digitisation in Europe
Progress report of the
National Representative Group: coordination mechanisms for digitisation
policies and programmes 2002
Theodore S. Papatheodorou
Dimitris K. Tsolis
Emmanouil G. Karatzas
Dimitrios A. Koutsomitropoulos
Sofia Z. Karagiorgoudi
Vasilios Ch. Dourdounis
Endorsed by Hellenic Ministry of Culture
National Report: Greece
Policy scenario for digitisation
The Hellenic Digitisation Committee (HDC) has continued its
official meetings, under the presidency of the High Performance
Information Systems Laboratory (HPCLab). The Committee has been
informed about the latest NRG initiatives and related actions
(during the Spanish and the Danish Presidencies). An overview
of the agenda of the Danish Presidency was also presented. More
than 25 people from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture (HMC) (representatives
of the directorates), Cultural and Technological Institutions
and Universities were participating. The decisions and presentations
will be available online at http://www.hdpweb.org.
The Projects Selection Work group for Digitisation of Cultural
Heritage has been established as part of the Hellenic Digitisation
Committee with the objective to define and initiate the digitisation
projects with the highest priority.
The Projects Selection Work group is co-ordinating the General
Directorates and is aiming at the definition of the digitisation
projects to be immediately initiated. The Work group is headed
by the High Performance Information Systems Laboratory. The most
important results, so far achieved are:
- the definition of the project selection criteria based
on issues like, feasibility, national priority, importance, funding,
- the definition of the necessary technological studies,
which will be the basis for the future digitisation projects.
The necessary technological studies were categorised and analysed.
A draft plan of assignment of the studies to certain universities
and research institutes of Greece was developed and submitted
to the HMC. The plan is still under consideration;
- based on the criteria the Work group selected the most
important cultural collections to be digitised at the near future.
A list of the projects is nearly completed. The list includes
cultural collection of the most important Museums of many regions
- estimation of the funding opportunities and planning for
future actions towards efficient funding for the digitisation
projects of the highest priority;
- the creation of a draft master – plan for the establishment
and development of the Hellenic Digitisation Center for Cultural
and Scientific Resources;
- proposals to the Minister of Culture for the initiation
of an Office (within a Directorate of the HMC) responsible for
funding and evaluation of digitisation projects.
In the framework of the Project Selection Work group a large
number of people and Institutes were
co-ordinated, five official meetings took place and an equal number
of proceedings was produced and submitted to the Minister of Culture.
In addition another significant activity in 2002 in terms of policy
development has been the creation of the document National Digitisation
Policy - Guidelines and Standards for Digitisation Programs. The
document has been submitted to the Hellenic Digitisation Committee
and is under refinement and final approval. Upon final approval
it will be made publicly available through http://www.hdpweb.org.
The document is based on the NOF-digitize, Technical Standards
and Guidelines. The document is providing guidelines to organisations,
private companies and institutes about the digitisation, management,
preservation and development of added value services for the cultural
content. Specifically, the guidelines are divided into five critical
issues (creation, management, collection creation, accessibility
and reuse). For each issue relevant standards, technical requirements,
benchmarking indicators, best practices etc. are presented and
proposed to be used by projects which are digitising cultural
content. The document will support and give guidance to organizations
that are managing projects which are fully or partly funded by
the Hellenic Ministry of Culture.
Terms of reference and National policy profile
The Terms of reference after the official agreement during the
Spanish Presidency (Alicante Meeting, May 2002) were submitted
to the Minister of Culture. The Ministry has committed to the
Lund Principles and the mission of the NRG to monitor progress
regarding the objectives stated therein. The first Greek National
Profile was published on the Web page of the Ministry in 9 May
2002. The Greek National profile is being continuously refined.
The new National profile is under consideration. The key issue
for the development of the new National Profile is the approval
of the National Digitisation Policy described above.
The Greek National profile can be found at: http://www.hdpweb.org.
Co-ordination of national networks
The activities during the last six months focused mainly on
the dissemination of the NRG objectives to Greek libraries and
archives. The Hellenic Ministry of Culture supervises only museums.
Archives and libraries are being supervised by the Hellenic Ministry
of Education and Religious Affairs. Due to this reason the activities
were concentrated mainly on informing and inviting the libraries
and the archives to participate actively on the HDC objectives.
In this framework a workshop is being organised and will take
place at 15th of January 2003. The workshop is entitled “Digitisation
for Archives and Libraries, Current Situation in Greece and Europe,
Funding Opportunities”. The workshop will have the next
important thematic categories:
- current situation in the European Union and relevant
initiatives in the framework of the European Commission. Special
focus – National Representatives Group;
- current situation in Greece, digitisation policies, national
committees and activities by Ministries. Special focus –
Hellenic Digitisation Committee;
- digitisation issues. The issues include technologies,
training issues, accessibility to digital content, standards and
metadata, problems and cost, etc.;
- examples of implementation, best practices;
- IPR protection and management;
- regional, national and European funding opportunities.
A large number of representatives from the European Commission,
the Hellenic Ministries, museums, libraries and archives, universities
and research institutes and the private sector are invited to
In parallel a network of organisations and institutions has been
established, which will implement the technological studies for
digitisation of Cultural Heritage. The network is co-ordinated
by the High Performance Information Systems Laboratory. A detailed
document was produced which included:
- 9 categories of technological studies for digitisation
of cultural heritage. Namely:
- technologies for digitisation of text, image and 2 dimensional objects;
- technologies for 3D digitisation and presentation of monuments and sites;
- technologies for audio and video digitisation;
- technologies for 3D reconstruction of monuments and sites;
- technologies for interoperability, reusability and management of the digital cultural content;
- technologies for IPR protection and management;
- technologies for best practices and benchmarking;
- technologies for digitisation of non-material cultural heritage;
- technologies for security of networks and information systems of cultural heritage.
- 14 universities, 25 professors, 5 research institutes
and all the general directorates of the HMC, which are going to
participate in the technological studies;
- budget and cost of effort (is estimated but the funding
has not yet been confirmed).
Relationships and co-ordination with other national initiatives in connection with eEurope, e-government, e-learning
The HPCLab is currently searching for similar initiatives at
a national level. Until now several preparatory meetings took
place with delegates from the Ministry of Education and Religious
Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior,
public administration and decentralisation. The topics discussed
were mainly on e-learning opportunities based on a digital cultural
content, e-government applications in the cultural sector etc.
In addition, the HMC had initiated the Web Portal, http://www.cultureguide.gr.
The portal is offering services to the Internet users mainly for
providing information and making online reservations for cultural
events organised by the HMC. This effort is aiming at the quick
and easy reservation of tickets for the most popular upcoming
(e-government services). The cultural events are categorised by
thematic area (theatre, cinema, book, concerts, etc.) and include
all the future events of the Cultural Olympiad (2003-2004).
European and international co-operation
The Hellenic Ministry of Culture through its representatives
and the HPCLab has established a close co-operation with the Ministerium
für Wissenshaft, Weiterbildung, Forschung and Kultur of RheinlandPfalz
in Germany. The cooperation is focusing mainly on the next main
- Support the RheinlandPfalz Ministry for the design and
implementation of a project entitled “Vertikult” especially
focused on promoting job opportunities in the Cultural Sector.
The project has been originally designed and proposed by Fraunhofer-IGD,
the Kaiserslautern University, the HPCLab, the Politecnico di
Milano (MEDICI Network), the Austrian Cultural Service and several
SMEs to the RheinlandPfalz Ministry of Culture. The project has
been approved and a kick off meeting took place. The services
planned to be implemented include:
- search for employment opportunities;
- job offers and requests;
- creation of new partnerships;
- special applications for the physically challenged.
- Safeguarding the European dimension of the project by
transferring the Vertikult model to Greece, Italy, Austria and
- Present the European approaches, best practices and initiatives
to the Vertikult Consortium (NRG, eEurope, etc.). This is aiming
at keeping the Vertikult objectives compatible with the European
activities at a policy, and technological level.
The need to co-ordinate digitisation policies and programmes
across Member States can be encouraged through building a platform
for improved collaboration between countries in terms of exchanging
“good practices”. Benchmarking is a key element of
this process. Benchmarking is not a purely statistical exercise.
Qualititative and quantitative benchmarking is and will be widely
used in the eEurope Initiative 2005 “An Information Society
for All” and the EUROSTAT service, giving an insight in
significant aspects of many European issues.
The Short Term Strategy is based on the assumption that benchmarking
is not aiming at developing direct or measurable comparisons between
projects and policies. It aims to facilitate the identification
and dissemination of best policy and practice across the EU, while
taking into account the need for adaptability to different national
contexts. The benchmarking exercise, in general both for Short
and Long Term Strategy, will provide insights into how national
digitisation policies may be improved and made more effective.
The creation of a benchmarking methodology for digitisation policies
is a complex and difficult goal to be achieved. This goal gives
rise to two main difficulties, the creation of an open benchmarking
model and the creation of a platform for implementing the benchmarking
The Short Term Strategy is a plan of activities scheduled mainly
to support the Minerva benchmarking framework, at an initial stage,
so as a first set of benchmarking results to be quickly produced.
These results should have the following characteristics:
- the results should be reflecting the pan European current
situation at least at a preliminary format. This is mandatory
so as the European dimension of the results to be safeguarded;
- the results should be accessible via the World Wide Web.
This is implying that the data collected in various formats (.doc,
email, etc.) should be utilised in a way that will be homogenously
accessed by the Internet user. This process incorporates actions
like a database development, the data entry, etc.;
- the data collected should be available in an open format
for future use by the Long Term Strategy, which is currently being
designed. This is mainly aiming at preserving the data on the
long term in a way that could be utilised by a future online system
or a future database.
The Short Term Strategy is mainly aiming at integrating the results
of the National Representatives Group and especially of the Benchmarking
Work group into the Minerva benchmarking framework. The Benchmarking
Work group of the NRG had produced specific results that could
be efficiently exploited for the purposes of the Minerva benchmarking
framework. These results were mainly focusing on:
- The definition of the Benchmarking Methodology. Benchmarking
methodology is a continuous exercise similar to our instinctive
way of learning. In accordance with this definition a benchmarking
exercise can be used wherever a process can be identified. The
starting point is to define the process or activity to be studied.
The methodology was described in detail and can be found at
- The definition of the Benchmarking Model. The benchmarking
model was originally created, analysed, refined and finally
published by the Benchmarking Work group of the National Representatives
Group. This model, proposed by the Commission to Member States,
is a qualitative one: the main task is to encourage the exchange
of good practice as part of a continuous process of improvement.
Also, it considers, at a preliminary stage, a comparative framework
for quantitative measures. The benchmarking model is based on
a list of indicators, which are categorised according to the
main themes of digitisation (management, technical issues, etc.).
The indicators were discussed, finalised and endorsed by the
National Representatives Group. The detailed model can be found
- The creation of the Benchmarking Questionnaire. The Questionnaire
is based on the Benchmarking Model and its indicators. The Questionnaire
was created and distributed to the Member States for data collection.
- The creation of the Productivity Form.
The Productivity Form is aiming at practising in a method to collect
statistical data about the available amount of digitised content
at an institutional level across Europe. It is targeting mainly
at content holders and it’s looking for finding some methodologies
to measure the digital content available, the usage, accessibility,
quality of digitisation, etc. The creation of the Productivity
Form is supported mainly by the Cultural Heritage Application
Unit and Maurizio Lunghi. The experts by Member States have been
invited to give comments and suggestions for the Productivity
Form. The form has been finalised at this early stage and has
been distributed to the Member States for data collection.
The Short Term Strategy is, in parallel, aiming at designing,
implementing and pilot testing an innovative technological platform
for online benchmarking and automated data analysis.
Generally, statistics soon become outdated and indicator measurements
must be available quickly. To improve the speed and quality of
the process, an interoperable technological platform for efficient,
quick and Web-based benchmarking is proposed. The technologies
used to implement the platform are mainly Internet based.
The person completing the form is using the Web Browser to contribute
to the benchmarking process. The benchmarking interface is user-friendly,
designed from scratch to allow inexperienced users to interact
with the system.
The tool for data collection is the online questionnaire. The
online questionnaire is in fact the benchmarking model, the main
themes and indicators, translated into a Web-based format:
- an expert supports the process by providing the benchmarking
- the generic system is able to incorporate any benchmarking
model and its corresponding questionnaire. This is achieved through
a tool for the benchmarking model insertion and a tool for the
questionnaire creation. The tools are used by the benchmarking
experts, who are not considered to have any expertise and experience
in Internet based technologies. The tools are very usable;
- the online questionnaire, which the benchmarking expert
is creating, is connected with a relational database, which holds
all the data inserted by the person completing the benchmarking
- each authenticated user may create, view, edit or save
- the relational database of the questionnaires is connected
with the user database. A person has the ability to log on to
the system and view his completed questionnaires at any time.
- data are analysed with customisable analysis tools that
support the automatic generation of benchmarking reports and statistical
- the graphs, statistical pies and reports are generated
dynamically during the completion of the questionnaire. This reduces
significantly the time for data analysis and report generation.
The platform is embedded into a Web-portal, that provides other
useful information and services, which is available for further
reviewing and testing at the Web address http://www.benchmarking.gr
(English language is available).
The platform was initially tested during two main practices:
- the first benchmarking practice on digitisation policies
and projects in Greece. The benchmarking practice took place as
part of the actions of the National Representatives Group and
especially of the Benchmarking Work group. The results are analysed
to a next chapter (Good practice exemplars);
- the first pan European practice for data collection both for
the Benchmarking Questionnaire and the Productivity Form. This
practice was of a short scale and resulted to a draft report
on Benchmarking currently under final revision. The full report
can be found at http://www.benchmarking.gr.
On the front page some draft results are shown
(screenshots from the online system).
The Benchmarking Questionnaire – Global Report
The Benchmarking Questionnaire – Italian Report
Inventories and resource discovery
Metadata and interoperability for resource inventories
HPCLab has already submitted its proposal for a National Digitisation
Policy - Guidelines and Standards for Digitisation Programs to
the HDC for final approval. This policy will act as a reference
and set of guidelines for every digitisation project and inventory
developed in a national level. This “National Digitisation
Policy”, among other things, prescribes guidelines for resource
discovery and proposes metadata standards for every phase in the
whole lifecycle of a digital item: Creation, management, collection
development, access and repackaging. Some special key issues regarding
metadata and interoperability are stressed in this policy:
- Preservation Metadata: possible conformance with the OAIS
Reference Model is proposed, while digitisation activities are
guided to consult the “Metadata Framework to Support the
Preservation of Digital Objects” developed by the OCLC/RLG
and is available at http://www.oclc.org/research/pmwg/
- Collection Level Description: for collection level description
the Policy suggests the schema developed for the Research Support
Libraries Program (RSLP, http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/metadata/rslp/)
in the UK, using the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set as its core.
- Interoperability: Interoperability is achieved through
adoption of wide-spread and common standards. Z39.50 for information
retrieval, OAI-PMH for mass metadata consumption and MPEG-7 for
describing multimedia objects and collections are specifically
This policy will soon be available through the official HDC Web
It is considered that a digital collection is best described by
a combination of data models rather than adhering to a single
one. As an extension to the project PRAXITELIS, an “Integrated
Environment for the Management, Protection and Exploitation of
Digital Objects of the Hellenic Cultural Heritage”, there
was developed a hybrid metadata schema combining
DC-simple, DC-qualified and DIG-35, a metadata standard for describing
digital images (http://www.i3a.org/i_dig35.html).
A simple interface for automated export of XML metadata files
conforming to the above schema was also developed.
In the area of Collection and Project Description an active discussion
has been initiated, following the 5th July Minerva meeting in
Paris. The discussion revolves around a metadata set for digitised
collections and projects and a mapping to existing systems. This
set is based on an extension of the RSLP schema and the French
model and regards also a mapping to the benchmarking grid, which
is based to the recent Greek initiative. The proposed model will
possibly result to a common schema for describing digital inventories
and projects, as generic as needed to accommodate descriptions
of collections developed by member states and adjusted to multilingualism
needs. Nevertheless, it is still under development and has not
yet reached a wide consensus. A potential refinement and implementation
of this model, for digital collections and projects developed
in Greece, is under consideration and its mapping to the grid
and the productivity form is examined.
Currently in preparation there is also a “Digital Repository
Functional Model” which aims at providing guidelines for
the ingestion, storage, management and consumption of digital
entities. The Digital Repository will act as a reference model
for potential digital repository initiatives and will be supported
by a prototype implementation. The model is heavily influenced
by the OAIS, but tries to be a more concrete and practical approach
by suggesting specific implementation solutions and proposing
tangible standards. The OCLC/RLG reports about the attributes
and responsibilities of a trusted digital repository are also
taken in to account (http://www.rlg.org/longterm/
Finally the model describes procedures for manual insertion and
automated extraction of metadata, demonstrates awareness of interoperable
standards for ingestion and / or consumption like Z39.50 and OAI-PMH
and considers methodologies for the exposition of the repository
as a Web Service (UDDI specifications, http://www.uddi.org).
Research in resource discovery is now moving towards more intelligent
and automated ways for extracting information. The recent advent
of the Semantic Web is considered quite influential and is driving
research to ways for a more expressive, machine understandable
and semantic description of resources. In this context, there
is a close monitoring of the W3C’s Web-Ontology Working
Group and specifically of the development of the Ontology Web
Language (OWL, http://www.w3.org/TR/owl-guide/).
Moreover, the exploitation of the ISO proposed standard.
“A reference ontology for the interchange of cultural heritage
information” (ISO/CD 21127, http://www.niso.org/international/SC4/n500.pdf)
is being examined. This reference ontology, originally known as
CRM and developed by ICOM CIDOC, may be elaborated and adapted
in order to facilitate semantic description of cultural digital
collections and items. An implementation of the ontology in OWL
or its predecessor, the DARPA Agent Markup Language (DAML, http://www.daml.org)
and a method for exploiting their inherent reasoning capabilities
to make intelligent queries possible are currently in plan.
Good practice and skills
Good practice exemplars and guidelines
During the 1st Benchmarking Practice for the Greek Projects
on Digitisation of Cultural Heritage many best practices and examples
have been identified. The Qualitative Benchmarking Questionnaires
showed that most of the projects have an adequate approach to
the issue of digitisation and the creation of reusable digital
contents. This Benchmarking Practice has utilised the technological
platform mentioned above.
The good practices are directly or indirectly related to the digitisation
of the Hellenic Cultural Heritage. Projects that are aiming at
developing the necessary infrastructure for digitisation (networks
of cultural organisations, museum intranets, digitisation software
and hardware, etc.) were also included. Totally 34 projects have
participated at the benchmarking process. A significant amount
of data was collected. Totally 101 online questionnaires were
filled, from which 34 were selected as appropriately answered.
The projects are not all co-ordinated from Greek institutions
and organisations. There is a number of projects in which Greek
organisations are participating as content and/or technology providers.
It was observed that most institutions filling the questionnaire
were not willing to provide specific financial data. The projects
are funded mainly by the European Union and the responsible Greek
The institutions completing the questionnaires were not aware
that they were taking part in a benchmarking practice. That led
to broad participation, but had the side-effect of poor completion,
especially for the quantitative indicators.
Some institutions that were aware about the benchmarking process
were more willing to dedicate time and effort for completing the
The institutions completing the benchmarking forms have agreed
the questionnaire information to be publicly available.
Summary of results
Digitisation projects were rated on the main themes of digitisation
defined at the benchmarking model, namely Management, Funding,
Technical / Content Issues, Productivity, Human Resources, Services
/ Impact and Priorities.
Most of the digitisation projects (42%) claim to have clearly
defined outcomes. The majority of the projects (50%) are evaluated,
as they progress, by end users to ensure that they deliver the
desired outcomes. In addition they are peer reviewed and evaluated
on completion. Management (50% of projects) is undertaken by a
dedicated person who reports to a committee mandated by the governing
body, with external representation. A management committee on
a regular basis formally reviews the work plan of the 39% of the
projects and the reports are made publicly available.
Most of digitisation projects (66%) have a confirmed funding
stream but few (8%) have a strategy for sustainability and commercial
exploitation of results. The cost estimates for digitisation is
mainly based upon a small pilot study. Private sector funding
is encouraged, but there is no specific incentive (26% of the
Technical / Content issues
The digitisation projects (50%) claim to use technical standards
for interoperability, decide on the standards that will be implemented
and ensure that the implementation of the standards is mandatory.
The metadata standards for content are used at a percentage of
36% of the digitisation projects. Most of the projects (40%) have
left the question about awareness of Intellectual Property Rights
issues unanswered. Multilingualism is insufficiently treated,
47% of the projects only translate the Web site of the project
in one or more languages and 40% of projects left the question
The workforce development is one of the main drawbacks of the
digitisation projects in Greece. Most projects (45%) have left
the question, “is clear provision made for workforce development”,
unanswered. 26% of them have only a general (and not specific
and clearly stated) objective about “reskilling the sector”.
Services / Impact
The content is used efficiently to create new user-focused services,
new learning resources and training material but not to create
new sustainable employment positions in the content-holding institutions.
The content increases the job opportunities only for the employees
already working for the content-holding institutions (39% of the
The content selection criteria are mainly based on a formal review
process, involving specialist expertise, requirement assessment,
and production of formal reports.
The full benchmarking report and the list of the good practices
can be found at http://www.benchmarking.gr/.
The document National Digitisation Policy - Guidelines and Standards
for Digitisation Programs is including guidelines for many issues
relevant to the digitisation of cultural heritage. The document
is submitted to the HDC and after final approval will be made
There is not available information at this phase.
There are many organisations and initiatives that are responsible
for digitisation of cultural heritage. An established centre,
which is indirectly relevant to digitisation is incorporated to
the ICS FORTH (Institute of Computer Science, Foundation of Research
and Technology Hellas), the Centre for Cultural Informatics (http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl/cci.html).
This centre is mostly aiming at the development of information
systems for cultural heritage.
Main digitisation training initiatives for cultural heritage institutions
There are no specific training initiatives on digitisation in
the cultural sector. A draft plan for a wide training initiative
for archaeologists and personnel of the cultural sector is under
development. This plan is developed by the High Performance Information
Systems Laboratory and the Directorate of Greece - European Union
Relations of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. This master plan
is drafting a training project for many regions of Greece and
for many types of organisations (archaeological museums, Byzantine
collections, etc.). The main training modules include lessons
for digitisation techniques, digital content management and protection,
Internet technologies and other issues. The funding for this training
plan has not yet been confirmed.
European added value and content framework
Quality and accessibility for Web sites
The High Performance Information Systems Laboratory has a special
team working on Quality and Usability issues. This team is dealing
with the general research area of information systems’ Quality
and Usability and stimulated by the European cultural actions
has focused on the quality of cultural Web sites. Below we present
the efforts of the Greek team on Quality. The aim of the work
- to provide quality factors for evaluating the quality
of a cultural site on the Web;
- to direct and support the process of design and development
of a cultural Web site.
Quality is a word with a very broad meaning and the quality of
a Web site (or a cultural Web site) can be viewed in a very subjective
way. Having this in mind, we prefer not to give a strict definition
on quality. After reading this document and understanding the
quality criteria presented here, anybody should have a quite clear
understanding of what quality is.
Below we present the quality criteria used in the first iteration
of the Quality Assessment of Cultural Web Sites. These criteria
were based on the Brussels Quality Framework, the reflection document
presented during the first meeting of the Group of National Representatives
held in Brussels on 11 December 2001 under the Belgian Culture
Presidency. The quality criteria are separated into five categories
(presentation, content, policy, design and interactivity). Each
category contains more detailed criteria that help us to understand
the specific aspect of a Web site that the criterion is focused
Presentation of the site
The presentation of a site covers themes such as the scope statement
and authority of the site.
- Scope statement: the scope of a site deals with the title
and the URL address of the site and focuses on issues such as
descriptions of its content, its purpose, and its intended audience.
- Authority of the site: authority of the site includes
descriptive information about the publisher of the site (name,
position, and training), his/her contact information (email, telephone,
fax etc.) and information about other individuals, groups or organisations
that provide assistance in the creative process.
The content criteria concern the quality of the information
made available on the Web site. The criteria that are used to
evaluate the content of a cultural site are presented following:
- Coverage/Completeness: refers to the depth and breadth
of the information provided. A balance is desirable to exist in
the amount of available information, otherwise the aim of the
site will not be clear and evident and the users will not be able
to find easily the subjects they are interested in.
- Accuracy/Objectivity/Validity: examines the identification
of the methods used in obtaining the information, the avoidance
of obviously misleading statements or outrageous, the evasion
of unsupported claims made by the authors etc.
- Usefulness: the information provided by the site should
be useful and interesting to the users, meet their needs, in terms
of type and depth of the material provided and should enable them
to acquire knowledge.
- Logical organisation of information/ Comprehensiveness:
the content made available by a site must be properly organised,
and the semantic relations have to be clear. To achieve this goal,
a good practice is the hierarchical organisation of the information.
A site designer should divide the available information in thematic
units and give optical emphasis in the most important content.
Also, he should use synopsis, summaries, headings and provide
context and orientation information to help users understand complex
pages. For the purpose of comprehensiveness, the complexity of
the language of the content should be appropriate for the site’s
- Authority of the content: authority of the content refers
to the credibility and expertise of the supplier of the information
and deals with descriptive information about him.
This category covers criteria which address the site’s
policy in two areas:
- Legal policy: concerns intellectual property rights (IPR)
and user data protection. Since every day a vast amount of material
is distributed online, and digital networks cache copies of documents
to improve performance, the owners of digital material need to
protect their digitized products. IPR systems help customers realise
the full value of their digital material. To address security
or management driven concerns, relating to dissemination and use
of digitally-encoded information, some methods have been developed,
including “digital watermarking” and rights management
languages. Also, the "Information Society" increases
the cross-frontier flows of personal data between Member States
of EU. Facing this fact, EU has harmonised the data protection
legislation of the member states.
- Maintenance policy: Web sites are maintained in order
to keep the information current, the links functional and, above
all, to keep visitors coming back. For the purpose of maintenance
policy of a site, a publication date or last revised date should
Design and usability
The design of a site is defined by images, text and links. Its
objective is to improve the delivery of information and the effectiveness
of its use.
Four criteria make it possible to evaluate the design and usability
of cultural sites: accessibility, navigability, quality of links
and aesthetic design.
- Accessibility: before the quality of a resource can be
judged, it is necessary to locate and gain access to the server
that houses the document. Site access deals with issues such as
ease of connection and downloading. Usability studies proved that
a site’s response time should be between one sec and ten
sec. Also, wide access to Internet requires sites being accessible
by the lowest-level available browser technology and being translated
in a lot of languages. To enable use by users with disabilities,
Web sites should provide alternatives to auditory and visual content
and use features that enable activation of page elements via a
variety of input devices.
- Navigability: navigation deals with how easily documents
are explored. It is usually the principal mechanism by which the
users can gain access to the contents of the Web site. Thus, the
facilitation of navigation constitutes a crucial aspect of the
total quality of the cultural Web site and can be decomposed into
a number of factors. First of all, a site should have a good organisational
scheme (by subject, format, audience, chronology, geography etc.).
Also, the site should provide clear and consistent navigation
mechanisms (orientation information, navigation bars, a site map,
etc.), a help function and a search function. These are required
to increase the likelihood that a person will find what he is
looking for. Finally, the site should prevent the user from “getting
lost in hyperspace” (a typical syndrome of the great hypertext
structures). The users should always be aware of the real status
of their navigation session and they should
be able to understand their current position within
the cluster of objects they explore.
- Quality of links: one of the distinguishing aspects
of hypertext-based Internet resources is the ability
to link a document with related materials or resources. This aspect
is sufficiently important to be evaluated separately from other
organisational characteristics. Quality of the links deals with
how useful the links are and how clearly they are marked or annotated.
The target of the links should be clear and the link text should
be meaningful enough and terse, so that the user understands the
destination of each link. Also, the links should only point to
relevant material and do not prevent viewers from returning to
a previous page.
The use of labels such as , and is not
- Aesthetic design: aesthetic aspects deal with how
well the site is designed in terms of graphics, readability, and
the use of creative elements.
This category specifically deals with the
“look and feel” of the site. The proper use
of graphics, animation and sound increases
the vividness of content. However, it is essential
for a site to make moderate use of original components, clear
and appropriate multimedia content and leading edge technologies.
Also, the use of legible fonts and good colour
balance in text, links, background, images and other visual elements
A site should provide feedback mechanisms to users, in order
to give them the capability to make their comments, corrections,
critique and raise questions. Also, a site should support communication
forums and provide various ways of presentation of the available
The Online System
To make the quality more applicable and measurable, the above
questionnaire has been implemented as an online questionnaire.
The online questionnaire was implemented using open Web oriented
technologies (Apache, PHP, MySQL, Linux). The system supports
user authentication (only authorised users can access the questionnaire
and the view results). The system provides automatic report generation,
each time a new questionnaire is filled the results ate updated.
This system can currently be reached through http://www.benchmarking.gr
and it will soon be migrated to the new benchmarking platform
prepared by the High Performance Information Systems Laboratory
of the University of Patras, Greece. Based on this questionnaire,
we have evaluated a number of cultural sites on the Web and gathered
conclusions from it.
The very important issue of long-term sustainability of the digital
cultural content is at an initial phase in Greece. The activities
so far included the dissemination of the issue to the Directorates
of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and the Hellenic Digitisation
Research activities on digitisation
The nation wide research activities on digitisation are mainly
focusing on the definition and implementation of technological
studies. The technological studies will be assigned to research
laboratories, universities and institutes and will shed light
on the state of the art for digitisation of cultural heritage
and the added value services for the digital cultural content.
In addition, many research projects have already been proposed
to several national and international funding initiatives and