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DigiCULT 17
He agreed that metadata need not be applied at
the moment of creation, but it was important to be
able to show that, to take a simple example, a street
name or house number had been valid at a certain
time. The International Council of Museums' com-
mon extensible semantic framework, CIDOC CRM,
showed there was much commonality in the con-
cepts museums used as basic categories. These were
constant things that would not be re-invented in 100
`I would argue that behind the metadata there must
be a controllable, stable ontology of categories, not
what kind of data you slot in or what connections
you make at a given moment.'
Dr Ross had a cheerful example of the process
being used by London's Tate Gallery when digitising
50,000 art works. He explained: `They had the meta-
data as you describe, they knew what it was, where it
came from, when it was made. They actually took that
and linked their catalogue to the digitisation of the
visual object. But then they added subject metadata to
every one of those visual objects - between five and
40 pieces of information.'
It had transformed how users accessed the collec-
tion, he told the Forum. `Before they used to go and
search for artist and period, now they search by topic,
by subject. Unfortunately, I have to say that the most
common topic they searched for was "nude" but, still,
you would have noted that it still changed how they
did it.'
Glamorgan University's hypermedia researcher
Douglas Tudhope had a last word on the subject
before Moderator Jose dragged the Rome Eleven
back onto enabling technologies themes. `There is no
dichotomy between using metadata and language-
based approaches or content-based analysis. We can
do it both ways. Museum collection management sys-
tems have the building blocks to create metadata and
many of them conform to controlled terminologies.
Their associated text descriptions can be analysed by
information retrieval techniques and from these we
can link to the wider worlds. It is a matter of using a
combination of techniques.'
raugott Koch offered Google as an enabling
`candidate technology' saying: `A full text search
in Google will solve most of our technological prob-
lems, and just in time.' But how would users find their
answers in a digital archive of TV documentaries,
for instance? `What technologies are needed to make
this possible, that a teacher in Stockholm in five years'
time can really search through all the digital collec-
tions of TV features?'
Douglas Tudhope wanted `tools for different kinds
of search behaviours'. The need was for search meta-
data to facilitate browsing and what he described as
`serendipitous discovery' for users.
The Eleven talked of time-line links, Dublin Core
values, workflow management, provenance and flex-
ible access systems. Seamus Ross liked this last point.
It could help in many museums where heritage archi-
vists shied away from grouping objects outside the
`anachronistic form' of their physical collections. `You
would keep objects that were found together or in
the context of one another but now you can use new
technology to re-group objects of a similar type.'
The Eleven thought there was need for a study of
online usage and ways of letting owners know when
their objects were being used. They talked of official
directories, the University of California's Alexandria
Digital Library
collections of geographically refer-
enced materials and access services, and the drawings
of the `father of modern archaeology', the eighteenth-
century German art historian, Johann Winckelmann.
Dr Jose sought debate on information retriev-
al technologies but Swedish computer scientist Dr
Karlgren challenged: `We need to make a distinction
between the technologies that will develop irrespec-
International Committee
for Documentation of
the International Council
of Museums (ICOM-
Conceptual Reference
Model, http://
Alexandria Digital
Library Project, http://
Johann Joachim
Winckelmann, see
Minnesota State University
e-museum reference: