background image
studying additional material after a visit) should be established to offer her content of
greatest personal interest.This information would contribute to defining the personal
features of the avatars that the user would meet, the level of knowledge it would present,
and its interface functionality.
The team examined two approaches: whether the agent should look like a person from the
historical period presented in the virtual space (this would mean that all comments would
be made from the perspective of someone who lived at that time) or a contemporary
person (this would allow comments to be contextualised from a present-day perspective).
The group decided that agents who acted as craftsmen and/or participants in ceremonies
would be dressed according to the historical period and that the guide should appear as a
twenty-first century person. It was intended to combine two means of communication:
chat and TTS (text-to-speech technology).The user was able to decide whether the
inhabitants of the virtual worlds should speak in their own language (in this case translation
into the modern language appeared in the chat window), or speak in the contemporary
language.The chat window was also used to display facts about the exhibition.
In terms of avatars, the team agreed unanimously that the virtual visitor should see her
own actions in the virtual world. A pressing issue was how to select a character that
would not be mistaken in the crowd.The team left for the future 3D scanning of the
visitor who would appear in the virtual world as one of the inhabitants of the village.
While working on the project, the team agreed that the use of agents would not be
the only factor for the success of the virtual world.They realised that providing flexible
content and following users' preferences requires hard work to collect and organise the
material properly.The managers decided that content providers should start with story-
boards addressing the largest groups of visitors: children with general interests, children
with interest in pottery, painting or religious life (these were the first fields that the
museum presented in detail), adults without specific interests in the collection, adults
with an intermediate level of knowledge about the period, and adults with expertise. A
basic objective was to raise interest in specific crafts that would bring people to the real
museum to take part in the workshops organised there.The team suggested that logs of
the visitors' questions and profiles should be stored in order to analyse typical questions
and wishes of virtual visitors to lead future developments.
The team is now expecting that the feedback from the introduction of the virtual
exhibition, and information on the dynamics of the visits will be collected in order to
see what influence the new technology has on the day-to-day activity at the museum.
Avatars for Dance Instruction
A respected national dance school has a large number of students specialising in different
areas of dance. Some are performers, some choreographers.The school has an excellent
reputation for theoretical and historical study stretching from individual national folk
dances to the development of modern styles.The school runs evening classes for the local
community in addition to its daytime teaching activities. As well as being an educational
institution, the school is an artistic venue, presenting performances by international dancers
and its own students. Its rehearsal and performance spaces and resources have recognised
local value.The school has two sound and lighting technicians, and two dedicated ICT
professionals.
After an appraisal of the school's activities, it emerges that some staff and students feel
that the programmes and curriculum are being limited by practical issues, and the issues
Cultural Agents
and Avatars
83
TWR2004_01_layout#62 14.04.2004 14:07 Uhr Seite 83