E-Culture Techniques and Applications

E-Culture Techniques and Applications

Athanasios Drigas (National Center for Scientific Research (NCSR) ‘Demokritos,' Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications, Telecoms Lab - Net Media Lab, Athens, Greece) and Maria Pouliou (National Center for Scientific Research (NCSR) ‘Demokritos,' Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications, Telecoms Lab - Net Media Lab, Athens, Greece)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/ijksr.2013100102
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E-culture is the combination of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) with traditional culture. Cultural heritage reveals elements of the past, which renders the occupation with it by contemporary societies, an absolute necessity. This paper aims to present a thorough review of e-culture, its methods and its applications in recent years. First, it focuses on the alternative choice of creating virtual museums in order to improve traditional museums' services through an attractive way to the visitor. Moreover, it discusses the significance of cultural digitization analysing the methods of digitization for both monuments and objects. Finally, it mentions the potential of numerous existing guide applications, which can be installed on cell phones and whose aim is to facilitate the navigation of visitors at archaeological sites and museums, as well as the potential of robots, which guide visitors to museums in an interactive way.
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1. Introduction

Cultural heritage and cultural objects reveal the human history (living conditions, knowledge) and the historical differences between nations constituting the importance of culture as undeniable (Patias, 2006; Landon & Seales, 2006). Many organizations and museums are keen on preserving cultural heritage. Hence, the need for an alternative, more economical and more attractive means of displaying artefacts and collections to the museums’ visitors arose, resulting in the idea for the creation of virtual museums. With virtual museums artefacts and collections become available to anyone, anywhere and anytime enhancing e-inclusion as well as the “Information and Accessibility for all” European policies. Specifically, museums make considerable efforts to present their collections on the Internet in an attractive way.

It must be conceded that the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have played a major role in many domains of contemporary life including culture. The incorporation of ICTs in culture (Monod & Klein, 2005) as well as the combination of ICTs and human activities has created the term “e-culture” and it involves all processes of expression in digital format (Drigas, Koukianakis, & Glentzes, 2006).

One can wrongly assume that e-culture is based only on monuments or cultural objects. In fact, e-culture is more than this, as it also consists of many other human activities such as music (dancing, singing), theatre, cinema etc. (Drigas, Koukianakis, & Glentzes, 2005).

The three aspects of e-culture are (Chairperson, 2004):

  • 1.

    Digitization of information: It can offer many benefits. For instance organizations such as museums, libraries, etc. can offer faster, more efficient services at a lower cost.

  • 2.

    Cultural innovation: It can give a great deal of opportunities such as having accessibility to information, sharing information etc.

  • 3.

    The changing role of cultural organizations: Since, gradually, cultural organizations and artists will be required to adopt new skills and knowledge as well as other working methods and organizational structures.


2. Virtual Museums

The maintenance of cultural objects and monuments is of outmost importance. A new way for it is through digitization (Yeung, 2004). Traditional museums cope with many vital problems for their existence such as the lack of space, or lack of economic resources for their operation. Therefore, museums were forced to resort to digitization, which has many methods depending on the item we want to digitize. Another issue that must be taken into consideration is that in traditional museums, the artefacts are presented in an obsolete way. The visitor should search through booklets or read the labels if he/she is interested in finding descriptions of the exhibits (Bay, Fasel, & Gool, 2006). A more modern way of presenting exhibits and artefacts to the general public is through the creation of what is known as “virtual museums”. There are many definitions of the term “virtual museum”, some of which are presented next.

Andrews, Schweibenz (1998) and Bearman define the virtual museum as a museum without walls. According to Schweibenz the term “Virtual museum” can be defined as follows:

The “virtual museum” is a logically related collection of digital objects composed in a variety of media, and, because of its capacity to provide connectedness and various points of access, it lends itself to transcending traditional methods of communicating and interacting with the visitors being flexible toward their needs and interests; it has no real place or space, its objects and the related information can be disseminated all over the world (Schweibenz, 1998, p.191).

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