Kim H. Veltman

“Challenges to Digital Culture”

Managing Heritage Colllections II: Continuity and Change, An International Conference Organised by the Estonian Ministry of Culture, Tallinn, May 2005, Tallinn: Ministry of Culture


Culture is about how individuals, groups, peoples and nations 1) express themselves, their history and their relation to universal themes in particular, unique ways; 2) how they conserve these expressions and 3) how they communicate these expressions. The medium chosen affects all three aspects of culture. Most discussions of the shift from analog(ue) to digital communication focus uniquely on the third aspect. We shall outline the first two aspects and then focus on this third aspect of new access; explore some of the changes that are occurring, assess the present state and point to a number of possibilities, challenges and dangers. The lecture accompanying this paper will focus on examples of technological developments to illustrate these possibilities.

1. Introduction

The shift from analogue to digital media is something much more profound than just another technical advance. Whereas earlier advances set out to replace their predecessors, digital media introduce, for the first time in history, a potential to move between, and among media and senses. Hence, something that is handwritten as input form can be output as printed text or even, potentially, as oral speech. Something that is spoken as input form can be output orally, in print, as the equivalent of handwriting or, using stereo-lithography, even in cuneiform.

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