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In addition, there are some issues that cultural heritage institutions should reflect on
before establishing personalisation services.
First, there is usability. Personalisation should not be an excuse for bad design, and the
focus should be on setting up a useful and usable service that allows users to intelligently
navigate and discover resources themselves.The second issue is related to privacy. As per-
sonalisation means collecting personal information of users, there is a threat of interfering
with the user's privacy.Therefore, with regard to the active collection with data as through
fill in forms, users need to explicitly part with the information they provide. In cases where
information is gathered passively, without users being aware of it, there should be a policy in
place, informing users what information is collected and how it is used (privacy statement,
information disclosure).Thirdly, before setting up a personalisation service, cultural heritage
institutions need to define of how they measure "success". Success could be many things.
On commercial sites, it could be increase in sales or conversion of "lookers" into buyers. For
cultural heritage institutions it could be frequency of use or returns to site.
So, what's in there for cultural heritage institutions? A lot, as maintained by recent user
studies carried out by the Canadian Cultural Heritage Information Network CHIN.
According to Lyn Eliot-Sherwood, Director-General of CHIN,Canada, as exploding
information quantities make it increasingly harder for customers to locate what they want,
in the future they will increasingly rely on a limited number of trusted sources. Users will
stay within their portal of interest at the expense of free surfing on the Internet. Persona-
lisation offers one way for cultural heritage institutions to create and maintain a loyal
audience who likes to return to their site.
Users creating content: new authoring tools for non-technical users
"The promise of the web was that everyone could publish, that a thousand voices could flourish,
communicate, and connect.The truth was that only those people who knew how to code a web page
could make their voices heard. Blogger, Pitas and all the rest have given people with little or no
knowledge of HTML the ability to publish on the web."
Rebecca Blood, 2000.
In the future, it will be increasingly important for cultural heritage institutions to get
users actively involved by letting them create their own content as an integral part of
connecting cultural heritage resources to people's live.The electronic publishing explosion
on the web itself is the best indicator that users seem to have a sincere need to create
content about themselves, their lives and their interests. On site, this could be achieved by
providing the means that allow users to "take home" part of the exhibition in digital form
for further use. Online, it implies providing the tools that enable users to create their own
content, to contribute their expert knowledge, their personal "exhibition" or private link
basket. In both cases, a requirement for making this happen are easy-to-use, non-technical
tools that make publishing as simple as possible.
At present, those simple authoring tools that let users put together their own content are
missing from most cultural heritage sites, although we see glimpses, like the Hypermuseum
Theme Generator.