Open Culture 2011 – A Killer App for Culture?

Now up Bill Thompson (@billt)…
‘Culture’ has some many meanings … and meaning is important – ‘a computer’ used to be a person who did calculations.

This world is not ‘digital’ – the ‘real world’ does not go away. However, the world is no longer ‘analogue’ – in terms of the way we process and use data – digital data is everywhere. Even those things that a digital representations of analogue materials have been ‘shifted’ by transformation through digital.

We can now ‘reasonably be online all of the time’ – the digital culture is already here – Bill says “I’m beyond the point where I can imagine living my life without taking advantage of those things digital offers” – networks, email, mobile phones – this is starting to shift the way we think about the world.

Bill does not believe there is a single ‘consciousness’ but multiple competing systems – and your consciousness shifts between these systems from moment to moment. Bill says that some of his systems are now online… twitter etc. and when he isn’t online these systems work sub-optimally.

Bill says – this stuff is NOT A FAD! – Most important thing to have happened to human culture in about 5000 years 🙂

Revolutions on this scale happen rarely – Bill compares it to the invention of writing and moveable type.

New possibilities are afforded by digital culture – to contextualise and exploit curation of culture. Lots of attempts at the moment to find new ways of engaging people – e.g. Google Art Project – it’s nice, but it doesn’t really ‘do’ very much. The website is just the start.

Bill reflecting on the 100 Objects website – the original site didn’t work because it employed a metaphor which people didn’t relate to.

Bill mentions Papa Sangre – “a video game with no video. It’s a first-person thriller, done entirely in audio by an award-winning team of game designers, musicians, sound designers and developers.” – totally new way to navigate an information space.

You probably no longer know how computers you own – so integrated into all the things we own.

Bill talks about Kuhn’s term ‘paradigm shift’ – Bill believes that the move to digital brings a paradigm shift … notes that Kuhn says these only complete when adherents to the previous models die… The scale of change is so great that we cannot ‘assimilate’ the information/change, but rather have to ‘accommodate’ (terms from Piaget).

Bill believes that this will change the way our brains work. “Proust and the Squid” – talks about how we read – required change to the way our brain was wired – this is why ‘literacy’ is ‘the big one’ and printed word is significant but not of the same order [I’d ask if these can be so easily separated – mass literacy would not have happened without printing press?]

We need to think about how digital culture impacts – education; art; curation; collaboration

Lots of examples of Arts organisations trying to engage – many of them based around the fact that technology enables full interaction from the audience. Gallery and Museum practice starting to change. When it comes to big questions of ‘how do manage collections?”; “how do you provide access?” ; “how do you curate?”

It may feel to the organisations at the moment that the audience is taking them in directions they wouldn’t have chosen. But sensible integration between online and other activities is becoming easier – partly because tech gets cheaper, but also better understanding of implications of digital culture.

So – back to the initial question – what would be the ‘killer app’? Visicalc was the first ‘killer app’ – people bought the Apple II because of Visicalc. What are people going to come to museums for in terms of digital? It might be for … wait for it … Linked Data.

Bill believes that Linked Data offers opportunities – it may have the transformable effect that visicalc…

British Museum doing stuff in this area as is the British Library, Desert Island Discs is an example from the BBC.

The innovators dilemma – is now the time ‘to move?’ You could be an ‘ace dataset with quite a nice museum attached’ 🙂

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