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Keynote Speakers

Towards a Participatory Cultural Environment: The Evolution of Virtual Representation in the Humanities.
Mr John Tolva,
Program Manager, Cultural Strategy and Programs
IBM Corporation
71 S. Wacker Dr.
Chicago, IL 60606

John Tolva is Program Manager for Cultural Strategy and Programs for IBM. Formerly a Creative Director at the Centers for IBM e-Business Innovation in Chicago. Mr. Tolva has primarily been involved in cultural applications of technology, particularly digitization, content management, and multimedia design. Recently he led the team that launched Eternal Egypt Project, a partnership between IBM and the Egyptian Government. This presentation addresses the evolution of the technologies of virtual representation in the cultural milieu. Using IBM project case studies from a decade of experience in this field, the presentation brings to the fore the ways in which these technologies both reify and challenge traditional ideas of what a museum is or should be. The paper examines the evolution of simple virtual representation (exemplified by the Hermitage Museum project: to modeled reconstruction and deconstruction (exemplified by the Digital Pieta project: and thence to virtual replacement of artifacts in situ at their point of creation or discovery (exemplified by the Eternal Egypt project: The presentation concludes with a look forward to the concept of massively multi-user virtual community spaces that permit a participatory experience of virtual cultural heritage.

The European Institute of Technology and Cultural Heritage, How Can Each Contribute to the Success of the Other?
Dr Jorgo Chatzimarkakis
Member of the European Parliament
European Parliament
60, rue Wiertz
ASP 10 G 116
B - 1047 Bruxelles

Launched by the European Commission in February 2005, the proposal for a European Institute of Technology (EIT) is part of Europe's efforts to boost the Lisbon Strategy aiming at making Europe the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy by 2010. Mr Chatzimarkakis will present the project which aims at bridging the gap between research, both fundamental and applied, and the market, between researchers and entrepreneurs, to innovate. Throughout his presentation, Mr Chatzimarkakis will try to show not only how the EIT could contribute to a field like Cultural Heritage but also how Cultural Heritage could through the EIT boost Europe's competitiveness.

Short biography:
Born in Duisburg in 1966 from a German mother and a Greek father, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis has been elected Member of the European Parliament in June 2004 with ALDE (the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe). Member of the ITRE Committee, industry, research and energy issues lie at the core of his parliamentary work. Rapporteur for the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme, member of the High Forum on Pharmaceutical, shadow rapporteur for the EIT, Chatzimarkakis is determined to use his mandate to help concretely the EU to reach its objective, namely to be the most competitive knowledge-based region in the world by 2010. Interested by all fields where Europe can be a world leader, be it biomass or nanotechnologies, Chatzimarkakis works on setting the right legal framework for the Union to exploit its potential.

Culture, Standards, Semiotics and a Bit More
Prof. Marc Wilhelm Küster
University of Applied Sciences Worms
Erenburgerstr. 19
D- 67549 Worms

Ce que l'on appelle mondialisation, qui est l'uniformisation par le bas, la standardisation, le regne des multinationales, l'ultraliberalisme sur les marches mondiaux, c'est pour moi, le revers negatif d'un mouvement prodigieux que j'appelle la mondialite. (Edouard Glissant)

Standards normalize objects, behaviours or interactions, often globally. They aim to make them conform to certain well-defined rules or expectations. Cultures, on the other hand, are varied. They are complex, frequently local sets of often fuzzy material, intellectual, spiritual and emotional features of societies or social groups.

How do these (ostensible or real) antitheses interact? Starting from Roland Posner's thesis that cultures can be modelled as intricate processes of emission and reception of signs we must accept that these processes are today largely mediated by and through systems building on information and communication technologies (ICT). These systems in turn need standards to interoperate successfully and to maintain long-term content stability. Cultural diversity increasingly intertwines with supra-national standardization in an inevitable, but precarious equilibrium.
In different words, ICT is today's dominant mediator not only for ad-hoc interchange and content production, but also for the encoding and description of "texts" in the widest sense, including cultural artefacts in so far as they carry an encoded message (and virtually all do). It becomes necessary obviously not to standardize cultural diversity, but the technology used to express it. Yet, can the standardized medium and its culturally diverse contents always be cleanly separated without repercussions?
The keynote explores these interactions on a conceptual level, then goes on to show how they are actually "lived" in real standardization activities in bodies such as the CEN/ISSS Cultural Diversity Focus Group, ISO/IEC JTC1, Unicode, metadata initiatives and others on the pan-European and global levels.

Short Biography
Marc Kuster is Professor for XML-related technologies and Web Services at the department for Computer Science and Telecommunication at the University for Applied Sciences in Worms, Germany. He holds a diploma in physics and a master in literary studies and history and has long worked at the crossroads of IT and philology. His doctoral thesis Geordnetes Weltbild deals with the cultural history of alphabetic ordering from its beginnings to present day treatment in computer systems. Prof. Kuster is chairman of the CEN/ISSS Cultural Diversity Focus Group (CDFG). He is also chairing DIN NI22 "Programming languages" and serves on various national, European and international committees e. g. on character sets. He is editor of the CEN/ISSS Roadmap on eBusiness Standardization and has recently been selected leader of the CEN/ISSS eGovernment Focus Group's project team following a pan-European call for experts. Prof. K?ster also heads the Worms team in the TextGrid consortium on grid-based tools for TEI-encoded editions, dictionaries and corpora.

Experiences and Experiments with Interactive Museum Exhibits
Michael Danks
Windfall Digital
Holborn Studios
49-50 Eagle Wharf Road
London N1 7ED, UK

This presentation will describe the technologies and design concepts behind the live exhibit which is to be mounted as part of VAST2006. The interactive exhibition is designed to allow users a bespoke and personalised experience framed as a research journey, which is devised to engage them with assets and artefacts on display. After discovering facts and information, they prove their knowledge by completing on-screen puzzles when they return to any interactive screen. On completion of the journey there is an option to print or save on the internet resulting personalised research for future reference. The presentation will describe the underpinning technologies and discuss the experience with designing and implementing the experimental systems, and describe the feedback obtained.

This exciting, easy-to-use and innovative technology was created in 2005 for the BBC Learning and Interactive Department, specifically devised for generic interpretation of museum collections. Systems are currently in development for Torquay Museum Explorers Gallery and Brighton Fishing Museum. The latter is the basis of the system being prepared for display at VAST2006 The experimental systems have used RFID technology to provide the personalisation of the users experiences, coupled with innovative features of the INSTEP system. In 2006 the system was runner up at the prestigious AFDESI International Interactive Television Award in the category Technology and Innovation.

Short Biography
Michael Danks is an independent producer who has worked with the BBC on the implementation of the BBC's experimental augmented museum experience using INSTEP and RFID technologies.