Kim H. Veltman

New Technologies in the Communication of Cultural Heritage

Recupero di Emergence Storico-Artistiche e Effetti Positivi di marketing Territoriale, Albenga, 9-10 May, 2008.


This paper focusses on developments on the role of Internet and networked media in the communication of culture. Part one reviews briefly the present state of the Italian scene in four domains: museums, libraries, archives and tourism. It concludes that considerably more co-ordination between international, national, regional and local bodies is needed. Part two turns to the future. Four terms of Aby Warburg serve as a framework for discussion: orientation, word, image and action. Part three turns briefly to the need for a new approach to search engines.

1. Introduction

Communication of culture is a theme as old as culture itself. It entails the whole gamut of media from oral traditions to audio-visual, and multi-medial. Traditionally this has been the domain of print media, radio, television and video. These older media will undoubtedly continue to play a role. This paper is concerned with developments in electronic communication through the Internet and World Wide Web, focusses on Italian examples and outlines possible directions for future development.

The vision of a such a network of communications leading to a global brain is over a century old. Since the advent of the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1990 there has been enormous progress with respect to communication of culture. To begin, a brief review of the present state is useful. At the International level we have organizations such as the International Council on Museums (ICOM), the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and the International Council on Archives (ICA). These organizations play a crucial role in creating a global framework. They also create useful bridges to national and regional sites. For instance, ICOM has a Virtual Library museums pages (VLmp) site. At the time of writing this article the link to Italy was not working. ICOM also has an Italian Museum Websites Selected list, which shows 126 museums with 13 in Liguria. Meanwhile, the ICOM Comitato Nazionale, has a working website but no links to museums for non-members.

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