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DigiCULT 73
shows that projects carry the risk of distracting insti-
tutions from core business and imposing activities
that prove to be unsustainable after the funding peri-
od. Critics further point out that the majority of such
projects favour financing the technological infrastruc-
ture, that is, the hardware and software equipment,
over the development of the `wetware', i.e. the tech-
nical skills of the programmers, operators and system
administrators. Given the institutions' `trilemma' of
lack of funds, lack of human resources, lack of techni-
cal skills, there is little likelihood of small to medium-
size institutions being able to participate in research
and technological development projects that devel-
op new prototype applications and systems. Even the
larger institutions may have difficulty engaging with
projects to which they are required to bring their cul-
tural und scientific heritage expertise and knowledge.
So, new ways need to be found that allow cultural
heritage organisations to participate in RTD projects,
in particular, to work with researchers and technolo-
gies on the hard challenges of their `softer' themes like
archaeology, history, the arts, and so on. Most impor-
tantly, they will need to participate in what is called
`experience prototyping', which means making sure
that the culturally interested (especially those not easy
to impress) experience cultural heritage resources as
enriching, valuable to learn and know more about.
Which technologies should the heritage institutions
actually adopt to do this, and which ones can they
afford, given their limitations in budgets and skilled
technical personnel? Which technologies, beyond a
simple Web presence or a low-cost collection man-
agement application, would suit smaller institutions
without the risk of potentially unsustainable and
unmanageable technologies?
ith digital technologies developing rapidly,
the heritage sector needs some mechanism to
identify technologies that will bring benefits and pro-
vide a certain amount of sustainability over a reasona-
ble timeframe. Since March 2002, this has been one of
the tasks of the DigiCULT project.
In a way, DigiCULT started this expedition report
by monitoring and assessing, over about three years, a
broad spectrum of technologies likely to benefit the
heritage sector. The project has identified and evaluat-
ed a total of 20 technological families, the proven
ones as well as those that are emerging, identifying
their benefit, potential and appropriateness to the cul-
tural heritage sector.
The term `technology' has been understood and
used in its broadest sense to cover methods, standards,
hardware, software applications, as well as interesting
concepts like `Learning Objects', software develop-
ment, and service models like Open Source solutions,
ASP, etc.
In addition to the expedition report, some impor-
tant questions are: Which technologies monitored by
DigiCULT are likely to find wider adoption by insti-
tutions of different sizes? Why is this so? And what
is the likely timescale? The next questions then, of
course, would be: What about the next families of
new, or advanced generations of existing, technolo-
gies? Is there any chance of adopting these?
In the diagram below,
technologies monitored by
DigiCULT before embarking on the present expedi-
tion are clustered according to two criteria: the size
of the institutions likely to adopt certain technologies,
and the timeframe for this adoption.
All of the technologies included in the diagram
are covered in chapters of the DigiCULT Technology
Watch Reports
and/or a DigiCULT Thematic Issue,
which are available for downloading (free of charge).
The publications contain case studies of interest-
ing projects. The Technology Watch Reports provide
many scenarios for institutions of varying sizes in the
different cultural domains ... archives, libraries, muse-
ums, galleries, etc. ... on how they might implement
and use the technologies.
What the diagram illustrates is the expectation that,
over the next six years, only the large cultural heritage
`players' will adopt the latest group of technologies:
Virtual Reality, cultural agents and avatars, new user
DigiCULT Technology
Watch Reports (Report 1,
February 2003; Report 2,
February 2004; Report 3,
December 2004). http://
DigiCULT Thematic
Issues, 1-6, 2002-2004.
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