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Workpackages in ECHO

The ECHO project is organized by workpackages. Each workpackages will be led by one of the ECHO partners. The workpackages and their leaders are responsible to make concepts, to organize and coordinate activities, that belong to that workpackage.

Workpackage 0: Project Management

Workpackage leader: Juergen Renn (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science)

Workpackage 0 is responsible for project management and coordination. The various tasks and activities of WP0 play a decisive role in the future of the ECHO project. A particular effort is made to coordinate the separate activities of the various workpackages in such a way that the common overall aim of the project is achieved. The basis of the ECHO project structure is a classical FP5 project structure. Just at the beginning of the project it was clear that the ECHO project will be more complex than other "classical" projects and it is obvious that the relations and collaborations between working areas and workpackages will be shown as a fine grained network of activities, publications and work parts, combined to create the ECHO infrastructure. The coordination of such a complex project needs to be more than administrative, legally and financial coordination. It is necessary to coordinate political activities to expand the ECHO network as well as decision on content, developing of technology and analysing activities to bring cultural heritage online. WP0 in the described role initiated a lot of activities, was involved by coordination and pushing activities.

Workpackage 1: State of the Art

Workpackage leader: Sven Strömqvist (University of Lund)
Web presentation of WP 1:

The humanities at large have not yet fully exploited the innovative potential represented by the information technologies both for research and the public understanding of cultural heritage. To achieve a considerable improvement of the current situation, ECHO is to analyse projects in the fields of the humanities, of technology, and of library and information sciences, in respect of their technical, legal and administrative properties and to formulate concrete hypotheses about the structure of reasons that have caused the lack of accessible content in the humanities. The first goal of WP1 is to make an inventory of previous, current and planned activities aimed at creating digital content for the humanities in the EU, in the Accession States, as well as in other countries. It will include an overview of the organisations involved in the creation of digital content, as well as of the major funding sources. For this purpose the consortium will draft a structured list of issues to be used by all partners, design a web-based questionnaire and collect results of Internet and literature searches. Publishing the results as a printed report and on the ECHO website will enable project managers, owners of valuable contents, or sponsor organisations to get in contact with each other and inform candidate partners of ECHO about how to proceed.
For more information see also "Cultural heritage on the Internet."
Based on the results, current projects can harmonise their metadata standards, data formats, tools and workflows in order to achieve a higher sustainability and compatibility. This particular competence of ECHO will be needed to act as an intermediary between the different fields of research and development; it will also be a basis for the establishment of an innovation centre in a second phase of ECHO.

Workpackage 2: Infrastructure and Technology Development

Workpackage leader: Peter Wittenburg (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics)
Web presentation of WP 2:

The creation of immediately usable infrastructure and technology is essential to make the AGORA operational. Particularly important is the interaction between technical developments and the work done in WP3. The tools to be generated have to be used right from the beginning by scholars in their work so that, in turn, the content produced in WP3 can be integrated into the common infrastructure. This workpackage will have four contributions to the ECHO project: First, the software will allow several researchers to collaboratively exploit and annotate multimedia signals such as digitised text or image sources, sounds, and videos. It will support remote working and interaction on the same or different sets of data which can be stored on distributed servers. The software can also be used to enter structured commentaries according to a graduated system of access, exploiting existing standard formats such as XML-structures of text documents. The software to be delivered will integrate advanced concepts of two already existing programs. Second, the browsable and searchable metadata infrastructure to be built up for the humanities should make the relevant content easily accessible both to scholars and the public. The metadata set employed will be based on the Dublin Core and the IMDI (ISLE Metadata Initiative) standards. Third, special attention will be paid to the technical infrastructure for the collections of non-European European cultural heritage, using the prototype of a hypermedia enquiry form. A definition of the technical specifications for developing the hypermedia structure of the model forms for the 'society database' related to the non-European European cultural heritage will be provided. Fourth, direct technical support will be given to scholars and institutions who are willing to contribute to the AGORA but who have so far ? for whatever reasons ? been excluded from participation in the innovative use of information technology for their research.
For more information see also "ECHO Technology."

Workpackage 3: Content Provision

Workpackage leader: Gerd Grasshoff ((University of Bern)
Web presentation of WP 3:
Public Reports

The provision and integration of content is another key element in the AGORA model. The work on contents will proceed in two directions: using contents provided by four research projects from the selected core disciplines in the humanities (case studies 2-5), creating scholarly metadata and integrating them with the scholarly resources so that their contents become more accessible across linguistic and disciplinary barriers (case study 1). The first case study ­ the provision and generation of scholarly metadata ­ aims at making scientific, philosophical, and language dictionaries freely accessible on the Internet in such a way that they are directly linked with the scholarly sources provided by research projects. The second case study ­ a study of the seminal Roman architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries ­ aims at bringing together a large body of archival and image documents now dispersed over different European archives and collections, making them freely accessible on the Web together with new IT-based tools for studying them. (This could be a milestone) The third case study ­ a study of European history of science and the related network in the age of the Scientific Revolution aims at reconstructing for a particular field the European intellectual community and its concerns by providing digital access to published standard works, as well as to manuscripts and other unpublished materials documenting the informal dissemination and the shared base of contempo-rary scientific knowledge. The fourth case study ­ a comparative study of European sign languages ­ will create a database with multi-media recordings documenting sign languages as used in four European countries (Sweden, UK, Germany, and the Netherlands). The 18 sign languages of the EEC, as used by the profoundly deaf, are centuries old elements of European cultural heritage, languages with poetry, puns and folklore. The fifth case study is dealing with the non-European components of European cultural heritage. The study intends to find and define all essential conditions that are necessary for its feasibility at a European level. It will specifically create a framework for collecting the relevant data from all selected 2000 societies to be sampled. The study also intends to launch research on the history of the constitution of the European collections dealing with non-European societies and their objects. The content contribution for all these studies will be provided by the ECHO contractors and in particular by a large network of subcontractor participation.. An impressive array of institutions throughout Europe have agreed to become involved as subcontractors and will obtain funds from the EU and other sources within the ECHO Project.
For more information see also "ECHO Content."

Workpackage 4: Establishment of the AGORA Networks

Workpackage leader: Paolo Galuzzi (Institute and Museum for the History of Science)
Web presentation of WP 4:

The task of this workpackage is to establish the networks of the ECHO project with the intention to include numerous European as well as non-European scientists from many disciplines in the humanities. As has been partially described in previous sections, all work is based on already established initial networks, on committees which represent the principal internal working structure for organizing the discussion processes and for guiding the collaboration (see WP5), on clear responsibilities which are formulated in the workpackage descriptions, and on the results of workpackage WP1 charged with establishing the state of the art. We have identified five areas where networks will be established: (1) In the four ECHO scientific core domains (history of science, history of arts, sign languages and anthropology) large networks have to be formed; (2) in the area of technology, to build a limited network of technical experts covering the competencies relevant for making cultural content available online. Special attention will be paid to the establishment of the network related to non-European components of the European patrimony and partnership with Accession States, e.g. Czech Republic and Poland.
For more information see also "ECHO Network and AGORA."

Workpackage 5: Management Structure for the AGORA

Workpackage leader: Kostas Gavroglu (University of Athens)

The ECHO project starts with a classical FP5 management structure. This workpackage will study and propose new structure types adapted to very large networks of, to some extend, independent institutions. The following structure outlay may be a basis for further studies: The Board of Directors will involve high-level personalities with a broad understanding of the intellectual challenges specific to the humanities and it will be chaired by a personality 'intuitu personae'. The Interdisciplinary Scientific Committee (ISC) will be responsible for steering the AGORA network and for the coordination between the different scientific domains. The ISC will identify advanced research interests, stimulate cross-disciplinary perspectives, suggest new disciplines. Finally, the ISC will prepare a report for the whole scientific area involved in ECHO. All committees will be represented in the ISC by their chairpersons. The chairperson of the ISC will be the general coordinator of the ECHO project. For each of the core disciplines of the humanities in ECHO, an appropriate committee structure will be sought. The Network & Horizon Committee (NHC) has to assist the ISC in extending the horizon of ECHO beyond the European core partners, establishing contacts with organisations representing non-member and Accession States (e.g. Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, China). The ECHO will also start an initiative together with a twin project in a non-European (Mexico). The Technical Committee will design a common technological framework to be built up from already existing advanced components and determine key aspects of an infrastructure to be shared by the various disciplines involved.
For more information see also "ECHO Network and AGORA."

Workpackage 6: Dissemination and Exploitation

Workpackage leader: Jürgen Renn, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Web presentation of WP 6:

ECHO has to undertake additional efforts in order to propagate the ECHO concept to a larger audience and will use two means for achieving this. Papers presenting the AGORA concept and its building blocks and achievements will have to be written for scholarly periodicals and public newspapers in Europe. In addition, a workshop will be held in Brussels at ECHO's mid-term with policy makers and commercial institutions in order to define ways for dissemination to a larger public. The contribution of the Dissemination Advisory Board (DAB) will be essential to get ECHO in touch with a larger public. A final conference will have to be held, addressing about hundred representatives of the humanities and cultural heritage organisations (who may or may not already be partners of ECHO) to discuss the project results with a special focus on the occurred problems and their solution in a second phase of ECHO. A report of this conference will be widely disseminated within the European community. The partner leading this workpackage will organise the final conference and take care that the ECHO concepts are appropriately communicated to the outside world. Special attention will be paid to the dissemination of the results of the research and network establishment within the ECHO/AGORA context related to the inventory and cross-disciplinary analysis of the non-European components of the European Patrimony. The results of the fourth case study (anthropology) will also be disseminated through core scholarly journals such as L'Homme, American Ethnologist, and others.
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