Sonia Jędrysiak

Exploring the possibilities of the Digital Humanities

Category: Digital Heritage

Adventures in Digitisation: Practicum

As part of my MA in Digital Humanities, I’m doing a Practicum with National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology. The project has three deliverables: digitisation of at least 6 objects chosen by the Museum supervisor, desk research into current digitization practices in other European Museums and finally, writing a ‘step-by-step’ white paper that would help the Museum staff undertake the digitization themselves and possibly, include it in the future standard practices of objects acquisition. The objectives are clear and achievable in the 3,5 months time frame given for the project. What I’m most excited about is the opportunity to have a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes side of the museum and learning how to work on a project like this – celebrating little victories and tackling the obstacles as they come along. Structure from motion technique can be a very rewarding method when done right.

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Virtual Heritage Network Conference at UCC

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Source: dri.ie

2016 VHN conference at University College Cork was a fantastic occasion to listen to inspiring talks and being introduced to interesting research projects. By far, the variety of covered topics was the best feature of the conference since it presented a wide spectrum of existing opportunities for further work both in  the area of Virtual Heritage, as well as Digital Humanities. If one was skeptical before about the interdisciplinary character of DH and VH, this conference proved it to be true by bringing together many scholars from different backgrounds who use similar tools often for vast types of research.

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Here be Dragons: The Fear of Progress

http://www.livescience.com/images/i/000/056/610/original/sea-serpent-attacks-ship.jpg?interpolation=lanczos-none&fit=inside%7C660:*

Source: http://www.livescience.com/

It seems like every time new research field or method is created, muffled wave of outrage ripples through the academia, triggered by skepticism, disbelief and fear of drastic change it could bring. Although very few scholars would admit it, it’s visible in heated arguments exchanged in reviews and articles. It’s only natural – when Bronislaw Malinowski introduced ethnography as a ‘must use’ tool, the anthropological scene in the UK (and in the world) was shocked and VERY uncomfortable with the idea. Yet, with years it did became a standard.

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Inhumane perfection of digital heritage

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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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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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