Cultural information bubbles: A new approach for automatic ethical evaluation of digital artwork collections based on Wikidata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Large digital repositories created and maintained by art museums provide open access to millions of works of art and make them available to new audiences with diverse backgrounds, views, and needs. Digitization of cultural collections by art museums has opened an opportunity to correct the historical injustices and imbalances in information representation. The first step toward this goal is a systematic critical evaluation of digital cultural collections from an ethical perspective. In this study, we propose and apply a new automated methodology for evaluation of digital cultural collections, based on a recently proposed ethical framework for evaluation of knowledge organization systems. The developed approach utilizes Wikidata for automatic creation of a unified ontological scheme comprised of ethically marked properties of cultural heritage items. These properties are used to automatically measure and compare the compliance of a database with a set of ethical criteria, on a large scale, in a database-agnostic manner. The findings, based on two prominent art museums—the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Rijksmuseum—as well as the Wikidata artwork collection, indicate the presence of biases and a Western cultural information bubble. The Met artwork database’s scores are relatively close to Wikidata and more inclusive and balanced than those of the Rijksmuseum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891-911
Number of pages21
JournalDigital Scholarship in the Humanities
Volume38
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of EADH. All rights reserved.

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