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DigiCULT 71
platforms for access and the need for more open
source applications'. He was troubled that `the design
of many web pages today is optimized for specific
browsers making migration and long-term preserva-
tion more difficult'.
Neanderthal Museum Director Gerd-Christian
Weniger saw tourism value in cross-media online
access to collections of major European museums and
narrative stories of European prehistory and history
using objects from the museums as proofs. He said:
`Part of the presentation should be all kinds of tourist
information to encourage visiting and the preparation
of tours. Millions of Europeans are making holidays in
Europe and should have easy contact with the cultur-
al heritage.'
The problem? `The components for this kind of
virtual network are already available but cultural insti-
tutions lack money and personal capacity for digit-
al registration of their collections. Closer cooperation
between tourist companies and cultural institutions
would create a win-win situation.'
BBC Technology Manager Richard Wright had
an even bigger dream. `The biggest breakthrough is
probably political seeing a European cultural col-
lection as a valid and necessary EC task. We don't
have European museums. In the digital world, there
is every reason to consolidate "digital heritage" at the
European level: sustainable, cross-national and cross-
cultural research, economy of scale, common, multi-
lingual access.' He warned that his dream was `seen as
too expensive and not the EC's business'.
But he had an answer: `The expense could be
addressed by RTD in cost-effective repositories and
by research in broader and deeper access methods:
new services, comprehensive metadata, usable search
tools. Communication with all European sources of
material needs to be established, and a legal frame-
work, such as Creative Commons,
93
needs to be adopt-
ed to support "donations" of material to this umbrella
European collection.'
Jason Kiss, from the Canadian Heritage Information
Network, wrote: `Sustainability is a basic limitation for
all envisioned RTD developments. With research and
development occurring at such a great pace and in
such volume, time to investigate and digest it all is a
limiting difficulty.' He also sought `more research into
completely novel business models that do not borrow
from past models'.
Karianne Albrigtsen Aam, of the Norwegian
Archive, Library & Museum Authority, wanted `a
stronger frame of international standardization regard-
ing compatibility of data; tools to present and offer
resources to the public. To make everyone run in the
same direction, we need international guidelines that
can be used locally or nationally'.
And so the ideas came bursting through: a copy-
right framework allowing content valuation and
exploitation; more idea sellers to make institutions
aware of new opportunities; flexible, interactive,
intuitive user-friendly systems that support the curios-
ity of users; reliable voice recognition systems; naviga-
tion systems for exploration, not just guided tours;
and many more.
One writer got a bit carried away, though. A gov-
ernment body officer thought that among new prod-
ucts worthy of creation should be a digital presence
`to save disappearing cultures such as Maori, indig-
enous Australians, Nuie and Yorkshire.' Nuie Island-
ers, Aboriginals and Yorkshiremen may be dwindling
breeds, but New Zealand's tangata whenua (people of
the land), the Maori, are burgeoning, their numbers,
culture and language happily growing exponentially.
That apart, what the roadmap responses reveal is the
growing risk that small cultural heritage institutions
will be left behind as the main focus of information
and communication technology (ICT) development
in the heritage sector concentrates on medium to
larger institutions. The reasons for this unfavourable
development are not primarily technological in nature
but organisational. They can be summarised as the
institutional `trilemma'
94
of lacking human resources,
lacking funds, lacking technical skills.
A broader perspective is given in The DigiCULT
Report. Technological landscapes for tomorrow's cultur-
al economy,
95
which addresses key issues of politi-
cal frameworks, organisational change, exploitation,
and existing and emerging technologies. Valuable fur-
ther recommendations that concentrate mainly on
improvements for smaller institutions may be found in
a recent report on an e-Europe agenda for local services
by the PULMAN Network of Excellence.
96
93
Creative Commons,
US-based online project
offering `flexible copyright
for creative work'. http://
creativecommons.org
94
Guntram Geser,
"Assessing the readiness of
small heritage institutions
for e-culture technologies",
DigiCULT.Info Issue 9,
November 2004, pp. 8-13.
http://www.digicult.info/
pages/newsletter.php
95
The DigiCULT Report.
Technological landscapes for
tomorrow's cultural economy.
Guntram Geser and Andrea
Mulrenin (Luxembourg:
European Commission, DG
Information Society, 2002).
Available for download
at: http://www.digicult.
info/pages/report.php
96
PULMAN: Public
Libraries, Museums and
Archives: the e-Europe Agenda
for Local Services. Final
Report of the PULMAN
Network of Excellence.
Edited by Rob Davies
(Luxembourg: European
Commission, Directorate-
General Information, 2003).
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