background image
66 DigiCULT
I mean information scientists, computer scientists and
cultural heritage people.'
Swiss archives lecturer Niklaus BŁtikofer, a direc-
tor of the EU's ERPANET project,
83
had another
angle on Dr Borlund's user challenges. What was baf-
fling the sector leaders was `how to motivate people
to "use" heritage information and objects and how
best to present the objects and related information to
the user'. Heritage providers often did not have ade-
quate description and context linking cultural objects
to provide users with sufficient information to find
and understand them.
All this was solvable, he thought, with continu-
ing study and evaluation of user needs and behav-
iour. How long would it all take to achieve? He was
not going to be drawn on that. He wrote: `This is an
ongoing activity which should lead to continuing
improvements.'
Surely, the provision of carefully devised metada-
ta would solve the problem for all time, would it not?
Not necessarily, said one state archivist, avowing: `A
problem is the strong belief that a common metadata
set could be found, which is false. If we have differ-
ent meaning, we will always have different descrip-
tion/metadata sets.'
Poland's Kazimierz Schmidt had sympathy with
this thought when he was responding to the road-
map's large distributed resources theme. He wrote:
`Precise finding in large distributed resources, exist-
ing in most different forms, and aggregated in most
different institutions will be possible, if we agree
common, bright standards of the classification and
description. It is not enough to accept standard
markup language (like the XML family), which let
us to describe any structure (i.e. EAD) ≠ we need to
agree the structure of metadata. The success of Dub-
lin Core shows how necessary this is. But, at so gen-
eral a level, this is not satisfactory for every solution
in institutions.'
Senior ICT consultant at the Netherlands Nation-
aal Archief, Jacques Bogaarts, thought the sector
could help itself with this problem. He wrote: `Cul-
tural heritage institutions should undertake large dig-
itisation projects creating huge amounts of digital
objects with high quality metadata. The main prob-
lems now lie with the lack of directly available meta-
data for web content.' And the problem facing that
task was almost as insoluble. `Modelling of web con-
tent is mostly technology driven and existing band-
width is not enough to do really interesting things,'
he said. `Artists and other creative people should be
working together with ICT-people to create a cyber-
space that is as exciting as a visit to Jurassic Park.'
Greek technologist Martin Doerr, Head of the
Centre for Cultural Informatics of the Institute of
Computer Science, ICS-FORTH,
84
addressed the
self-help problem, too. There were no gaps in the
RTD processes. Rather, he said, it was a `question of
social promotion'. He wrote: `Semantic interoperabil-
ity has to be solved. If the nature and structure of the
discourse in humanities is not understood, we will
just continue to produce computer games.'
His solution struck at a basic tenet of academic and
cultural heritage scholarship: `The humanities sec-
tor must understand the challenges and be involved
in new models of gaining scientific merit. Currently,
scholars are rewarded by hoarding material and creat-
ing unique conclusions. If the material becomes pub-
lic, the scholar loses scholarly merits and there is no
longer a mechanism to ensure scientific quality of the
data. So we lose scholars and data. The scholarly mer-
it has to be redefined.'
The Greek researcher set the sector his own, arrest-
ing challenge: `Active participation of scholars is
needed. Market chances are there for scholars to serve
as curators of publicly available knowledge. Knowl-
edge must be presented not as a pseudo-objective
timeless truth in an anonymous database but as the
personal provision of people and organisations that
warrant for their contents or express their best opin-
ion. A database must become a scholarly publication.
Knowledge and knowledge producers must be visi-
ble throughout the information life-cycle. This should
become part of standards, lived practice, database
designs, and intellectual property rights discussions.'
83
Electronic Resource
Preservation and Access
Network (ERPANET).
http://www.erpanet.org
84
http://www.ics.forth.
gr/isl/cci.html
DCTHI7_271104.indd 66
06.12.2004 8:38:38 Uhr