This presentation is part of the 2017 3D Digital Documentation Summit.

Digital, Digitization, Digitalization A Prescription for Being Found In the “Cloud”

Research on finding alternative means to fund the preservation of historical resources has lagged at a time when they face possible extinction by “Getting lost in the cloud”. Heritage managers must accept the fact that 21st century consumers will live in a digital world and anything that is not of that world will cease to be found. Studies conducted by industry professionals have determined that the business world is reinventing business models to meet market demands and additional investment is being made to more effectively engage digital customers at every touch-point in the customer experience life cycle. To underscore the importance of this realignment, a 2014 survey of children aged one to four found that seventy five percent of four-year-olds had their own mobile device and ninety six percent of the age group having access to such devices from age one. As current and future generations mature, these trends are likely to continue with people become increasingly more dependent on social connectivity to suggest, locate and deliver relevant information directly to them via their mobile devices. Heritage managers wanting to be found in the “cloud” will be forced to create new content and adopt a strategy to stay relevant to this emerging market. To address this challenge, this study identifies a suite of Digital technologies that convert the analogue and physical world into a digital one and forges a working relationship with Digitalization, a philosophy that capitalizes on the capabilities built into smart phones, tablets, and emerging mobile platforms to reach and expand the consumer base.

As Digital technologies have evolved, so has the perception that they are segregated and intended primarily for use in engineering/scientific or amateur/consumer applications. In contrast to this notion, the three-dimensionality afforded by these technologies differs only when considering them in the order of priorities; laser scanners and related image acquisition technologies document and visualize and inversely, consumer cameras visualize and document. Theoretically, this broad field of digital acquisition technologies represents a homogeneity of “tools” that all capture aspects of the physical “world” with a line drawn between them becoming blurred. Within this evolution, these “tools” are becoming less expensive, easier to use, and depending upon the application, can be operated successfully by individuals having modest or semi-professional skills. These capabilities become paramount when integrating Digitization into the planning and preservation efforts of the heritage organization.

Digitalization is a strategy that adopts recent advancements in Internet Technology (IT) to make the most of the digital resources that are available to an enterprise or historic property. Technically, Digitalization represents a transformation from a conventional web presence to one that is socially constructed and automatically adjusts to trends and changes in marketplace behavior. At the heart of this approach lies Digitization, or, the conversion of the analogue and physical world into a digital one. This approach argues for the collection and curation of “assets”, or, the “raw materials” that have relationships, however broad, to those historic properties. The flavor of these assets range from the artifactual properties of rich ethnographic and archival information to abstract concepts that consider falling plaster an “asset” when deterioration becomes the focus of a fund drive.

To date, no research or study linking Digitalization to historic preservation has been uncovered. This study has concluded that as digital documentation technologies become more engrained in heritage applications and innovative marketing approaches enable the capitalization on those deliverables, more research is called for to evaluate, replicate, study, and educate the heritage community in ways these technologies can significantly impact the preservation of our cultural resources.

Speaker Bio
Mark Dice has over 35 years experience in industrial and broadcast video media production and is completing a Master of Science degree in Industrial History and Archeology degree at Michigan Technical University in Houghton, Michigan. At Michigan Tech Mark invited students from the School of Technology to cooperate on several laser scanning and photogrammetric missions on campus and at the historic Quincy smelter. At a Colorado field school he taught photogrammetry and reviewed the results with the ten students attending. Mark is researching ways digital documentation technologies can be used to preserve and interpret industrial heritage sites and landscapes.

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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
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