Week 12

Amazing! Today’s workshop was my very last class as an undergraduate… I hope!
It is interesting to consider that my first lesson was a classic anthropology lecture delivered by the legendary Brian Egloff. Things have really changed. In 2006, most museums had a website but engaging audiences digitally was a low priority. Today digital engagement is increasingly an essential way for cultural institutions to do business, so it seems fitting that my last undergrad class is Exploring Digital Heritage… Thanks Tim!

To begin with today, it was fun to seemingly hack ASIO – the black car that has been tailing me since is a bit scary! But all good.

I was surprised to hear that the redactions that Tim has been working on were created, not by an ASIO agent lurking in a dark alley, but at the Archives in a locked room by someone with a Top Secret security clearance. I am endlessly surprised by the variety of jobs in the GLAM sector.

The Head of the Library of Congress is a lifetime appointment – now that is amazing job security… The Thomas Padilla section of the library of congress’s symposium, “Collections as Data”, provides a great overview of the imperative to digitise collections, balancing this with an outline of the related challenges. Padilla refers to the digitised version of an artefact or book as a surrogate, further he says that each surrogate brings its own opportunity to make connections or to seat the artefact in a community. This is a very succinct way to describe the benefits of digitisation. I also identified with one of the concerns highlighted by Padilla – that viewing collections as data risks reducing lived experience to the equivalent of butterflies pinned in a cabinet of curiosities.

Allowing access to heritage collections online may appear a no brainer, but it is met with organisations grappling with moral rights and copyright. Is it really ok to say to the public, to quote Padilla, “Right assessment is your responsibility”.

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