Linking the Chain: A Network for Digital Heritage in Wales

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glamorgan
Department Name: Creative and Cultural Industries

Abstract

After ten years of devolution Wales has developed as a confident, post-industrial nation with particular economic strengths in the creative industries and heritage. It has pioneered a number of innovative heritage-related projects that have incorporated the latest digital technology, such as BBC Wales's Digital Storytelling Project 'Capture Wales', the National Library for Wales's 'Gathering the Jewels' and CyMAL's (Cymru Museums and Libraries) 'People's Collection' to name but a few. It is also highly involved in delivering on the Digital Inclusion agenda and recognises that it faces specific challenges in this respect due to its georgraphic and demographic profile.
This project will create a pan-Wales network of key academic and non-academic partners around the theme of digital heritage in Wales. The network will meet at a series of themed workshops, each of which will interrogate a key issue relating to digital heritage in Wales and seek to establish a more detailed agenda and a series of projects for further research in this emerging field that will have measurable impact upon policy-makers, as well as the economic, cultural and social life of Wales. Each workshop will be hosted by a different heritage organisation. The network will also establish sustainability and expansion of the network amongst academic and non-academic stakeholders and will create case study material which could be used for comparative research in other devolved nations, small nations and succession states.
Linking the Chain: The Network for Digital Heritage in Wales will be led by the University of Glamorgan, where there is specific experience and expertise in Digital Heritage, but will also include cross-dicsiplinary teams from Bangor University, Swansea University,Glyndwr University and the University of Wales Newport. Non-academic partners include National Museum Wales, the National Library of Wales, the National Slate Museum, the National Waterfront Museum, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments

Planned Impact

There are four main groups of beneficiaries from this project:
1. Academics who are engaged in research relating specifically to digital heritage, digital inclsuion and the digital economy, but also academics involved in research in related fields, such as history, business studies, creative arts, computer science, as research into how heritage is being reconceived in a rapidly-changing digital world has the potential to impact upon and influence future research agendas in these fields.
2. Those working in the heritage industry who will be able to use the research to inform the development of their future practice and delivery of services. Principally this would include the museums sector, many of whom are either already developing or hoping to develop digital services. It would also include other organisations, particularly media organisations, that are involved in heritage work and the research would allow them to develop coherent planning for the future. This would ultimately lead to a greater heritage awareness, increased footfall in the museums and on websites, leading to the usual economic benefits.
3. Local and National Government and other public policy-making bodies. As the digital economy is recognised as a key priority by the research councils and government, including the Welsh Assembly Government, so is heritage also a key player in the Welsh economy, both in terms of visitor numbers and also in the way that Wales promotes itself on the global stage and makes itself visible to the wider world. The research would help inform policy-makers in their ability to develop policies that can bring economic benefit to Wales. The Welsh Assembly Government has written to the University to express their support for the proposed network and to confirm that it fits with current strategic objectives and would make a useful contribution to the development of future policy.
4. Individual users of heritage services. Digital capability is democratising heritage by making it easier for members of the public to access information and to participate in the process of curating their own heritage. This has particular potential for the elderly whose participation in heritage can their increase quality of life.This research would ultimately render better services to these individual users as the heritage industry and policy-makers build on the research to developimproved and relevant policies. This can be measured through increased footfall and engagement with heritage services.
The proposed network has a wide range of high profile participants and it is anticipated that it will act as a catalyst for a number of further research projects which will themselves have significant economic, social, cultural and policy impact. Because of the close involvement in the proposed network of a number of universities and academic disciplines, key members of the heritage industry and the Welsh Assembly Government, it is anticipated that impact will occur within a relatively short period of time, as the results from the network will reach its beneficiaries almost immediately. It is expected that further collaborative research proposals will already be in preparation by the time the series of planned workshops has taken place, leading to an increase in Knowledge Transfer activity between universities and non-academic stakeholders over the coming months and years, which a sustainable network will be able to continue to support. It is also anticipated that the results of this research can be used to inform heritage practice in other devloved, small nations and will, therefore, have a positive impact on the international reputation of Wales as a leader in the development of the digital economy and heritage services in particular.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description A key understanding that emerged from the discussions is that there needs to be a
critical perspective associated with the use of technology within museum/curatorial
contexts. While there has been significant development of user-generated content,
technology/augmented reality within museums, and the presentation of the museum
and artefacts on the internet, there is little understanding of the impact of this on the
museum, its curators and on the experience of the user. This raises fundamental
issues that may have a wider impact for museums and curators in the future, which
as yet have not been critically analysed.
One key outcome is also the question of how language, which is important in a
Welsh context - is used and altered in a digital heritage context. Questions of the
importance of language in digital storytelling in particular, and the use of subtitling,
are important for the future of curation of digital artefacts and moderation of user
generated content. Some of these questions relate directly to the themes raised in
the AHRC's translating cultures theme, and will represent an important future issue
in how these are dealt with in museum and curatorial contexts.
Exploitation Route There are many different ways that people may be encouraged to become involved
in the process of user-generated content such as digital stories. Finding people who
are willing to speak and who have knowledge of the community may be difficult, and
poses a challenge for these kinds of content generation. In particular, this may be
framed by issues of trust- how this can be gained by people who are creating an
intervention, leading to full participation of users.
Further questions regarding the temporal nature of models- how long people engage
with content generation such as digital storytelling. Discovering good practice,
including identifying benefits and disbenefits from long-term engagement with usergenerated
content models, could be a useful research area.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description There are four main groups of beneficiaries from this project: 1. Academics who are engaged in research relating specifically to digital heritage, digital inclsuion and the digital economy, but also academics involved in research in related fields, such as history, business studies, creative arts, computer science, as research into how heritage is being reconceived in a rapidly-changing digital world has the potential to impact upon and influence future research agendas in these fields. 2. Those working in the heritage industry who will be able to use the research to inform the development of their future practice and delivery of services. Principally this would include the museums sector, many of whom are either already developing or hoping to develop digital services. It would also include other organisations, particularly media organisations, that are involved in heritage work and the research would allow them to develop coherent planning for the future. This would ultimately lead to a greater heritage awareness, increased footfall in the museums and on websites, leading to the usual economic benefits. 3. Local and National Government and other public policy-making bodies. As the digital economy is recognised as a key priority by the research councils and government, including the Welsh Assembly Government, so is heritage also a key player in the Welsh economy, both in terms of visitor numbers and also in the way that Wales promotes itself on the global stage and makes itself visible to the wider world. The research would help inform policy-makers in their ability to develop policies that can bring economic benefit to Wales. The Welsh Assembly Government has written to the University to express their support for the proposed network and to confirm that it fits with current strategic objectives and would make a useful contribution to the development of future policy. 4. Individual users of heritage services. Digital capability is democratising heritage by making it easier for members of the public to access information and to participate in the process of curating their own heritage. This has particular potential for the elderly whose participation in heritage can their increase quality of life.This research would ultimately render better services to these individual users as the heritage industry and policy-makers build on the research to developimproved and relevant policies. This can be measured through increased footfall and engagement with heritage services. The proposed network has a wide range of high profile participants and it is anticipated that it will act as a catalyst for a number of further research projects which will themselves have significant economic, social, cultural and policy impact. Because of the close involvement in the proposed network of a number of universities and academic disciplines, key members of the heritage industry and the Welsh Assembly Government, it is anticipated that impact will occur within a relatively short period of time, as the results from the network will reach its beneficiaries almost immediately. It is expected that further collaborative research proposals will already be in preparation by the time the series of planned workshops has taken place, leading to an increase in Knowledge Transfer activity between universities and non-academic stakeholders over the coming months and years, which a sustainable network will be able to continue to support. It is also anticipated that the results of this research can be used to inform heritage practice in other devloved, small nations and will, therefore, have a positive impact on the international reputation of Wales as a leader in the development of the digital economy and heritage services in particular.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Policy & public services

 
Description Research Networking
Amount £75,000 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/H033807/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2010 
End 03/2011