The Digital Turn


     The Digital age is allowing us new ways of living and understanding our world. Digital technology is changing at the speed of light. From the comfort of our homes we can use digital resources to discover the many opportunities we have at our fingertips. Used in the proper way, these digital tools can help people to reach their potential, not only in their own lives, but also to positively impact on the lives of others. Since antiquity, the richness of human potential has provided a treasure trove of knowledge and artistic genius. For example, when we consider the manuscripts of the ancient philosophers, such as Plato and Socrates, the poets and writers, the paintings of the great artists, the vast amount of literature, we realise the importance of safe guarding these treasures for posterity. These works need to be protected against the natural elements, but also against possible negligence in appreciating the richness of meaning they represent. Digitization has provided a way to preserve the cultural heritage that has survived from ancient times. According to the authors of  ePhilology: When books talk to their readers, the first generation has only laid the ground work for substantial change and what can be achieved through digitization. Scholarly works that have been digitized will continue to inspire future generations. For a deeper understanding of humanity, it is important to look at the past.  Digital access to these literary texts has the power to enhance creativity into the future. The digital age allows us to navigate these cultural treasures which can develop a higher level of creativity and help the many new systems the digital age is creating for our global community.

File:Lismore Castle.jpg Many universities around the world have begun to digitize aspects of their cultural archives. For example, an eleventh century crozier was found, with a very interesting manuscript in a walled up passage way, during structural renovations to Lismore Castle, County Waterford in 1814, which has recently been digitized. The project was undertaken in co-operation with the owner the Duke of Devonshire, the Chatsworth Trust, the Boole Library of University College Cork with the Irish Script on Screen project. The Dias web site describes the manuscript as follows:

Vellum codex in Irish, consisting of some two hundred leaves and written, for the most part, by a single scribe in double columns in a consistent but plain late fifteenth-century hand. Apart from the attractive wicker-interlace of some initials which were probably intended for rubrication, but were left undecorated, the manuscript bears no other particular signs of original ornateness. But its contents mark it out as a hugely important and varied collection of literary texts including medieval saints’ lives, some apocrypha along with later narratives that are adaptations and translations almost contemporary with the writing, a copy of the great Irish ‘Rahmenerzählung’ Acallam na Seanórach, as well as many poems, all of which have been described in a summary catalogue supplied by Pádraig Ó Macháin to accompany the digital images (Dias).  The importance of the digitization process preserves the content of this manuscript which is part of our cultural heritage and safeguards it against destruction. Unfortunately in the case of this manuscript, The Book of Lismore, a number of leaves from the beginning of the manuscript had been removed and they have never been recovered. What remained of this manuscript has now been encased for ever more by digital technology and can be viewed for all who may have interest in its historical and cultural content.

Trinity College Dublin has a number of works in progress. One in particular is The Crookshank-Glin.It consists of material relating to Irish Art between the 17th and the 20th century. The collection contains 45,000 photographic images and correspondence, research notes, exhibition catalogues and a small number of original art works. The project to catalogue the collection, with a view to digitization, has been funded by the Getty Institute.  This is a further example of what the world of digital technology has to offer.

There is so much we can learn about our cultural diversity in this age of globalization. The future of our planet depends on cooperating with our fellow man for the health of our planet. The age of digitization has brought millions of people closer through the many new ways we can now communicate with each other. In our rapidly changing world, the age of technology is helping us to cope with our everyday lives.  We are learning that we are social beings, as can be derived from the popularity of the many new ways we can communicate with each other. The ease at which we are able to see and speak to others, at any time, or place on the planet allows us to maintain communication, no matter how remote or hostile the environment.

. When every man, woman and child has access to the knowledge that is being digitally generated on line and can use it in a positive way, mankind will pave the way to a bright future.


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