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Auszuege aus: Culture in Cyberspace vom 25.3.96

Nachfolgend Auszuege aus 
"Culture in Cyberspace" vom 25.3.96
u.a. mit einem Beitrag zur Vorbereitung der 2. INETBIB-TAGUNG - wenn dem
begruessenswerten Vorschlag von Heinrich C. Kuhn gefolgt werden sollte. 
Freundliche Gruesse von
Achim Osswald

A panel of three Federal judges in Philadelphia began hearing
testimony in a suit brought against the new Communications
Decency Act.  The act, part of the recently enacted
telecommunications reform law, prohibits making indecent material
available to minors on the Internet.  The suit requests striking down
the act in the interest of free speech, and was brought by a
coalition of 27 plaintiffs representing corporate and advocacy
groups.  According to the Washington Post, one witness has stated
that "redesigning the various systems that make up the Internet to
restrict youth access would be impractical in some cases and
impossible in others."  The Post also detailed an in-court
demonstration of the Internet using software designed to block
objectionable sites.  As the judges watched, "clean" medical and art
information flowed freely while an attempt to visit the Penthouse
magazine site was blocked.  Reuters reports that the program also
blocked an attempt to search for the term "sexy" on the net. The
plaintiffs contend that such software is the proper way to shield
children from the net's darker side, rather than government-imposed 
censorship.  Testimony will continue periodically before
the judges until April 26, although some are already predicting the
case will end up in the Supreme Court.
WP, 3/22/96
Reuters: <http://www.yahoo.com/headlines/960322/compute/stories/suit_2.html>

The Uffizi is has been in Florence since 1581 but has only recently
ventured into cyberspace.  Scores of famous artworks may be
viewed at this web site, although most of the images are in black
and white.  A select few are shown in 16 million colors and may be
downloaded after a free registration.  Featured presentations
include Titian's "Venus of Urbino," Raphael's "Virgin of the
Goldfinch," Caravaggio's "Bacchus," and Botticelli's "Birth of
Venus."  Speaking of the latter, the Uffizi may find itself banned in
certain places, if not for the revealing painting itself, than certainly
for the suggestive invitation on the first page to "touch the Venus."

This is the apparently serious pitch of Museum Mania, a business
offering a new angle to museums.  The idea is to develop a game
"that leads children and their parents or classrooms and teachers
through an entire art, historical, or cultural museum or historical
landmark.... Children are asked to answer questions, find obscure
objects, count, compare, and identify objects of art or antiquity."  
The group is using the web to market itself, although the site
provides no word on when "Twister at the National Gallery" will be
Web: <http://www.museummania.com>
E-mail: <Cindy _at__ museummania.com>

Last week's consideration of electronic records and their fate drew
a response from a reader who feels that it is not enough just to
save data.  "When is the Information Society going to wake up and
look at its problems from the new-paradigmatic perspective?  If 
(big if)  web history is at stake, the data that was recorded ... should
not be treated separately from it.  In toto, there is the history to be
preserved."   The reason for doing so is "maybe, just maybe, we'll
want to look back at where we have come from and think - who
knows? - it might be pretty nice to settle there."   

Our correspondent is making an argument that has some merit;
indeed, there are institutions that strive to acquire and maintain
outdated computers.  The value of this is demonstrated by a tale
that has circulated around the archival community.  It seems that
20 or so years ago, a researcher wanted to examine data from the
1960 U.S. population census.  They found, and to its shock the
government found, that the computer needed to read the data was
so obsolete that only a handful remained in existence -- and one
was in fact in a museum.  

I personally believe the only practical way to preserve the history of
the digital era is to focus on the recorded evidence -- the data --
and to ensure we know where the records are and what they
contain.  Compatibility is a real issue, but as computers get more
complicated and powerful, the ability to "mine" older data expands. 
Even so, archivists and systems administers need to ensure that
older data is documented and can be ported to newer systems. 
This is not a technical problem so much as it is a problem getting
organizations to accept the responsibility for doing so.  

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Culture in Cyberspace is produced by:

Information Networking and Management Associates (INMA) 
World Wide Web creation, editing, and maintenance/
News and information services/
Computer system design, installation, and support

Copyright 1996 by William G. LeFurgy;  all rights reserved. 
Excerpts and sample copies may be distributed for non-commercial
use so long as they are attributed and provide the CinC e-mail
address (wlefurgy _at__ radix.net). 

Prof. Dr. Achim Osswald
Fachhochschule Koeln
Fachbereich Bibliotheks- und Informationswesen / Department of LIS
Claudiusstr. 1,  D-50678 Koeln / Cologne      Germany
Fon: +49 / 221 / 8275-3388     Fax: +49 / 221 / 331 85 83

N e u e  e - m a i l - A d r e s s e: Achim.Osswald _at__ Uni-Koeln.DE
Mehr zu unserem Fachbereich unter / See more about our faculty at

Privat: Fon: +49 / 221 / 550 9470   Fax: +49 / 221 / 550 9479

Listeninformationen unter http://www.inetbib.de.