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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

EU online library reopens

The BBC has announced that the European Union's digital library, europeana, which crashed soon after its launch on 20 November -- apparently because so many people wanted to have a look at the Mona Lisa online -- has been resuscitated.
The Mona Lisa! Why not books or promotional packaging, for heaven's sake? It's not as if the iconic painting doesn't pop up all the time in the traditional media!
When our boys were nine and eleven, we carted them around the art museums of Europe for five months, an interesting experience for me, as at the entrance to each great gallery I asked them to choose which painting they would buy if they were unimaginably rich. Their choices were fascinating. The only predictable one was the Mona Lisa, and when I asked why, I was told it was because that was the picture advertising a certain brand of television. With constant exposure, it had become warm and familiar, apparently.

But to return to the topic. The site, which gives multilingual access to cultural collections across the European Union, was swamped by users on its launch, with a volume of ten million hits an hour. Now that it's server capacity has been quadrupled, they are trying again, but don't guarantee that "the user experience" will be "optimal."

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