I get excited when I talk to people about to embark on a digitization project. I think it’s amazing we can take a 200-year-old book, scan it, and make it accessible to others. By digitizing our content we give it new life!
But my excitement wanes when people stop after the digitization is done. They put the books back on the shelf, the slides back in their sleeves and the new digital files on a hard drive. All that exciting work, tucked back into a slot.
We have this amazing new opportunity now to let people “touch” our valued treasures without worrying about damage. I want to do more than just locate a digital image, I want to zoom into it and discover new details. I want to explore similar images. I want to embed them in my blog. I want to take advantage of technology and really give this content new life. If I can’t do this then there’s really no difference between the physical originals and the digital copies.
I am happy digitizing our important content has become easier and cheaper, but we really need to keep thinking about why we do it in the first place.