Internationalisation and Localization of Digital Cultural Heritage

The workshop on Internationalization and localization of digital cultural heritage was organized as a session of EVA Florence 2013, a conference on Electronic Imaging and the Visual Arts, in Florence Italy by the local partner PIN.

It is a well-established conference, often chosen by major national and international projects for presenting and disseminating their results. However, due to the high number of registered participants, and to the lack of suitable rooms at the conference venue in Florence, it was relocated to PIN’s headquarters in the nearby city of Prato. 

A large portion of the public was made up of students from diverse departments of the University of Florence, but mainly from the Marketing and Tourism, and the Cultural Heritage sectors. Representatives from cultural associations and from the provincial government body were also present: the thematic of the workshop was of great interest to them, as it highlighted the many opportunities for enhancing the promotion of the territory. The guest speakers brought in their vast experience in the field of digital cultural heritage, and dwelled on the main aspects to keep in mind when dealing with the topic, those deemed necessary for the success of future projects. Discussions were postponed until after the presentations and were moderated by Sorin Hermon, a senior researcher with years of experience in the field of Cultural Heritage, from the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia. Answers to questions such as: “What are the trends, opportunities and challenges of cultural heritage based digital products and services on the European and international markets? “, and “How to turn the cultural diversity and multi-linguality of Europe into strong assets for international markets?” were explored.

Before commencing the workshop itself, some time was dedicated to the presentation of the Tuscan showcase, a project within the CreativeCH project, involving PIN, local government bodies, of two areas of Tuscany which have the Etruscan civilization in common, and the Soprintendenza dei Beni Archeologici della Toscana.  Prof. Franco Niccolucci highlighted the latest developments of the showcase and was aided by Cinzia Luddi, who developed an iOS application for smartphones and tablets, currently available for download from the iTunes App Store. 

Mike Spearman of CMC Associates from Edinburgh UK opened the session with a presentation entitled Heritage & Creative Industries: Working together through new technologies. He has a background as curator of archaeology and is the founding director of CMC Associates, therefore has a profound knowledge of the opportunities available for creative industries to assist cultural heritage institutions (and vice-versa) in developing ways to generate revenue and growth through sustainable activities. 

He was followed by Daniel Pletinckx, co-founder of Visual Dimension, an SME specializing in digital heritage from Oudenaarde in Belgium. His presentation Cultural Heritage, Multimedia and Beyond insisted on sustainability and good storytelling, or narration, as key success factors for any service and product to be used in the field of cultural heritage. 

Maria Teresa Natale, coordinator of the APPasseggio project based in Rome, and representative of MIBAC-ICCU (Ministero per I Beni e le Attività Culturali – Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico), presented the application developed by her association to promote “slow” cultural tourism and itineraries through the use of innovative technologies. Her main concern was the production of interesting, well-curated digital materials, suited to the end-user, who may not be aware of the new technologies, may not have an academic cultural background, or may not be familiar with the culture of the foreign country (or simply of a different part of their own country) he/she is visiting. The retrieval of digital cultural resources and the respect of International Property Rights to keep the development of the application cost-effective, were other important aspects touched in Dr. Natale’s presentation Slow Tourism and Smartphones: the APPasseggio app.

Lastly, the conference organizers connected via Skype to Jez Collins from the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, Birmingham School of Media Faculty of Performance, Media & English, who won the CHIEF Award, a competition organized by the CreativeCH project to award the best project related to the current workshop topic. Jez Collins is the founder of the Birmingham Music Archive, an online community archive to preserve and share the musical heritage of the city of Birmingham.  Future developments of the project focus on the creation of an application, linked to the Birmingham Music Archive, where locations of past events, now either gone or derelict, will be virtually reconstructed, populated with memorabilia (concert ticket stubs, photographs and flyers), and enhanced with the oral histories of those who where there in the heyday (audiences, musicians, promoters). 

The moderated discussion gave rise to the following considerations: 

1. Both the cultural and creative sectors need to rely on good business models from the start of any project.

2. Access rights and IPR agreements must also be made clear early on to all the actors involved, in order to avoid issues of ownership of content.

3.  Local government bodies should be made aware of the possibilities that collaborating with creative and cultural industries will bring to the community they represent.

4. Sustainability of the products and services is a key issue, as new technologies proceed in leaps and bounds: what is considered avant-garde today, will be obsolete not too long from now.

5. Good quality narration is fundamental to ensure the successful outcome of any project. This concept, which seems pretty obvious, is unfortunately lacking in many institutions, where knowledge is not made available at a level that the general public can understand. 

6. It follows that citizens should be encouraged to participate: what the general public perceives as heritage differs from the institution’s point of view. Both sides will benefit from collaborating with each other.

7. Local people can add place-specific context, providing personal stories, memories explaining what is valued about particular objects, places and events.

8. Cultural Heritage institutions and Creative Industries, if they truly wish to produce long-lasting, entertaining, high-quality and remunerative services/products, must always keep the end-user in mind: what is the best way/what language should be used to present to the general public the information collected by experts? What is the public interested in; how can local communities benefit from it?

Workshop Video Recap

Experts focuses

Daniel Pletinckx - Cultural Heritage and Multimedia

Mike Spearman - Virtual Exhibition and Digital CH Funding

Maria Teresa Natale - Slow Tourism and Smartphones

Workshop Fotos

Full Workshop Report

Download the Report [PDF]


Videos of this and other workshops you can find here


Funded by:

CreativeCH is a FP7 project funded by the European Commission. The views and opinions expressed in this publication are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.