All projects focusing on providing "cultural information in electronically accessible form" which had been submitted to the then Federal Ministry for Science and Research (BMWF) for the Austrian Millennium 1996 were consolidated into one joint project. In the course of this project numerous noteworthy scholars, scientists and experts created the AEIOU, the Austrian cultural information system of the Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Culture (BMBWK).
The technical platform for the AEIOU is the multimedia distributed information system Hyperwave, developed by the Institute for Information Systems and Computer Media (IICM) at Graz University of Technology. Thanks to its particular search and navigation capabilities, Hyperwave provides an ideal platform for the large amounts of data contained in the AEIOU system (approximately 10 gigabytes). IICM was also responsible for integrating the content of the entries and establishing the relevant links.
In tackling the technical aspects of the project, we opted to use only those features that could be accessed with widely used browsers without additional software. The newest data formats were intentionally not added until they had been established as standard formats.
The texts and illustrations contained in the German-language "Encyclopaedia of Austria", newly published in 1995 by a publishing consortium, form the basis of the data pool.
Additional information in the form of albums supplements that contained in the encyclopaedia.
The University of Graz's Department of Musicology provided a history of Austrian music with recorded music clips for the music album. Also integrated into the information system are works by famous Austrian composers prepared by the music educator Dr. Manfred Schilder, according to the principle "seeing - understanding - hearing - experiencing" in the form of an online lecture series (Musik-Kolleg) adapted to the capabilities of the new media.
The Institut für Realienkunde des Mittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, which researches the culture of everyday life in the Middle Ages and in the early modern era, prepared pictures for the picture album documenting 1000 years of Austrian history and accompanied by detailed descriptions.
The Austrian Federal Institute for Scientific Film selected appropriate historic film material from the Laxenburg Film Archives for the encyclopaedia entries. The film material is also included in the video album in video-clip format. Material was also selected and integrated into the information system from the archives of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF).
Additional components of the cultural information system include the photo album, with a collection of photos provided by the Austrian National Tourist Office, as well as the stamp album with an overview of special-issue postage stamps issued by the Austrian Postal and Telegraph Administration from 1986 to 1996, a biography of Sigmund Freud provided by the Sigmund Freud Society and a presentation of contemporary Austrian designers prepared by the Museum of Applied Art (MAK).
From the beginning AEIOU was not conceived as a closed system, but rather as a prototype for a comprehensive information system which could later be expanded with information on any given topic. The present inventory of data is meant primarily to demonstrate the multitude of ways to use the system. In view of the potential for expansion, regular meetings are conducted with other potential data providers.
Because access to the cultural information system is available to all Internet users, the system, originally intended primarily for use in Austrian academia, can now also be accessed by anyone in the world. For this reason a large portion of the information has also been translated into English.
In addition, an interactive component, "Annotate", has been added, affording visitors to the site the opportunity to suggest new entries for individual topics as well as to supplement existing entries. After the content has been reviewed, the submitted annotations are integrated into the corresponding portion of the system, thus creating a living, steadily growing information system about Austria.
|Project Head at IICM:
||Dr. Peter Sammer
|Head of Translation Team for English:
||Dr. Michèle Kaiser-Cooke
The screen design of the Internet version was created by Elisabeth Wetsch.