Let’s Get Digital

On Tuesday I attended an Arts Council conference in Birmingham called ‘Digital Change: Seizing the Opportunity Online’, which was supported by Google and put together by Culture24. There were sessions on learning from YouTubers, how to make the most of Google search – more interesting than it sounds, using data analytics and feeding cultural content into other channels, such as Pinterest and Tumblr.

As I have mentioned previously I am really interested in what museums and heritage sites are doing with digital, and perhaps the greatest thing that the event made me realise was how to me there appears to be a split between those in museums who think the end result of digital content should be to increase numbers of physical visitors, and those who think people engaging with digital content is a result in itself. I am in the latter camp. I believe that if through your digital content, you are able to engage people or audiences who are unable or unwilling to physically visit your venue, that is valuable. Not everyone feels comfortable in cultural venues, or is able to access them – for various reasons – but digital content encourages inclusion and accessibility. I’m aware that seeing an image of an object or a piece of artwork cannot really replace standing in front of it, but I don’t think digital should, or is trying, to be a replacement. It can offer something else entirely.

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Even if you are pro-digital though, it can be difficult to create content, both in terms of ideas and with limited resources available. Balancing your audience’s needs and wanting to showcase collections in new ways is also tricky. I think I could write a thousand words on the topic, but for now, I will take my thoughts with me whilst I try and create some of my own digital content to go with my events – wish me luck!

For more information, see the hot off the press ‘Digital Culture 2014’ report, on how arts and cultural organisations in England use technology, and Culture24’s list of resources.

Rachel Murphy

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