efoto hamburg

…auf Deutsch

For citizens as well as for visitors of Hamburg photos of the city, of its attractions and scenes from everyday life provide a unique possibility to experience the cultural diversity of the city. To date, significant amounts of these images have accumulated and been kept in different repositories: in public and private archives, government agencies, museums, etc.. One of the key project goals of efoto was to make all of these available to the public via an interactive online platform and a mobile efoto-app, thus combining public access to data with innovative social media, social tagging and user generated content applications.

That was the original idea which my team developed and aimed to implement from its inception in 2015 until 10/2018. The project was then handed over to a new project owner; its current state can be inspected at the efoto-project website.

Project profile

The efoto project was funded by the Authority for Cultural Affairs of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. The efoto team of Prof.Dr. Jan Christoph Meister (PI), Mareike Schumacher (RA), Jacek Grzondziel (RA), Anna Ludolph and Fabian Wiez (Student assistants) cooperated with experts from the municipal authorities, museums and citizen initiatives in order address the needs of professional users as well as appeal to a variety of new user groups. Users were invited to engage with the material actively by enriching them with descriptions, stories, information – a new participatory way of dealing with images and cultural artifacts.

Image and text data, primary and metadata were stored in a Liferay- database and cross-linked so that they could be searched, combined and commented on according to user interests. efoto adhered to relevant metadata standards (LIDO, CIDOC, etc.).

What is ‘culture’ ?

Our project was based on an understanding of culture formed by Niklas Luhmann: we consider ‘culture’ as a stock of themes that encourages communication and motivates interaction on a reflective level. One of the main goals of efoto was thus to proceed from the level of the purely visual “cityscapes” to an exchange about what constitutes the culture of the city of Hamburg. Not only visual, but also mental “views” of the City of Hamburg ought to be shared with each other. efoto as we conceptualized it aimed to offer the possibility to add own stories to the pictures in the database, as well as to upload own images and tell others what they are about. As other users are equally invited to write down their associations with the photographs a multi-layered kaleidoscope consisting of narratives and counter narratives would have developed. Thus a complex cultural history of the city of Hamburg and its inhabitants could have evolved.

efoto as part of the European Digital Metropoles Network

efoto was one of the pilot projects under the eCulture 2020-agenda of the city of Hamburg and was also embedded within the European Digital Metropoles Network.