Introduction to Digital Humanities

RELI/ENGL 39, Fall 2015, University of the Pacific

Culture made Digital

After reading the blog post by Melissa Terras about the reuse of cultural-related contnent and Robert Leopold’s study about the Cherokee case study, it seems that the question being asked is not “Should content relating to culture be made digital and public?’  but “How does content relating to culture made digital and public?”

Leopold demonstartes how cultural related data, if made public, should protect individual identities that might be negatively impacted by the data. Leopold brought to light ways in which information and data about cultures can be made available to researchers while still maintaining certain identities confidential.

Terras’s blog post seemed to be more about making cultural resourses not just available for researchers and students, but also about making it convenient to access.

I think that both texts brought important information to light. Information about Cultures should be easily made available to researchers and students while at the same time protecting individuals who might be hurt by the data.

[Note: The computer that I am using is not letting me access the Leopold pdf. So, I apologize if my recollection on the text is off.]


  1. I liked how you mentioned that Melissa Terras was answering the question about, “How does content relating to culture made digital and public?” I also found it interesting that Terras was describing many ways to discourage people from using your material.

  2. I believe you meant to repurpose Melissa Terras’ question as “How should content, relating to culture, be made digital and public?” (rather than ““How does content relating to culture made digital and public?”) And yes, I absolutely agree that she answers that question by posing multiple suggestions. Not only would implementing her suggestions make resources more available, but also more convenient to access.
    Further, the Cherokee Case Study, I feel, was mainly about the conflict of culture and privacy entering the digital world. Some cultures want to maintain an extent of cultural integrity by not making traditions public, so that is where archivists encounter a problem when trying to document culture.

  3. Shane-Justin Nu'uhiwa

    September 29, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    I am going to bring up another idea that I put in another post: cultural appropriation versus appreciation. We have come into a day and age in which it is easy for someone to profit off of the ideas and/or beliefs of another. While promoting a culture by wearing symbolic signals may be “hip” it is not appropriate. The individuals is misusing another culture for their own benefit. However, if you have a strong belief in the culture, and you want to learn more about it, it could be interpreted as cultural appreciation. The use of cultural data should be used to benefit society as a whole (appreciation) while protecting the individual. Contrasting this idea is the appropriation of ideas. Using the data provided to personally profit while not benefiting society as a whole. This can be considered the cultural resources Melissa Terra touched upon in her blog.

  4. I agree that cultural content should be carefully maintained and regulated, but also should be exposed to a variety of audiences, not merely researchers and students. The accessibility of this content should be widely displayed and should expose cultural truths found by research and studies.

  5. I do think that cultural information needs to be made public in order to improve our own understanding of other people and draw similarities they have to our own. I think that unless the culture was being negatively stigmatized their exposure should not be taken as a right to privacy. There should not be limitations to research of any culture. It is important to be historically aware and to collect records of significant cultural findings.

  6. I really like how you question if cultural artifacts should be open and viewable to the public. I have never thought about it before and now that you bring it up I do wonder myself if it is right. Yes I agree that artifacts should not be made public if they do appose a threat to an individual. I think it is very important to keep identities confidential when it comes to sharing cultural artifacts.

  7. I think that there are some materials that should be published online so that anyone can have access to it, thus improving our cultural knowledge. However, I also think that there are some things that people have a right to keep private. It is not always up to us, as the general public, to decide what belongs to us and what doesn’t. I don’t mean to get all philosophical, but I think this point is evidenced in the Cherokee article. Is it really right for the Smithsonian to publish sacred materials online when there were some Cherokees who were reluctant to do so? It seems like everything comes with a moral side, even if we don’t notice it at first.

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