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SIEF2013 11th Congress: Tartu, Estonia.
30 June - 4 July, 2013

SIEF2013: Circulation

Tartu, Estonia; 30th June - 4th July


The digital re-mediation of cultural heritage

Location Lossi 3, 427
Date and Start Time 02 July, 2013 at 14:45


Gertraud Koch (Universität Hamburg) email
Christoph Bareither (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) email
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Short Abstract

This panel will focus on the re-mediation of heritage in the (digital) media. It will ask how cultural practices and conventions are negotiated, changed and adapted when brought into the new digital media: the internet, mobile phones and geo-positioning systems.

Long Abstract

Media have become important generators of meaning and have deeply intruded into nearly all aspects of human life. They have built the backbone of cultural transmissions and circulation, and can thus be seen as important drivers of social change. At the same time, media technology itself changes rapidly, creating new opportunities for cultural production in computer games, online platforms, or through the augmentation of reality in mobile phone applications. Developments in media themselves intervene in cultural production. The re-mediation of cultural expression, that is their adaption and transformation through digital media, has thus become a more or less common practice. "No medium today, and certainly no single media event, seems to do its cultural work in isolation from other social and economic forces. What is new about new media comes from the particular ways in which they refashion older media and the ways in which older media refashion themselves to answer the challenges of new media" (Bolter / Grusin, 2000, p.15). In this sense, it is media change itself which imposes the rethinking of heritage and the innovation of cultural practices and stores of knowledge. In a further sense, a re-mediation of heritage itself may be vital in order to adapt cultural knowledge and keep in step with the times. This panel will focus on situations of re-mediation of heritage in the (digital) media. It will ask how cultural practices and repertoires are negotiated, changed and adapted when brought to the new digital media: the internet, mobile phones and geopositioning systems.

Discussant: Markus Tauschek

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Copyrighting the copies: are heritage institutions opening up or enclosing the public domain with their digitisation efforts?

Author: Áki Guðni Karlsson (University of Iceland)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper I will discuss the digitisation efforts of heritage institutions in the wider context of the globalisation of intellectual property, and ask whether our heritage is really in the public domain as it is often purported to be.

Long Abstract

While discussing arguments made by developing countries and indigenous groups at the World Intellectual Property Organisation for a legal instrument providing exclusive rights for the use of "traditional cultural expressions", at one point the legal experts representing the developed world chose to emphasise the importance of the "public domain", where most of these expressions currently are believed to reside. It would be detrimental to the creation of new works, they argued, if this were to be reduced by granting exclusive rights to communities or nations for the use of their heritage. Based on this argument I want to ask if the public domain in developed countries is really as free as we purport it to be. Considering how recent large-scale digitisation efforts of heritage institutions in the West have been conducted, and how their products tend to be licensed online as "open access" only, prohibiting any form of reuse, we could describe these as staking a claim on the public domain and thus, indeed, affecting the creation of new works. While there are certainly many perfectly valid arguments to justify their course of action, there are ethical considerations to be taken into account as well. In my paper I will discuss these arguments and place them in the wider context of the global spread of the intellectual property regime and local reactions to it.

Re-mediated world: maps, panorama, satellite view and computed images of the world in the digital geodata technology of Google

Author: Sibylle Künzler (Institut for Popular Cultural Studies)  email

Short Abstract

This contribution discusses the transition from older geodata media to navigation platforms such as Google Earth, Google Maps and Street View.

Long Abstract

Maps, panoramas, satellite images and computer generated sceneries visualize spaces, practices of looking and spatial perception and are part of our cultural heritage.

Each of these kinds of visualization has its own history. The panorama for example evolved at the end of the 19th century representing a new technique of seeing.

Today, the digital geodata technology of companies such as Google brings these visualization methods together showing them in a synoptical view. This imagery of the world is part of a digital environment which is in turn embedded in countless references of heterogeneous actors. The geobrowsing practice opens new topological fields.

The transition from a mostly paper-based cartographic and photographic (re-)presentation of space to digital navigation platforms may be discussed as an epistemological shift from a topographical to a topological approach.

How does this re-mediation of the world change the significances of conventional geographic media, of the aesthetic of "world" and of spatial practices?

The "heritage" of this visualization technology reinvigorates the old images, but destroys their logic at the same time. Quoting the example of the panorama again, it can be said that it is still a stretched part of a landscape view, there is still a panoptical claim - however, being surrounded by other geodata images, embedded in long chains of references and with the knowledge from the thousands upon thousands of pictures and clicks, the panorama loses its power as a panopticon. The power of these images lies in their digital form.

"happy birthday :)" The digital re-mediation of an emotional practice on Facebook

Author: Christoph Bareither (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)  email

Short Abstract

This presentation will offer ethnographic insight into the various effects emerging from the re-mediation of a well known emotional practice (wishing someone a happy birthday) on Facebook.

Long Abstract

In the past decade, Facebook has become an integral part of the everyday life of millions of people worldwide. Actors regularly engaged within "the social network" use this medium to manage the flows of their everyday communication processes. The various possibilities as well as restrictions given by the software therefore affect the ways people interact with each other and they can cause alterations of ritualized and institutionalized practices. One of these practices is to wish someone a happy birthday. Though it is not a part of a German or European "cultural heritage" in the strict sense of the term, this practice has indeed been an important part of Western birthday traditions. As such it can be understood as a social, a cultural, or more explicitly an "emotional practice." The term "emotional practice" has recently been introduced to German speaking Ethnography and provides helpful insights for a discussion of practices executed in order to raise and manifest certain feelings or emotional states. To elaborate on this matter I will present ethnographic insights mostly gained by a group of students during a Seminar at the University of Tuebingen in Germany. The ethnographic material demonstrates how birthday wishes on Facebook can be very effective emotional practices, that are at the same time interpreted as meaningles or even inappropriate. As a result we can observe a contradictory opinion towards birthday wishes on Facebook among students, raising more general questions about the conflicting processes of the digitalization of everyday life.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.