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DigiCULT 59
`Not RTD is the main issue for the cultural sector but
organizational power, experience and knowledge level
of staff, clear policies and structural funding. We have
more technology than we can deal with, and techies
finally can't solve problems. Technology is moving fast-
er than the joint knowledge base of people doing the
work and than funding levels. Everyone wants to try
out everything and we lack stable structures (financial,
expertise, organizational) to build on to. Just scattered
projects and too many diverse demands on the sector.'
Hilde Van Wijngaarden (Digital Preservation Offic-
er, National Library of the Netherlands) wrote that
a strong limiting factor of what currently could be
achieved was that digital preservation `has for too long
been only the concern of the cultural heritage sector,
while the issues at hand are technologically challeng-
ing. The CH sector needs the co-operation of com-
puter scientists and software developers.' Furthermore,
she saw a `lack of concern for durability when devel-
oping innovating technologies. Partly as a result of this
lack of concern, establishing and maintaining standards
is difficult. This should be of major concern to gov-
ernments or international organisations, who should
stimulate work on durability issues in the technologi-
cal sector.'
Political issues regarding more stable technolo-
gies, software and other industry standards were also
addressed by other participants. This Hannen (Advi-
sor, De digitale archivaris, The Netherlands) suggest-
ed: `There should be strictly demands/or standards to
software developers coming from an authority, such as
W3/DoD, so that all users know that this software is
reliable to use.' Elizabeth Selandia, an art historian and
member of the Visual Resources Association (USA),
elaborated the key point in more detail: `Competition
fosters invention, but in digital, with each new inven-
tion comes the need to support the archival storage of
the outcome. Hence, diversity in applications makes
the problems of preservation and presentation very
difficult for digital libraries and archives, both.' As a
political breakthrough towards bettering the situation,
she suggested: `Mandating a required cross platform
and user support for earlier versions of the soft-
ware would be a start. Demanding specifications that
required the perception that any given software is not
the end of the line but needs future migration sup-
port would be a next. These suggestions should have
already been in place and need to be instituted imme-
diately, so get started ... now!'
A participant from a governmental body or agen-
cy in Europe summarised his view of the current
problems, and gave pointers on how to solve them:
`A chaotic and unbalanced digital marketplace: More
"push" to employ open systems'; insufficient gener-
ic user specifications: more generic user specifications
and especially agreeing them more quickly'; `lack of
enforcement of such standards as exist: more enforce-
ment e.g. by making open systems/generic specifica-
tions mandatory in awarding project funds' and, finally,
`complexity of metadata standards: simplification'.
Drawing on her long-standing experience acquired
from, among other activities, her work as director of
the major InterPARES 1+2 projects, Luciana Duran-
ti (Professor/Archival Scholar, University of British
Columbia, Canada) made it clear that a comprehen-
sive and sophisticated conceptual framework is need-
ed `that will allow us to identify, in each cultural and
technological context, the entities to be preserved and
their digital components, and the methods for pre-
serving them in an accurate and authentic way. This
is the presupposition to the development of any pol-
icy, standards, or specific strategies. Once created, this
framework will have to be constantly refined and
the outcomes of its use will of course be always new
because of the constant technological change.'
Duranti saw the major limitations to developing
and maintaining such a framework in `the amount of
financial support going towards multidisciplinary and
international research, the lack of continuity in such
support, the ridiculous limits that they prescribe, and
the politics of granting agencies and institutions, which
rather support new research than ongoing research,
and only pay lip service to international and multidis-
ciplinary collaboration'. She urged that developing the
aforementioned conceptual framework is a complex
and long-term task, and that `any interruption implies
an immeasurable loss of ground... What needs to hap-
pen is the creation of research "institutes", as opposed
to projects, initiatives, etc., which are supported on a
continuing basis by international money coming from
agreements, for example, among the EU Commission,
North American research agencies, Chinese and Aus-
tralian institutions. Something like CERN, for exam-
ple, but with a small administration (bureaucracy
hampers research) supporting a large group of scholars
of all spheres of activity that produce cultural heritage
and from all parts of the world.'
Duranti added that it would not be acceptable that
in research areas such as physics, biology, etc. perma-
nent infrastructures capable of carrying out uninter-
rupted international and multidisciplinary research are
possible, but when it comes to preserving digital cul-
tural, scientific, artistic and other societal important
heritage some projects, committee work, workshops,
and similar things should be possible. Setting up an
international research centre for digital preservation,
DCTHI7_271104.indd 59
06.12.2004 8:38:33 Uhr