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In this Special Episode of the Open Culture Voices series, CC hosts a conversation among five open culture experts from around the world.
- Dr. Andrea Wallace, Professor, University of Exeter Law School, United Kingdom
- Dr. Nkem Osuigwe, Director, African Library and Information Associations and Institutions, Nigeria
- Medhavi Gandhi, Founder, The Heritage Lab, India
- Evelin Heidel (Scann), Program Lead at Wikimedistas de Uruguay, Uruguay
- Michael Peter Edson, founding Director, Museum of Solutions, USA/India
Topics addressed range from the fundamental issues surrounding open culture, its transformative impact, and the challenges it faces in a world undergoing profound changes.
The conversation takes place at a pivotal moment in the open culture movement: while 2022 saw the adoption of the MONDIACULT Declaration by UNESCO member states, which recognizes culture as a global public good, only 1% of the world’s cultural heritage institutions have open access policies. The experts reflect on whether open culture can fulfill its commitment to inclusive and global access to culture and participation in cultural life.
Some of the key points discussed in this episode include:
- The disruptive impact of new technologies, such as generative AI, on the open culture ecosystem, raising concerns about sustainability, accessibility, and equity.
- The need to sketch a blueprint for open culture and better sharing to guide the direction of open culture in the coming years.
- The observation that the open movement has stalled and is at a crossroads, requiring a realistic assessment of accomplishments, challenges, and future directions.
- The importance of reflecting on and rethinking the mission, structure, and practices of cultural institutions in the digital age.
- The need for a more equitable approach in open culture, addressing the bias in data representation and the lack of voices from underrepresented regions.
- The sector’s need for active support and collaboration to address complex issues such as decolonization and inclusivity.
- The importance of open culture in creating awareness, understanding, and appreciation of diverse cultures and knowledges.
- Challenges include the need for more participatory practices, addressing issues of interoperability, and overcoming barriers to access in developing countries.
- The role of open culture in contributing to addressing the climate crisis and preserving cultural heritage in emergency situations.
- The environmental impact of digital technologies and the labor invisibilization associated with digital extraction.
- The importance of considering local and intentional digital activities in open practices.
Overall, the first part of the conversation highlights the need to expand the reach and impact of open culture, address inequalities, and actively shape the future of openness in the cultural heritage sector. As the open culture movement evolves, it must address issues of representation, equity, and resource distribution and by embracing diverse perspectives and forging partnerships, the blueprint for open culture can be shaped to create a more inclusive and equitable future for all.
When asked why open culture is important, here’s what they had to say:
“For me, open culture is really important locally because it’s a way to think creatively about how to make connections among collections, individuals, histories, narratives. That previously hasn’t actually been possible because of the analog nature of heritage and heritage management.” Andrea Wallace
“I started my career working with artisans and craftspeople, and my main interest was in building participation with the arts…I realized that the knowledge of the craft was at museums, like the background knowledge and contextual knowledge. And so we started taking artisans and crafts people to museums.” Medhavi Gandhi
“Open content was this thread that ran through all our thinking about the future role of institutions and in the digital age… And for me, that’s a very very local and intimate challenge.” Michael Peter Edson
“I think it’s very important that we put out our stories and our heritage in ways that actually represent our culture.” Evelin Heidel (Scann)
“In my culture, some things are open and some are not, and I’m wondering how we can open up…there are some areas where women are not even allowed to join, and I’m wondering how open culture can help us achieve that.” Nkem Osuigwe
Here is Part 2 of the Special Episode
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Want to hear more insights from Open Culture experts from around the world? Watch more episodes of Open Culture VOICES here >>
For more information on CC’s Open Culture work head to our information page or join the platform.Posted 13 July 2023