6. Sustaining digital object creation through discovery and use

The creation of digital representations of cultural heritage is sustainable and has continuing value only if the digital objects can be discovered by others and are seen as valuable in future research and interpretation and if that value is rewarded in professional terms (Harley et al. 2010). In the Hampson and Amarna Projects we have taken a number of steps that have been informed by prior studies of the ways in which digital resources generally and digital heritage specifically can be more effectively integrated into scholarship (Kansa 2005; Kintigh 2006; Snow et al. 2006). As we have noted, a key vehicle to ensure the discovery of digital heritage objects is the effective documentation of the object via metadata and its exposure to search engines and other content aggregation systems. Each of the formal archives to which these materials have been deposited has robust metadata and discovery mechanisms and the reader is referred to those sites for details.

6.1 Discovery via 3-D object search and retrieval

In addition to the role of text metadata in discovery, substantial research is underway to develop computational methods for automatic recognition and object retrieval of 3-D digital objects (cf. Bustos et al. 2007b) especially those represented as point clouds. The entire contents of a recent issue of the International Journal of Computer Vision (Theoharis et al. 2010) were dedicated to this arena and much research is underway (cf. Tangelder and Veltkamp 2007). It is not a wild fantasy to predict that general-purpose tools to locate objects via a 3-D search engine will be widely available relatively soon (cf. Ferreira et al. 2010; Bustos et al. 2007a) and that even heritage-focused ones will be created (Kampel and Sablatnig 2006). To take steps to future-proof current digital object collections it is important to monitor this research and anticipate the formats and methods of exposure that may be forthcoming.

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