The growing number of case studies on the ethical issues faced in cultural heritage digitization calls for a discussion of this generally neglected dimension of digitization. The importance of the ethical dimension is also supported by implicit and explicit assumptions that well-established approaches to ethics in archives, libraries, and museums do not work with digitization. The aim of this paper is to determine what ethical issues arise in cultural heritage digitization and how they affect methods of decision-making and organizing digitization. The paper identifies and discusses several areas of concern that have caused ethical issues in digitization. They include contextual factors, such as the emergence of digital community archives that have stimulated changes in approaches to digitization in memory institutions; new ways of organizing digitization activities, such as introducing new funding models; and specific features of digital content, such as ease of sharing and manipulation of digital content and online engagement with heritage items in a global digital environment. Biases in selection and interpretation, access, privacy, online engagement with heritage content, and authenticity were identified. It is concluded that ethical issues in digitization encouraged a deeper understanding of memory institutions’ roles in higher level social processes. These changes have shifted the focus of digitization from heritage objects to people who create, own, or use them, or who are their subjects. Memory institutions increasingly realize that digital technologies can have both inclusive and exclusive effects on heritage services and practice participatory approaches to ethical decision-making. The paper recognizes the challenges in realizing the idea of participatory and empathetic institutions as well as managing digitization in terms of organization, time, and costs.
"Ethical Issues In Digitization Of Cultural Heritage,"
Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies: Vol. 4
, Article 4.
Available at: http://elischolar.library.yale.edu/jcas/vol4/iss2/4