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What Did We Do Before Technology?

Brianna Ohman, Student, Fitchburg State University

Cultural heritage: "the legacy of physical science artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations

Should we “digitize” original documents?

Whether or not we “digitize” cultural heritage is a fair argument. Some may believe it is a positive idea, while some may argue that it is not. I believe there are pros as well as cons.


  • Keeping items/artifacts in their “prime” condition. The cultural heritage will live forever.
  • Having cultural heritage digitized will prevent it from damage or acts of terror. If a museum is burned down, for example, an original document could be lost forever. Having it transferred to an online database, or something similar, will give it protection, allowing it to stay in the culture forever, and be admired by future generations.
  • Having cultural heritage digitized also protects the objects from any “wear and tear” that it may be subjected to by constantly being touched, or from being set out in the open for any period of time.


  • Viewing things online is not the same as in person.
  • Not being able to physically hold or interact with the physical object does not convey the same effects to observers and admirers.
  • The cost for digitizing something can be far greater than simply preserving it

An example of when preserving cultural heritage proved successful was the preservation of the Mogao caves in China. Not only did it prolong the life of the caves, but it allowed for further and more in-depth studying of the caves. Having digital images of the caves allowed for people all over the world to be able to view and admire the caves, not only residents of China. To learn more about the Mogao Caves and digitizing cultural heritage, click here!