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Interactivity for cultural heritage
Within the cultural sector, there are many areas where providing interactivity to users
would clearly be an asset. Mark Jones, Director,Victoria and Albert Museum, UK, sees a
great advantage in that the web allows the general public to get in contact with the
institutional experts."One of the traditional functions of museums (...) is to provide
expertise about the objects in their collections.The ability to interact with curators online is
going to improve this aspect dramatically." Yet, instead of contacting the curator directly by
email, Jones thinks more about capturing online opinion sessions with the curator, where
people can eavesdrop and have their own questions answered. Such sessions would be the
basis to build and provide FAQs dealing with many of the general inquiries in an efficient
way by producing interactive answers that can engage users. Jones argues that in the future,
this might be a service that could be delivered over Digital TV.
Another great potential is seen in taking advantage of interactivity for building
communities of interest. Besides simply using the web to announce exhibitions, Mark Jones,
thinks that the general public should be involved in building exhibitions:"When we
develop an exhibition, we advertise it on the web site.Yet, that is not the way we should be
doing things.We should create the exhibition in a developing form on the web site as we
work on it and create a community around it through the Internet at the same time as we
work on it in the museum. (...) It is about creating global virtual communities who relate to
what we do. Or, for example, the Wedgwood collectors can discuss their passion amongst
themselves and with our curatorial staff on the Internet." (DigiCULT Interview, August 9-
10, 2001)
According to David Bearman, AMICO, USA, offering a high degree of interactivity will
become a competitive factor within the cultural heritage community."In the future, we will
expect that you can manipulate digital images in many ways, turn them around, look at the
bottom, etc.Those that you cannot, will be perceived as second rate. (...) Moreover, the
museums they come from will be perceived as second rate." (DigiCULT Interview, August
8, 2001)
What we can expect is an increasing user demand for more and higher levels of
interactivity, which highlights the need for tools and systems that allow users:
to control how content is presented,
to regulate what kind of content is presented and stored for future use, and finally,
to create content themselves.
Content presentation: new tools for innovative, interactive environments
The future of presenting information will be highly interactive, immersive environments
that allow users to manipulate and control the presented resources, and handle information
objects in unprecedented ways. On the one hand, these will be virtual, 3D environments
that will enable users to manipulate and navigate between objects, and, on the other hand,
there will be augmented realities that present information as a mixture of the virtual and
the real world.
While 3D simulation over the web and three-dimensional environments on site are
already reality, augmented realities are still highly experimental.
Adding another dimension: 3D
Technology today is sophisticated enough that we can expect to see more 3D
environments in the near future, be it over the web or as truly interactive, immersive
environments on site. However, it will still be a while until true 3D will be possible over
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IX TECHNOLOGY