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Culture for All

Keynote for the Prague Platform on the Future of Cultural Heritage, convened by the European Commission, October 7-8, 2019. The Prague Platform talks about
“Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens.”

But what do these words mean? And how might we approach them — as practitioners, communities, governments and institutions, and citizens?

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Culture for All

  1. 1. Culture for all Michael Peter Edson @mpedson Co-founder, Museum for the United Nations — UN Live 7-8 October 2019 Keynote for the Prague Platform on the Future of Cultural Heritage
  2. 2. Culture for all The Prague Platform talks about “Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens.” But what do these words mean? And how might we approach them — as practitioners, communities, governments and institutions, and citizens? Keynote for the Prague Platform on the Future of Cultural Heritage
  3. 3. Video https://youtu.be/D4Rm-kjbCsk
  4. 4. https://youtu.be/NBsCzN-jfvA https://youtu.be/5BuYgnr5JG0 https://youtu.be/kHBcVlqpvZ8
  5. 5. What just happened?
  6. 6. https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-47116429 10m people attended this live online cultural event. 10m people! Did you even know it happened?
  7. 7. “I was talking to a woman last week, and she said, ‘My son is raving about how he can't be anywhere else on Saturday because he has to be at his first concert … in Fortnite.’” “People keep saying people watched that show, but if you ask those kids, they'd probably say I was there.” To the people attending, it was real
  8. 8. Jibo is a social robot, designed to interact with groups and become part of a family. Jibo, like many social robots, has a strange, personal effect on people. During testing, focus group participants would not leave their session until they had said goodbye, personally, to Jibo — as if Jibo’s feelings would be hurt if they did not (link in notes) In Homo Deus, Yuval Harari argues that in the West we confer the equivalent of human rights to corporations. In the future, will we confer the equivalent of human rights to robots like Jibo? Will robots have a culture?
  9. 9. Spot is a utility robot developed by Boston Robotics. It’s designed for things like helping out on construction sites, opening doors, carrying bricks… Spot was programmed to dance. Spot dances pretty well! And Spot may — will — soon dance autonomously and invent its own moves. Does Spot have a culture? Will the Spots of the world have a culture? A cultural heritage?
  10. 10. How can we think about “culture for all” in a world where this is normal? What are some touchpoints?
  11. 11. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berea_College_20101111_GebhartCeramicsClass_LK_(18)_(19945586354).jpg Pottery Class — Quality via Quantity There are many alternatives to traditional top-down, linear, transactional problem solving
  12. 12. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berea_College_20101111_GebhartCeramicsClass_LK_(18)_(19945586354).jpg “The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. “His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: 50 pends of pots rated an “A”, 40 pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”. “Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. “It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work—and learning from their mistakes—the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.” Pottery Class — Quality via Quantity
  13. 13. Pottery Class — Quality via Quantity Slides https://www.slideshare.net/edsonm/think-big-start-small-move-fast
  14. 14. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/03/us/macarthur-foundation-will-award-100-million-for-solution-to-a-global-problem.html The MacArthur Foundation is in the process of making a single $100m USD grant to solve a big problem. I have been a juror for this process, and one of the things that has struck me is how LITTLE $100m is when you’re trying to solve a big, global problem
  15. 15. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/03/us/macarthur-foundation-will-award-100-million-for-solution-to-a-global-problem.html $10b $20b $30b $40b $50b $60b One application I looked at in the previous round concerned the US child welfare system, which costs $28 billion/year. A $100m MacArthur grant, spent over 3 years, would create a budget only 600- times smaller than the problem it was trying to solve.
  16. 16. “Culture” in Oakland, California https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:View-from-Broadway-street-towards-San-Francisco-Oakland-bridge.jpg In the 1990’s the Urban Institute conducted a study of cultural participation in under- privileged communities in Oakland, CA.
  17. 17. “Where do you get your culture?” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:View-from-Broadway-street-towards-San-Francisco-Oakland-bridge.jpg Researchers went to the streets and asked people “Where do you get your culture?” …They were invariably met with a response of “We don’t have that kind of stuff around here.”
  18. 18. “Who are the creative people in your community?” https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:View-from-Broadway-street-towards-San-Francisco-Oakland-bridge.jpg To the researchers’ credit, they went back to the office and re- worked their question… When they returned several months later they asked, “Who are the creative people in your community?”
  19. 19. https://flic.kr/p/q7SVTd Daniel Arauz 2014/12/13 Millions March Oakland Millions March Oakland CC-BY-SA 2.0 When they asked the question this way they got an outpouring of information about the artists, musicians, writers, rappers, choreographers, and other ’creatives’ in their neighborhoods. The problem wasn’t that people didn’t have cultural and creative lives…
  20. 20. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bboy_Luan.jpg The problem was that people didn’t identify their creative and cultural lives with the institutions that were founded and funded to serve them.
  21. 21. Photo by Michael Peter Edson, 26 April 2017. CC-BY-SA We’ve held workshops on 5 continents to learn how people relate to the United Nations, Museums, and the Sustainable Development Goals. Most people, young and old, have no great love for cultural institutions in the abstract, but they do love specific museums, libraries, and community organizations where they have great experiences.
  22. 22. https://www.freelancer.com Freelancer.com is an online community of 39m professionals in 247 countries.
  23. 23. • Junaid, 21 year old medical student from Lahore, Pakistan • Dennis, a university student in Donkorkrom, Ghana. • Kusmarni, in Karanganyar, Indonesia, who graduated from Sebelas Maret University of Indonesia, majoring English Literature and American Studies • Josep Osagu, a college student from Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria I asked a few freelancers for their thoughts about European cultural heritage collections
  24. 24. http://kemadamian.blogspot.co.at/2015/07/why-i-need-online-collections-of-europe.html “You can imagine my frustration when I stumble across a site and that has all the information am seeking only to be informed that my geographic location does not have access to this. This is a common occurrence especially when the resource in question is about Europe and North America.”
  25. 25. At one point in 2014*, pages by the National Gallery of Denmark had received comments from Germany, Russia, Spain, New Zealand, India, South Africa, the Philippines, Egypt, Libya, Turkey, Nigeria, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom. On one group of pages about the masterpieces of Danish art, comments by Danes are outnumbered by comments from other countries by 35:1. * The last time I studied these pages
  26. 26. What can we conclude from this?
  27. 27. 1. Parts of the future have “broken off” and crashed into us. 2. There are many alternatives to top-down problem solving: closer to the ground, distributed, networked, & local 3. Money is great, but even large amounts of it under central control are not enough to solve certain kinds of problems 4. People love their culture, but maybe not their Culture 5. The relationship between global and local has changed: it needs to be approached in new ways Perhaps we can weave these ways of thinking and doing into a form that helps us — all of us — accomplish… not only difficult, important work together… but maybe even new kinds of work altogether
  28. 28. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly. This is the problem statement, or brief, for this convening. Given what we’ve seen, how might we approach it?
  29. 29. Problem Space One way is to construct a “problem space” with all of our goals, challenges, methods, and givens.
  30. 30. A Problem Space New/weird future Bottom-up Global-local Money mismatched with challenges “culture” vs Culture & distributed Digital-physical Young-old Fast-slow Simplicity-complexity Bottom-up / top-down
  31. 31. A Problem Space New/weird future Bottom-up Global-local Money mismatched with challenges “culture” vs Culture & distributed Digital-physical Young-old Fast-slow Simplicity-complexity Bottom-up / top-down What’s our angle? How can we view, interpret, attack, this problem space in a way that is direct, actionable, and creates positive impact for people and communities?
  32. 32. Don’t lock down the problem space too soon. “When something goes wrong, it can usually be traced back to the beginning, from the acceptance of false premises.” — Norman potter, What Is a Designer, 1969
  33. 33. Enhanced digitally enabled culture heritage participation for all citizens These words jump out at me as being precise, clear, and actionable: “Culture for all”
  34. 34. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly.
  35. 35. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly. “cultural heritage”? What counts and what does not?
  36. 36. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly. Cheering for somebody else’s parade? Or owning it?
  37. 37. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly. Ethan Zuckerman’s grid has been a guidepost for us at the UN Live museum. We are choosing to do things that support movement towards outcomes that have impact in communities
  38. 38. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly. How wide? How deep? Does “all” mean all? (Make a “Ulysses Pact” that forces you to take/make action)
  39. 39. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly. How wide? How deep? Does “all” mean all? (Make a Ulysses Pact) “If you want to solve hard problems, have hard problems” — Brewster Kahle
  40. 40. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly. Can be symptomatic of one-way, read-only thinking We disseminate to you… We give you access… We reach you with our thing…
  41. 41. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly. Juicy! (constructively ambiguous)
  42. 42. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly. Warning: the word “formats” could indicate a let’s-make- some-products mindset that could lead us astray. (Not everything that needs to be done is a “product”)
  43. 43. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly. Does culture = cultural organizations?
  44. 44. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly. No Yes!
  45. 45. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly. Purpose!
  46. 46. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly. Purpose!
  47. 47. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly.
  48. 48. Enhanced digitally enabled cultural heritage participation for all citizens Digitally connected technologies allow for widespread dissemination and access to cultural heritage elements in a variety of formats. Cultural organisations have an opportunity to act as enablers and hubs for digital cultural heritage goods and can play a key part in stimulating active citizenship. This theme looks at how organisations can utilise new platforms to reach wider audiences and provide deeper and more personal access to various cultural goods as well as the effects of this expanded access on individuals, culture, and society more broadly.
  49. 49. Our Problem Space New/weird future Bottom-up Global-local Money mismatched with challenges “culture” vs Culture & distributed Digital-physical Young-old Fast-slow Simplicity-complexity Bottom-up / top-down What’s our angle? People first Platforms & the Dark Side Active citizenship Deeper & more personal
  50. 50. The Dark Side Digital platforms, particularly commercial 3rd party platforms, have a dark side that we cannot ignore.
  51. 51. “What is to be done? There are no easy answers. More important, there are no purely digital answers… If digital connectivity provided the spark, it ignited because the kindling was already everywhere.” https://www.technologyreview.com/s/611806/how-social-media-took-us-from-tahrir-square-to-donald-trump/
  52. 52. “...it’s now like the entering-the-darkened-basement scene of a horror movie. Technology has crossed over to the dark side. It’s coming for you; it’s coming for us all, and we may not survive its advance. ...In 2007, when Mr. Jobs unveiled the iPhone, just about everyone greeted the new device as an unalloyed good. I was one of them. Here was a genuinely new thing that would Make Your Life Better, we all thought: It would be convenient, it would be fun, it wasn’t serious or dangerous or globe-shattering. That’s no longer true. The State of the Art, today, is a bag of mixed emotions. Tech might improve everything. And it’s probably also terrible in ways we’re only just starting to understand. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/11/insider/tech-column-dread.html
  53. 53. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanhatesthis/brazil-jair-bolsonaro-facebook-elections 1) A handful of American companies, Facebook and Google more than any other, have altered the fundamental nature of almost every major democracy on Earth. In most of these elections, far-right populism has made huge strides. 2) The misinformation, abuse, and radicalization created by these companies seems to affect poorer people and countries more heavily. These companies replace local community networks, local media, local political networks and create easily exploitable, unmoderated new ones. 3) It is going to get worse and more connected.
  54. 54. https://twitter.com/zeynep/status/1002611580859834368
  55. 55. https://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2019/06/05/64558/down-the-rabbit-hole-the-dark-side-of-youtube-s-au/ https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/10/opinion/sunday/youtube-politics-radical.html https://mashable.com/article/amnesty-study-twitter-abuse-women/ https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/03/world/americas/youtube-pedophiles.htmlhttps://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/15/technology/myanmar-facebook-genocide.html
  56. 56. https://youtu.be/HmTcLlNJNqY 5 minute Ignite talk on YouTube — a call to arms!
  57. 57. Cutting the Gordian knot
  58. 58. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alexander_cutting_the_Gordian_Knot.gif
  59. 59. Cutting the Knot You The outcome you need
  60. 60. Cutting the Knot You The outcome you need Head this way
  61. 61. Cutting the Knot You The outcome you need Head this way This is not about inflexibility or certitude, rather, it is about avoiding false victories and taking responsibility for direct and consequential goals.
  62. 62. “If we don’t win very quickly on climate change then we will never win. That’s the core truth about global warming. It’s what makes it different from every other problem our political systems have faced.” https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/bill-mckibben-winning-slowly-is-the-same-as-losing-198205/
  63. 63. “The excruciating power of Zweig’s memoir lies in the pain of looking back and seeing that there was a small window in which it was possible to act, and then discovering how suddenly and irrevocably that window can be slammed shut.” https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/when-its-too-late-to-stop-fascism-according-to-stefan-zweig
  64. 64. https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/ga12131.doc.htm
  65. 65. https://twitter.com/AditiJuneja @AditiJuneja3
  66. 66. Photo by Michael Peter Edson, Leiden pop-up festival, June 2017, CC-BY A pop-up local festival in Leiden, NL, discussing local projects with neighbors
  67. 67. Photo by Michael Peter Edson, 2017, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, CC-BY-SA A local gathering at the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, discussing local projects with neighbors
  68. 68. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Greta_Thunberg_01.jpg
  69. 69. “Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’
  70. 70. “Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope.
  71. 71. “Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful.
  72. 72. “Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic.
  73. 73. “Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day.
  74. 74. “Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. — Greta Thunberg, Davos, January 2019
  75. 75. “Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. — Greta Thunberg, Davos, January 2019
  76. 76. “Adults keep saying: ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. Culture for all

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