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Shape of the Technology Watch Report
This Technology Watch Report includes six chapters, each of which is identically con-
structed. An Executive Summary sketches the technology in questions and the benefits it
will bring. It is designed to give a senior, not necessarily technologically skilled manager
enough information to be able to decide whether the technology has a place within the
organisation and to ask questions that will promote understanding of the technology.
This is followed by an Introduction to the Technology which describes how and where it is
currently used and what sorts of problems it is used to address.The next section, How
Does It Work, looks in more detail at the underlying technology, establishes its workings
and examines its benefits and risks. Appreciation of the technology is developed further
through case studies and scenarios, Application to the Heritage Sector.
A major problem with technology take-up is the process of introducing it to the
organisation.The section How do you Introduce the Technology considers the process by
which technology can be adopted and deployed within an institution. It covers the poli-
cy and organisational framework, the existing technology infrastructure required to
enable the technology to be adopted, the kinds of information resources or organisation-
al structures to make the technology appropriate and, where appropriate, considers the
level of staffing and the kinds of user-base. Supplementary documentation includes
details of relevant technology suppliers or developers and references to printed and
online technical resources that the reader may find helpful in planning the implementa-
tion of a particular technology.
It is hoped that, after reading each of the chapters in the Technology Watch Report,
readers will be familiar with:
- the nature and capabilities of the technology;
- how it works;
- how the technology can be applied to the heritage sector;
- what benefits it will bring to different heritage communities (e.g. for some a particu-
lar technology may have little value, but for others its impact might be critical);
- what obstacles are there to deploying the technology in the sector;
- what risks the technology may pose (e.g. financial, staffing, management, training);
- which organisations have adopted the technology and what benefits they have obtain
from using it;
- what evidence do the case studies provide that might encourage widespread adop-
tion of the technology; and,
- who are the main providers or developers of the technology.
The Technologies Covered in this Report
Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and especially computer-based
tools, play a central role in the creation, collection, storage and dissemination of heritage
information.This is beginning to have a profound effect on patterns of information use and
communication. Significant improvements in technology are enabling the heritage commu-
nity to make better use of information technology. Advances in hardware and software have
been accompanied by progress in other technological and methodological areas that increase
the complexity of the data structures modelled and the categories of data that computers
can handle. Several of the technologies examined in this issue reflect these developments.