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technical persons to manage the system.This system works so well, that in the meantime,
two volunteer students are responsible for updating and maintaining the entire ZKM
web site.
The ZKM content management system is also available to other cultural heritage
institutions. If the data remains on the ZKM-servers, the system can be used for free; if the
organisation wants to keep the data on their own server, they need to pay DEM 2000
(EUR 1000) for a site license. Besides a couple of smaller museums in Germany, the ZKM
is currently working on a reference project with the Volkshochschule Vienna, an adult
education institute, that intends to install the system for the internal and external communi-
cation with their course participants in the many offices distributed over the city.
Creating an extended archive through automated context creation
Besides recording current trends in new media art, the content management system has
also been used to document in retrospect, ten years of new media art production and
presentation at the ZKM.The entire documentation has been converted into exchangeable
formats and integrated into a fully searchable online archive.The concept behind the ZKM
electronic archive is clear: the computer terminal and in the future also mobile devices, are
the primary access points to the digital archive or the analogue assets.The basis to make
such a system work are standardised interfaces based on open standards.
Usually, archiving the works of a particular artist starts with building a web page based on
the more traditional features, such as the artists biography, artistic/creative background, a
chronology of the artist's work, etc. In a second step, metadata is added:What other
information on the artist is available on the web, are there other pieces of art online, where
did the artist exhibit (and is there information available online?), when did a piece of art
appear first on the Internet, where is it available on the Net, who was the curator, is there
literature available, who has written what and when about the artist? This kind of meta-
information, which is based on industry standards such as ISDN, GPS, etc., is harvested
automatically by tools and agents built by the Institute for Net Development.
Automatic data harvesting is accomplished through web templates in the structured data
format XML, which allows to carry out XML-queries.These queries return many results
in form of structured text files that are automatically read into the ZKM database.To
guarantee good quality, only the first 30 results returned by queries are saved into the
database so that data can be checked by in-house staff.With this method, the Institute for
Net Development accumulated over 36.000 references in the last two years.The database
archive is automatically updated every day; the ZKM web site itself is updated 2-3 times a
Simulating 3D
With the collected data, the ZKM provides a virtual, 3D exhibition, yet without using
3D technology. As bandwidth to properly represent images in 3D over the Internet is still
not available, on the ZKM web site all 3D representations are actually simulations built
around spherical panorama images.Virtually putting the user in the centre of a sphere, the
visitor can then move and follow any kind of angle to explore the data space.They can go
through virtual exhibitions that offer more context then the real world presentation.
Through the XML-structured data, users can also decide how deep they want to immerse
into the online environment.This technology uses only a fraction of the bandwidth of full
3D visualisation (60-100 Kb instead of 3-4 Mb necessary for 3D), yet it achieves the same
result at a portion of the cost.