Digital heritage

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Digital heritage is the use of digital media in the service of understanding and preserving cultural or natural heritage.[1][2][3]

The Charter on the Preservation of Digital Heritage of UNESCO defines digital heritage as embracing "cultural, educational, scientific and administrative resources, as well as technical, legal, medical and other kinds of information created digitally, or converted into digital form from existing analogue resources".[4]

The digitization of cultural heritage serves to enable the permanent access of current and future generations to art work ranging from literature to paintings.[5] The main idea is the transformation of a material object into a virtual copy creating positive and negative implications. There has been several debates concerning the efficiency of the process of digitizing heritage. Some of the drawbacks refer to the deterioration and technological obsolescence due to the lack of founding for archival materials and underdeveloped policies that would regulate such a process. Another main social debate has taken place around the restricted accessibility due to the digital divide that exists around the world. Nevertheless, new technologies enable easy, instant and cross boarder access to the digitized work.

Virtual heritage[edit]

A particular branch of digital heritage, known as "virtual heritage", is formed by the use of information technology with the aim of recreating the experience of existing cultural heritage, as in (approximations of) virtual reality.[2] It is hard to differentiate this branch from the core contribution of digital heritage which is storing the heritage data digitally. Parsinejad et al. developed two techniques for Digital Twinning of the architectural assets and representation of the physical assets virtually in the museum context. Two techniques are hand recording and digital recording and both have challenges in adoption and implementation of Digital Twin as a revolutionary concept.[6]

Digital heritage stewardship[edit]

Digital heritage stewardship is a form of digital curation which is modeled after collaborative curation. Digital heritage stewardship means stepping away from typical curatorial practices (e.g. discovering, arranging, and sharing information, material, and/or content) in favor of practices which allow its stakeholders the opportunity to contribute historical, political, and social context and culture. The collaborative practice encourages the creation, engagement, and maintenance of relationships with the relative communities from which certain information, material, and/or content originates.[7]

A notable use of digital heritage stewardship is for the preservation of Indigenous heritage. The Plateau Peoples' Web Portal is an online archive developed and collaborated on by representatives from six different tribes — the Colville, Coeur d'Alene, Spokane, Umatilla, Yakama, and Warm Springs — along with the team for Washington State University Libraries' Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections to curate Plateau peoples' cultural materials.[7]

Digital heritage studies[edit]

Digital heritage studies examines how people use the Internet to engage with elements of the past and attribute social and cultural meanings to them in the present.[8][9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yehuda Kalay; Thomas Kvan; Janice Affleck, eds. (2007). New Heritage: New Media and Cultural Heritage. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-97770-2.
  2. ^ a b Ann Marie Sullivan, Cultural Heritage & New Media: A Future for the Past, 15 J. MARSHALL REV. INTELL. PROP. L. 604 (2016)
  3. ^ Fiona Cameron; Sarah Kenderdine, eds. (2007). Theorizing Digital Cultural Heritage: A Critical Discourse. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-03353-4.
  4. ^ "Charter on the Preservation of Digital Heritage". UNESCO. October 15, 2003. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  5. ^ Wang, Xinyuan; Lasaponara, Rosa; Luo, Lei; Chen, Fulong; Wan, Hong; Yang, Ruixia; Zhen, Jing (2020), Guo, Huadong; Goodchild, Michael F.; Annoni, Alessandro (eds.), "Digital Heritage", Manual of Digital Earth, Singapore: Springer, pp. 565–591, doi:10.1007/978-981-32-9915-3_17#sec1, ISBN 978-981-329-915-3, retrieved 2021-10-02
  6. ^ Parsinejad, H.; Choi, I.; Yari, M. (2021). "Production of Iranian Architectural Assets for Representation in Museums: Theme of Museum-Based Digital Twin". Body, Space and Technology. 20 (1): 61–74. doi:10.16995/bst.364.
  7. ^ a b Sayers, Jentery (2018-05-01). Sayers, Jentery (ed.). The Routledge Companion to Media Studies and Digital Humanities. Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315730479. hdl:10495/11228. ISBN 978-1-315-73047-9.
  8. ^ Bonacchi, Chiara; Krzyzanska, Marta (2019-12-02). "Digital heritage research re-theorised: ontologies and epistemologies in a world of big data". International Journal of Heritage Studies. 25 (12): 1235–1247. doi:10.1080/13527258.2019.1578989. hdl:1893/28734.
  9. ^ Bonacchi, Chiara; Altaweel, Mark; Krzyzanska, Marta (June 2018). "The heritage of Brexit: Roles of the past in the construction of political identities through social media". Journal of Social Archaeology. 18 (2): 174–192. doi:10.1177/1469605318759713.
  10. ^ Marwick, Ben; Smith, Prema (January 2021). "World Heritage sites on Wikipedia: Cultural heritage activism in a context of constrained agency". Big Data & Society. 8 (1): 205395172110173. doi:10.1177/20539517211017304.