background image
To create the kind of shared "collaboratory" that will allow cultural heritage institutions
to work together towards a common goal, goes beyond sharing databases, mailing lists or
using email. It requires designing and building distributed hypertext systems with advanced
content authoring and management tools that are specifically designed for non-technical
experts. Such systems could support cultural heritage institutions to collaboratively
develop and realise virtual exhibitions,
create knowledge-rich multimedia environments that offer not only objects but also
build indexes, thesauri and controlled vocabulary for particular user groups, or
aggregate topic-related resources beyond institutional and geographic boundaries.
COLLATE Collaboratory for Annotation, Indexing and Retrieval of Digitised
Historical Archive Material
Building a web-based, distributed collaborative space for archivists, researchers and end-
users, is the aim of the COLLATE-project. Users of the "collaboratory" are able to index
and annotate the digital surrogates of fragile cultural heritage resources, and create context
by interlinking the individual resources.Thus, historians and domain experts are able to
provide and share valuable information about the cultural, political and social contexts, to
allow users to better understand and interpret the historic material.Through annotation,
COLLATE also enables researchers to leave "traces" of their research in the digital archive,
thus leaving some of their expert knowledge behind for others to use.
Today, there are only few systems that allow collaborative work in the cultural heritage
sector and those systems available are not yet in wide-spread-use.Thus, collaborative tools
offers an area for research and development that should be further explored.
Are you ready to collaborate?
Collaboration is not just a technical question but is highly dependent on the willingness
to work together.Thinking about cross-institutional, cross-sectoral collaboration must also
involve some thought if we are yet ready to collaborate. Is there a common ground, i.e.
knowledge that the participants have in common? How frequently do we need to
communicate, given the fact that highly complex tasks demand frequent and complex
communication? And is our technology ready, assuming that co-workers who need to share
information also need to be willing to share and see a clear incentive for doing so?
This social aspects should not be underestimated as they can result in project failure if
they are ignored."One should not attempt to introduce groupware and remote
technologies in organisations and communities that do not have a culture of sharing and
collaborating. If it is decided that the organisation needs to collaborate more, that more
knowledge needs to be shared, then one has to align the incentive structure with the
desired behaviour." (Olson, Olson, 2000)
In fact, imposing technology on staff that is not yet ready to embrace complex tools,
rarely works.This should also be kept in mind when we talk about closing the technology
gap, later in this chapter.