their own virtual exhibitions on their favourite subject. By offering these possibilities, users
would create links between the cultural object and their own lives, thus taking "ownership"
not in a legal, but a personal sense - of the cultural collections they were using.
Of course, as neither the institutional staff nor the average user are necessarily computer
wizards, such a system would require tools that are adequate for non-technical users, which
means that they need to exhibit new levels of "intelligence" and user-friendliness.
Linking to people's lives: The Kennel Club Index
Jennifer Trant, AMICO, USA, gave an example how cultural heritage institutions can
respond to the public's interest in cultural objects. A museum in San Francisco, USA, holds
a large collection of pictures that happens to have dogs in the settings.The curator of this
museum was approached by the local kennel club with the request to create an index of the
dog breeds that are shown in the picture. Building on the museums existing index the
kennel club created an accompanying index that classified the dogs in the picture according
to their breed.Thus, this special interest group integrated their knowledge stream with that
of the curator.
Being responsive to such requests from general users has a major social impact, as interested
individuals and groups are able to develop a special kind of ownership for particular
collections. As Trant comments:"Only by involving the public can you meet this level of
public expectations." (DigiCULT Interview, August 8, 2001)
In the future, shared hybrid environments for cultural heritage need to provide the tools
that support the following four requirements:
interworkability, i.e. the integration of people and systems in collaboratively shared
interactivity, i.e. the degree of user involvement and the level of control that is
offered to users,
intelligence, i.e. the ability to transfer knowledge into systems, and finally,
ease of use, i.e. tools and systems that respond to the needs of non-technical users.
Interworkability: Connecting people through systems
Interworkability centres on stakeholders using a commonly shared workspace to
collaboratively build a resource such as a portal, gateway, database, thesaurus, etc. Simply
linking, hosting, and/or exchanging information is not interworkability.
From a technological point of view, interworkability implies to provide the technical
support to effectively work together locally and remotely, at the same or at different times.
Johansen (1991) differentiates between four modes of collaboration. Depending on time
and distance, he distinguishes between local/synchronous, remote/synchronous,
local/asynchronous and remote/asynchronous mode. Local/synchronous or real time
encounter model, refers to face-to-face communication, at the same site, at the same time.
In the remote/synchronous mode, people work together at the same time, but from
different places; this mode is also called the simultaneously distributed model.Working
together at the same place, but at different times, is a collaborative situation we find in most
institutions today. People can share on site resources, but do not use them at the same time.
Finally, the remote/asynchronous mode refers to collaboration of people working at
different sites, at different times.