The digital dimension of culture explored in partnership with Italian and Dutch cultural organisations
We worked together with the Dutch Embassy and Consulate General in Italy, partially analysing the context and talking to public and private operators in the Italian and Dutch cultural sector during two round tables organised in January.
For some time now, digital technology has no longer been a novelty but a specific strategic choice that is becoming commonplace, even in the world of culture. And where would we start if we wanted to explore the digitisation of cultural heritage?
Firstly, by no longer looking at digitisation as a mere process of switching from analogue to digital, but as a process that, through the use of digital technology, changes the paradigms of cultural institutions and the relationships they establish with their audiences. Although this is a very broad research topic, we wanted to contain it within two large boxes: Platforms & Data and Engagement & Audiences. In our opinion, these very wide-reaching themes are key to quality digital transformation in the cultural sector.
Platforms & Data
This is the container for tools and processes for digitising tangible and intangible cultural heritage. In other words: how “cultural data” platforms (libraries, collections, digital catalogues) are developing in Italy and what role is played by the users interacting with them.
Various elements of digitisation projects are taken into account: from sustainability to interoperability and data sharing, from the need to maintain strong links with the local area to the desire to extend partnerships towards the international scene in order to find opportunities for comparison and collaboration. But the most common challenge is how to put the user – a hybrid creature midway between consumer and contributor – at the centre of the platforms.
Engagement & Audiences
This is the testing ground for digital audience development, for new ways of broadening, diversifying and engaging cultural audiences. The role played by digital technology in this area is often one of support for the real, physical experience in cultural venues. Despite this, the visions of professionals and operators converge on three points:
- audiences can play an active role as digital content builders;
- the new cultural offering can use the multiple languages of digital technology (gaming, augmented reality, etc.) to reach new targets;
- the real digital transition takes place where the rethinking of the cultural offering is accompanied by internal organisational change and skills development.
Would you like to find out more about this research?
We worked together with the Dutch Embassy and Consulate General in Italy, partially analysing the context and talking to public and private operators in the Italian and Dutch cultural sector during two round tables organised in January. This dialogue and shared experience has led to the Digital Innovation & Culture report, which concludes the transnational research project of the same name conducted in early 2022 together with the embassy. The focus on digital innovation and the digitisation of cultural heritage was chosen because they represent strategic priorities over the coming years for both the Netherlands and Italy, given the recent publication of the PND (National Digitisation Plan).