Once upon a time (mid 2010), I made this fantastic online platfrom where people shared their memories, experiences, blog posts, photos, and videos for the Sompur Mahavihara (a world heritage site located in Bangladesh).

Planning to re-buid the site with OMEKA-S, instead Dolphin CMS engine. Let’s have some fun !

Figure 5

Define Digital Heritage : Part 03

Digital heritage objects from the point of creation, therefore, may be of two types: digitally born and digital surrogate (Parry, 2007, p68). ‘Born digital’ has been identified by UNESCO as that type of which “there is no other format but the digital object”. Therefore, any digital heritage contents created through digital media or digital tools without any references of analogue resources can be defined as ‘born digital’. Examples of, ‘born-digital’ heritage contents are electronic journals, World Wide Web pages and on-line databases. In this way, born digital has no parents of which they are a digital manifestation but has now become part of the world’s cultural heritage. On the other hand, ‘digital surrogate’ is a copy captured from an original or existing object for preservation, representation or research purposes. Captured images, 3D scanned objects, digital video of a ritual are a few of such digital surrogate objects.

Therefore, the content of digital heritage, by the definition from UNESCO (2003) may include a wide and growing range of formats such as texts, databases, still and moving images, audio, graphics, web pages and so on[1]. Digital heritage may exist in any language, in any part of the world, and in any area of human knowledge or expression. Many of these digital resources contain intrinsic value and significance, and, therefore, constitute a heritage that should be protected and preserved for current and future generations. However, due to the nature of digital-media, digital heritage is frequently ephemeral and requires purposeful production, maintenance and management in order to be retained. UNESCO, therefore, through a charter in 2003 highlighted the issue of preservation of digital heritage and made guidelines for its member states (UNESCO, 2003).

The UNESCO Charter (2003 : 1) states that, “Digital materials include texts, databases, still and moving images, audio, graphics, software and web pages, among a wide and growing range of formats ………… Many of these resources have lasting value and significance, and therefore constitute a heritage that should be protected and preserved for current and future generations”. The question remains as to which amongst these materials should be kept for future generations and how can they be selected and preserved. Moreover, interestingly, this current definition of digital heritage by UNESCO gives equal value to both ‘born digital’ and ‘digital surrogate’ objects. However, the digital surrogate may not contain any explicit message or value of its own but carries those of the original. Thus, digital surrogate acts as a tangible link with the past and possesses a different role from the born digital object. In that sense, Cameron (2008) argued that UNESCO’s idea of a digital heritage is a ‘paradox’ since “nothing is deemed more valuable than that which is inherited from the past”; at the same time, these newly created objects or media are in the discourse of loss.

Even the definition of digital heritage seems political (Cameron, 2008) and varies according to practice. In the light of prior discussion on the many facets of digital heritage, the following can now be considered as, the broad qualities of digital heritage:

  • Any unique resources consisting of the cultural value of human knowledge and expression created or converted into a digital form.
  • Digital heritage can be born digital (created digitally) or digital surrogate (i.e. made from analogue resources).
  • Contents of digital heritage can be in both 2D format (such as, text, image and video) and 3D format (such as, VRML model, navigational 3D environment etc.).


[1]Source:, dated 22.02.2009.

Define ‘Digital Heritage’

Since 1960s and early 1970s many historians have begun to use computers. Digital technology and tools has helped them to powerfully arrange ideas and promote unique analysis, presentation and access their finding of historical knowledge in online media. The term Digital history’ since then considered as a branch of the ‘Digital Humanities’ (Cohen & Rosenzweig 2006). It is also sometimes mentioned broadly to the use of digital media and tools for historical practice, presentation, analysis, and research. Cohen and Rosenzweig (2006) referred digital history as ‘the gathering, preserving and presenting the past on the web’. According to Wiliam G. Thomas (2008), digital history is an approach to examine and represent the past that works with the new communication technologies of the computer, the Internet network, and software systems.

‘Digital Storytelling’ refers to the act of ordinary people, by which they can tell their own real-life stories by using digital tools. Usually in this case, participants can tell their stories through login in a web portal and contribute through text, image or even recorded voice (e.g. However, ‘Digital story’ is defined by the ‘Centre of Digital Storytelling’ as ‘first-person video-narrative created by combining recorded voice, still and moving images, and music or other sounds’[1]. Additionally, the project named ‘digital storytelling’ launched by BBC (2009) allowed participants to tell their own story or experience in ‘short movie’ format[2].

The word ‘digital heritage’ itself is a popular word among people’s daily language, which seems a buzzword. The problem of buzzwords is that they are often ambiguous and elastic, open to different interpretations. For example, the book titled as ‘Digital Heritage: Applying Digital Imaging to Cultural Heritage Preservation edited by Lindsay MacDonald (2006) (figure 01); mostly talked about how to get the most out of the latest digital technology for extracting information from historical buildings & artefacts. This book loosely referred ‘digital heritage’ as digitalizing any cultural objects. Articles of this book basically highlighted digital photography and digital image processing tools and its application on documentation and conservation of cultural heritage assets, rather it provides any concrete definition of ‘digital heritage’. In index page; the keyword ‘digital heritage’ has been referred to pages no 460 and 555. But none of these pages offers any definition.


Book cover – Digital Heritage: Applying Digital Imaging to Cultural Heritage Preservation


Centre for Museology, University of Manchester maintain a blog named ‘Digital heritage’ which actually referred to a MA course titled as “Digital Heritage” for the Art Gallery and Museum Studies at the Centre for Museology (source:, dated 02.04.2010). Here ‘digital heritage’ has been referred as an emerging discipline, which includes the theory and practice of digital media in museums, galleries and other cultural institutions. There are also many websites referring ‘digital heritage’ (Google search keyword on digital heritage found 13,200,000 entries on dated 02.04.2010), mostly referring the term according to their own purpose and objective. For example the site called ‘’ refers digital heritage as digitalizing Appalachian culture and tradition (, dated 02.04.2010). By digitizing the Appalachian culture, it refers to a collaborative project between Western Carolina University (WCU) and communities in the Southern Appalachian Mountain region.  Students, staff, faculty and community members work together to produce high-quality essays, images, and multi-media presentations about Appalachian traditions, history, and culture. It has been also found that, some IT companies named their company as ‘digital heritage’ or ‘heritage digital’, serving different ICT solutions and software packages for clients


(Source:, dated 02.04.2010)


(Source: dated 02.04.2010)


[will be continue …………]

[1] Source:, access date 09.03.2010.


My poster for SmartDoc Heritage 2010

My poster (with my supervisor Tan Beng Kiang) accepted and published in SmartDoc Heritage 2011, Pennsylvania, USA.

Poster from Hafizur Rahaman for SmartDoc Heritage 2010
Interpreting Digital Heritage (Hafizur Rahaman, SmartDoc 2010)

Being a part of an ongoing research; this paper hypothesizes that ‘dialogic interaction’ through active participation helps to develop multiplicity in digital heritage content; hence enhance interpretation and enable end-users to attain the desired perceptual sense of place and culture. The main scope of this research therefore remains twofold. First by developing a methodological framework, which is likely to benefit interpretation of digital heritage by involving participants in a process that enables them to engage in a dialogic-interaction and collectively generate contextual perception (from cultural disposition of common spatial experience) of the past. Second, to conduct an explorative study to evaluate ‘interpretation’; perceived by end-users and measure the effectiveness of the aforementioned model. Thus, a successful completion of this study will contribute in both theory and practice in digital heritage consumption and dissemination.

Good luck for me 🙂

CAADRIA 2010 best paper award is mine

I have received the best paper award from CAADRIA (Computer Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia) 2010. This is join paper co-author with my supervisor Dr. Tan Beng Kiang.

The 15th CAADRIA conference held in Hong Kong, from 7-10 April 2010.

This year CAADRIA received 177 abstracts from 28 countries around the world. After reviewing, 130 abstracts were accepted to proceed to the second stage for full paper submission. All submitted full papers were reviewed by 3 or more reviewers drawn from a panel of 63 international readers. Finally the Paper Selection Committee accepted 62 papers for final editing and presentation at the 15th CAADRIA Conference.

All papers printed in the proceedings and presented at the conference are eligible and automatically taken into consideration for best paper award . The following criteria are taken in consideration for the selection of the Best Paper Award:

1. Clarity of writing
2. Good structure and argument
3. Contribution to the field
4. Good conclusion
5. Contribution and relevance to CAADRIA
6. Appropriately illustrated, good use of tables
7. Appropriate references (number of, range, range of sources etc)

Fortunately my paper titled “Interpreting digital heritage : Considering the end-user’s perspective” received the best paper award.

Hafizur Rahaman
CAADRIA_2010 best paper award

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