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DigiCULT 55
building such an information infrastructure `much
could be achieved, but in the first instance it will
probably only happen in small pockets'. However, for
the period 2006-2008, McCarthy wanted to see `the
emergence of demonstration systems made up of a
few trusted "nodes", and the development of interna-
tional standards for relationship mapping particular-
ly in the archive area'. But, he warned, `international
standards development is a very slow process, but an
extremely important mean by which knowledge and
thinking are developed and transmitted. It also has to
be recognised that it is a political process and may be
thwarted for all sorts of reasons that are not directly
related to the RTD.'
Also addressing semantics-based heritage infor-
mation services, McCarthy thought that it would be
`difficult to make significant progress in this area in
the next 10-15 years beyond demonstration mod-
els'. The Science and Technology Heritage Cen-
tre, which he leads, had started some projects `using
XML-based data sharing systems based around con-
textual information rather than resource information
directly'. However, McCarthy saw a major limitation
for progress in this area in the `quality of legacy data
and systems that are not compliant with the emerging
context information standards (ICA, CIMI, etc.)'.
What McCarthy hoped for in the short term of
around 2005/2006 was the realisation of well-docu-
mented XML-based demonstrator systems for content
delivery and presentation. This would require signif-
icant funding for substantive development projects,
because, as McCarthy made clear, `the difficulty is that
you need to do this with real data which makes the
projects look more like products than the real research
and testing that is required'. However, such `leader-
ship by example' as well as `the utilisation of the great
strength of the web/internet community which is the
free sharing of knowledge and technology' could rep-
resent a major breakthrough.
A critical assessment of the development towards
enhanced distributed information systems also came
from Muriel Foulonneau. Having worked as IT advi-
sor for the French Ministry of Culture and partici-
pant in the Minerva Europe project,
78
she is currently
coordinating a large-scale collaborative project of
the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC),
which represents major mid-western US universities.
The CIC-OAI Metadata Harvesting Service Project,
headquartered at the University of Illinois at Urbana-
Champaign, is commissioned to build a metadata por-
tal to enhance the access to digital library resources of
the participating universities.
Foulonneau provided a checklist of technologies
that over the next years would need considerable
improvement to allow for enhanced information pro-
vision. Related, but not limited to her field of work,
this included novel tools for creating, managing and
disseminating metadata, including all types of meta-
78
Foulonneau, among
other works, prepared
and edited an in-depth
report on the use of the
OAI-PMH in the heritage
sector; "Open Archives
Initiative Protocol For
Metadata Harvesting:
Practices of cultural herit-
age actors". Editor: Muriel
Foulonneau (Relais Culture
Europe, France), September
2003. http://www.
oaforum.org/otherfiles/
oaf_d48_cser3_
foullonneau.pdf
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