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DigiCULT
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Info
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`The traditional mandate of the museum
is to preserve, display and interpret
objects. In a virtual community people
can bring in their own digital objects and
with them their own interpretations.This
is a meaningful participation and contri-
bution by the public, which can harness a
lot of creative energy, generate a broader
knowledge-base, and extend expertise
across invisible geographic borders.'
Collaboration and Virtual Communities is
the subject of the DigiCULT Thematic
Issue available from
http://www.digicult.info/pages/Themiss.
php. For more information about The
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, visit
http://www.imj.org.il
B
Y
G
UNTRAM
G
ESER AND
J
OHN
P
EREIRA
I
n autumn 2003, the DigiCULT secre-
tariat conducted a survey for feedback
on how the DigiCULT products have
been received so far by users as well as
clues as to how to better serve the needs of
the heritage institutions throughout
Europe and beyond.
A
questionnaire was sent to more
than 350 institutions who had
previously received copies of
DigiCULT Thematic Issues,Technology
Watch Report 1 and the digital
DigiCULT.Info newsletter.We kept the
questionnaire fairly short, asking for gene-
ral information on technology use in the
institution, the usefulness of the
DigiCULT Publications, and some admini-
strative information.
objects, but it can be instrumental in col-
lecting digital artefacts or scientific data,
give meaning to them and thus expand
shared knowledge and community narrati-
ves.'
`Reversing the traditional relationship of
museum and visitor,' says Hazan, `museums
can build horizontal fraternities, where lea-
dership shifts from one to the other,
depending on the narrative shared by the
community, and the goals the group have
set themselves.The members of the com-
munity offer and accept each other's views
seriously.This is the essence of a commu-
nity, where everybody can be an expert
and where each member may learn from
one another.'
Museums can harness virtual communities
to build new symbiotic relationships. As
collections become accessible online, all
members of the community museum-
based curators and educators, and remote
visitors may then share and contribute
their own knowledge and narratives to the
communal knowledge base. Hazan: `Virtual
communities can be instrumental in
expanding our knowledge of the role of
objects in daily life, or in collating scienti-
fic data distributed over vast geographic
distances. By nature museums collect
extraordinary objects.They conserve them,
display them and interpret them, thus buil-
ding a knowledge base around them. A
virtual community can not replace a
museum when it comes to these kinds of
GENERAL RESULTS
S
eventy-three questionnaires were
returned, of which at least one was
from an institution located in each
of the following countries: Australia,
Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus,
Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia,
Finland, France, Germany, Greece,
Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy,
Liechtenstein, Malta,The Netherlands,
Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Sweden,
United Kingdom and the USA.
T
he distribution of the respon-
dents according to organisation
type is shown in the following
table.This represents the broad range
of institutions that make use of the
DigiCULT products:
Ministries and national
agencies
National libraries
Other libraries and library
services
Museums and galleries
National and other archives
Federations and professional
associations
Cultural networks and
service organisations
Research and teaching
centres
Commercial companies,
consultancies
Total
D
I G I
CULT U
S E R
S
U RV E Y
2003
12
16
3
6
4
6
10
11
5
73