“From #digitisation frenzy to #datafication frenzy”: forthcoming #keynote for #LTаDH-RA

The pace of changes in the digital heritage domain is incredible. When invited to give a keynote talk at LTаDH-RA (Language Technologies and Digital Humanities: Resources and Applications), the staple event of CLaDA-BG: the National Interdisciplinary Research E-Infrastructure for Bulgarian Language and Cultural Heritage Resources and Technologies integrated within European CLARIN and DARIAH infrastructures I thought I can offer some reflections on the changes in the digital heritage domain over the last decades as a direct participant and witness.

The event takes place on 10-12 May 2023 in Sofia, Bulgaria – join it for plenty of interesting talks and to discuss what happens next in the digital heritage domain! Registration is free of charge but required.

Here is the abstract of my talk.

From digitisation frenzy to datafication frenzy: Are data spaces the silver bullet for “real” digital transformation?

Reflection on transformative initiatives in the cultural heritage during the last two or three decades brings into focus digitisation as a defining theme. As Dr Adriana Muñoz, curator from the National Museum for World Culture (Sweden), observed, these processes started off slowly but quickly became so widely adopted that the international scale of activity should be best described as a ‘digitisation frenzy’. 

In the early stages, the two main drivers for digitisation were access and preservation. During the last decade, analysis emerged as a third prong, as institutions, researchers, and citizens recognised the power of tools for the exploration, mining, visualisation, and publishing of data within the cultural heritage sector. This has resulted in a ‘datafication frenzy’ that commentators recognise as a manifestation of the “datafication turn” in the cultural heritage.

Initially, communities of practice enacted datafication as a process of exploring and implementing how digital collections, especially big-scale ones, could be used. Now an active international community explores how representing and interpreting collections as data enables new kinds of research and empowers open innovation opportunities for increasingly diverse user communities, with a particular focus on citizen science.

The emergence of a new ecosystem of data spaces offers a novel, and in the long-term probably a more significant, driver for datafication. Widespread perceptions of the meaning of “data” and popular understandings of the concept of “space” has produced an ambiguous landscape where many believe they understand what ‘data spaces’ are, but stakeholders in the cultural heritage domain recognise that this community is still in an agenda-setting stage. The European Commission, Member States, researchers, cultural heritage institutions, professionals and citizens have, over the past two years, begun to invest in building a common European data space. The delivery and assessment of the value of cultural heritage ‘data spaces’ depends upon  building a rich and shared understanding of what is meant by the term and how this development will transform the sector.

This talk explores how the data space developments are reshaping our communities’ conceptualisations of digital cultural heritage and how they will transform the cultural heritage sector and its user communities more broadly, and the steps we should take to build a data spaces research agenda.

Leave a Reply