Sonia Jędrysiak

Exploring the possibilities of the Digital Humanities

Month: October 2016

On metadata standards

http://edge.alluremedia.com.au/m/g/2015/08/shutterstock_119821894_1080.jpg

Source: http://edge.alluremedia.com.au

Probably the most frivolous aspect of metadata is the widely favourited, simplistic definition: “data about data”. Beyond this pun-like generalisation, there isn’t much space left for shortcuts or frivolity, since the best metadata standard is one that has strictly defined categories, controlled vocabularies and lack of unauthorised alterations. Metadata describes what the digital object is and what does it contain, which significantly increases both searchability and discoverability of it. Which, in turn, makes sharing and re-using existing digital object much easier.

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Inhumane perfection of digital heritage

http://wp.vcu.edu/digitalpragmata/wp-content/uploads/sites/2962/2013/04/177_bear_pipe.gif

Source: http://wp.vcu.edu/

It seems that the starting point for many discussions about digital heritage is the lack of authenticity, ‘soul’  or ‘aura’ – as defined by Walter Benjamin – of the digitized objects. Jeffrey suggests that the reason behind such perception is the ‘weirdness of the digital world in comparison to everyday experience’ (2015: 144). He argues that the produced representations are sanitised, alienating and lack substance, location and degradation which strengthens the sense of otherworldliness of digital objects (2015:145). For that reason, it can be difficult for audiences to properly engage with it. Hence, although the digital should help in better understanding of the past, in a way makes it even more difficult due to lack of continuity of ‘aura’ carried by the object.

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The importance of context

https://standrewsrarebooks.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/douglas-hamilton_march1935-jan1938_page-55.jpg

Source: https://standrewsrarebooks.files.wordpress.com

The most difficult part of an analysis of a photograph is the realization that it never exists in a contextual vacuum. Chosen subject, technique used and execution of the shot contains a lot of valuable information about the photograph as a material object, but also about the social meaning behind it. Although the focus of an audience automatically goes to the captured image, it is important not only to ponder upon the reason of why this and not other image was chosen by the author, but also to understand in what context its physical copy exists. Hence, one could argue that the most challenging aspect of digitalization of a photograph, especially historical ones, lies in preserving this contextual materiality.

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Controlled democratization of knowledge

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/whats-on/css/img/whats-on-header.jpg

Sourcehttp://www.nhm.ac.uk

The invention of various 3D recording techniques presented the society with an opportunity not only to preserve precious cultural heritage, but also to analyse these objects without fear of damaging them as well as make the digitalized objects available to the public. Although it might appear that the mission of various national cultural heritage institutions is to democratize knowledge and provide public access to it (Samuelson 2015), the need to control the asset remains. In this sense, copyright debate surrounding 3D recordings acts both as an obstacle and safety net.

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