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Evaluating digital cultural heritage 'in the wild': the case for reflexivity

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Areti Galani



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by ACM, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Digital heritage interpretation is oftentimes untethered from traditional museological techniques and environments. As museums and heritagesites explore the potentials of locative technologies and ever more sophisticated content triggering mechanisms for use outdoors, the kinds ofquestions digital heritage researchers are able to explore have complexified. Researchers now find themselves in the realm of the immersive, theexperiential, the performative and the ungovernable. Working closely with their research participants, they navigate ambiguous terrain includingthe often unpredictable affective resonances that are the direct consequences of interaction.This article creates a dialogue between two case studies which taken together help to unpack some key methodological and ethical questionsemerging from these developments. Firstly, we introduce With New Eyes I See, an itinerant and immersive digital heritage encounter whichcollapsed boundaries between physical/digital, fact/fiction and past/present. Secondly, we detail Rock Art on Mobile Phones, a set of dialogicweb apps that aimed to explore the potential of mobile devices in delivering heritage interpretation in the rural outdoors.Looking outward from these case studies we demonstrate how traditional evaluative methodologies are being stretched and strained given thekinds of questions digital heritage researchers are now exploring. Drawing on vignettes from experience-oriented qualitative studies withparticipants we articulate specific common evaluative challenges related to the embodied, multimodal and transmedial nature of the digitalheritage experiences under investigation. In looking at the larger picture, we further highlight the need for nuanced, agile and reflexiveapproaches in this field going forward, which acknowledge the generative role of evaluation in processes of heritage meaning making.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Galani A, Kidd J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage (JOCCH)

Year: 2019

Volume: 12

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 28/02/2019

Acceptance date: 15/10/2018

Date deposited: 12/12/2018

ISSN (print): 1556-4673

ISSN (electronic): 1556-4711

Publisher: ACM


DOI: 10.1145/3276772


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