Web3.0 for Cultural Heritage

The project proposal response the ECCCH (European Collaborative Cloud for Cultural Heritage) Horizon Call Consortium: 36 members, co-led by Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital History, the Post-Platforms Foundation, and Jewish Heritage Network
The Web3.0 ECCCH is a visionary digital transformation project for the cultural heritage sector, based on the Post-Platforms concept. It implements the vision of ECCCH & European Data Spaces by establishing a decentralized architecture that eliminates data silos, demonopolises platforms, and ensures data sovereignty for Cultural Heritage Institutions (CHI) and participating citizens. The core of this approach is separating data from platforms and storing it on secure servers called data PODs, that can belong to individuals, organizations, and devices.

Web3.0 ECCCH combines the IDS (International Data Spaces) architecture with personal data spaces based on the Solid project initiated by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. In this way, Web3.0 ECCCH allows heritage professionals, researchers, and other users to enjoy freedom of choice of information systems, platforms, and applications to access their data. The “security by design” layer offers a single personal key for accessing different platforms and services and implements privacy-enhancing technologies (PET) that enable answering complex queries such as “how many van Gogh paintings are in private collections in Germany?” without exposing owners’ data.

One of the long-term effects is total Inclusivity, where every person with a personal, family, or community collection can participate in the digital heritage ecosystem in full right and capacity. Publishing documents, photographs, and stories on one platform will automatically add them to the owner's personal POD, making them accessible via any other platform. Web3.0 ECCCH will provide multi-century preservation by ensuring that data is securely saved by design, regardless of who created it or which platform or tool was used. See more details in this Concept Note and this video introduction.

The Web3.0 ECCCH project is a venture of global significance, led by Europe, with the potential to impact every industry and domain.

The structure and deliverables of Web3.0 ECCCH

The project will enable GLAMs (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) to extract thousands of digital heritage collections from their existing CMS (collection management systems) into the PODs of their own, making them independent from specific vendors and allowing researchers from all over the Europe and beyond to access such data via any app/tool/platform of their choice (subject to permission of the data owner).
It is important to mention that the two major CMS providers – Axiell and Ex Libris – joined the Consortium which will simplify the roll out of PODs via their clients. We expect thousands of GLAMs to transfer their data to PODs by the end of the 5-years project.
Building upon this data, several Collaboration Scenarios will be developed, each representing a multi-institution research project with a focus on heritage objects and practices.
The Web3.0 ECCCH project will blend technological and organizational innovation. It will adopt a T-shaped approach, encompassing two dimensions: horizontally, it will demonstrate how decentralized approaches can be effectively scaled across thousands of GLAMs in Europe. Vertically, it will delve into the depth of heritage research disciplines, showcasing the transformative potential of working 'at source' on several Collaboration Scenarios spanning several institutions and disciplines.
In addition to providing access to the unprecedented volumes of data from thousands of GLAMs the project will also establish an Open Marketplace for Web 3.0-compatible apps, platforms and services. The marketplace will help SMEs, startups, researchers, and accelerators to develop the next generation of research tools having by default access to all the data in the Web3.0 ecosystem, fostering innovation and collaboration within the heritage research domain. Researchers will be able to access the same data via different tools, overcoming their individual functional limitations.
The Marketplace will seamlessly align with the Europeana Initiative. Europeana, along with its aggregators, will have an opportunity to directly enhance and enrich data ‘at source’, thereby delivering value directly to the contributing GLAMs and their local digital ecosystems. This will lead to increased benefits for participation in Europeana and amplify the impact of Europeana and its aggregators' efforts in enhancing the quality and completeness of heritage data way beyond the Europeana ecosystem.
Our two Data Space partners, SolidLab Flanders and IDSA will help us to develop the W3C/EU standard and open protocols to make sure that we develop a sustainable and open ecosystem which will last for centuries.

In 5 years:

Thousands of GLAMs will enjoy data sovereignty and independence from platforms. They will be able to change apps, tools, and platforms easily and control usage of their data
Hundreds of new tools and services will enter the Web 3.0 Marketplace and researchers, users and GLAMs will be able to try them immediately. Authorized users will get instant access to all the GLAMs data
GLAMs data will enjoy long-term preservation which comes in natural way with the new architecture, preserving the data for centuries without any additional efforts
GLAMs will enjoy the advanced cryptographic IPR and provenance control
Europeana and other European projects will get direct access to the original and up-to-date data around Europe
The project will promote inclusivity, as millions of private owners of cultural heritage objects will be seamlessly included into the ecosystem
We will see the Cultural Heritage market booming, with new business models developed by newcoming platforms leveraging advanced IPR, Persistent ID, and overall transparency of the ECCCH ecosystem