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8 March 2004














Cross Currents No 19 March 2004 

A digest of cross sectoral information management events, issues and ideas in organisations, libraries, archives and museums, with special emphasis on arts and the humanities.


ARTS & CULTURE Arts & Culture Issues | Arts & Humanities Data Service | Arts & Humanities ICT Development | Business Planning for Cultural Heritage Institutions | Collections Council of Australia | Contemporary Australian Identity, Memory and Heritage | Australian e-Humanities Network | Cultural Tourism | Dance in Australia | Film and Sound Ructions | Music Portal | Music Information Forums in Australia | Performing Arts Special Interest Group | Research | UK Museum, Library and Archival Management | Virtual Communities and Collaboration in the Heritage Sector 

KNOWLEDGE & INFORMATION MANAGEMENT Analysing News | Bad Information | Government Information | Government Publishing | Information Management Portal | Information Quantity | Information Pollution | Information Technology and Creative Practices | Internet Information | Knowledge Management at the World Bank | Open Source Encyclopedia | PowerPoint Presentations | Vanishing Web 




Arts and Culture Issues

The Australia and New Zealand Association for Leisure Studies has called for papers for a special edition on arts and culture for Annals of Leisure Research. Topics can include issues such as: the state of the creative/cultural industries; issues (management, marketing, social, economic, political) facing heritage institutions, museums and art galleries; cultural tourism; regional and rural cultural development; case studies on sponsorship, business development and entrepreneurship in arts and cultural organizations; commercial and subsidised convergence of cultural industries; social, cultural and/or economic impact of participation in arts projects; analysis and implications of recent reports into the 'health' of the performing arts and visual arts sector; audience/visitor development case studies; theoretical considerations of arts and culture within the leisure sector. Papers must be received by May 2004 to appear in the September issue. Author instructions:

Arts and Humanities Data Service

Alastair Dunning, in The AHDS is Evolving: Changes at the Arts and Humanities Data Service, describes the changes afoot at the AHDS and how it intends to adapt to changes in both technology and the needs of its stakeholders. Ariadne Issue 38 (January 2004)

Arts and Humanities ICT Development

The UK Arts and Humanities Research Board’s ICT in Arts and Humanities Program has called for bids for its ICT Methods Network development, funded for four years by the AHRB at a total cost of £2.5m. The program aims to encourage, support and enhance the use of ICT in the conduct of research in all areas of the arts and humanities, the development and use of digital research resources and tools, and the exploitation of ICT in disseminating and making available the results of research. Information for potential applicants can be found at

Business Planning for Cultural Heritage Institutions

Business Planning for Cultural Heritage Institutions, by Liz Bishoff and Nancy Allen for the Council of Library and Information Resources, presents a framework to help cultural heritage institutions plan sustainable access to their digital cultural assets by ‘linking missions to planning modes and models’. It introduces the role and elements of business planning, discuss trends in sustaining programs in digital asset management, provides a template to help cultural heritage organisations launch a business planning process that addresses sustainability of both the digital asset initiative and the overall organisation. Web:

Collections Council of Australia

The Australian Cultural Ministers’ Council, endorsing recommendations of the National Collections Advisory Forum, has decided to establish a permanent industry body called the Collections Council of Australia to represent the shared interests of galleries, libraries, archives and museums. The Collections Council will play a role in: developing long term strategies to address issues facing our collections; undertaking industry support, particularly through the development of a profile for the sector at a national and international level; and implementing initiatives to address cross sectoral issues. Web:

Contemporary Australian Identity, Memory and Heritage

Dr Colin Long, of Deakin University’s Cultural Heritage Centre for Asia and the Pacific Faculty of Arts, has secured $10,000 start-up funding from the Australian Research Council to create a new network of researchers working in the area of identity, memory and heritage, including heritage and museum professionals and scholars in environmental studies, history, geography, cultural studies, Aboriginal studies, architecture, urban policy, archaeology and materials conservation. Web:

Australian e-Humanities Network

The Australian e-Humanities Research Network has been awarded $20,000 seed funding from the Australian Research Council’s Research Networks Scheme for its proposal The Australian e-Humanities Research Network: Leveraging Digital Scholarship in the Humanities. A workshop to develop detailed plans and structure for the Network was held 11-13 December 2003, coordinated by the Research Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney, involving Sheila Anderson and Alastair Dunning of the UK Arts and Humanities Data Service. The group is preparing a web-based report and negotiating with other networks as part of the preparation of an application for additional funding in March. A section of the report will be devoted to a stock-take of e-humanities research projects in Australia, including the infrastructure needs of researchers and projections of future developments. The Australian e-Humanities Network website has been extended to capture information on relevant projects. Web:

Cultural Tourism

The Australian Cultural Ministers’ Council Statistical Working Group has released the report Economic Impact of Cultural Tourists in Australia. The report examines the expenditure habits of bother international and domestic cultural visitors during 1997-98 to 2001-01 and estimates the economic contribution of cultural visitors at the national level by examining their impact on employment, wages and supplements, Gross Value Added (GVA) and tourism consumption. It found that cultural visitors spend around $18.2 million per annum on goods and services. They account for 2.1 million international visitors, 9.3 million domestic overnight trips and 10.6 million day trips annually. And they contribute $7 billion to Australia’s GVA. This represents 28.1 per cent of tourism’s total contribution to GCA or 1.2 per cent of Australia’s GVA. International cultural visitors contributed $8.7 billion to export earnings in 2000-01. Web: ..

Dance in Australia

The Australia Council has released the report Resourcing Dance: An Analysis of the Subsidised Australian Dance Sector, which concludes that the sector is failing to reach its potential because of, among other factors, a decline in dance funding between 1993 and 2002. The report presents 25 recommendations costing $3 million to $5 million, under the themes promoting individual talent, maintaining healthy dance ecology, building audiences, encouraging cooperation and leadership. Web:   

Film and Sound Ructions

Following adverse public reaction to proposals by the Australian Film Commission regarding its plans for ScreenSound, the AFC has released a second directions paper outlining its intentions for the activities of Australia's film and sound archive. Details are available on the AFC website An independent archive forum website, representing the interests of the ScreenSound lobbyists has been established to monitor the merger at An article on the merger, by Ray Edmondson, The SceenSound Saga, appeared in Museums Australia Magazine February 2004 (pp 16-17)

Music Portal

The Music Division of the Library of Congress has launched a new website, I Hear America Singing (IHAS), a portal to the Library's music and performing arts collections.  I Hear America Singing integrates the collections, commissions and live concerts of the Library of Congress, allowing users to discover the Library's music and performing-arts collections through a single gateway on the Web.  It brings together thousands of materials digitised from the Library's vast collections of sheet music, sound recordings, moving images, manuscripts, photographs and oral histories, and essays by Library staff and other leading researchers in the performing arts. Web: [Source: DigLib].

Music Information Forums Australia

The Australian Branch of the International Association of Music Libraries Archives and Documentation Centres will holds its 2004 conference on the theme Music in a Digital World: Directions, Initiatives, Collaborations in Canberra 12-15 September. Hosts include the National Library of Australia, Australian National University School of Music and ScreenSound Australia. The Australasian Sound Recording Association will jointly host day three, focusing on issues relating to sound recordings and audio in film and the digital arts. IAML is also sponsoring the seminar Music, Technology and Research as part of the Symposium of the International Musicology Society at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne on 16 July 2004. This offers two sessions: Music Research Infrastructure: Current and Future Possibilities and Music Infrastructure: What Do We Need?  Web:

Performing Arts Special Interest Group

Museums Australia’s Performing Arts Special Interest Group will hold a joint meeting in May with the Costume Special Interest Group in Melbourne as part of the Museums Australia Conference. The program will include sessions on theatre costumes, their collecting and preservation, held at the Melbourne Performing Arts Museum and Merlyn Myer Room at the Myer Music Bowl on 15 May. Sessions on 17 May will be in the refurbished State Library of Victoria and will include a tour of its new Arts Library and reports on projects and developments such as AusStage. Further details: Richard Stone 


Recent successful bids from the Australian Research Council ( include the following.

Creative Digital Industries in Australia: innovation in quantitative and qualitative mapping ($395,000), involving Queensland University of Technology, Australian Film Commission, Department of Communications, Information and the Arts and National Office for the Information Economy. Aims to enhance the statistical base for this emerging part of the new economy, and examine creative enterprise dynamics, as well as digital outputs, within the creative industries and wider service industry sectors including education, health and government.

Preserving Australia's Sound Heritage: creating a web-based music research infrastructure ($338,933), involving the University of Western Australia, Monash University, Curtin University of Technology and ScreenSound. Aims to facilitate access to and research on the Peter Burgis Australian Performing Arts Archive and the Archive of Australian Jewish Music by creating a web-based catalogue of the sound carriers in the collections and digitise a selection of rare and/or fragile recordings.

Reformulating Museological Narrative Using Three Models of Cinematic Interactivity ($128,000), involving the University of New South Wales, Australia Council for the Arts and Powerhouse Museum. Aims to dramatically enhance the presentational flexibility of museum information delivery through the application of an immersive system of cinematic visualization by modelling the integration of three kinds of interactive narrative.

Talking theatre: an Audience Development Programme for Regional Queensland and the Northern Territory ($197,500) involving Queensland University of Technology, NARPACA, Arts NT and Arts Queensland. Aims to ascertain the entertainment, cultural, and creative needs of non-theatregoers living in regional areas.

Theatres Online: Achieving Theoretical and Practical Solutions to Problems of Theatre Space via Virtual Reality Computational Modeling ($112,000) involving the University of Queensland, La Boite Theatre, Cairns Civic Theatre, Sleeman Centre and Parallel Graphics. Aims to make the complex phenomenon of theatre space more accessible to both researchers and industry professionals by providing a virtual reality model of selected theatres, so that users might better comprehend a venue’s spatial dynamics.

UK Museum, Library and Archive Management

The governments of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have created a Joint Forum for collaboration and cooperation on museum, archive and library issues. As part of the new agreement, the Joint Forum of executive bodies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will meet at least twice per year to discuss potential joint working arrangements and ensure improved communication and planning. Web:

The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries in the UK has dropped the name "Resource" from its title and will be known in future as the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, abbreviated to MLA. MLA was established by the UK government in 2000 to provide leadership across the sector and strategic advice to government. Web: [Source: H-MUSEUM].

Virtual Communities and Collaboration in the Heritage Sector           

DigiCULT Thematic Issue 5 is devoted to the theme Virtual Communities and Collaboration in the Heritage Sector, focusing on how heritage institutions might benefit from fostering virtual communities related to core activities such as exhibitions, educational programs or in support of scholarly communities. “There is growing volume of evidence to suggest that cultural heritage institutions' adoption of virtual communities will broaden the reach, value and relevance of cultural heritage. The vision to link the collections and work of heritage institutions with virtual communities promises to considerably change the way we access, communicate about, share our understanding of, and participate in the experience of cultural heritage. But, for most cultural heritage institutions, the challenge will be first to embrace the idea of co-operating with a (non-professional) online community, and then to nurture an evolving and thriving community that crosses the virtual as well as physical space.”  Web:


Analysing News

In Forecasting Future Wars, Karen Heyman reports on the work of computer scientist Devika Subramanian at Rice University, who is developing a computer program that predicts potential conflicts by analysing cumulative reporting in newspapers and wire services. Subramanian says there's a problem when humans try to summarise collections of complex documents and events: "There's a bias we've found with the American papers and large, international news services. Incidents have to hit a high pain threshold before a story is considered important enough to run, so local skirmishes that are early indicators of regional conflicts may not be reported. In addition, once a conflict has been going on for a while, it may start to be underreported. Web: [Source: National Science Foundation Digital Government Research Program Jan 2004 via ShelfLife]

Bad Information

Stephen Adams, in Information Quality, Liability, and Corrections, (Information Today, September/October 2003) says bad information is "stickier," lasts longer and rears its ugly head more virulently than good information. Bad information may be information that is inappropriate for a particular audience or information that is ambiguous, deliberately fraudulent, biased, incomplete or out-of-date. Incorrect data is often perpetuated. Journals sometimes publish retractions or errata notices, but unless the searcher has reason to suspect in advance that a correction or retraction has been issued, it doesn't normally appear in the standard search results. If modern retrieval mechanisms can locate the erroneous item, shouldn't they be able to find the correction? Web: [Source: ShelfLife]

Government Information

A California Digital Library study, Web-Based Government Information: Evaluating Solutions for Capture. Curation, and Preservation (November 2003), comments on the practice of selected US state, public and academic libraries in preserving printed government materials, such as the 1,300 libraries nationwide who participant in the Federal Depository Library Program. It proposes that different parts of the preservation process for both digital and analogue information should be distributed to organisations that are best suited to undertaking that responsibility. An essential part of the model is a broker function, charged with supplying a range of tools and a deep technical infrastructure that will enable memory organisations to focus on areas where their expertise and their missions naturally permit. The study also identified some of the key roles that the broker service must play to encourage memory organisations to take a more widespread and active role in preserving web-based government materials, and identified ways by which the broker service might sustain itself financially while keeping costs down. [Source: ShelfLife]. Web:

Government Publishing

Judith Russell, US Superintendent of Documents, in a presentation to the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting, January 2004, discussed changes that have occurred in the Government Printing Office (GPO) as a result of the digital revolution. The GPO Access site, which provides free downloads of many federal publications, facilitates 33 million downloads per month, the equivalent of 808 million pages. Simultaneously, the GPO’s sales program has seen revenues fall from more than US$80 million to US$30 million over the last 10 years. The GPO is now trying to develop a new economic model to recoup some of that lost revenue, although no strategy has yet been agreed on. Adding to the GPO’s challenges is the need to manage legacy collections more efficiently. Toward that end, there is a movement toward shared repositories that would eliminate some redundancies. The GPO has also decided to establish a collection of last resort that will comprise a comprehensive collection of tangible and electronic titles to back up the repositories. The Association of Research Libraries and the GPO are collaborating to digitise a complete legacy collection of US government documents available in the public domain. Web: [Source: ShelfLife]

Information Management Portal

The Canadian Treasury Board Secretariat and Library & Archives Canada are working together to develop an Information Management Portal with the aim of helping the work of IM specialists (including records managers, librarians, archivists, IM analysts and Web content specialists). The portal is expected to be launched in April 2004. [Source: RECMGT-L] Web:

Information Quantity

The quantity and flow of information is exploding at an amazing rate, according to a new study by the School of Information Management and Systems at University of California-Berkeley. The amount of new information stored on paper, film, magnetic and optical media has roughly doubled in the last three years. Five exabytes of new information -- roughly five billion gigabytes -- was created in 2002 alone. Each year almost 800 MB of recorded information is produced per person. If stored on paper, that would take about 30 feet of books. But 92% of all that new information is stored on magnetic media, mostly hard disks, rather than on paper, film or optical media. Information flowing through electronic channels -- telephone (both cellular and landline), radio, TV and the Internet -- is far larger. Almost 18 exabytes of new information was generated in 2002, three and a half times more than the amount stored. Five billion instant messages per day produce 274 terabytes a year (a terabyte is about 1,000 gigabytes). E-mail racks up about 400,000 terabytes of new information each year worldwide. About 31 billion e-mails are sent daily, a figure which is expected to double by 2006. E-mail ranks second behind the telephone as the largest information flow. E-mail users include 35% of the total US population and accounts for over 35% of time spent on the Internet. The study estimates that about one-third of all e-mail is spam. Web:

Information Pollution

Web usability expert Jakob Nielsen, in BBC News 13 Oct 2003, warns "Information pollution is information overload taken to the extreme. It's where it stops being a burden and becomes an impediment to your ability to get your work done." Strategies for coping with this situation are: manage time and prioritising tasks; creating multiple e-mail accounts, and shunting some mail to folders for later consultation. Don't be indiscriminate about sending e-mail. Get a good spam filter. And don't be event-driven by chasing after e-mail alerts. The Web, he says, has mutated into a "procrastination apparatus" that spews more information than can be absorbed, and e-mail is worse because it is a weird mix of personal and mass communication. "If people don't develop really harsh counter-measures, it will basically destroy their ability to use the computer in any productive way and become the ruler of your time. Web: [Source: ShelfLife]

Information Technology and Creative Practices

A new information management domain is discussed in Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation and Creativity. edited by William J. Mitchell, Alan S. Inouye, and Marjory S. Blumenthal, and published by the National Academies Press in 2003. This argues that information technology is forming a powerful alliance with creative practices in the arts and design to establish the new domain of information technology and creative practices—ITCP. There are major benefits to be gained from encouraging, supporting, and strategically investing in this domain. It recommends action on many fronts—by individuals, organisations, and funders of different kinds. It recommends that educators and academic administrators support the IT capability by arts and design students, support experience and arts and design by computer science students, foster exploration of ITCP through incentives and experimentation with a range of informal and formal vehicles, and support curricula, especially at the undergraduate level, that provide the necessary disciplinary foundation for later specialisation in ITCP. It recommends that foundations, government agencies and other funders to foster the ITCP field through a range of grants and support mechanisms. It recommends that Industry seek opportunities to develop new products and services relating to the growing field of ITCP, participate in the formation of ITCP clusters and pursue relationships with centres of ITCP activity. And it recommends that the National Academies organise a symposium series on Frontiers of Creative Practice to bring together a cross section of young artists, designers, scientists, and technologists working within ITCP. Web: 

Internet Information

Stephen Cass, in A Fountain of Knowledge, (IEEE Spectrum Online, January 2004), talks about IBM's WebFountain - "half a football field's worth of rack-mounted processors, routers, and disk drives running a huge menagerie of programs" - working to convert the vast sea of unstructured information cross the Internet into a structured format that is capable of being analysed. Its primary intent is to package this information so it can be used by companies to make smarter, more timely business decisions by transforming unlabeled data into XML-labelled data. Software programs called "annotators" scan all the raw data looking for recognisable words and phrases and add appropriate XML tags. What this does is create more data – sometimes as much as 10 times the size of the original. Using the technology, IBM researchers have discovered that 30% of the Web is porn and 30% is duplicated information. 50,000,000 pages are changed or added to the Web each day. And, although 65% of all Web pages are currently written in English, English pages will be in the minority by 2010. Web: [Source: Current Cites]  

Knowledge Management at World Bank

Catherine Gwin’s report Sharing Knowledge: Innovations and Remaining Challenges evaluates the World Bank knowledge management program that began in 1996. Gwin found that the Bank has made good progress in establishing the tools and activities to support its initiative, but it has not established adequate business processes and management responsibilities for achieving the strategic intent of making knowledge sharing a way of doing business and empowering clients. Although access to Bank knowledge has improved, improved access has not guaranteed that shared knowledge will be adopted, adapted, and applied. For that to happen, knowledge sharing has to be embedded in work processes. The review recommends that the Bank management improve oversight of the Bank's knowledge management processes, that knowledge-sharing activities be linked to lending and non-lending processes, and that performance indicators be established for knowledge-sharing programs and activities. Web: [Source: SOAF]

Open Source Encyclopedia

Andrea Ciffolilli, in Phantom Authority, Self-Selective Recruitment and Retention of Members in Virtual Communities: The Case of Wikipedia, (First Monday 11 Nov 2003) says open source communities, devoted to the collective production of public goods, show efficiency properties far superior to the traditional institutional solutions to the public goods issue. Her paper employs team and club theory as well as transaction cost economics to analyse the Wikipedia online community, which is devoted to the creation of a free encyclopedia. She provides a few suggestions to encourage long-term sustainability of knowledge assemblages, such as Wikipedia, and discussed open source issues and possible directions for future research. Web:

PowerPoint Presentations 

Don Norman, in Don Norman on PowerPoint Usability: Interview with Cliff Atkinson (Sociable Media (2004) rebuts recent Edward Tufte's condemnation of PowerPoint. He argues that PowerPoint is NOT a problem, it's the presenter. “Bullet points and outlines are not bad ideas. A proper outline structures the talk. Proper bullet points summarise important concepts. The problem comes about when speakers prepare a dense set of outlines, turn them into bullets, and mindlessly read them to the audience.” Web:    

Vanishing Web

According to the Washington Post, 24 Nov 2003, a new study published in the journal Science looked at footnotes from scientific articles in three major journals (the New England Journal of Medicine, Science, and Nature) at different intervals after publication - 3 months, 15 months and 27 months - and found that the prevalence of inactive Internet references grew during those intervals from 3.8% to 10% to 13%. In another recent study, according to the Post, one-fifth of the Internet addresses used in a Web-based high school science curriculum disappeared over 12 months, and a third study found that 40% to 50% of the URLs referenced in articles in two computing journals were inaccessible within four years. Brewster Kahle, creator of the Internet Archive project, says: "It's a huge problem. The average lifespan of a Web page today is 100 days." [Source: ShelfLife]


Information Technology and Libraries, vol 22 (2003) has the following articles: Building an Internet Gateway by Ron Davies (p 106-109), on the development of WorkGate, a gateway on work, employment, and social issues developed by the Library of the International Labour Organization, and A History of Web Portals and Their Development in Libraries by Joe Zhou (119-128). Zhou calls on librarians and computer engineers work together to improve both search mechanisms and data structures for a more effective and efficient information service. Web: [Source: New Technologies in Libraries}

Nicole Waller’s Model RFP for Integrated Library System Portals (2003) has been published by the American Library Association in the series Library Technology Reports Web [Source: New Technologies in Libraries]

The Scholars Portal Project Status Report and Update November 2003 comments on progress at research libraries at Iowa State, the University of Arizona, and Arizona State, which have now implemented federated discovery and delivery tools for their campuses using FD software (ZPORTAL, Z2Web, and related FD products). The remaining four participants expect to introduce the software to their campuses by early 2004. The University of Arizona is developing the technical and organizational requirements to provide the meta-search and direct linking features that enable users to search multiple resources and simultaneously link directly to the appropriate content. Web: [Source ShelfLife].

This issue of Cross Currents compiled by Paul Bentley


The Wolanski Foundation would be grateful for feedback on the scope, format and content of this bulletin..


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