Status and Development
Author: Aleksandra Imogen Ivir,
Culturelink World Wide Web (WWW) Editor
One of the main goals of the Culturelink Network is to serve as a resource center for all of its members, over a thousand cultural networks and institutions in 98 countries on all the continents, compiling and disseminating information on new concepts, research challenges, trends, experiences and practice in the field of cultural development. With their active contributions to cultural development policy and cooperation, the members enrich the Network, especially thanks to the use of modern information technology.
The Culturelink Network has thus been accessible via the Internet's Gopher service since 1994, while the Culturelink Home Page was first set up on the World Wide Web in the autumn of 1996.
The Network's long-term objective is the development of a worldwide information system for the study of cultural policy, cultural management and development strategies, and international cultural cooperation projects, which will make possible not only the use of on-line databases but also the participation in Internet conferences, promoting new partnerships and cooperation on international, national, regional and local levels.
2.1 Current Status of Culturelink Web Presence (September 1998)
Currently, Culturelink is present on the Internet and accessible through the World Wide Web at its Home Page address of http://www.culturelink.hr. The Site is located at the Institute for International Relations, and is connected to the Internet via the Croatian Academic Research Network (CARNet - http://www.carnet.hr). Aiming to accommodate a constantly growing number of visitors from over 50 countries worldwide so far, Mirror Sites have been set up to improve the accessibility of Culturelink's Web content, allowing for faster access to the information from all parts of the world.
2.2 Culturelink Home Page
Ever since its creation in 1996, the Culturelink Home Page has been constantly growing. It is updated and expanded regularly with announcements from coming conferences, new issues of the Culturelink review, additions to the Culturelink Database, updated cultural policies and links to related sites.
2.3 Culturelink Web Content
The Culturelink Web space offers access to information and news about the Culturelink Network, its current and past research activities, the Culturelink database system (Cultural Policy Database, Cultural Development Database and Bibliographical Database of the Documentation Centre for Cultural Development), its various publications, including the Culturelink review and the Culturelink Directory Series, announcements of current events, and links to related sites.
To support its numerous networking activities, research projects and the Culturelink review, the Culturelink Network has established the Culturelink Databank, with the task of making information on cultural development, cultural policies and life accessible to all members of the Network. Complemented and updated on a daily basis, these services represent a unique source of information on UNESCO and the Council of Europe's Member States.
2.4 Culturelink Mirror Sites
In order to improve the accessibility of the Culturelink Home Page, which is being visited via the Internet from all over the world, Culturelink has recently decided to set up a number of Mirror Sites.
With the creation of the Asia-Pacific Regional Centre of the Culturelink Network (APRCCN), a Mirror Site of the Culturelink Home Page was set up at the Internet Server of the Korean National Commission for UNESCO.
Culturelink has also set up a Mirror Site at the Paris UNESCO Internet Server, and created most recently a Croatian Mirror Site with a commercial Internet Presence Provider to allow for faster access to its pages, as the Croatian Academic Research Network, the home of the original site, is rather congested.
3. Improvement Activities and Projects
3.1 Accessibility Improvement Activities
The Culturelink Mirror Sites, set up in order to develop and strengthen the dissemination of cultural information and intensify international and intercultural communication and cooperation on the subregional and regional levels, as well as on the international level, need to be kept up to date with the main Culturelink Home Page on a regular basis.
3.1.1 Additional Croatian Culturelink Home Site
In June 1998, the Network set up an additional Culturelink WWW Site in Croatia, with Ring d.o.o, Zagreb (http://www.ring.net), a commercial Internet Presence Provider offering faster access to the Internet. The pages will be maintained by the Culturelink Webmaster. This Mirror Site address is http://www.culturelink.org
3.1.2 Maintenance of Culturelink Mirror at the Paris UNESCO Site
Set up at the Paris UNESCO Internet Server (http://www.unesco.org), this Culturelink Mirror Site is available via http://www.unesco.org/culturelink. The pages will be kept up-to-date regularly by the Culturelink Webmaster. The Mirror has been operational as of
3.1.3 Maintenance of Culturelink Mirror at the Korean APRCCN Site
Set up at the Internet Server of the Korean National Commission for UNESCO (http://www.unesco.or.kr), as part of the Asia-Pacific Regional Centre of the Culturelink Network (APRCCN) Home Site (http://www.unesco.or.kr/culturelink/), the Culturelink Mirror Pages have to be maintained regularly by the Culturelink Webmaster. As of April 1998, the
Mirror Site address is http://www.unesco.or.kr/culturelink/culturelink/index.html
3.2 Searchability Improvement Projects
To satisfy a growing interest of the Culturelink members and visitors, Culturelink is planning to improve information availability by adding search capabilities to the Culturelink Web pages.
3.2.1 Local Searchability
This activity plans the addition of a Search Engine to the Culturelink Web Site, allowing free text searches (using logical operators - AND, OR, NOT, NEAR...) over the contents of the entire Culturelink Web space.
This will be geared especially towards the Cultural Policy Database, to facilitate context sensitive navigation. Phase one foresees the creation of a mechanism to allow the selection of the desired country and the topic of interest, thus facilitating comparative study and analysis of the policies.
3.2.2 Global Searchability
Global searchability is to ensure worldwide recognition of Culturelink activities and databases through Internet Search Engines and Directories such as Altavista, Hotbot, Lycos, Excite, Yahoo and others. In addition to the Culturelink Home Site already registered, all of the Mirror Sites will be registered and added to the search engine lists.
3.3.1 Expansion and Updating of the Cultural Policies Database
The Cultural Policy Database is a textual database developed as an integral part of the long-term IRMO project entitled "Current State and Trends in Cultural Policy and Life in UNESCO Member States". Since 1995, the Cultural Policy Database has been reachable through the Internet at IRMO's Gopher site, and since 1997 the updated data on part of the European countries and Canada is accessible through the World Wide Web at Culturelink's
Mapping the field of cultural development policy internationally, the scope of the Database includes:
- General Directions of Cultural Policy (Aims, Measures, Guidelines)
- Administrative and Institutional Structures (Facilities and Institutions, Public and Semi-public Bodies, Governmental Bodies)
- Instruments of Cultural Policy (Planning, Financing, Legislation)
- Sectorial Policies (Cultural Heritage, Performing Arts, Media Policy, Fine Arts, etc.)
- Cultural Industry (Film, Printing Industry, Recording Industry, etc.)
- Cultural Development (Cultural Training and Education, Cultural Development Programmes, Cultural Dissemination and Animation, Courses and Workshops, etc.)
- International Cultural Cooperation
The target users for the Cultural Policy Database are mainly researchers and scholars working in the field of culture, as well as policy makers and those engaged in cultural action and advocacy worldwide, aiming to identify existing resources and locate priority problems in different geocultural areas and at different levels of economic development.
In view of the interaction between culture and development, and the rapid cultural and technological change in the context of continuous globalization, updating information on cultural policies has been an ongoing process since 1995. As the information in the database is continually updated, additional cultural policies are being made available via the Culturelink Web space. Updated information on the cultural policies of further European, African and Asian countries will become accessible at the Culturelink Web Site in 1998/1999.
It is also planned to research the Internet presence of the institutions mentioned in the cultural policies, and to include and continuously update links to all existing home pages in the cultural policy database.
3.3.2 Database of Networks and Institutions in the Field of Cultural Development
The Cultural Development Database (also called Culturelink Database) was built to serve the needs of the members of the Culturelink Network and others involved in the field of cultural development. It contains general information on 1,000 cultural networks, scientific and educational institutions worldwide, as well as more detailed information on 300 selected networks and institutions from all regions of the world, active in the field of cultural development. Developed on the basis of a questionnaire, the Database describes the institutions' general profile, information infrastructure and databases, research projects, publications, artistic activities, international cultural cooperation, etc.
In order to make this information accessible to the Culturelink members, UNESCO and the Council of Europe, as well as all other interested institutions, an on-line version of this Database is experimentally available. Access to the database via the Internet currently allows simple searches, with an interactive version making possible multiple-criteria searches and facilitating the collection of information being developed.
3.3.3 Bibliographical Database
The Bibliographical Database of the Documentation Centre for Cultural Development is a database developed for the needs of the Culturelink Network members. Implemented in the ISIS system, this is a database of documents and publications in the field of cultural development. It is planned to make the Bibliographical Database publicly accessible via the Internet.
3.3.4 Expansion of Related Sites Database
As statistical access data of the Culturelink Web Site shows a significant interest of its visitors in the Related Sites List, it is planned to further expand and update it, ordering the listed institutions alphabetically by categories.
3.3.5 Special Projects - Culturelink Members' Web Space
To further improve the communication between its members, Culturelink intends to open its Web space by offering primarily to its members, but also to others who are interested, a site for the exchange of ideas and non-commercial information relevant to the field of culture and their work. It is expected that information will be prepared and organized for WWW presentation by the announcers themselves. The Culturelink Webmaster will retain the right to moderate the contents.
Also, a Web-based Discussion Forum is envisaged, aiming to further facilitate active participation in reflection, exchange of experience and the development of joint projects designed to promote cultural policies with a view to sustainable human development.
3.3.6 Availability of Full Documents in Electronic Form (Adobe PDF Format)
At present, some large documents are available on the WWW in extracted form. Owing to the great interest of the Culturelink members and visitors, Culturelink intends to add complete documents in the Adobe PDF format, authorized for publication by the author. This will allow various national graphemes to coexist in the same document, as well as any graphics and tables.
3.3.7 Availability of Culturelink Review in Electronic Form (Adobe PDF Format)
At present, the Culturelink review is distributed in full only in the paper format. In the future, the idea is to publish past issues of the Review in electronic form and make them available in the Adobe PDF format at the Culturelink Web space.
4. Invitation for Cooperation
As mentioned, to improve the communication between its members, Culturelink intends to open its Web space, offering its members and those interested a moderated site for the exchange of relevant ideas and non-commercial information. Guest editors are invited to prepare and organize their announcements for WWW presentations.
Culturelink encourages cooperation in all of its listed current and planned activities. Linked through the Internet and the Culturelink Web space, national and international institutions, academic bodies, public and private agencies, third sector bodies and foundations, individual experts, decision makers and artists in all regions of the world are invited to work together on the promotion of cultural diversity, policies and practices to foster creativity, encourage participation in and guarantee access to cultural activities, stimulating the awareness of the strategic importance of considering the cultural dimension of development.
Through its Internet activities, the Culturelink Network hopes to strengthen research networks and capacities by sharing the available data more equitably worldwide, forging new tools, innovative approaches and alternative alliances at local, national, regional and international levels.