By Thunnis van Oort

In December 2019, DANS has awarded a grant to convert the Cinema Context dataset into Linked Open Data (LOD). 

Cinema Context is an online database containing places, persons and companies involved in more than 100,000 film screenings in the Netherlands since 1895. It provides insight into the ‘DNA’ of Dutch film and cinema culture. Cinema Context was founded by Karel Dibbets and is currently curated by the Create programme at the University of Amsterdam by Julia Noordegraaf and Thunnis van Oort.

The DANS grant will allow us to make Cinema Context available as LOD, offering opportunities for broadening and renewing historical and cultural research, which is less feasible in the current data format. In the Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage communities there is a need to be able to query Cinema Context data in connection with external data via a sparql endpoint. In LOD-format, it will become much easier to make such links between Cinema Context and external data – about buildings, people, heritage objects and locations. For example, relating demographic data about Amsterdam population to the locations of cinemas in order to learn more about historical film audiences. 

Aim of this data project is to deliver export scripts that convert the data from the MySQL database to LOD, allowing for regular updates. This is done in a collaboration between the Cinema Context editorial staff, the Digital Production Centre of the University Library, and Islands of Meaning, a one-man company owned by Menno den Engels, programmer and data maker specialising in LOD. The selection of appropriate vocabularies and thesauri requires a close collaboration between data specialists and domain experts. Moreover, such collaboration functions as de facto training in working with LOD; the export scripts can be executed and adapted by CC’s own administrators and editors at the end of the project.