Digital Heritage

Marie Arnold and the Bayeux TapestryAlthough my research work is focused on educational technology, my first masters degree was in history, and I haven’t moved away from it entirely. My Schome bliki shows me searching out heritage sites in Second Life, and the oldest artefacts to be found there. (If you’re wondering, the oldest artefact is a beach ball – and you can find it in every avatar’s inventory).

This research led to a book chapter

Ferguson, Rebecca; Harrison, Rodney and Weinbren, Daniel (2010). Heritage and the recent and contemporary past. In: Benton, Tim ed. Understanding Heritage and Memory. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, pp. 277–315.

This chapter considers the heritage of the recent and contemporary past, both as a specific time period taking in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, and in terms of a series of themes that characterise the period – globalisation, transnationalism, and the influence of new communicative technologies. In doing so, it considers the usefulness of what some authors have described as ‘the postmodern condition’ as a way of characterising some of the social and economic changes that have given rise to the accelerated interest in heritage in the late twentieth century. The chapter looks not only at the ways in which new technologies are transforming heritage practice and our relationships with heritage, and at the ways in which these technologies might be considered to be a part of heritage itself. The case study, on heritage in the virtual ‘world’ Second Life, written by historian Daniel Weinbren and virtual worlds researcher Rebecca Ferguson, considers the ways residents have not only begun to develop their own distinctive heritage, but have also recreated and reworked real-world heritage sites within this virtual environment. The contrast of old and new highlights aspects of heritage that are important in both real life and virtual life, and raises a series of questions about the role of authenticity in heritage. The concluding section considers the implications of the case study for heritage management in the twenty-first century.

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