Presentation at the 18th Annual SEAPAVAA Conference, May 26-30, 2014 in Vientiane, Laos.
Audiovisual Archives and the Digital Divide: Bridging the Gap
The Digital Divide is a well-documented phenomenon; however, the gap between those with access to high-bandwidth digital infrastructure and those with access to other forms of connectivity has not been widely discussed as it relates to audiovisual archives, especially concerning large digitization projects. Currently, the optimal access point for many digitized audiovisual materials is by a personal computer with a high speed Internet connection. Internet penetration is increasing in regions such as Southeast Asia, but via mobile devices, not personal computers; many developing nations are even skipping land lines altogether. What are the implications of audiovisual digitization projects, especially those led by outside archivists or agencies, in regions with limited access to the Internet? Who is served by such projects? What are the ethical considerations involved when an archive’s local population may not be able to access digitized materials, but distant researchers can? This paper will outline an ethical framework for digitization and digital preservation projects in regions with low Internet penetration, and will offer a possible solution for digital archival access based around mobile devices.
Photo Caption: Pha That Luang, the most important Buddhist monument and national symbol of Laos.