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Culture and the Web

As online technologies continue to affect every aspect of our daily lives, the professional use of and engagement with these tools is a topic that is becoming more and more pressing within the cultural sector, as highlighted, for example, in a previous LabforCulture newsletter devoted to cultural networking online. LabforCulture has been discussing these issues extensively with peers across Europe, and through these discussions we identified a need to give an overview of how the cultural sector is (or is not) taking up the use of these tools for collaboration. Tools for Culture, now available on as our latest Research in focus, presents the results of this first mapping prepared by Sabine Niederer and Richard Rogers from the Digital Methods Initiative (

In relation to these findings, we are putting the focus of this newsletter on how cultural institutions and audiences can collaboratively engage with each other with the help of these new online practices. Peter Mechant, a researcher at the Research Group for Media and ICT, Ghent University, recently published a text in the Virtueel Platform's Cultuur 2.0 publication that presents a particular perspective on developing these new relationships. We have asked two individuals working in the field to respond to this text with their own viewpoints and experiences, and we invite you to add yours. Special thanks go out to the Virtueel Platform for their collaboration on this newsletter.

Culture ‘2.0’: Social and Cultural Exploration through the Use of Folksonomies and Weak Cooperation

Peter Mechant
Originally published in Cultuur 2.0, Virtueel Platform, 2007

Node Online digital information has become ubiquitous and accounts for a major part of the economic and cultural activities in the western hemisphere. Hence, our society calls itself an information or network society. Instant messaging, weblogs or other websites facilitating true user participation, one-to-many or many-to-many asyn-chronous or synchronous communication are on the rise and appeal to millions of Internet users worldwide. This recent shift, in terms of the availability of online content and services, is often referred to using phrases such as web 2.0 or social software. In this article I want to look at how cultural institutions can enhance or enrich participation in culture through the use of web 2.0 or social software websites and discuss the potential for more active participation and collaboration between hosts and users.

Click here to read the full article.

Tag me up, Scotty

Marko Brumen, Maribor, Slovenia

NodeTimes they are a-changin' and what exciting times these are... Just as cultural organisations have finally accepted that they need an online (Web 1.0) presence - and over time have even learned to be quite good at it - along comes an "upgrade" with all these fabulous Web 2.0 opportunities and challenges. The paradigm is clear: in order to enhance experience and involvement, cultural organisations need to communicate with their audiences (visitors and users) in new ways and establish new forms of relationships.

This shouldn't be so hard, right? Well, it depends... First, Web 2.0 is still a rapidly evolving and heavily competing jungle of applications. Since the changes are so constant, there is no winning recipe. Second, these changes are so profound that we are hardly able to grasp their full impact. We do not just need to re-think, but also to re-invent our concepts of "copyright, authorship, identity, ethics, aesthetics, rhetoric, governance, privacy, commerce, love, family, ourselves" and possibly the rest of it too - including arts and culture.

Social software also owes much of its attraction to a lot of hype and hype bubbles are known to burst eventually. While this fact should not scare anybody away, it seems reasonable to take a closer look before diving headfirst into the water.

Click here to read the full article.

An example of the use of Web 2.0 tools for museums and cultural institutes

Annet Dekker, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

To merely describe social software as superficial or as a marketing tool is not doing it justice. Even though these properties underlie the structure of social software, its value lies mainly in the dissemination of information. As Henry Jenkins notes, social software has paved the way towards "an era where the highest value is in spreadability (a term which emphasizes the active agency of consumers in creating value and heightening awareness through their circulation of media content)".

For a cultural organisation to achieve a meaningful public production relationship with their audience, it is important to create a context that is acknowledged by some sort of agency and to set up some sort of structure with a specific set of rules that provides enough space for individual creation and ideas. Instead of settling for ‘weak ties’, an organisation should provide the context and framework to build on strong ties. Social software has the potential to facilitate this process.

Click here to read the full article.


Recommendations from our editors

The virtual library
An interactive Web 2.0 platform on literature in ten languages, aims to close the gap between the book and the web.
Recommended by Tobias Troll, Editor of the Culture News section of

European Year of Intercultural Dialogue (EYID)
The current EYID is setting the scene for a number of initiatives instigating debate and proposing actions for an effective intercultural Europe.
- Rainbow Platform - Civil Society Platform for Intercultural Dialogue
- Arts Festival Declaration on Intercultural Dialogue
Recommended by Cristina Farinha, Editor of the Directory and Resources for Research sections of

Case study: Signs of the City
Using digital photography and new media, Signs of the City explores the sign systems of the European city by drawing up a visual inventory of four metropolises.
Recommended by Dea Vidovic, Editor of the Case Studies section of

Next Region in focus: France
Coming spring 2008

Research in focus: Tools for Culture

How do different cultural organisations collaborate online? Which tools do we use? LabforCulture commissioned the Digital Methods Initiative to prepare a research mapping of the existing and ongoing research related to the use of tools for collaboration in culture as a first step in identifying what areas could benefit from more in-depth research and analysis.

The Digital Methods Initiative also mapped out the actual use of tools in the sector, starting with’s online directory containing organisations working in the cultural sector in Europe.

Read the results of the mapping and literature search here.

Blog reports from across Europe

Follow our blogging columnists as they explore issues that connect and challenge the cultural sector across Europe. LabforCulture currently features two regularly updated blogs, "Passing in Proximity" by Nat Muller, an independent curator and critic based in Rotterdam, and "Blue Monday" by Jelena Vesic, a curator and art critic based in Belgrade.

Open Lines to Intercultural Dialogue

Open Lines to Intercultural Dialogue is an online participatory project initiated by LabforCulture as part of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. The project undertakes to visualise language.
Open Lines to Intercultural Dialogue will invite participants across Europe to share their personal interpretations of intercultural dialogue. The project will go online in April 2008 and participation will be ongoing throughout the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.

Your events and news

Don't miss the opportunity to announce your events and news in our special forum on Let the community know about your cross-border cultural/artistic events, projects or opportunities. The forum is open to everyone!

Announcing the Victims' Symptom participating artists and theorists

Victims' Symptom - Open call for contributions

We invite you to join in the preparation for the Victims’ Symptom online debate to take place on in April 2008. Send in your responses (artworks, comments, texts and debates) to the main questions of the project. Read more detailed information about this call here. Deadline 21 March 2008.

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The European Cultural Foundation would like to thank the following organisations for their support:

The European Union - Directorate General Education and Culture; Kulturstiftung Des Bundes; Robert Bosch Foundation; Compagnia di San Paolo; Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences; Stiftelsen Riksbankens Jubileumsfond; Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage; Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs; Fritt Ord Foundation; Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; Luxembourg Ministry of Culture; Spanish Cultural Ministry; and the Cypriot Ministry of Education and Culture.

The European Cultural Foundation is funded by:
De Bank Giro Loterij, De Lotto and Prince Bernhard Cultural Foundation.

Note: sole responsibility for the contents of this online text lie with the individual authors and the European Cultural Foundation. Views expressed by individual authors do not necessarily reflect the views of the ECF.

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