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DigiCULT
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Info
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Red) aims to make descriptions and
increasingly digitised images of documents
held in Spanish Archives available over the
Internet in a coherent, consistent, and
comprehensive way. In its first nine months
by enabling virtual visits the AER portal
has dramatically increased use of the
archives and opened them to new audi-
ences. As well as requiring substantial tech-
nical work the authors examine the
methodological and practical preparatory
work that they needed to do to ensure that
the archival descriptions met international
guidelines. In addition, the AER Project
also aims to ensure that its holdings are
effectively used for virtual learning.While
many virtual visitors have experience using
archives others do not. The AER Project is
trying to understand the needs of these
users so that they can improve the ways that
services are provided and define e-learning
tools to support them. Projects on this
national scale were envisaged when the
Member States adopted the Lund Principles
in 2001, but we need many more.
T
he development of Internet tech-
nologies and their emerging pat-
terns of use has not only changed
how we present and access information
resources, but it has led to the develop-
ment of an environment that offers us the
ability to participate in multiple virtual
communities and to do so through one or
many identities. The growth of cyber-
space studies has become methodologically
rich and has begun to form a theoretical
grounding. Investigations such as Howard
Rheingold's The Virtual Community (1993)
and Sherry Turkle's Life on the Screen:
Identity in the Age of the Internet (1995) are
among the now classic foundations for
cyberspace studies.There is now a steady
stream of new studies of cyberculture. In
kinds of validity to digital copies.
T
he completion early in 2004 by
the National Archives of Scotland
of its Scottish Archives Network
Project (SCAN) is a formidable success
story, about which we hope DigiCULT.Info
can carry a fuller article at a later date.
But for now, suffice it to say that the proj-
ect owes much of its success to some orig-
inal thinking by Rob Mildren of the
National Archives of Scotland and the
exceptional team that he, George
MacKenzie, and Ishbel Barnes assembled.
Rob Mildren's redefinition of processes,
and in particular workflow strategies,
enabled the project to digitally image three
million pages of archive documents in thir-
ty-six months and has laid a foundation for
much more future work in using digitisa-
tion to unlock the archives of Scotland and
to make them accessible online.
I
n examining digitisation we tend fre-
quently to focus on the work of the
large institutions, such as National
Archives. There are though many smaller
projects that are worthy of mention and
Ivan Grossi and his colleague Anna Nabot
have contributed a report on one of these;
the work to improve access to the
Ecumenical Testimonies at the Cittadella of
Assisi (TECA). The project developed
core technologies to capture, store and
provide digital access to its holdings, it cre-
ated a digital catalogue of its holdings, and
it digitised many of them. If we are to
make accessible and visible the rich diver-
sity of Europe's cultural heritage as the
Lund Principles encourage then we need
many more projects along the lines of
TECA. Funding for these will need to
come at both national and regional levels.
In this case the Italian Ministero per i Beni e
fact keeping abreast of the current thinking
and recent work is challenging. The
efforts of David Silver's Resource Center
for Cyberculture Studies at University of
Washington (http://www.com.washing
ton.edu/rccs/) provides an essential monitor
of cyberculture research. Recently
DigiCULT released its fifth thematic issue
discussing Collaboration and Virtual
Communities (http://www.digicult.info/
pages/Themiss.php) in the context of the
cultural heritage. Susan Hazan, Curator of
New Media and Head of the Internet
Office at the Israel Museum (Jerusalem)
played a crucial role in shaping the prepa-
ration and intellectual framework of this
Thematic Issue Five. In this ejournal we
carry an interview with Hazan in which
she examines how virtual communities can
generate new social spaces that foster new
opportunities for heritage institutions.
These virtual communities can be used to
promote the growth of new kinds of rela-
tionships which can be `harnessed' by her-
itage institutions to promote the
`meaningful participation and contribution
by the public' and release substantial `cre-
ative energy, generate a broader knowl-
edge-base, and extend expertise across
invisible geographic borders' (see Hazan
Interview).
I
n a second interview in this issue
Paolo Buonora of the Rome State
Archive and the DigiCULT Steering
Committee shared with Daisy Abbott his
thoughts on developing digital assets to
put the cultural heritage in the hands of
`the thousands of people who might never
enter our reading rooms'. His interview
charts the opportunities created by digital
representations of analogue objects and
raises questions about whether versatility
and new research opportunities give new