Kim H. Veltman

Europe’s Cultural Heritage in the Digital Age

Closing Plenary: Digital Resources in the Humanities (DRH) Conference, 2003, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham Campus, September 2003 This was to have been published in: Literary and Linguistic Computing, Oxford, Volume 19, 2004, but was then rejected by OUP because the author was willing to provide a one edition non-exclusive copyright but was not prepared to provide an exclusive copyright for all future editions.


In 1995, over 95% of the Internet was in English. In 2003, English represents 35% of the Internet. Europe today has at least 50 million more persons using computers than the United States. The American vision of the Internet is focussed largely on uni-lingual ecommerce. The European vision, through its links with tourism, which now represents over 12% of the world economy, also has financial concerns. At the same time, Europe is developing a multi-lingual approach to its cultural heritage that includes historical and cultural dimensions.

This paper surveys some trends of the past decade: that digital cultural heritage in Europe now extends far beyond traditional memory institutions to include archaeological sites, historical cities, cultural landscapes and cultural routes (e.g. Silk Roads); that these interests are leading to new links between local, regional and national culture; that these approaches are transforming scholarship; that there is a need for a Distributed European Electronic Resource (DEER). It also outlines challenges for the future: Can Europe define its own approach to intellectual property, which leads to more creativity than the Hollywood method? Europe has traditionally been the only continent interested in developing a global view of culture and civilization. Can Europe, which now represents just over 5% of the world population, redefine its role such that it gives due recognition to cultural diversity and the contributions of other nations and peoples?

Read full article