Past distribution, not distributing the past

To try and boil this down into a succinct and coherent note, without screaming into the void, is a challenge, but here goes... 

Many in digital art, and the more technologically engaged (aka under 40 yrs of age) parts of the arts sector, are tired of digital being equated with distribution and audience engagement. It's reductive and defensive, in that it presumes there are no problems, and no required change with what we *actually do* - digital just means we can get it to more people, cheaper, faster. A good comparison would be the BBC's narrative around *second screen* R&D of some yrs ago. i.e. don't touch the broadcast infrastructure and market we've built around ourselves, but feel free to mess about with iPads. It's not change, it's not disruption, it's not even thought through. 

I'm not challenging the idea that digital technologies, or more specifically the world wide web, provides incredible distribution opportunities. It does. But it's a fragment of the potential impact for art, culture, creativity and, even, the economy. 

4 pleas to try and impact access and participation with arts and culture through technology:

1. Someone provide Amber Rudd with a basic briefing on net neutrality and its importance. 

2. Address the digital divide, and the infrastructural problems that are widening both digital and social exclusion. If people can't get online or don't have the skills to do so (8 million adults in the UK), it doesn't matter how many platforms we invest in. 

3. Integration, the open web and granular, light weight systems. Not 'destination' websites. We don't have the power, investment (neo-liberal blindness) required to build an Amazon or a Facebook or a Youtube, so why do we try and set up 'destinations'? (cough, the Space, cough) - invest in creators and physical meetups, stimulate the ecology through the people, rather than trying to build obselete, inadequate platforms that get universally ignored.  

4. Skills, skills, skills - oh and youth. Invest in young people, and invest in the things they come up with. We (the 'professionals' who are able to and motivated to engage with stuff like this) are almost irrelevant... 

Why the contribution is important

We have a massive opportunity if investment and development is strategic and considered - industrially, economically and culturally. If we play it well over the next 10 years, we'll be well positioned, if we don't, who knows...

by tomhigham on August 10, 2017 at 11:23AM

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