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DigiCULT 67
T
HE
TECHNOLOGY
IS
THERE
,
BUT
SO
ARE
LEGACY
DATA
,
SKILL
AND
FUND
SHORTAGES
M
any respondents to the roadmap survey were
under the impression that technology had not
developed far enough to meet cultural heritage needs,
but others were more sanguine. All agreed, however,
that it was not always an easy task applying what was
available.
Australia's University of Melbourne Science and
Technology Heritage Center Director Gavan McCa-
rthy,
85
commenting on technological and seman-
tic interoperability, wrote: `It will be difficult to make
significant progress in this area in the next 10-15
years beyond demonstration models. We are currently
working with the National Library of Australia using
XML-based data sharing systems based around con-
textual information rather than resource information
directly.'
He said the problems lay in: `Quality of legacy data
and systems that are not compliant with the emerg-
ing context information standards (ICA, CIMI, etc.).
Perhaps the biggest issue is with the very poor under-
standing of this area of development in general (it is
new) by managers, executives, IT folks and cultural
heritage practitioners ­ and especially those handing
out the research funding.'
Another respondent, discussing methodologies for
large-scale, distributed libraries, thought `a great deal
could be achieved on this area of RTD'. He wrote:
`The technology is already available to digitize and
preserve collections and metadata schema are much
more advanced and flexible in order to deal with the
description and retrieval of these collections.'
Milton Keynes Museum's Roger Drage knew about
the `ever more powerful graphics, processing and stor-
age systems now appearing' but had strong misgivings.
He put it simply: `The production of the final product
is still dependent on the expertise of external firms
rather than the cultural sector itself. The final outputs
are therefore variable in quality.' His solution was sim-
ple, too: `One way for the cultural sector to engage
with this area is for someone to create a basic "shell"
program to allow museum/gallery/cultural sector
staff to produce their own interactive tours as a basic/
intermediate level. It has been done with web-page
creation software, why not with this?'
Jari Lybeck, Director of the Provincial Archives of
Hämeenlinna, Finland, noted `a wide variety of tools
(technically speaking)' and was concerned that `con-
tent planning needs more attention; co-operation
between content experts on the one hand and IT-spe-
cialists on the other'.
It was a theme echoed by a number of other com-
mentators. Italian consultant Attilio Romita saw many
small limitations preventing heritage sector institutions
achieving their aims. He wrote: `Not one big gap, but
a lot of small ones to access and use the information.
Some network problems; some tool limitations; the
expert's sometimes don't know the tools; the users are
not good at finding the information.'
Swiss archivist Niklaus Bütikofer agreed, com-
menting: `Regarding technology, all means are already
available, but some of them are still expensive for
widespread use, for example, information for outdoor
heritage objects. What else would be needed? Explore
creative new ways of presenting cultural objects,
always accompanied by study and evaluation of user
needs and behavior.'
Many participants mentioned costs. Portugal's
Museum Institute (Instituto Português de Museus)
has a string of exciting projects including Matriz, an
online catalogue of information on museum hold-
ings.
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The Institute's Senior Officer, Inês Cunha Fre-
itas, hoped that, within 10-15 years, Web sites for the
Institute's 28 museums would be up and running. She
said: `All sites must be dynamic and updated in a sys-
tem of back office/front office. Sites must develop
towards dynamic interfaces and permit creation/pub-
lishing from the user's side.'
There were still some technical barriers, but, she
said: `What has constrained us in terms of achieving
this goal is the lack of financial and human resources.'
In Britain, researchers and curators hold similar
hopes for developing three-dimensional and virtu-
85
http://www.austehc.
unimelb.edu.au
86
IPM, http://www.
ipmuseus.pt; Matriznet,
http://www.matriznet.
ipmuseus.pt
DCTHI7_271104.indd 67
06.12.2004 8:38:40 Uhr