Mícheál Mac an Airchinnigh
(Department of Computer Science,
Trinity College Dublin)
Abstract. Each people in its time exploits the technology of its age to create, transmit, and preserve its own cultural heritage within the conceptual framework of the understanding of its own purpose and existence in life and in the world. Before the recent — in our lifetime — emergence of the Digital Age, characterized and typified by theWorld-WideWeb, cultural heritage of the other was often a matter of physical tourism or of scholarly inquisitiveness or even of a certain kind of xenophilic voyeurism. That cultural heritage ought to be singled out by name as such with respect to its own people suggests that it has become commodified and therefore begins to lose its meaning for the very people whose identity qua people depends on it.
On the other hand barring the complete yet conceivable destruction of the Digital Age each people is invited to rediscover its purpose and existence by reaffirming its past and its culture and by becoming even more human in a globalized sense by engaging the culture of the other by choice.
To engage with one’s own people and the other through presentation of one’s own digitized cultural artefacts is probably one of the greatest challenges facing a people in the Digital Age. We are at the beginning. Natural language is a natural barrier. Even with automatic translation between languages the nuances of the other will not come through easily. Therefore it might be supposed that the more visual form of the image is the more suited to such globalized understanding. But . . .
Herein is presented a framework based on the notion of pattern language whereby the digitized cultural artefact may be exposed, explored, weighed up, accommodated, and possibly assimilated by each one, by everyman, who comes into contact with it in the Digital Age.