World Heritage Memory Net (WHMNet) is a model global digital library of cultural, historical, and moveable heritage collections related to the current 911 World Heritage Sites of 151 countries inscribed by the World Heritage Committee. WHMNet is a fast, efficient, cutting-edge, online knowledge base which provides universal access to multilingual, multimedia and multiformat resources on all World Heritage properties from museums, archives, libraries, and world bibliographic and Web resources, and includes photographs, videos, 3D videos, audio clips, and documents.
WHMNet allows users to see, explore, discover and experience the Earth's most extraordinary cultural and natural World Heritage properties by simply "Look First." Users can sample and discover the world through any of 23 short videos, quick browse through thousands of images on an Image Wall, view the locations of World Heritage properties on a Google World Map, and travel the Timeline.
With the knowledge gained from this First Look, users can then Dig In and select specific Sites using WHMNet's unique multilingual, temporal, and geographic retrieval capabilities. These include Map Search, Country Search, Timeline Search, as well as Content-Based Image Retrieval (CBIR) which allows instant cross-country, cross-cultural retrieval of images of similar nature, color and shape.
For each World Heritage property, all digital resources are seamlessly integrated and linked for the user. In addition to a quick image flow of selected photos, a more extensive image gallery provides up to 260 images per site (there are more than 40,000 images on the WHMNet website), as well as a Google location map. Detailed descriptive information is presented in multilingual format in at least 6 UNESCO official languages and in many additional languages when available. In total, 103 world languages are represented. Users can also access additional text, video and 3D information, when available, for each site.
Directed by Dr. Ching-chih Chen of the US nonprofit and tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, Global Connection and Collaboration, Inc. (GlobalCC), and supported until August 2010 by the NSF/International Digital Library Program (IDLP) as a part of her Global Memory Net (GMNet), WHMNet is the result of a multi-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in November 2006 between the World Heritage Centre and Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts, USA under the leadership of Dr. Ching-chih Chen, who was then information technology Professor at Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science. The WHMNet project, which began in July 2007, benefits greatly from Dr. Chen's GMNet, an online global image library and gateway to cultural, historical, and heritage images around the world, created with a multi-year grant from the International Digital Library Programme of the US National Science Foundation (NSF). WHMNet leverages the GMNet's innovative integrated multimedia content retrieval system (i-M-C-S) with further system development. Dr. Chen became Professor Emeritus of Simmons College in June, 2010 and NSF grant ended in August 2010. Since September 2010 to the present, WHMNet has been supported by GlobalCC until its completion.
"The World Heritage Centre considers this an important project with great potential to enhance the humanities for universal access and enrichment through the use of emerging technologies," commented Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture and former Director of the World Heritage Centre. It will greatly promote a better knowledge of World Heritage properties and increase awareness of everyone's duty to protect them.
- Marielle Richon (UNESCO WHC) email@example.com