Book historians, bibliographers, and early modern scholars working on word and image relationships are no doubt excited by new digital tools that allow one to search and match images. The Oxford University’s JISC-funded Integrated Broadside Ballad Archives project has developed such software, and the capabilities of the resulting tool demonstrate the promise of image-matching software. (Developing the image-matching software tool represents only part of the project. As its title implies, the project’s main goal is “to integrate existing resources for the study of the English folk song and printed ballad tradition.” To that end, the project serves to supply a central resource hub for the Bodleian Libraries Ballad collections, University of California Santa Barbara’s online English Broadside Ballad Archive” (EEBA), and the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library’s Roud Broadside and Folk Tune Indexes.)
In a recent video, Oxford faculty Giles Bergel (English) Andrew Zisserman (Computer Science), and Relja Arandjelovic (Engineering Science) from the Broadside Ballad Connections offer a fascinating account and demonstration of the new image matching software and how it allows us to track images across early forms of printed literature. Not only is the software enabling and advancing existing scholarship, but, as Bergel notes near the video’s close, this software is generating new research questions such as “When do images became new images?”
This diagram offers a quick view of how this software operates and focuses on the following image:
One can also experience firsthand how this tool works by trying the demo.
We would be very interested in hearing about experiences using the image-matching functions of the Broadside Ballad Connections well as about other projects using image-matching software or similar tools that enable us to explore visual texts.
(Anna has plans to post on EBBA in the near future.)