Friday, January 27, 2012

Athens Association of Friends Winter/Spring Program and Digital Heritage Redux

Save the dates! Our Athens Association of Friends Winter/Spring Program is now available! Once again we have a stimulating mixture of topics for our Friends Association members to enjoy. This coming Wednesday, the 1st, at 7:30 pm is our annual Canadian film night. We have a comedy, “The Trotsky,” that should not only make the audience chuckle but laugh heartily. Set in Montreal, it is about the consequences of a high school student, thinking he is the reincarnation of the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, who tries to change the world, or at least his high school. Our second annual Friends Association Pita will be cut for our collective health and happiness in 2012 before the film begins. Who will find the flouri???

On February 29th, Mark Walley, our graduate intern from Memorial University of Newfoundland, will attempt to demystify for us the conceptions and the use of magic in Classical Athens. We are in for witches, spells and drugs! So beware! Then for the Pascha observances, on April 4th, Gerasimos Pagoulatos (Hellenic-American Educational Foundation/Hellenic Open University) will discuss the issue of historicism and a-historicism in the Hellenic world by analyzing the iconographic evidence of Christ’s Nativity and Baptism.

For members of our Friends Association in Athens and those who wish to join I wish to remind you that it is time to renew your membership for 2012. Jonathan will be happy to accept your donation on the 1st as well as at any other Friends event or CIG lecture.

Book of the Blog
Let’s continue where I left off last week when I examined the general topic of “digital archaeology” in 2002 by looking at the state of affairs of the closely related field of “digital heritage” in 2008. The Directorate of the National Archive of Monuments of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture has been responsible since 2003 for the electronic cataloguing and digitization of the archive of monuments and the documentation of all listed monuments in Greece, including movable and non-movable monuments for all periods. As part of an European Union grant to support this work the Directorate organized an international conference in the fall of 2008. The aim was to push the edge of the existing envelope on what is and what could be the available cultural content in a Web 2.0 world.

The then Director and lead organizer, Metaxia Tsipopoulou, published at the same time as the conference a stimulating edited volume entitled, Digital Heritage in the New Knowledge Environment. Shared spaces & open paths to cultural content (Athens: Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Directorate of the National Archives, 2008). What is significant here is that of the 46 papers' and 11 posters' abstracts, the majority are by our Greek colleagues relating to excavations, research and museums in Greece.

In order to make this conference on digital applications relating to cultural management different, the organizing committee chose five thematic units that dealt with global issues. By accepting papers from individuals with positions in museums, archaeological units, research institutions and universities, they created a dynamic and stimulating atmosphere to advance the dissemination of cultural heritage in the New Knowledge Environment. The thematic sessions focused on central, pressing concerns for digital heritage. Having attended the conference I found it most informative and thought-provoking. It is amazing what is happening in this field!

In “Redefining the Research Field” the 13 papers plumbed the breadth and depth of what is being done. The approaches ranged from multimedia applications, to the use of ground-based laser scanning for recording, to interrogative digital archives, to visual recognition, to electronic publication. The “Exploring the Potential of Web 2.0” session had 7 papers dealing with topics such as Second Life, Virtual Reality and mash-ups. The 11 papers presented in “Widening the Audience” discussed ways to expand the accessibility of cultural heritage via digital applications. In the “Seeking a Common Language” session the 8 papers grappled with the issues of speaking with one voice and the transportability of data across platforms. The final session, “Theorizing Digital Heritage”, the 7 papers sought to find acceptable theoretical foundations for a digital heritage. They addresses such basic questions as “Why digitize?” and “Should one present reality or realism in Virtual Reality?” It should be said, however, that many of the papers in the other sessions referred to the theoretical background. The 11 posters dealt with more practical applications and approaches relating to digitization of cultural heritage. The CD-ROM that accompanies the volume has the complete texts, references and illustrative materials contained in 30 B/W plates of the papers and the poster abstracts in .pdf format for sharing or printing. If the terms and approaches mentioned here and in last week’s blog are from a foreign country then you should come to the Library immediately and start to travel so you can expand your horizons and enlighten yourself!

What would a conference held this year on the expanding digital universes of archaeology and of cultural heritage management have that was the same or similar and what would be new and edgy? Stay tuned!

David Rupp

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