In the last years, an enormous increase of the amount of available digital content that concerns the cultural heritage has been observed. This content is made of texts, images, videos, 3D representations, catalogues, collections, sounds; all stored in heterogeneous databases and available in different forms: access via the Internet, in local networks (Intranets) or in CD-ROMs. The developments in the methods of digitalisation and the continuing research in this field provide possibilities for still bigger increase of available digital cultural heritage content in the future
The need of unified access and commercial exploitation is an imperative for our country, given the expected enormous purchasing demand for cultural digital content before, during and after the 2004 Olympic Games.
Objective, therefore, of the proposed project is the development of a system of unified access and management of information that concerns the Greek cultural heritage. This system, exploiting the results of internationally recognized research, will interconnect all the Greek databases of cultural content offering unified access and modern methods of search and organisation of content to all users. It will promote worldwide the access, promotion and study of Greek cultural content. Simultaneously it will allow its commercial exploitation . The final system will offer a central point of access to the already existing, scattered collections of cultural content. It will be made of the following structural elements, which will also be the deliverables of the project :
Cultural Heritage Internet Portal to allow the unified access of all to the offered information and services
Digitalization Techniques . Study and adoption by the project of the most efficient digitalization techniques, to allow for the digitalization of artwork and collections and their integration with the proposed system
Metadata and cultural content description . In order to make possible the interconnection of different remote databases and the unified access to the content, the use of common description of data (metadata) is required. Generally, the XML description language (Extensible Markup Language) will be used from the content providers (museums etc).
Content-based search engine . Although in many cases the information of cultural heritage is in multimedia form (images, videos, 3D graphics), most current search engines are based on the use of text and keywords. In addition to such techniques, this project will use a search engine for images, videos and 3D graphics, which will be based on the content (content – based indexing and retrieval).
Ontologies for cultural heritage content . Ontologies provide the structure for efficient description of objects, ideas, processes as well as relations between them. In this project ontologies will be developed that will allow the description and organisation of content of cultural heritage based on metadata, and also the search based on the content. The ontology system that will be developed will be based on the philosophy of Topic Maps (in HTM form).
Electronic publishing of personal catalogues and e-Commerce . In the proposed projects the ? 2 ? (business to business) ?a? B2C (business to customer) models will be applied aiming at the commercial exploitation of the available content. The portal will include a shopping cart system for on-line purchasing and e-publishing of electronic shopping catalogues, while it will also be possible to create such catalogues from the query results of the user