Chairs: O. Missikoff, Italy / W. Börner, Austria

“e-culture, u-tourism and virtual heritage” covers a wide range of research areas including:

  • e-culture
  • cultural heritage information systems
  • virtual heritage and digital heritage
  • ubiquitous commerce applied to cultural heritage
  • ubiquitous tourism
  • mobile technologies applied to tourism and cultural heritage
  • open systems in tourism and cultural heritage
  • ubiquitous computing applied to tourism
  • computer applications for archaeology.

These research areas are dealing about the usage of Information Systems (IS) cultural heritage institutions and tourism institutions. Cultural heritage institutions include museums, archives, libraries and also archeological sites. IS involved in cultural heritage and tourism are especially ubiquitous commerce (u-commerce) systems, open systems, mobile technologies and virtual reality.
Traditionally, cultural heritage institutions are driven by a service ideal. More specifically, they have a special commitment to serve the public at large. They are also often public administrations. In this respect, e-culture is close to e-administration. According to this mission, they would tend to provide a free access to cultural heritage resources. Historically, these institutions have been suspicious about any commercial exploitation of the heritage. They were especially afraid of a vulgarization of this heritage. However, two phenomena tend to challenge this classical mission: (i) the need to raise financial resources independently from public funding, and (ii) the increasing request from the users and tourists for high quality and value added services.
On the other extremity of the scope, however, potential investors and IT companies must justify the return on investment of any project. Companies have to consider their investments in the field of cultural heritage not only as philanthropic programs but also as marketing and sales operations. While indeed many cultural heritage institutions in Europe operate on a non-profit basis, the situation is the opposite in the USA and Canada. Moreover, the companies developing IT for cultural heritage are all commercial.
A common ground for the two logics is that cultural heritage institutions are the holders of trusted knowledge that may be valorized for many purposes like education, tourism, or even entertainment. Indeed, for these institutions, the combination of the financial and marketing trends creates a “go commercial” pressure that obliges them to change their at least their business model. For instance, the museums have to move from mere collections to narrative connections and new experiences for the visitor. At a national level, in countries like France, Spain of Italy that are ranked among the first worldwide revenue for tourism, cultural heritage pays an important role representing a direct contribution of up to 8% to the GDP. (Digicult report, 2003).
In this respect it is important to stress the fact that among the various types of tourism, cultural tourism is the only one that is increasing the market share and coping with the competition of emerging countries. This condition should lead European countries to put more efforts on the management of contents and services related to the fruition of cultural heritage in its widest notion. It is therefore fundamental to stimulate cooperation and research in this area, submitting new projects and involving as much as possible local administrations and the public sector at large.
In this context, if Information Technologies (IT) have been experienced in the past for their transactional role, for instance ticketing, their contribution to the valorisation of the content is often extremely limited. For instance, an estimated 95% of all cultural heritage institutions in Europe are NOT in the position to participate in any kind of digital cultural heritage venture. They not only lack the financial resources to participate, but also have a shortage of staff, essential skills, and the necessary technologies. (Virtual Heritage, 2004). This might appear extremely frustrating when, a growing number of Information Technologies may have an important contribution to the valorization of cultural heritage like mobile technologies, ubiquitous computing and networks, virtual reality technologies, hypermedia, data compression, data mining, OLAP or rich media.
This is why not only IT but also Information Systems (IS) might play a key role in the evolution of cultural heritage institution. Rethinking processes like knowledge management, content creation and management or customer relationship management might help to see the possible adaptation of the cultural heritage contents to market needs. IS also appear to include not only IT and processes, but also organization transformation, project management, ontologies and change management.
Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • u-commerce in tourism and cultural heritage
  • open systems in tourism and cultural heritage
  • Mobile technologies in tourism and cultural heritage
  • Personalization, individualization, Data mining, one to one marketing and cultural heritage
  • Theoretical background for cultural heritage transformation
  • Marketing of art and Information Technologies
  • Virtual Reality and Cultural Heritage
  • Cultural Heritage Information Systems
  • Ontology and KM in culture
  • E-learning in tourism and cultural heritage