Time Machine: Big Data of the Past for the Future of Europe

01 March 2019 → 29 February 2020
European funding: framework programme
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • European history
past big data Media History
Other information
Project description

Europe urgently needs to restore and intensify its engagement with its past. Time Machine will give Europe the technology to strengthen its identity against globalisation, populism and increased social exclusion, by turning its history and cultural heritage into a living resource for co-creating its future. The Large Scale Research Initiative (LSRI) will develop a large-scale digitisation and computing infrastructure mapping millennia of European historical and geographical evolution, transforming kilometres of archives, large collections from museums and libraries, and geohistorical datasets into a distributed digital information system. To succeed, a series of fundamental breakthroughs are targeted in Artificial Intelligence and ICT, making Europe the leader in the extraction and analysis of Big Data of the Past. Time Machine will drive Social Sciences and Humanities toward larger problems, allowing new interpretative models to be built on a superior scale. It will bring a new era of open access to sources, where past and on-going research are open science. This constant flux of knowledge will have a profound effect on education, encouraging reflection on long trends and sharpening critical thinking, and will act as an economic motor for new professions, services and products, impacting key sectors of European economy, including ICT, creative industries and tourism, the development of Smart Cities and land use.

The CSA will develop a full LSRI proposal around the Time Machine vision. Detailed roadmaps will be prepared, organised around science and technology, operational principles and infrastructure, exploitation avenues and framework conditions. A dissemination programme aims to further strengthen the rapidly growing ecosystem, currently counting 95 research institutions, most prestigious European cultural heritage associations, large enterprises and innovative SMEs, influential business and civil society associations, and international and national institutional bodies.

Role of Ghent University
In the CSA project (march 2019- march 2020) Ghent University will contribute to: • Work Package 2: Addressing scientific and technological challenges associated with creating the Big Data of the Past (specifically challenges concerning data and theory) • Work Package 4: Develop the strategy and implementation plan for the TM Exploitation Avenues (specifically the avenue of scholarship - Innovative, multi-scale SSH research) The Ghent University core team combines fundamental research in the humanities with innovative technological expertise. Closely related to the aims of Time Machine, the Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies and colleagues from other research groups (CartoGIS, Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities, TELIN, IDLab/Imec) have a long tradition of applying state-of-the-art ICT technology, including digitisation and (big) data modelling, to the study of heritage, from centuries-old manuscripts to digital-born data. In the future, Ghent University with the help of societal partners aims to develop a local Time Machine with a focus on the Flemish cities of Ghent and Bruges from the Middle Ages till today.