Book Review – De Digitale Kunstkammer

On: September 20, 2010
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About Fenneke Mink
Master student New Media & Digital Culture: thesis subject Google Art Project. Finished BA of applied science in Information and Documentation Management (IDM) at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam (HvA). After this I worked as Information manager at ING. Recent working for CBS as Statistic Analist in new media sources. My interest of new media is triggered by initiatives of digitalization projects. In 2009/2010 I have been working at ANP Foundation's project to preserve Dutch cultural heritage of 50.000 news photos form 1963 to 1967. You can have a look at this project via: . I also have been involved with


Book Review – De Digitale Kunstkammer

Cultureel Erfgoed & Crossmedia

Harry van Vliet

In the City of Utrecht Archive a film is shown of last century’s street life. All visitors of the archive are scanned by entering and projected into the film. Visitors of the Photo museum can select the photos of the 80.000 digital photo collection by the use of actual grips. The Rijksmuseum allows its visitors of using the option of using a widget for their personal computer desktop to display a different artifact every day. In the TwentseWelle a digital panorama is built where the visitors stand in the middle, looking at a landscape from the perspective of being hunted down just like the wildlife living in Twente. These are only a few examples the author gives us of applied digital cultural heritage by cultural institutions used to serve their audiences.

New media and new technologies are used to reach an audience for their interest in culture and knowledge. A great amount of cultural institutions, libraries and museums used the benefits of new media and technologies to fulfill their duty in culture and knowledge sharing of cultural heritage.

This book is a product of CrossmediaLab, the working place of the Kenniscentrum Communicatie & Journalistiek of the Hogeschool van Utrecht. Here applied science research is being held to gain knowledge of cross media developments in the media and cultural heritage field. The publication is of the Lectoraat Crossmedia  Content of the Hogeschool van Utrecht and a part of the Cell Cahier studies. The Cell Cahier studies discuss relevant developments in different fields from literature research and good practices. Harry van Vliet accomplited his PhD in psychology and cinema and television science at the University of Utrecht. In the present he is lector at the Communication and Journalism faculty of the Hogeschool van Utrecht since 2007.

What we do not find in this book is a historical overview of the digitization of the cultural sector. Digitization has been underway for some time and in different ways by cultural institutions. Issues in media literacy and media education are also left untreated, there are separate editions of Cell Cahier where this subjects are covered. In addition, not discussed are  the economical perspective and the communications and marketing-communications business models next to the cross media discussion. I personally believe this is a missed opportunity, for it is the convergence of different research areas which makes the field of digital cultural heritage and cross-media so interesting.

The first part of the book provides an extensive literature study on different perspectives in the field of cross media and digital heritage. These two points are examined; cross media as a means for cultural institutions to increase their objectives to be achieved as a public function and the relationship between cultural heritage (content) and cross media.

The second part of the book contains comments and additions from the digital cultural heritage field of the research shown in the first part of the book. The third and last part of the book contains a reply to the comments of Van Vliet as disposition on the commentary on his behalf, in this way, different perspectives and concerns from the field and from the resulting debate on the issue of digitization of cultural heritage are discussed and mapped.

The definitions that are given in the book for digital cultural heritage shows the confusing terminology can cause. Van Vliet recognizes this problem and defines digital cultural heritage as cultural heritage that has been digitalized, but also, digital information of cultural heritage is held into this definition. This seems too broad of a definition, because it raises the question for me if digital information of cultural heritage, such as digital card files, should be approached differently than artifacts that are digitalized; images of artifacts are also digital information of that artifact to me. What is the relationship between digital versions of cultural heritage and digital information of cultural heritage, I wonder.

One question that is not addressed in this study but is a welcome addition on the past research, is how digital cultural heritage which originates in the digital behaves in a physical space.

In defining cross-media in addition to various characteristics of the relationship that the various cross-media content have, are discussed. By this the author attempts to remove ambiguities in the definition of cross-media and exposes the relationships between the various definitions. Thus, there are two or more media outlets which act as carriers, which transmit the same message to an audience. To motivate an audience to play an active role in the use of digitized cultural heritage social tagging is suggested.

This book is a must-read for those who work or will in future work in the digitized cultural heritage field. The study presented in the first part of the book gives the reader a great insight of the issues that need to be solved. Together with the different perspectives on the field presented in the second part of the book where examples, knowledge and experience are map the ongoing debate.

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