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New perspectives to save cultural heritage
Altan, M. Orhan

CI P A 2003 XIX th International Symposium, 30 September - 04 October, 2003, Antalya, Turkey
click of the button. This ease and relatively low cost permits
high quality standards of documentation to be achieved at all
levels. From a design and implementation point of view,
although transparent to a CHDS, the user interface and the
communications protocols and gateways need to be carefully
worked out to ensure the ease and cost-effective
communications that the technology promises to deliver. Knowledge-based systems - While a number of
conservator-restorers are general practitioners, many are
increasingly specialised in one area (eg. Metals, glass,
ceramics, stone, paintings, etc.) or even a sub-set of that area.
ICT makes it increasingly possible to use knowledge
engineering to capture the fruits of hard-won experience of
conservation specialists in any particular field and integrate
such a knowledge-base into a decision-support system which
the conservator-restorer may wish to consult on site or within
the restoration workshop. It follows that one of the e-heritage
objectives would be to build such “expert systems” to
consistent quality standards and integrate them into other
systems in a way which makes them available through mobile
systems, on-site as well as in the laboratory. Back-end processing - Web-based systems have
the advantage of presenting a single simple-to-use interface (the
browser) while the user does not really have to bother at all
about the computing power required to effect some of the
billions of transactions on the Web. Whether using the Web to
click on to Fred’s Garage to check out opening times or to
Citibank for a complex set of transactions, the nature of the
computing power lying behind and underneath the application
is generally transparent to the user. Yet there exist a number of
design imperatives which need to be respected if the
conservator-restorer or CHDS need to access complex
databases handling huge data files and all they may have at
their disposal is a standard PC. The e-heritage concept must
take these functional requirements and design objectives into
account when integrating a single end-user interface approach
to the other functional requirements within the e-heritage
family of applications. Project-based management science was once
the reserve of management consultants attempting to introduce
culture change in hierarchical pyramids or monolithic
organisations. To day it is a widely-accepted way of ensuring
that projects are delivered to specification, on budget, on time.
Conservation projects are slowly but surely being moved out of
the realm of never-never land into one where structured
planning and use of resources is achieved with the help of
Project Management software. Since conservation projects are
increasingly tackled by multi-disciplinary teams with members
who do not necessarily hail from the same institution, an added
dimension is being added to the conservation project manager’s
software requirements. It follows that both large-scale
conservation centres with software requirements that must track
the passage of a project from one department to another as well
as SMEs and sole practitioners need extensions to their PC-
based systems which will enable them to integrate project-
management functionality within the other e-heritage
applications and objectives. The relative ubiquity of PCs and the Internet,
even in developing countries, brings with it a number of
implications. The advantages described above are therefore
available to most countries, whatever their stage of
development. Thus, a large Thealasermetry* survey carried out
in Jordan may have restitution processing carried out in
Algeria, Malta and Morocco working in synch. This distributed
processing capability inherent in e-heritage means that certain
design criteria may usefully be developed to maximise the
ability of a CHDS in one country to participate in a
documentation project being carried out in another country.
2.1 Economic imperatives, ICT industry & heritage
2.1.1 Unlike other areas of economic activity, like, say,
defense technologies, financial services or tourism, the cultural
heritage sector has never been an attractive commercial
proposition for the ICT industry and this means that relatively
very little attention, if any, has been given by the industry to the
particular ICT needs of the sector. Moreover, since Cultural
Heritage is very much the poor relation of public funding across
Europe, individual countries and institutions have been unable
to put together the investment required to make a quantum leap
in ICT applications in the sector.
2.1.2 The economic imperatives and the realities of the ICT
industry have meant that the promise of an e-heritage scenario
has remained just that, ie. a promise. The ICT industry will not
bother to invest in cultural heritage applications with the result
that most ICT development in the cultural heritage sector is
funded by institutions which have enough muscle to realise the
potential of ICT and are committed to harnessing its power for
their organisation. This has produced a handful of systems
which share a number of characteristics. These systems are
generally (though some notable exceptions do exist):
1. available only in-house to members of the
2. limited in scope to one particular application
(eg a database on artefacts);
3. chronically under-funded;
4. incapable of handling the huge amounts of data
generated by state-of-the-art 2D and 3D
imaging systems;
5. not linked (or designed to be linked) to real
time, on-line Trusted Third-Party repositories;
6. devoid of knowledge-based functionality;
7. incapable of front-ending web-based access to
large-scale database systems;
8. devoid of Project Management functionality;
9. not designed to enable distributed processing
across the Web;
10. rapidly growing obsolete
• Vide Borg C.E. and Cannataci J.A., Thealasermetry:
a hybrid approach to documentation of cultural
heritage sites and artefacts, Proceedings of the CIPA
WG 6 International Workshop on Scanning for
Cultural Heritage Recording,Sep 1-2 2002,p.93-104,
y.pdf .