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68 DigiCULT
al reality processes. Kirk Martinez, a Senior Lectur-
er in Britain's University of Southampton, is seeking
`some real deployments in publicly accessible muse-
ums, libraries, etc., with "industrial strength" hardware
and software' and `new interaction methods tuned
to public access'. He was troubled by `a lack of 3D
models and virtual reality software in cultural herit-
age institutions'. He thought: `A project should help
build the resource in partnership with some key, keen
and able sites.' But, here too, the stumbling block was
funding. He forecast gloomily that the project could
be achieved `in three to five years if funded, 10 to 20
if not'.
But always, almost inevitably, it came back to tech-
no-blindness. A British university Web site manag-
er took a mournful view: `The technology is already
available to digitize and preserve collections. Meta-
data schema are much more advanced and flexible
in order to deal with the description and retrieval
of these collections. Limitations lie with that lack of
standardization and compatibility.
`For instance, digitized images take up a lot of
file storage space and can take some time to down-
load, especially when there is such a wide range of
software, hardware and browsers in use. File stor-
age capacity needs to be increased and affordable. I
understand this is on the way, if not already here, but
I'm not sure it's reached my university yet!'
And, after all, money may not be the real prob-
lem. Polish State Archives' advisor Kazimierz Schmidt
thinks it is more than that. He said: `Probably, we
have got enough money for managing highly auto-
mated large volumes of distributed digital herit-
age resources. But we have to change the attitude to
the problem. Having a lot of individual libraries and
archives was good in 19
and 20
centuries for ana-
logue collections. It was good for users who had a
library or archive close by. But, nowadays, as a user, I
do not care where the library is.'
Consultant Angela SpinazzŤ seems sure that Mr
Schmidt is right. She characterised the problem thus:
`Memory institutions must begin asking new and dif-
ferent questions. They have to open up to new ideas
and help transform the semantic space into a per-
spective space.
`Actions such as:
∑ multimedia documentation;
∑ development of community-based ontologies and a
knowledge network;
∑ the realization of centers of excellence that can
serve not only other professionals but begin to
establish new relationships based on shared goals
and objectives.
`These steps will require us to use the next decade
thoroughly in a well thought out manner. The first
step is to analyze what has been done, map it, visu-
alize it and present it in a way that demonstrates the
large gaps that exist. That step is followed by conver-
sations based on concepts and concrete issues derived
from the initial analysis.
`Perhaps at the same time there is an attempt to
map content pockets to technological infrastructure
capacity. In other words, what content do we have
that actually can be used, effectively, in a mobile envi-
ronment? The answers will make it clear just how
far we are from realization of a practical and useful
approach to ubiquitous information access, manage-
ment, and collection.'
ll in all, it sounds like a rather gloomy prospect.
But it is not. There is good news, too. Many of
the roadmap contributors had upbeat stories of suc-
cess, brilliant ideas and optimistic plans. There were,
for example, the splendid initiatives of Portuguese
museums, guided by the national museum institute
(IPM); projects like the 3D avatar of the country's
fourteenth-century warrior King Dom Joao the First.
The Alberto Sampaio Museum in Guimar„es,
north Portugal, holds the `loudel' (buff coat) the king
wore at the Battle of Aljubarrota, the most important
battle in the country's struggle for independence. The
precious garment hangs in a showcase, badly dam-
aged and very fragile. IPM superior officer InÍs Cun-
ha Freitas explained:
`The presentation of this artefact could be great-
ly enhanced by adding a virtual 3D presentation in
which an avatar of King Dom Joao I, wearing his
restored "loudel", returns from the past to tell the
story of the battle and how the "loudel" came to the
museum, allowing an educational and entertaining
travel through space and time without stepping out-
side the museum. It is considered that the interac-
tive nature of the proposed presentation will enhance
learning associated with the historical period con-
The problem was that access to state-of-the-art
technology was limited for local cultural institu-
tions. How could this be overcome? The IPM officer
thought: `An important breakthrough would be co-
operation between museums, universities and tech-
nology centres.'
pt/malbertosampaio/, an
image of the `loudel' is to
be found in the section
DCTHI7_271104.indd 68
06.12.2004 8:38:50 Uhr