What kind of creative possibilities can be realised if digitised cultural data is made freely available and reusable? What is presented here is Altlas an interesting and promising approach chosen from the Coding Da Vinci Ost 2018 intitiative that brought together creative media designer and cultural institutions.

Altlas is a VR Desktop Application for an interactive discovery tour through time and space. Based on historical maps and metadata from Leibniz-Instituts für Länderkunde e.V., Geographische Zentralbibliothek, and Wikidata the user has the choice between different sets of maps that are categorized into different topics allowing for interactive control comparing historical maps with geographical situation at present. A magnifier can be used to enlarge details. Additional information related to the maps can be displayed. The whole scenario is placed in a typical Victorian study room pimped up with elements designed in Steampunk style.

Altlas is one of the projects that took part in the Open Cultural Data Hackathon Coding da Vinci Ost, starting in mid-April 2018 in Leipzig and was developed within 9 weeks by Joana Bergsiek, Lukas Wagner, Moritz Schneider, Lisa Ihde and Daniel-Amadeus Johannes Glöckner.

Coding da Vinci is the first German open cultural data hackathon. Founded in Berlin in 2014, Coding da Vinci brings cultural heritage institutions together with the hacker & designer community to develop ideas and prototypes for the cultural sector and for the public. It is a joint project of Deutsche Digitalen Bibliothek (DDB)Open Knowledge Foundation Germany e.V. (OKF DE)Servicestelle Digitalisierung Berlin (digiS) and Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. (WMDE).

The code of Altlas is open source and available here.

A description of the Altlas project (in German) can be found here.

An illustrative video can be viewed here.