Today entailed my first lecture and seminar of my new masters degree, MSc Digital Heritage. As an architectural historian moving into a new department, Archaeology, I was quite unnerved at whether this would place me at a disadvantage to the “proper archaeologists.” My experience of archaeology so far consists of playing Tomb Raider, or the archaeology profession in World of Warcraft, which understandably aren’t representative of being a real archaeologist. Therefore I hope to bring something different to the course, mainly my love of said video games and medieval secular and ecclesiastic architecture.
For the digital side of “digital heritage” I think I need to brush up on the differences between SGML, HTML, XML.. etc etc ALL THE ACRONYMS! Nevertheless it is all relevant and useful to know as the heritage industry is increasingly digitising their collections and information and I will most likely end up being that person to do it.
My lecture, on the other hand, consisted of debating what actually is “heritage”? I never really considered this before, how heritage is mainly a Western ideology that can have multiplicity of meanings- being a practice, transmission of intangible knowledge such as tradition, folklore, dance and poetry, preservation of tangible objects such as architecture and artefacts, can involve the law (with legislations) and is a process in which people use the past. We also considered whether the word tangible is appropriate, as all heritage is technically intangible and mostly decided by the experts over what constitutes part of our heritage. It is these contradictions which make the subject interesting, This had really opened my eyes as up until now I thought heritage had meant solely the preservation of the legacies of “old stuff” for educational purposes, but now I know it’s more than that and the importance heritage holds within communities and also on a larger scale!