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Cultural Agents
and Avatars
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stage. Organisations may experience difficulties in drawing up detailed user profiling pro-
cedures, if such practices have not been carried out in the past. A good foundation might
include factors such as age, preferences, periods/styles of interest, specific objects to
include, and so on.
What Organisational Structures Make the Technology
Appropriate?
Avatars and agents tend to be developed by large research consortia, and private devel-
opment companies. At the moment, the best way for a cultural heritage organisation to
gain an introduction to avatar technology would be by becoming involved in such a
consortium.This will give the financial backing and technical wherewithal to produce
a quality product, as well as the freedom to experiment with different approaches. If the
organisation does not wish to get involved in a research consortium, another route would
be to study the results of projects that are already complete, and investigate the possibilities
of adapting their products in practice.
Staffing Levels and User-base Issues
The application of avatars and agent requires more than a supply of knowledge,
expertise and information; rather it should combine the efforts of different staff members
and departments together with their different views on exhibition and presentation
strategies.The implementation of avatar technology may be viewed as a challenge to
cultural heritage sector institutions, because, while it can be built around traditional
routes of studying the exhibition, the technology's potential will flourish when different
options are offered to match users' expectations and preferences.
The implementation of the technology could be centred around one core team,
collecting as many creative ideas about the collection presentation as possible. The
motivation of staff members to contribute to such a process will be one of the key
success factors. Brainstorming sessions and studying various profiles of users' behaviour in
traditional exhibition settings could be two techniques used to gather ideas on organising
the virtual environment and its future denizens.
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