Digital technologies provide all manner of new opportunities for the recording and dissemination of local knowledge and histories, outside of the already established chains of cultural transmission. Greater access to the Internet and the proliferation of mobile phones and other digital devices, coupled with the multiple ways in which people in the present are engaging with the past, points to the potential of these new technologies to facilitate new modes of recording and sharing local knowledge, cultural practices and histories.
The democratising potential of these digital technologies is great, in that they offer opportunities for traditionally marginalised groups to record and share their local knowledge and histories on the Internet, from their perspectives. They have therefore given rise to (amongst other things) the broad category of “digital memory projects,” including undertakings such as community-run museums, community archives, so-called indigenous cultural centres and alternative approaches to those commonly employed by cultural institutions (Sandell, 2002). The variability of digital technologies is vital to the success of these, and is seen to encourage dialogue, multiple authorship and the exchange of ideas and opinions. In contrast to the closed authorship, fixed ideas and practices of museums, libraries and heritage institutions, digital files circulate more freely and are open to further editing, co-authorship and interpretation. This suggests a more democratised mode of production as different constituencies can collect, interpret, alter and create new meanings for digital content as they see fit (Parry, 2007).