Digital Models

Our Digital Models research project is exploring the possibilities of digital technology in relation to industrialism’s narratives about society, people and environments.

Digital technology is opening up new ways of approaching old collections, and raising new questions and critical perspectives. The Digital Models research project is focusing on three categories of material: Parts of entrepreneur and industrial historian Carl Sahlin’s extensive collection, all volumes of the Dædalus Yearbook (1931–2014) and Original models of Christopher Polhem’s mechanical alphabet from the early 18th century.

This methodology-developing research project is a collaboration between the National Museum of Science and Technology, with our national responsibility for Sweden’s technical and industrial history heritage; and HUMlab at Umeå University (UmU), Sweden’s leading centre of excellence for research in the digital humanities field.

The National Museum of Science and Technology has made digital development one of its themes through 4D films and exhibitions such as Game On 2.0 and the Digital Revolution. This current research project builds further on these public investigations of ‘the digital’, with a particular focus on digital methods and the possibilities of digitally animating the collections.

Project concept

The project aims to explore the specificity and potential of digitisation as a bridge between research, memory institutions and visitors from three different cultural heritage perspectives. Three categories of material from the collections have been selected for digitisation and exploration, all related to the three different phases and narratives of industrialism.

The underlying project concept is that ALM (archive, library and museum) institutions should not only digitise their collections but also make it possible for researchers and visitors to use – even to play with – their digitised cultural heritage using applications, tools and software.

The project is applying three methodological approaches, each of which is linked to one of the three selected categories of material: traditional digitisation (A), mass digitisation (B) and critical digitisation (C). The methods used for digitisation correspond to different periods in our technological history (with specific questions), and to different digital methods for working with the scanned material.

Theory and method

As more and more historical material is digitised at memory institutions, there is a corresponding and growing awareness that not all data can (or should) be explored any longer in traditional humanities ways. As a research practice, digital humanities includes the development of new digital methods which are predicated on programming skills and interdisciplinary cooperation.

Get up-to-date information about what’s happening in the project on its website:

Last updated 7 December 2016.