Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage
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Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage

Edited by Ilde Rizzo and Anna Mignosa

Cultural heritage is a complex and elusive concept, constantly evolving through time, and combining cultural, aesthetic, symbolic, spiritual, historical and economic values. The Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage outlines the contribution of economics to the design and analysis of cultural heritage policies and to addressing issues related to the conservation, management and enhancement of heritage.
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Chapter 12: Digital cultural heritage

Trilce Navarrete


What is the impact of media technology on the supply and demand of heritage with what is usually described as digitization? This chapter presents the concept of digitization as concerning far more than just the introduction of computers, the development of databases and websites, and the conversion of information to digital form. Digitization – the process of adapting to developments in media technology – implies far more than just adopting technology. What is argued here, is that digitization produces three fundamental changes with respect to the supply and demand of heritage content. Firstly, technology has prompted the creation of a digital heritage product. Digitization has resulted in a process to formalize heritage knowledge as an exchangeable good. Secondly, the consumer has gained a certain independence to acquire digital content, no longer linked to the producer’s physical location. Thirdly, adoption of digital technology in all segments of life has led to a change in consumer expectations, with a demand for digital heritage content at the right place and time, and even an option to participate in the production process. What started as a mechanical process to reduce repetition of data entry and to facilitate data query for heritage content providers has come to represent an important step towards universal access to human heritage. The possibility of accessing digital heritage (as information content) has advanced an international awareness of heritage and furthered efforts to promote knowledge of and access to it.

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