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DigiCULT 19
tell them to get a really good scanner and make sure
to put the provenance information in the right place
and scan index cards before the objects themselves -
that sort of thing.
`Or should I warn them off digitising, tell them to
wait a decade or so because then we will have sorted
out everything?'
That brought wry chuckles from around the table,
too, and Seamus Ross murmured disquietingly: `Small
and medium-sized institutions have absolutely no
understanding of how to represent resources.' To be
fair, he had prefaced the remark with a strong call
for search tools that could help by drilling down to
find `the Medici letter behind the splash front page'.
He declared: `What we really need is search tools that
drill into catalogues to bring back and aggregate the
stuff so that it has some value. As well as addressing
the representation issues, that might improve search
engines.'
Douglas Tudhope recommended study of the
UK mda's work SPECTRUM (Standard Proce-
dures for Collections Recording Used in Museums)
XML
8
that standardised some representation issues
and the ANSI/NISO standard Z39.50
9
protocol for
Web retrievals. Traugott Koch thought the Renardus
project had produced surprising results in its survey of
Web usage. `Only 20 per cent of users come through
the Website front doors. The other 80 per cent jumps
from somewhere into the middle of the service via
search engines.'
It was, he said, a reality no-one had designed for
and gave a poor result to users. `They end up on such
a page and it is totally out of context. They do not
know what to do, they do not know what it means,
and they do not know where it comes from or what
is the logical feature before and afterwards.' If the her-
itage sector was to build on being discovered this way,
using Google or other big search engines, it needed
to redesign most of its Web pages so that each carried
its own context and help information, he said.
The Eleven spoke of passage-level retrieval,
enriched interfaces, the Web-based virtual museum
`Smithsonian without Walls',
10
the virtual learning
environment ADEPT (Alexandria Digital Earth Pro-
totype),
11
Amazon.com's `recommender technology',
and implicit and explicit feedback systems.
However, none of these applications, Jussi Karlgren
suggested, should be used by cultural heritage institu-
tions. He thought: `They should provide their infor-
mation in such a form that third party systems can
access the information. And we should give them the
information they need to provide for those systems as
well as they can.'
There was consensus among the experts that insti-
tutions could encourage users to provide their per-
sonal data in exchange for better information and
solutions. Traugott Koch agreed enthusiastically. `That
is exactly what commercial companies do. They
almost force academic users to enter IDs and pass-
words which not only enables individualised search
histories and mappings of interest but allows connec-
tion to an individual research field,' he said.
A
QUESTION
OF
MONEY
T
he search for answers was reaching its climax.
Moderator Jose wanted to pin down a combi-
nation of usage information, content based on infor-
mation retrieval techniques and metadata terminology.
He guided the Forum: `It allows us to personalise and
adapt to a particular situation. It provides a wide vari-
ety of visualisation and interaction techniques.'
Douglas Tudhope thought: `The combination of
these is interesting and, in itself, novel.'
The Forum thought that, fundamentally, the cultur-
al heritage sector was not vastly different from oth-
er information domains. It could, therefore, benefit
from most of the technology developed for the wid-
er sphere. Simple tools for creating metadata would
be useful. Existing tools were `somewhat cumbersome'
8
mda (Museum
Documentation
Association): SPECTRUM
XML, http://www.mda.
org.uk/index_rs.htm
9
ANSI/NISO standard
Z39.50. Explanatory
detail, Library of Congress
Web, http://lcweb.loc.
gov/z3950/agency/
10
Smithsonian without
Walls Website, http://www.
si.edu/revealingthings/
11
ADEPT. Alexandria
Digital Library Project,
University of California,
Santa Barbara, http://jodi.
ecs.soton.ac.uk/Articles/
v04/i04/Smith/