Sonia Jędrysiak

Exploring the possibilities of the Digital Humanities

Category: Digital Artefacts

Images on social media


This blog post is somewhat a continuation of the previous entry, since I would like to discuss in greater detail the idea behind giving the majority the ability to curate images through various social media platforms. Leaving the discussion of ‘high culture’ and pop culture, I’d like to turn towards expressions of everyday life, how we construct them and what are their meanings in terms of creating the ever-growing database linked to our digital heritage.

Banksy. Source:

Why does preservation of everyday life’s trivialities matter? From anthropological perspective we know that this is where lies the key to understanding given society and its culture. Millions of images showing our lives and ourselves can help in possibly avoiding the struggle which are being tackled for example by creators of visual 3D representations of our heritage which in ghastly way lack humans themselves due to lack of evidence for how people have looked and moved like (Woolford, Dunn 1). Social media, as a side effect of growing tendency to overshare, act like large catalogues gathering  the data related to how we look like, our routine activities such as social interactions, eating habits, linguistic practices or interests. Unfortunately, it is impossible to use this data without critical analysis. We produce shared images according to the same rules, picked up through a narrow stream of personalized news feed and our activity on social media is shaped by how oneself wants to be viewed by the world – and others’ feed (Hochman 1). It’s a spiral of sort, which not only impacts the design of the online persona, but also our perception of everyday life which is filtered by observing live-stream of selected “worldviews” produced by other individuals (Hochman 6). Although all of the above is artificially constructed and the images produced are – in a sense – staged, they still remain precious source of information. Even if that’s an information about how we would like to perceive the world around us. read more

On curating an image collection


Being a curator is probably one of the most difficult roles in the area of preservation, conservation and presentation of cultural heritage in its analog or digital form. It is quite daunting to take on the responsibility of selecting which objects are worth saving and sharing with the society and which aren’t significant enough to be displayed – either as part of digital archives or various exhibitions. Some would argue that in order to perform this work one needs to possess vast and very specialized knowledge. Others believe that the curation, especially the one concerned with heritage, should involve not only the specialists, but more importantly: the public, appointing every individual a curator responsible for all the features of their culture that they consider vital for their heritage. read more

On metadata standards


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. read more

The importance of context


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. read more

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