Volume 57 Issue 1 (February 2022)

Datafication and Cultural Heritage: Critical Perspectives on Exhibition and Collection Practices

by Karin Hansson, Anna Näslund Dahlgren, Teresa Cerratto Pargman

p. 1-5


The increasing digitization and the emergence of new data-sharing practices change our understanding of how cultural heritage is defined, collected, and exhibited. We must pay particular attention to the ways in which digital interfaces curate history. Crowdsourcing, social media, linked open data, and other open science practices challenge the current practices of cultural heritage institutions, owing to the established structures between and within them and the character of the networked publics involved. However, such challenges also open new opportunities for wider negotiations of cultural heritage and rethinking what cultural heritage institutions and practices are. This special issue brings together scholars from different disciplines to provide critically and empirically grounded perspectives on the datafication of cultural heritage institutions' exhibition and collection practices.

Karin Hansson, a researcher in the Department of Culture and Aesthetics at Stockholm University and associate professor in media technology at Södertörn University, examines technology-based participation from a critical design perspective.

Anna Näslund Dahlgren, professor of art history in the Department of Culture and Aesthetics at Stockholm University, has published extensively on photography, visual culture, the digital turn, and archive and museum practices.

Teresa Cerratto Pargman, professor of human-machine interaction in the Department of Computer and System Sciences at Stockholm University, works on the increasing digitalization and datafication of everyday practices with a critical lens on computing.

No Incentives to Interact: A Case Study of Mobile Phone Interactions with Martin Luther King Jr. Memorials in Washington, DC

by Larissa Hugentobler

p. 6-26


This case study uses a triangulation of methods to analyze how visitors use their phones on-site at two lesser-known Washington, DC, memorials. While individuals frequently used phones to engage with the sites, they did not use the affordances of their internetconnected devices: they took many pictures for themselves but infrequently shared them, and they did not consume additional online information to compensate for a lack thereof on-site because they believed it should have been provided at the memorial. Overall, the lack of online interaction was caused by few incentives: the sites are not recognizable enough as sites of tourism, which is why photographs are not shared, and there are no prompts on-site to consume additional information, which is why individuals do not research online. This article shows that visitors' full interactive engagement with the sites, employing online and offline modalities, does not seem to occur without incentives.

Larissa Hugentobler is a research and teaching assistant at the University of Zurich, where she is pursuing her PhD in communication and media research. Her research focuses on offline and online experiences impacted by digital interactions with the physical world and centers on nonprofessional content creators and marginalized communities.

Curating China's Cultural Revolution (1966–1976): CR/10 as a Warburgian Memory Atlas and Digital Humanities Interface

by Rongqian Ma

p. 27-45


CR/10 is a digital oral history platform that aims to collect and preserve cultural memories of China's Cultural Revolution (1966–76). With a rhetorical analysis of the design features and curation processes of the CR/10 website, this article discusses the functions of CR/10 as a Warburgian memory atlas that shape the nonlinear, multifaceted narratives of a historical incident. Alongside this rhetorical analysis, I also conducted three sets of user experience studies with over thirty participants both within and outside the academy, including an ethnographic conference observation, a virtual ethnography of an online book group, and several semi-structured interviews, to examine CR/10's usability and propose new design opportunities to empower the interface. This article offers a strong case for the datafication of cultural memories and contributes to digital archives and humanities interface design with an innovative theoretical lens.

Rongqian Ma is a PhD candidate in the School of Computing and Information at the University of Pittsburgh, with research interests in digital humanities, digital curation and archives, information visualization, and science and technology studies. She also holds an MA in East Asian studies and a BA in Chinese literature.

Negotiating the Past Online: Holocaust Commemoration between Iran and Israel

by Aya Yadlin

p. 46-62


This study explores how marginalized groups negotiate the past and partake in building collective memory online. Using examples drawn from a large-scale ethnographic study, I show how members of the Persian community in Israel (Israelis of Iranian origin) reaffirm and oppose excluding dominant Israeli collective memory narratives of the Holocaust through rereading historic Iranian-related stories of Holocaust occurrences. The article thus aims to both discuss the ongoing struggle of Mizrahi communities to criticize exclusionary practices within Israeli sociocultural discourses and reflect on the research opportunities and limitations social media create in studying collective memory construction online as a whole and in the context of minority groups in particular.

Aya Yadlin is a senior lecturer in the Department of Politics and Communication at Hadassah Academic College. Her research critically explores everyday uses of online media platforms for political and cultural negotiations in global contexts.

Datafying Museum Visitors: A Research Agenda

by Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt

p. 63-81


Museums are participating in the capturing of global data for the perceived benefit of improved relationships with the public. This article proposes a framework for critically analyzing the datafication of museum visitors and visitor engagement, combining a critical lens from data studies with a social view of datafication as practice—a set of practices within a sociotechnical assemblage that is continuously reproduced by the choices made within and outside the museum. Museums are situated at the intersection of Pierre Bourdieu's economic, cultural, and political fields; thus, I highlight some of the external social and technological pressures driving datafication in museums. Relying on public accounts and previous case studies, I argue that datafication of visitor engagement is made to work through data loops: circular processes between institutional practices of museums and social practices of audiences where data are collected, processed, and decided upon.

Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt is a professor in media and communication at Malmö University, School of Arts, Culture and Communication. Her interests include critical and practical questions of datafication, cross-media audiences, museums, and cultural and democratic participation. She is a member of the Academia Europaea section of film, media, and visual studies.

The Case for a Digital World Heritage Label

by Carl Öhman

p. 82-95


Much of humanity's most important digital heritage is under corporate control, which poses several threats to its longevity and authenticity. However, public institutions have little authority to intervene and preserve it, and their doing so is not always a desirable alternative. The goal of this article is to propose a mitigation of this dilemma. I do so in three steps. First, I introduce the concept of digital world heritage, which denotes digital artifacts with a value beyond their utility to any single individual or community. Second, I specify three ways commercial management threatens digital world heritage. Third, I argue that many of these threats may be mitigated by the introduction of a digital world heritage label. This proposal, I contend, does not interfere with the integrity of private data controllers since it does not involve the donation of data archives, yet it does support the long-term preservation of digital heritage.

Carl Öhman is an associate senior lecturer in the Department of Government at Uppsala University. His research falls largely at the intersection of digital ethics and economic sociology and ranges from such topics as digital remains and deepfakes to the philosophy of time.

Information Activism: A Queer History of Lesbian Media Technologies by Cait McKinney (review)

p. 351-353

Information Activism: A Queer History of Lesbian Media Technologies
by Cait McKinney
ISBN: 978-1-478-00828-6

aems emswiler


INFORMATION ACTIVISM: A QUEER HISTORY OF LESBIAN MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES ADDRESSES lesbian-feminist information activism in the United States and Canada during the period of transition from paper to digital media technologies from the 1970s to 2010s and subsequent questions on information abundance.

The Queer Games Avant-Garde: How LGBTQ Game Makers Are Reimagining the Medium of Video Games by Bonnie Ruberg (review)

p. 98-99

The Queer Games Avant-Garde: How LGBTQ Game Makers Are Reimagining the Medium of Video Games
by Bonnie Ruberg
ISBN: 978-1-478-00658-9

Daniella Gáti


HOW CAN QUEER GAMES HELP REINVENT WHAT GAMES CAN BE? THIS IS THE LEADING QUESTION of Bonnie Ruberg's The Queer Games Avant-Garde: How LGBTQ Game Makers Are Reimagining the Medium of Video Games

Women's Activism and New Media in the Arab World by Ahmed Al-Rawi (review)

p. 100-101

Women's Activism and New Media in the Arab World
by Ahmed Al-Rawi
ISBN13: 978-1-438-47865-4

Walid Ghali


WOMEN'S ACTIVISM AND NEW MEDIA IN THE ARAB WORLD BY AHMED AL-RAWI ATTEMPTS TO map and empirically investigate the role of new media in shaping and facilitating positive change within women's lives in the Arab world.

Visions of Beirut: The Urban Life of Media Infrastructure by Hatem El-Hibri (review)

p. 102-104

Visions of Beirut: The Urban Life of Media Infrastructure
by Hatem El-Hibri
ISBN: 978-1-478-01077-7

Aya Jazaierly


HATEM EL-HIBRI'S VISIONS OF BEIRUT TAKES READERS ON AN INTELLECTUAL JOURNEY through the ways that media infrastructure defines both spaces and their history in cities.

A History of Data Visualization and Graphic Communication by Michael Friendly and Howard Wainer (review)

p. 105-107

A History of Data Visualization and Graphic Communication
by Michael Friendly and Howard Wainer
ISBN: 978-0-674-97523-1

Crystal Lee



The Digital Black Atlantic ed. by Roopika Risam and Kelly Baker Josephs (review)

p. 108-109

The Digital Black Atlantic
edited by Roopika Risam and Kelly Baker Josephs
ISBN: 978-1-517-91080-8

Rachel E. Winston


IN THE DIGITAL BLACK ATLANTIC, EDITORS ROOPIKA RISAM AND KELLY BAKER JOSEPHS offer the first volume of literature centering Black digital studies.