Simon Tanner

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Simon Tanner is an academic and consultant in how the digital domain relates to library, museum and archiving digital strategies.

Tanner is Director of King's Digital Consultancy Services[1] at King's College London.[2] He is Deputy Head of Department of Digital Humanities.[3]

He is co-author (with Marilyn Deegan) of "Digital Futures: Strategies for the Information Age"[4] and co-editor (with Marilyn Deegan) of "Digital Preservation", a collection of essays, both published by Facet.

Tanner is Chair of the Web Archiving sub-committee for the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel to DCMS[5] and a member of the Digitisation Advisory Group[6] to JISC. He is also the Program Chair for the Imaging Science and Technology Archiving Conference.[7]

He has a Library and Information Science background. He is leading the King's team working on digitising the Dead Sea Scrolls[8]] and is co-Director for a stalled project to deliver the Desmond Tutu Digital Archive.[9] This initiative to create a multimedia digital archive of the personal papers and recordings of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, announced in a press release by King's College London in 2006,[10] appears to have subsequently failed or been aborted.

Tanner participated in the pilot digital imaging project of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israeli Antiquities Authority in August 2008, serving on the steering committee for the project.[11][12] Rory McCarthy at the Guardian wrote about this activity: Already the work has brought to light new revelations about the scrolls. The new infra-red photography has picked out letters that had not previously been visible to the naked eye. "The ink stays dark and the leather becomes light and suddenly you can see text that you may no have been able to see," said Tanner. "We have revealed some text that has not been previously seen by scholars." The detailed colour photographs of papyrus fragments may help to identify pieces that fit together and to identify fragments written by the same scribes. Scholars hope this new information might enable them to piece together more of the fragments and so come closer to putting complete sections of the scrolls together.[13]

Tanner's Ideas[edit]

Defining Museum Priorities for Digital Images[14]
Museums have many perceived barriers of revenue, licensing and control. Control is the most important factor: crediting and promoting the host museum and honouring the artist and their work are the non-negotiable and noble goals of art museums.

To ensure a whole museum has a clear understanding of the purpose of the imaging and rights services and the way they link to the museums mission then a review of priorities is recommended by Tanner.

• Is control over the way an image of an artwork owned by the museum used, represented and credited the most important priority to the museum?
• Is the fidelity of the image to the original artwork as important a priority as controlling its use?
• Is promotion of the museums collections as important a priority?
• Does scholarly and educational use of an artwork (especially one in the public domain) ever contradict or supersede the need to control its representation and use?
• Does serving the internal needs of the museum ever contradict or supersede the need to control the representation of artworks?
• Does recouping service costs or making a surplus ever contradict or supersede the need for control? Is there a sum of money at which the museum would relax such control?
• Are providing high fidelity images with an appropriate license for the museum and the wider communities use more important than how much the service costs to run?


  1. ^ KDCS: Archived 17 December 2010 at WebCite
  2. ^ King's College London Archived 8 April 2006 at WebCite
  3. ^ DDH
  4. ^ Book Review by Stephen Paul Davis, Columbia University Digital Futures: Strategies for the Information Age
  5. ^ Legal Deposit Advisory Panel: Half Year Report 1 September 2005 Archived 17 December 2010 at WebCite
  6. ^ JISC Digitisation Advisory Group[dead link]
  7. ^ IS&T Archiving[dead link]
  8. ^ From the Dead Sea to the digital age by Alan Cane, Financial Times,Authorised=false.html?
  9. ^ Desmond Tutu Digital Archive
  10. ^ Desmond Tutu immortalised on the web
  11. ^ Bearman, Gregory (29 December 2008). "Imaging the Dead Sea Scrolls for conservation purposes". SPIE Newsroom. doi:10.1117/2.1200812.1448. Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  12. ^ Israel to Display the Dead Sea Scrolls on the Internet - New York Times
  13. ^ From papyrus to cyberspace: Israel to make Dead Sea Scrolls available online - Guardian Newspaper Archived 17 December 2010 at WebCite
  14. ^ A Mellon Foundation funded study: Reproduction charging models & rights policy for digital images in American art museums