with support from the National Science Foundation.
Read more about KORA.