In order to strengthen its arguments for a voice for humanities and arts in the National Information Infrastructure (NII), sponsors of the National Initiative distributed a draft of this report to strategic organizations and institutions in the cultural heritage community. The primary focus of this feedback was a meeting, on July 14, 1994, at which representatives of more than 40 humanities- and arts-related organizations assembled to consider the Profile report (Appendix E). Appendices C-E reflect the immense institutional and individual expertise brought to bear on these issues by representatives from museums, libraries and archives, colleges and universities, learned societies, foundations and government agencies.
The sponsoring organizations and the Executive Committee of the National Initiative outlined their purposes in convening the National Initiative, and summarized the reports of the two working groups on Technical Requirements and Electronic Resources. David Lytel, Information Infrastructure Specialist from the Executive Office of the President of the United States, was invited to explain the current planning process for the National Information Infrastructure. He described the administration’s model for the NII, whereby users will be both creators as well as recipients of information services, a model conducive to the inclusion of the arts and humanities.
Discussion at the July 14 meeting and subsequent responses from the constituent communities affirmed that the Profile accurately and succinctly portrayed the landscape of technology and electronic resources in which the arts and humanities find themselves today. Important additional observations were made, including the following:
- The arts and humanities account for a great many jobs; they are important in economic as well as cultural terms.
- Moving cultural materials into the digital environment poses unusual and sophisticated intellectual and technical challenges, the solutions to which will benefit users of the NII in a broad array of other fields and applications, including commercial ones. Giving full attention to the arts and humanities in developing the NII will help ensure U.S. leadership in developing information technology.
- Broad electronic access to the nation’s cultural heritage will be vital for ensuring the accountability of government and the continuing health of democracy in the United States.
- The digital cultural heritage must include materials from the full panoply of this nation’s and the world’s peoples, and include both materials from the past and works and programs currently being produced by artists, musicians, scholars, writers and others.
- Arts and humanities organizations must continue their active involvement in discussions of the public policy issues currently before Congress, including telecommunications reforms, copyright, and federal support for arts and humanities projects and institutions.
Publication of the Profile of Humanities and Arts on the Information Highways will both complement and draw further attention to the considerable work being done by the Clinton administration to integrate the humanities and arts into NII planning and development.