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Using and Re-using Archive Information for Multimedia Applications: the virtual museum of Italian computer science history

Franca Garzotto , Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Giovanni Mainetto , CNUCE - CNR, Italy
Serena Pisani , Italian National Research Council, Italy
Paolo Paolini , Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Pasquale Savino , CNR, Italy

Session: Reusability

The quality of content is a key attribute for assessing the global quality of a museum application. Unfortunately, producing good content, especially in multimedia digital form, is expensive and time-consuming. One way to reduce the costs without sacrificing quality is to exploit the concept of information reuse. The idea is to use (portions of) the same multimedia material in different applications, possibly adapting it for different contexts, for different categories of users, and for different delivery channels (e.g., on-line and off-line). Information reuse does not come free. To be effective, it requires a well-organized environment in which information can be easily stored, inspected, retrieved, and adapted for different purposes. This paper describes the approach adopted in the project "The Virtual Museum of Italian Computer Science History", funded by the Italian National Council of Research (CNR). In this project, all the digital material (documents, images, video interviews, etc.) is stored in a digital archive based on a multimedia database with a WWW front-end. The archive is designed for specialists only: members of the editorial board of the project; researchers in the history of science; application developers (who are looking for interesting content to include in their CD-ROMs or Web sites). Each research group involved in the project extracted and adapted from the digital archive the multimedia material needed to build a different hypermedia application in two "versions" - WWW and CD-ROM. These applications, both on-line and off-line, strongly reuse (portions of) the digital archive content, but organize and present it with a totally different style, to address the needs of non-specialists (e.g., people who have some interest, or curiosity, on the history of Italian computer science).