Some months in my research fieldwork, I am starting to have a stomach feeling that will need to be contrasted by some evidence to clear my next question:
In the digital humanities aimed at improving accessibility to heritage,
is the digital eclipsing the heritage?
I have a confession to make. I do not worry very hard about young students not having proper guidance for learning to filter all the crap that the internet holds. Evaluating sources is an activity that has come up in several of my recent interviews. I have certain confidence that students are being taught this non-perishable principle of any self-appointed researcher. If they weren’t being told this by a teacher, they can google “how to evaluate a source” and something useful will come up. The internet is very good at the meta-level, defining rules and clarifying practices about itself.
What I most enquire after in my interviews is the cultural heritage part. After meeting a couple of teachers I found out that they were either super savvy and active or quite curious and excited about digital edu-tech stuff. I started feeling that the word digital in the title of my research might scare away teachers interested in the books their school is no longer buying, printed newspapers even if it is to make papier-maché or visiting the local medieval castle ruins. Excited or sceptic, confident or hesitant about this digital-turn all teachers’ opinions are valuable in this research.
A first piece of evidence that I will need to invest some time reading about is the “device fetish” of the society where I am conducting research. I was wisely reminded by a veteran researcher in education here, that “tech” or device driven innovation is nothing new in Finland. The first computers in schools were also brought to the schools before anybody could do the first thing with them. From my latest fieldwork notes, I wrote up this learning story, that adds to this hypothesis.
Image: Pablo Genovés. La Biblioteca y el muro, 2012 © vegap / Pablo Genovés. This print in barite paper by Pablo Genovés belongs to a series of digitally altered pictures and found images of lieux de mémoire in some kind of catastrophic peril. "From popular knowledge it is assumed that photography has a privileged condition to represent reality and truth. Nonetheless what makes photographic image indispensable is an uncanny narrative capacity placing them between the realistic and the impossible" (extract of exhibition catalogue, original in Spanish).