Sunday, May 01, 2016

The Nature of Illumination: Cultural Heritage and the Technology of Culture (CUA CHIM Forum talk)

A bit delayed in posting this; I've been working on the written version (extract below). Stay tuned for that somewhere in the future ...

The Nature of Illumination: Cultural Heritage and the Technology of Culture. Martin R. Kalfatovic. Cultural Heritage Information Management Forum. The Catholic University of America. Washington, DC. 5 June 2015


In both its creation and transmission, technology has driven our shared human culture. Libraries (and the congruent institutions of archives and museums), in varying forms and modalities across time and culture, have proven to be the best, though too often fragile, vessels for the transmission of culture through both time and space. Over the past thirty years, new technologies, specifically the Internet, have expanded the reach of our “memory institutions” while at the same time posing challenges to their relevance from the world at large. At the same time, long held practices around customer service; curation, selection, and preservation of collections; and the place of the library in the knowledge creation are being questioned from both inside and outside these institutions.

Increasingly, technology is providing the means to bring research libraries closer together, to unite dispersed yet related collections, and to engage a new and wider audience that can enhance the diffusion of institutional knowledge. Our cultural heritage professionals of today and the future will need not only a firm grounding in their subject areas, but also a deep and be broadly conversant in technology.

As William Gibson has noted, “Time moves in one direction, memory in another. We are that strange species that constructs artifacts intended to counter the natural flow of forgetting.”1 Having constructed these artifacts, it remains our mission to provide the vision and resources to maintain them for the future.

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