We’ve heard recently from our Arts and Humanities correspondent about the project to digitise the Vatican’s documents. Digitisation is a growing phenomena and there are many reasons why it might be carried out, leading to a variety of approaches. This post takes a look at some of the possible motivations that might lead to digitisation: Piirus is all about research collaboration and knowing each other’s motivation is an important in any kind of a collaborative project, making sure that you can choose an approach to suit all partners. Seven motivations that might apply when you choose to digitise are:
- For preservation: to relieve pressure on originals (although one occasionally hears tales of documents where digitisation has led to increased research interest in a topic and then more requests to view the original!)
- For access: to open originals up to larger audiences
- For exhibitions & celebrations: to promote the collection/museum, support community initiatives, educate & inform
- For explanations: by making connections between documents and to peripheral materials
- For research: transcripts & text mining, and other additional features are possible in digital environment
- To reveal new features (with high resolution images, as in the Vatican project)
- They are “born digital”!
Many digitisation projects are carried out for a combination of reasons, perhaps targeting a part of the collection that meets a particular funding stream or research project, and perhaps combining content from different sources. Some projects involve members of the public as both producers and consumers, perhaps with transcription checking or translating (this is crowdsourcing). Other projects primarily engage with heritage professionals or researchers. The digital world opens up not only the information that is digitised, but also the ability to engage with it. If this theme interests you, you can read more about fundamentals of digitisation from UNESCO and find a lot of digitised material through the Europeana portal.
Piirus would be glad to hear from you if you’ve been involved in a digitisation project. You can leave a comment below or get in touch with us directly. And don’t forget to keep your Piirus profile up to date if you’re interested in taking part in digitisation projects!