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Measuring the impact of DIgital CulturE

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Digital tools anchor role of cultural heritage

Policy recommendations and toolkits for the digitisation of assets emphasise the role of culture in European identity.

Digital Economy icon Digital Economy

Cultural heritage institutions (CHIs) such as libraries, museums and theatres are pillars of democratic identity in communities around the world. The rapid pace of technological change threatens to diminish the role such institutions play in society if institutions and the assets they manage are not folded into the digital landscape. The EU-funded inDICES project identified digital solutions that will improve the accessibility and continued relevance of CHIs for generations to come.

Knowledge assets empower policymakers

A collaborative project involving 14 partners, inDICES brought together experts in cultural economics, intellectual property law and digital humanities. According to project coordinator Simonetta Buttò: “The goal was to develop a set of policy recommendations designed to assist cultural heritage institutions in fulfilling their public mission in the digital realm, to further the democratic and community-focused digital transformation of CHIs, and to support access to, and the reusability of, digital cultural heritage.” inDICES developed knowledge assets through a number of key analyses. The project examined data related to the digital revolution and how creative content is produced and accessed. The team reviewed European copyright and intellectual property regulations in the context of digitisation. A collection of best practices provided valuable recommendations and the tools needed to make informed decisions.

Technological assets form a methodological toolbox

Numerous digital tools were created to support CHIs. Many of these, such as the Participatory Space, the Visual Analytics Dashboard (VAD), and the Self Assessment Tool (SAT), are part of the Open Observatory, the backbone of the project. The Participatory Space is a collection of digital tools and spaces designed to enhance data collection and facilitate collaborative decision making. The VAD is a multilingual advanced analytic tool that allows CHI leaders to follow public discourse related to cultural heritage and the digital revolution in real-time. Using questionnaires and targeted recommendations, the SAT is designed to build digital transformation capacity. In addition to providing well-researched policy recommendations and digital tools, inDICES developed a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC). The course is designed to help CHI stakeholders understand the implications of digital transformation and how to oversee that process at the institutional level.

Collaboration key to achieving results

Initially, inDICES had hoped to integrate the Open Observatory with the service platforms of the Europeana Network Association (ENA). However, the envisioned degree of integration proved unfeasible. Buttò stated: “Thus it was decided to opt for a lighter integration where the Open Observatory remains as a standalone platform, but can be linked to from European Pro, the well-visited website operated by Europeana Foundation with comprehensive resources targeted at heritage professionals.” Another path to amplify the efforts of inDICES involves integration with the EU-funded RECHARGE project, which is currently ongoing. RECHARGE builds on certain aspects of inDICES, and the two teams have already agreed on coordinated activities that will optimise collaboration. InDICES focused on the broad needs of CHIs as these institutions prepare for digital transformation. By doing so, the project has established a solid foundation for the preservation of cultural heritage, even as society continues on a course of rapid and radical change.

Keywords

inDICES, cultural heritage, digitisation, cultural heritage institutions, knowledge assets, policy-makers, technological assets, digital toolbox, digital transformation, Europeana Network Association, RECHARGE

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