17.153 cultural heritage: publications, initiatives, sustainability

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Wed Jul 16 2003 - 04:17:48 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 153.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

       [1] From: "Sarah J. Segura" <sarah@ninch.org> (11)
             Subject: new publications on cultural heritage

       [2] From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk> (53)
             Subject: cultural heritage initiatives

             Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2003 09:11:59 +0100
             From: "Sarah J. Segura" <sarah@ninch.org>
             Subject: new publications on cultural heritage

    News on Networking Cultural Heritage Resources
    from across the Community
    July 15, 2003

    Two new publications have been issued by DigiCULT, an initiative
    established in Europe to provide a regular technology watch for cultural
    and scientific heritage. They are:

    New Technologies for the Cultural and Scientific Heritage Sector

    and Towards a Semantic Web for Heritage Resources.

             Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2003 09:12:35 +0100
             From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: cultural heritage initiatives

    Many here will be interested in the recently published report from the
    U.S., Diane M. Zorich, A Survey of Digital Cultural Heritage Initiatives
    and their Sustainability Concerns (Council on Library and Information
    Resources, June 2003), available at
    http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub118/contents.html. The following is
    from the Preface:

    >Nearly every organization whose mission includes promoting access to
    >information is well aware of the value of digital collections. To cultural
    >organizations and funders alike, the prospect of making collections
    >available to new and distant audiences is compelling. Digital technology
    >is finding its way into cultural organizations, and it offers great
    >promise for enhancing access. However, digitization efforts, despite
    >everyone's good intentions, rise and fall on the waves of external funding.
    >New organizations have been created to promote and manage a growing number
    >of digital initiatives. Some traditional organizations have added projects
    >to accommodate the digital agenda, but they often treat these projects as
    >special initiatives, rather than long-term programs that will require an
    >ongoing commitment of funding, staffing, and time. The economic downturn
    >has increased the vulnerability of many digital programs, especially those
    >run by very small organizations that lack the human or financial resource
    >cushion to sustain "add-on" programs.

    and this from the Summary:

    >The findings outlined throughout this report identify concerns about the
    >current status and tenuous state of many digital cultural initiatives.
    >These findings, in concert with the recommendations proposed, offer a
    >blueprint for those exploring appropriate strategies to support and
    >strengthen digital cultural initiatives. The number and diversity of
    >issues that affect DCHIs and jeopardize their future warrant a coordinated
    >and consensus-driven approach to the problem.

    It would seem that "short-term" and "short-sighted" are in this context
    uncomfortably synonymous. Indeed, in this context the irony of how the term
    "initiative" is used becomes obvious: "That which initiates, begins, or
    originates; the first step in some process or enterprise; hence the act, or
    action, of initiating or taking the first step or lead; beginning,
    commencement, origination" (OED). And this leads to a story.

    Once, a fair time ago, when one did this sort of thing as a matter of
    course and without any peril, I picked up a hitchhiker, and while driving
    asked him and got asked the usual sorts of questions. He said, explaining
    what he did, "I start communes." He then described a few he'd started
    before moving on to new initiatives. It wasn't until some time
    later, after I had dropped him off, that I realized I hadn't asked him why
    he didn't stick around to see what happened. I wondered. It wasn't until
    some months later, when I visited the commune Morning Star, then deep into
    the latter stages of its decay, that I realized why a commune initiator
    could find it easy to move on. When brownie-points are given for starting
    new things, what are the rewards for seeing to their long-term sustainability?


    Dr Willard McCarty | Senior Lecturer | Centre for Computing in the
    Humanities | King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS || +44 (0)20
    7848-2784 fax: -2980 || willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk

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