The Lifelong Cultural Experience Challenge

Lightning Talk
Alan Wecker, Israel

The vision of a visitor of cultural heritage sites, moving from site to site, and sight to sight, and being provided with a personalized experience, tailored to his needs based on his or her preferences is an enticing one.  There are two parallel parts to this vision, one which we call “life wide”, which allows learning from and re-use of “recent” information gathered from different participatory cultural heritage sites worldwide and other domains.  The second is “life-long” and is concerned with a model and profile which evolves over time as it is used during cultural heritage experiences over a person’s lifetime.

This vision is achievable by building a user model based on prior experiences and taking into account current context. In order to accomplish this there is a need for standards and interoperability.  Data gathered at one site, needs to be interpreted at another. Already parts of this vision are in place.  Standards such as TourML and UserML form some of the basic building blocks of this endeavor. TourML provides the building blocks concerning the cultural heritage site itself, describing the stops within the sites, the media assets associated with such sites and the connections between sites.  In addition we need to think about extensions to such standards which can enrich our model, without violating the 80% usable rule. A possible example would be extending the model of connections in TourML to provide for containment, visibility of target from source, and connection type (staircase, escalator, doorway, …).  UserML, in contrast, may need to be constrained to be more specific to the needs of the cultural heritage visitor.

There is also a need to create new standards along the existing ones. Specifically, there is a need for standards which can record the user’s history of the visit and its context.  These standards need to be built upon and interoperate with existing standards such as TourML. In addition to standards there needs to be universal policies, which are agreed upon, concerning privacy  issues connected to the visitor and rights to multimedia assets and their metadata (with the use of the metadata being the more critical issue).

In addition there are a number of challenges. Some of the challenges are technological, such as how to design a model which evolves over time and can be used in a varying number of contexts.  There are other technological challenges involved with manipulating and working with large amounts of data and making it accessible to various types of devices both mobile and stationary. Other challenges are in the social and political realm; they involve getting different groups to agree on standards and policies to make this vision feasible. Additional challenges of this type are enforcing standards which protect the user’s privacy and make the use of personal data scrutable to him.

This short talk is an invitation to join us in trying to explore this vision and its consequences and to further the vision towards its realization.