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Heritage has always been an important factor in the development of society. The new generations rely on the previous ones, they learn from it, they try not to make the same mistakes and go forward. The issue discussed in this article is the access to the knowledge contained in our heritage. In that context, digital humanities revolutionize the way we can access our heritage. Until the advent of computer technologies, the access was really complicated, for instance archives, go on site or library, etc. … Today, we have the internet, which is the ultimate tool to find information for the grand public at the moment. But there are research to find other ways to store and access information or heritage and introduce relation between the different types of heritage (historic data, archive and geographical site).

It is indeed the case for the scientific field, there are enormous research archives which are difficult to consult or access in which the scientist could find some relevant information or research to advance their work or just not overlapping with previous work. In that aim, an archeology department and a digital humanities department at ENS (Ecole normale supérieure) have established a partnership about a pilot study which consist in digitizing and structuring a small part of their archives. The idea is to digitize and transfer documents online and also the real and useful part to find key information to structure the database which will enable to have relation between the information, this last part being the most complicated. That task is already enormous at the level of one university. But to guaranty the accessibility of our heritage to next generations to come, we will need to undertake that kind of project to bigger entities, such has UNESCO for instance.

Furthermore, the heritage treated by UNESCO is not entirely the same as an archeology department archive. UNESCO treats mostly historical and geographical sites rather than paper archives. The aim is to guaranty the preservation of this kind of heritage. “So there is an international need to collate and store digital heritage models of heritage sites” (Erik Malcolm, 2015). The obstacle is the absence of a format for 3D-models that is durable and cross-platform, the point being then to link those 3D-models to their historical and cultural information. Also, the need to have a formalization of the digital heritage data as well as a global infrastructure to insure the consistency and the accuracy of the heritage models accessible to everyone is a complicated issue. But the main issue is to have an access to the heritage models that is interactive, user-friendly and pedagogical.

MATRIX the center for digital humanities and social sciences at Michigan State University is currently developing an open-source platform called MBIRA (mbira.matrix.msu.edu) that could have solutions to the issues presented before. It is going to be based on an interactive map interface, which will allow the user to travel between the information and sites. Also the open-source based application will allow everyone to edit, author and sustain the heritage model and information. Which will bring a multivocality to the mobile heritage experience. Indeed, the interaction of the users between one another or with domain experts will be easy with Mbira. As an open-source, to guaranty the accuracy of the information, there will be a difference between the expertise of every users.

In conclusion, the need to digitize heritage is important. It will help scientist into their work and will allow an easy access to everyone, which is not the case for the moment. Also it will ensure the conservation of heritage for the following generations. The main issues are the standardization of the content and the format of diffusion. Also access platform are part of a complicated process of research. Mbira will be one of the first platform to be able to give access to heritage with an interactive interface and multivocality. The only issue is that there will need to have a control of information since it is an open-source platform.


[1] Archaeology in the Digital Age: From Paper to Databases”, (2015), Frederique Melanie-Becquet, LATTICE-CNRS, France and Johan Ferguth, LATTICE-CNRS, France and Katherine Gruel, AOROC-CNRS, France and Thierry Poibeau, LATTICE-CNRS, France

[2] “Infrastructure Requirements For A UNESCO World Heritage Archival Infrastructure”, (2015), Erik Malcolm Champion, Curtin University, Australia

[3] “Mbira: A Platform to Build, Serve, and Sustain Mobile Heritage Experiences”,(2015), Ethan Watrall, Michigan State University, United States of America