Examples of digital communication technology in culture and education
Since the early ’80s, the introduction of digital technologies has provided cultural institutions, educators and exhibition curators with a brand new array of opportunities, techniques and solutions aimed to facilitate the transmission of complex and intellectually-demanding content to the general public.
The development of such techniques, as well as the theoretical basis on which such development is based, are still evolving, today. Indeed, in the infancy of digital cultural communication, two possible approaches emerged.
On one side, digital communication in cultural and educational fields passively mimicked means and paradigms of traditional transmission of knowledge, though in apparently innovative forms. On the other, new technologies were enthusiastically and ingenuously seen as a sort of magic wand capable per se to automatically make complex concepts easily understandable by all. A typical example is what happened to museums, especially scientific and historical ones, in which, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, interactive exhibits and multimedia installation have quickly become ubiquitous only to realize some years later that a proper content dissemination though digital means required a profound redefinition and adaptation of many of the standards on which cultural mediation is based upon.
Furthermore, the rapid obsolescence of hardware, man-machine interfaces, digital media technologies, and modalities of digital interaction between people (such as in the liquid word of social media, for example) transformed into a quickly decreasing efficacy in the possibility to engage and stimulate the audience attention, especially that of young people.
In the last 10 years, a series of new approaches and solutions spread out, based on the efforts of multidisciplinary teams – usually composed of a balanced mix of scholars, educators, communication specialists, designers, and technology professionals –, together with a growing awareness of what cultural dissemination through technology actually means.
A crucial point is the concept of digital storytelling. While creating interactive digital storytelling experiences capable to generate “story-centered cohesive narrations” (1) is crucial in fostering people’s emotional engagement and, ultimately, to transmit culture; a naive and superficial approach to such techniques could easily destroy scientific integrity and the public’s capability to elaborate their own cultural interpretation of the subjects presented.
Since the beginning, Inexhibit is paying a particular attention to such matters, especially in fields related to art and technology; we present here a selection of our articles focused on the most innovative and promising digital communication experiments and solutions developed by research teams, museums, and cultural institutions.
1) The museum as digital storyteller: Collaborative participatory creation of interactive digital experiences (http://mw2015.museumsandtheweb.com/paper/the-museum-as-digital-storyteller-collaborative-participatory-creation-of-interactive-digital-experiences/
Cover image: Addie Wagenknecht, Optimization of Parenthood