The Value of Community Co-production in Visualization

Access to works of art, archaeological sites and discoveries, whether in a digital or in a physical form, are too easy today. Admission fees to many museums and archaeological sites are extremely low or even free in some. As for the digital copies (e.g. 3D representations), access is free after a simple internet connection which is enough to “open the doors” to some of the most famous exhibits of the world. Such easy accessibility has interested many people, experts or not, as to how it can work for the benefit of objects themselves. At this point, another reflection arises. What if, rather than being mere passive spectators, some people have a more active role, such as that of a re-creator or a preserver? It sounds a little bit tricky, right?

Initially, it is important to highlight that this may relate only to digital copies, not natural once, therefore in this case specialists would be needed (e.g. restorers). Generally, in the digital world things are simpler. Anyone can create a digital copy of any object, as was discussed in the previous post. Software, online manuals and explanatory videos are available on the internet, offering guidance for beginners and the advanced. So why do all those interested people care about something doing wrong in collaboration with other stakeholders or experts and provide the results for the community? The cooperation of specialists with ordinary people to transform the physical form of domain cultural artifacts into the digital one is a unique opportunity for everyone to come closer to them and to feel the “aura” that they exude. Not just to observe them behind glass halls but also to have a meaningful contact with them; to have the ability to transform them into another format, digital, and give them a new impetus. Through this process benefits, not only us as individuals but also the community as a whole. Of course, the guidance of specialists and compliance therewith by everyone has to be taken for granted and indispensable.

So, such democratization of the digital reproduction of domain cultural heritage has a significant impact on society. The involvement of citizens in such participatory projects can “build a bridge” between the past and the present that, up to now, has eluded us the tactics that followed have not been accomplished. The contact of people with the items, during the digitization process, will have a major impact on the way they perceive their general relationship with the past; the glass wall between them will break.  It is important for people to know their past and to come into contact with it, not to keep their distance as if it is something that does not concern them anymore. Their active participation in the digital reproduction may regenerate the past, give it a new lease of life and turn it into eternity. All this might have a positive impact on new digital objects to be created, as we will know the process is required. Still, it will be worth the effort, since the reward will be increased familiarity between people and their past. What today is a major challenge for the world of digital humanities, namely the development of a relationship between digital objects with the public, might eventually be done through such universal participation of people.

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Readings:

Jeffrey, St., Challenging Heritage Visualisation: Beauty, Aura and Democratisation, https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/opar.2014.1.issue-1/opar-2015-0008/opar-2015-0008.xml, Web, Accessed on 28/10/2016

Reilly, P., Additive Archaeology: An Alternative Framework for Recontextualising Archaeological Entities, https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/opar.2014.1.issue-1/opar-2015-0013/opar-2015-0013.xml, Web, Accessed on 28/10/2016

Sinclair, M., Should Museums Be Recreating the Past, https://www.creativereview.co.uk/should-museums-be-recreating-the-past/, Web, Accessed on 28/10/2016

 

Familiarizing with 3D Recording

This was a very interesting week for all students of MDH. We had the opportunity to go to the laboratory and attempt different methods of 3D recording, like 3D Scanning and Photogrammetry. After many hours of practice…we made it!

Below you can see our today attempt at Photogrammetry

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The “adventure” in the laboratory just started for us! Good luck to all!

All Rights Reserved!

Two years ago, more or less, I attended a specialization course on digital literature. In one of the first lectures, the lecturer asked us to communicate our opinion regarding the copyright of digital literature and computer art, in general. I confess that this was an issue which did not concern me deform and, as I noted then, my classmates did not have a clear answer to give. The subject seemed quite complicate to me at the time; but this was also a great chance for us to start thinking and articulating our thoughts on the subject. My first impression, after our conversation, was that we were not sufficiently informed about the connection between copyright and computer art. We spent a lot of time connected to the internet, usually ignoring the efforts that have been made by other people to upload the stuff that we are reading.

The technological conquests of computer science increase day by day. Today it is easy for someone to create a copy of any kind of cultural artefact. There is free software which can be downloaded and used in an easy way and without special computer knowledge. Manuals are free too. Computer software can extract specific data even from a simple photograph and create an accurate copy of an artefact. So, every one of us has the opportunity to create their own copy, or copies, and do with them anything they like. The copy is subject to property of its creator. Once digitized, something is immediately available without temporal and spatial restrictions. The same technology that makes access to information easier, contributes also to the easy copying, legal or illegal. In consequence many of the intellectual property rules which are applied to physical objects are not applied with the same effectiveness to the digital reality.

But let us look into the copies of cultural artefacts. The original artefacts are protected from the copyright law; they belong to museums, institutes, private collectors or governments. The copies are considered as a whole a new item and they are subject to new copyright law. They are under their owner’s protective umbrella. The owners have the right to make use of the copies any way they see fit. What about digital copies? Who is their owner? Sometimes more than one specialist is required to create them. Who is the rightful owner? Unfortunately, governments have not adopted adequate legislation for the protection of digital artwork. Everyone has access to them; the data are millions and are not protected by anyone. So, it is not very difficult for people, without special computer knowledge to create their own copy. From a simple photograph one could create an accurate copy. There is free software on the internet that collects the proper data for instance from a photograph, and that is all. However, what is the meaning of the easiness of creation and the deficiency of protection. Could we all become potential occupants of well made copies of work arts and artefacts?

In conclusion, considering that there is a gap in the protection of copyright in the digital world, we should know that we are a kind of “illegal readers” of some of the most important works of literature and “illegal visitors” of the biggest art exhibitions in the world. How does this sound to you?

Readings:

Beck, A., Open Access to Heritage Resources – Risk, Opportunity, or Paradigm Shift?, https://www.academia.edu/2375241/Opening_access_to_heritage_resources_risk_opportunity_or_paradigm_shift, Web, Accessed on 16/10/2016

Cronin, Ch., Possession is 99% of the Law: 3D Printing, Public Domain Cultural Artifacts and Copyright, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2731935, Web, Accessed on 16/10/2016

Weinberg, M., 3D Scanning: A World without Copyright,   http://www.shapeways.com/blog/archives/25599-new-whitepaper-on-3d-scanning-and-the-lack-of-copyright.html, Web, Accessed on 16/10/2016.

Weinberg, M., What’s the Deal with Copyright and 3D Printing, https://www.linkedin.com/in/weinbergmichael, Web, Accessed on 16/10/2016.

About copyright law in EE: http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/digital-single-market/