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The Digital Culture Forum (DigiCULT Forum, IST-2001-34898) monitors and
assesses research and technological developments in and for the cultural heritage sector
in Europe. DigiCULT received support from the European Commission's Information
Society Technologies (IST) Programme under the 5th Framework Programme. It is not a
new initiative. It is the successor to a strategic study commissioned by the Cultural
Heritage Applications Unit of the European Commission's Directorate General for the
Information Society.
DigiCULT's 2002 report, Technological Landscape for Tomorrow's Cultural Economy investi-
gated the technological issues that cultural heritage institutions needed to address over
the following five years. Acknowledged experts joined discussions to identify the most
pressing technological problems memory institutions were likely to face during this
period.They recommended political and institutional action required if cultural heritage
organisations were to obtain the maximum benefit from the opportunities technology
was opening.While it is hoped that readers will have the opportunity to study that
report itself, this paper draws attention to several challenges the study showed were
facing Europe's institutions.These included the need:
- to provide access to the riches of European cultural heritage by enabling interoper-
ability between its various sectors.This can only be achieved if issues associated with
variation in standards and interoperability across these sectors can be addressed;
- to build tools and systems to tackle the increasing volume of material needing to be
digitised and maintained in accessible forms;
- to address the technological, intellectual, legal and economic problems related to
archiving and long-term preservation of cultural heritage content;
- to unlock cultural heritage resources by offering personalised, highly interactive,
stimulating, hybrid environments and shared spaces to foster the construction of
cultural heritage content; and,
- to enable players from different sectors and users to participate actively in creating
enriched environments for cultural heritage services by building easy-to-use, intelli-
gent, collaborative and highly interactive tools and
systems for non-technical users.
Meeting these challenges depends not only on con-
tent creation, but also on access to information about
technological developments and opportunities.
The cultural heritage sector suffers from a lack of
access to accurate, accessible information about current,
near- and longer-term technological developments.
Furthermore, the sector has no reputable source which
reviews the experiences of its institutions as each
attempts to take advantage of newer technologies,
whether they be methodological, technical, or
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