Histoire contemporaine européenne

What's digital about digital heritage ?

Digital heritage acquires a definition and an international status in 2003 when a charter is devoted to it by UNESCO. Whether digitised or born-digital, digital heritage has become an entire area of the conservation work of heritage institutions, particularly large national libraries, faced with the need to preserve an increasing volume of so-called born-digital documents. Work has gone on since the 1990s to digitize documents, press content and paper books. Digital heritage didn’t wait until 2003 to gain momentum. There have been pioneering and original initiatives, like Michael Hart’s Gutenberg project , launched in the 1970s, and the creation of the Internet Archive foundation in 1996. There is also a place dedicated to digital materials in several technical museums, or even dedicated museums that emerged, like the Mountain View Computer History Museum , the origin of which dates to the 1970s.
Heritagisation approaches are clearly different, depending on whether the aim is to conserve hardware or software, move from analogue content to digital content, or collect born-digital content. The field of digital heritage is incredibly heterogeneous, as are the players and their goals. Furthermore, while the digitization work is sometimes entrusted originally to the same department within heritage institutions, under a general label dedicated to digital, they involve digital and heritage concepts that are not necessarily based on the same paradigms, and that involve not only different selection and curation processes, but different technical processes too. Digital heritage can also be hybrid, combining physical and digital aspects. An example of this is the preservation of video game heritage, which might involve conservation of the physical elements, arcade terminals, consoles and other devices, but also the controller boxes, dedicated magazines and the sometimes printed documentation associated with the games and devices.
This turn towards digital heritagisation allows us, on the one hand, to think about the value and the meaning given to the technical objects and to computerised and digital content and, on the other, the changes affecting the players, business, and perimeters of heritagisation, as well as the user experience faced with this constantly growing heritage.
This presentation focuses first on the digital characteristics of this heritage and its diversity, then on the conservation approaches, the processes at play, and the digital enrichments to which this heritage might be subject (OCR processing, metadata, etc.), in order to better understand this intertwinement of human preservation and curation and technical and digital processes.

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