Revealing Innovation History by Using Smart Data

Revealing Innovation History by Using Smart Data Research Poster (Zeng, Zumer, Zhang)


Project: Revealing Innovation History by Using Smart Data

Dr. Marcia Zeng, Kent State University
Dr. Maja Žumer, University of Ljubljana (KSU SLIS Alumni of the Year in 2004) 
Dr. Yin Zhang, Kent State University

Project timeline: 2015 - 2019

The Liquid Crystal Institute (LCI) at Kent State University is the birthplace of liquid crystal displays and has a 50-year history of innovation. Through the work of Kent State’s faculty and alumni, the LCI has had a significant impact on the way the world sees things – on our smartphones, tablets, and computer screens. 

Funded by the Kent State University Research Seed Grant and Postdoctoral Seed Program, Drs. Zeng, Žumer, and Zhang used the Liquid Crystal Institute as a case subject to develop and demonstrate a network framework of innovation history by using smart data, dealing with unknown unknowns. 

To deliver the network framework and timeline of the institute’s innovation history, the project team used comprehensive data from across disciplines and perspectives and the implementation of information organization. But revealing the innovation history of LCI with the available data was complicated by unconventional challenges.

The availability of data resources in historical data could not be obtained through web crawling. The project relied heavily on heritage materials carrying the verifiable facts which are not machine-processable, such as the archival files, annual reports, and oral history materials. Evidence of the achievements reflected in patents and publications have been carried by various data warehouses separately and incompletely, while most are not freely accessible. After gathering the facts about the people and organizations involved in the LCI’s 50 years of research, the project had to handle existing databases and textual materials for patents, grants, academic publications, archival materials, personal profiles, named entities, geographical locations, etc. in unconventional ways, and align them with the correct timeline.

In the face of these challenges, the project team employed principles of smart data. This poster, presented at the Conceptions of Library and Information Science (CoLIS) 2019 International Conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia, explains the concept of smart data, which emphasizes the organizing and integrating processes from unstructured data to structured and semi-structured data. Further, this poster demonstrates the roadmap of this project to share a platform for any other research on innovation history and shares lessons on smart data approaches.

Student opportunities
This project has previously been supported by graduate assistants and a post-doc student from the School of Information. Interested Ph.D. students and M.L.I.S. students may contact Dr. Zeng and Dr. Zhang about related research opportunities.

Learn more

  • Website for the Liquid Crystal Institute
  • Zeng, M. L., Zhang, Y., Li, H., & Polyakov, S. (2015). Exploring smart data approaches to the history of innovation and invention at Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University. In R. B. Allen, J. Hunter, & M. L. Zeng (Eds.), Digital Libraries: Providing Quality Information. 17th International Conference on AsiaPacific Digital Libraries, ICADL 2015, Seoul, Korea, December 9-12, 2015 (pp. 346-347). Springer. 
  • Li, H., Zeng, M. L., Zhang, Y. et. al. (2017). Tackling innovation networks with smart data: A case study of the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University. Proceedings of Digital Humanities 2017, August 8-11, 2017, Montreal, Canada.