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DigiCULT
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Info
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alternatives.They offer technical solutions
to users that are low risk, standardised, reli-
able, and low cost (if not free).This intro-
duction was written using Open Office
rather than the more commonly used pro-
prietary alternative from a company based
in Washington State. Open Office is easy
to use, friendly, feature rich, and cost effec-
tive. Moreover, it has a low learning curve.
After reading Andrew McHugh's article a
useful followup resource might be The
IDA Open Source Migration Guidelines
(Version 1.0) (http://europa.eu.int/ISPO
/ida/export/files/en/1603.pdf).This pro-
vides IT managers and practitioners in
public administrations (within Europe)
planning or doing migrations to open
source software with a comprehensive
introduction to experience based best
practices.The authors, from netproject
Ltd
, report that the use of OSS in the
server environment `is well understood
and is extensively deployed' but `deploying
OSS on the desktop for most organisations
offers the largest cost savings' (October
2003, p. 12).The decision in May 2003
of the Munich City Council to migrate
its 14,000 desktop and notebook comput-
ers from Microsoft Windows products to
Linux and open-source software was wide-
ly reported (see for example, http://www.
computerweekly.com/Article122160.htm).
Richard Seibt, the CEO of SuSE Linux
AG, commented at the time that the `city
clearly sees Linux not just as providing cost
savings over costly, proprietary software,
but also as the best tool for the job bring-
ing security, stability, flexibility and privacy
not available to them before.'
D
arryl and Judy Mead, of M Squared
Consulting, report on a detailed study
they produced on the twenty best steward-
ship information sources they identified on
the Web. Stewardship in this context
includes collections management, care and
access as applied to portable cultural her-
itage.The report drew a number of conclu-
sions among them that a substantial
North Carolina (Chapel Hill) are gaining
practical experience addressing the structur-
al, rights, and technical complexities that
make development of video archives diffi-
cult. Meng Yang and colleagues provide an
introduction to the work of The Open
Video Project.Their paper investigates the
obstacles that make development and man-
agement of video archives challenging, and
sketches the practical approaches (e.g. video
segmentation technologies) that can
improve the usability of archives of this
kind.The work of the project provides a
fundamental building block for further
research and activity in this area.
W
hile heritage institutions aim to
increase their use of technology
they are looking at ways of reducing the
costs associated with doing so.Thomas
Finholt from the Collaboratory for
Research on Electronic Work (CREW) at
University of Michigan's School of
Information examines how Application
Service Providers (ASP's) might offer insti-
tutions a way of doing this.Their research
enabled the team at CREW to draw a
number of conclusions that are of value to
the heritage sector. Among them is the
recognition that the public sector institu-
tions most likely to benefit from ASP's are
the medium-sized organisations as they are,
as Finholt explains,`big enough to need
efficient information technology and sup-
port but are not big enough to carry the
costs of the equipment and staff.' It is widely
recognised that heritage institutions remain
poorly supported by information technolo-
gies. Many heritage institutions find them-
selves struggling to keep pace with the
opportunities offered by technology and
visitor expectations (see for example,
http://www.hlf.org.
uk/dimages/needs_ict.pdf).
A
nother way to reduce technology
costs is to move to open source and
free software programmes (OSS and OFS),
and Andrew McHugh investigates these
Weltkultur beflügelt (world culture gives
wings) it asks all who pass to consider the
liberating power of the cultural heritage.
Articles in this issue of DigiCULT.Info all
show the power of new technologies in
helping cultural heritage institutions in
achieving their objective of improving the
care, understanding and benefits of cultural
heritage to individuals and society. Reflect-
ing on the phrase Weltkultur beflügelt, we are
reminded that technology is an enabler and
not an end in itself.
W
e often think of our heritage main-
ly as the materials held by archives,
libraries, and museums, but our natural,
environmental and biological heritages have
equal, if not more primary, merits.
Launching the Digital ARK describes a
Bristol based project that is making use of
digital technologies to select, collect, make
accessible, and preserve in peretuity a digital
record of the Earth's biodiversity begin-
ning with the endangered species of the
British Isles.The project has had to address
formidible organisational, intellectual prop-
erty rights, and technical challenges as it
strives to build a descriptive, audio, still and
moving image record of these species. An
accompanying interview with the Senior
Education Officer at ARKive introduces us
to the thinking that lies behind their use of
games to promote learning.The team at
ARKive started with the recognition that
play had value as a learning medium.They
then took their digital asset base and built a
series of interactive educational materials
on top of it. The educational team at
ARKive recoginsed that maximum value
comes not from the content itself but from
the ways technology enables us to increase
the value of the content and make it work.
D
emand for digital video materials for
learning, teaching, and research pur-
poses continues to grow. A team led by
Gary Marchionini at the Interaction Design
Laboratory at the School of Information
and Library Science at the University of