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THETA Summary

Page history last edited by Donald 14 years, 8 months ago
THETA Project                                 
(Tourism, Heritage, and Environment: Technology Applications)              Θ
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THETA was a year long project run in partnership with Lews Castle College involving the Urras (Galson Estate) Ranger Julie Sievewright and Prof Frank Rennie looking at tourism and technology.
The Galson Estate in NW Lewis has recently been returned to community ownership and has as one of the key objectives in its business plan the ambition of promoting tourism based upon the unique cultural, environmental, and historical assets of the area. This project therefore arises from discussions between Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (UOG) [the Galson Estate Trust] and Lews Castle College, UHI, and the project has identified an exciting programme of development initiatives, based upon the widespread community adoption of new technology applications. Web 2.0 is at the core of the concept of bringing together the heritage assets of the community in order to increase the area’s tourism activity. The preliminary discussions have also identified the key participation of several other partners, including the National Gaelic Arts Agency (Proiseact nan Ealan), Ness Historical Society (Comunn Eachdraidh Nis), the Hebridean Connections (online genealogical database), and the local secondary school (Sgoil Lional).
Two important points about this initiative need to be emphasised at the start. Although ambitious, the success of this project is low-risk as the innovation is based upon the customisation and linking (often referred to as mashing) of existing successful cutting-edge technologies in a powerful integrated network that has not been previously attempted elsewhere. Secondly, the long-term sustainability of the project is based upon the motivation of local businesses and enthusiastic individuals, under the co-ordination of UOG, to provide ongoing content management and development with minimal further external expertise or funding. We also believe that, if the project is as successful as we expect, then UOG will be in an excellent position to provide consultancy and hands-on expertise to the growing network of community land trusts (and similar bodies) to replicate their own versions of the project ecology with greatly reduced costs and labour input. This is an attempt to utilise proven technology applications for community benefit by reconceptualising how we use and perceive the internet and integrating functionality to enhance the areas of heritage, tourism, and business development.
In its final version, the Galson Estate Trust website will provide the platform to link text (English and Gaelic), sound files (voices and music) images (photographs and video) and a variety of other community resources that users can interact with online. Using internet applications such as GoogleMaps, YouTube, podcasting, Flickr, Wikipedia, and other free and Open Source software the project will ‘mash’ these applications  together to present an authentic experience of this unique geographical community to visitors and tourists. This project was assisted by a Feasibility Study grant from HI-Links. The project is funded by Highlands & Islands Enterprise through DistanceLab and managed by Lews Castle College, UHI.
There are three main aspects of the project:
The initial set-up, customisation, and inter-linking of the new technology applications that provide the platform to enable the local tourism experts (in the community) to interact with the customer (tourists, past and future).
Training of members of the local community (tourism micro-businesses, local societies, heritage & music etc, school children, and local volunteer enthusiasts) to manipulate and input data relevant to their own subject areas. A number of ‘learning-by-doing’ workshops will be run by the project.
Embedding the management of the various internet applications into the community structures of UOG that will then be responsible and capable of adding to, maintaining, and interacting with the contents of the sites.
This project focuses on bringing together an enormously rich set of resources relating to the cultural heritage, social history, environmental attributes, and the commercial interests of a unique geographical area. The umbrella of UOG as a co-ordinating body for the area, and the overwhelming local and regional enthusiasm for the aims of the Trust and this project, provide an unparalleled opportunity to bring together these diverse resources and enthusiasms into a unified resource for the area. It is hoped that this project will demonstrate two important achievements:
To showcase a model that demonstrates how individually popular applications of new technology can be integrated into a powerful unified platform that can utilise the culture and heritage of a community to bring benefits to locals as well as increase tourism.
To document and simplify the construction of the components of the complex platform of new technologies described here in order to allow improved knowledge transfer to Community Trusts in other geographical areas of the Highlands and Islands in a cost-effective and flexible manner.
Tourism To promote sustainable cultural and environmental tourism throughout the Galson Estate area by utilising a combination of new technology applications to allow the local community to promote Galson Estate to visitors.
Heritage To provide a platform for the co-ordination and display of text, audio, and visual information relating to the unique heritage of the area, and to make these more accessible to a worldwide audience.
Technology To create a high-tech, low-cost, and low-maintenance ecology of proven Web 2.0 applications to enable community participation in the creation of local heritage and tourism resources that will add benefit to consumers (potential tourists) and promote distinctive niche marketing for the area.

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