Yes. I am convinced that more than 300 Dutch cultural professionals will keep their eyes open for new opportunities to communicate with me. At least, that is my aspiration after participating in the Kom je ook? seminar organised by Mediamatic in Amsterdam’s public library OBA.
One of the main questions was much more Low-Tech than super RSS or API, as a keynote speaker Nina Simon asked directly from the cultural professionals: What kind of relationship you want with your audience? As a normal cultural heavy-user (I do go to gigs, exhibitions, theatre plays, cinema and I like various forms of culture from Mozart to minimal techno and from Damien Hirst to Rembrandt), I want to turn the question around and share a moment of thinking the relationship I want to built with my cultural institutions!
Honestly speaking, my favorite cultural institutions are Tate Modern in London and Palaís de Tokyo in Paris, even though I don’t live in either of the cities. Still both art spaces are filled with memories of amazement and inspiration. In fact, I tend to visit both when I am around, and during this millennium I have been in Tate Modern 12 times and in Palaís de Tokyo six times, thanks to relatives that keep me visiting in those cities regularly.
When mapping my visits to the online versions of those two mentioned cultural spaces, the amount of visits is much more rare, and focused on practicalities such as opening times and nearest tube stations besides current exhibitions. I think that is pretty surprising, considering that I spent several hours per day online, and I do follow many art blogs, cultural networking sites, artful platforms, creative forums and I even love to share my opinions in many of them. Another keynote speaker of Kom je ooK? -seminar, Mike Ellis, shared some interesting viewpoints that made me understand why this might be happening. His hint to cultural professionals was to make content more available according to a simple principle: If you love something, set it free! (which also works well in human relationships) Don't let your content (or relationships) be walled gardens!
What could be the benefits of making content more available? For sure there are a lot of new challenges (such as copyrights) to sort out. Still openness might be the best way to build stronger relationships between people and cultural institutions in more participatory way. As Mike Ellis crystallized: Important is the content, not where it is consumed or how! When thinking how navigation in online spaces works things like Google are crucial in landing people to the content. Users find their way with Google Readers’ or they are actively posting stuff they like (maybe yours?) in Youtube, MySpace and Facebook. If I would be artist/heritage professional, I would love to see more people engaging my content. Maybe it is true that with social media, I do not want controlled experiences and therefore guided experiences are not my cup of tea. Still I am interested in quality cultural content, and I would like to find it everywhere.
The DOEN Pitch part of Kom je ook -event introduced several cultural institutions which are having archives full of rarely shown material, maybe about my favorite artists’ performing in familiar places to me, or even better with somebody I know in the background (like my mum, my grandparents' house etc.). As a cultural heavy-user, I want to ask from my cultural institutions to make it easier for me to spend time with your content in more participatory way. Something helping me in building own cultural identity, and keeping me connected with other cultural heavy-users of my neighbourhood. Maybe communication channels among us local cultural heavy-users could also be great extra, something my cultural institution could build and host for us, as in the end going to events, museums and theatres is social by nature.
If you got interested to seek concrete ways how, start simple by checking presentations of Nina Simon: www.slideshare.net/ninaksimon and Mike Ellis www.slideshare.net/dmje/museums-and-the-web-mashup-workshop >> they are great. Concrete ways to build better relationships might be literally, just one click away!
Take a look at the pictures taken at 'Kom je ook?' by Katja Novitskova / Mediamatic