A History of Digitization:
Dutch Museums
Trilce Navarrete
Boekmanbibliotheek | 10 november 2014
Research in view
With thanks to:
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Boekmanbibliotheek for invitation
DEN, DDF, NUMERIC, ENUMERATE, OCW
RICHES
For a (partial) list see p. 253 in book
Max Kisman for book cover
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Research in view
• Context
• The research method
• Main results: museums becoming digital
– Users and technology
– Networks
– Information valuation
• Discussion
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Context
• My interdisciplinary background
– Museums + Economics (+ Library Science)
• 2008 broad idea
– About the economic aspects of digital heritage
– Post 2004 Dutch EU Presidency momentum
– No production / costs data available
– NUMERIC project promise
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Context
• Initial model:
*
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Context
• Final model:
*
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
The Research Method
• Research question:
– What processes have Dutch museums followed to adopt
information technologies and how are these reflected in
current (digital) museum practice?
• Literature review
– International museum experience / theory
• Data collection
– Literature review: policy / internal documents
– Interviews (63)
– Case studies (5) Maritime, Ethnographic, Natural History,
Archaeology, Art and History + National, Regional, University
• Analysis
• Conclusions
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
The Research Method
• Shortcomings and learning moments:
– Black hole in 2000s due to limited data / documentation
available.
– Lack of structural institutional data collection led to partial
data availability, often dependent on individuals (personal
databases / archives).
– Partial view formed by issues relevant to case studies,
selected based on availability (why not Pianola Museum?).
– Flexible timeframe to accommodate respondents.
– Limited literature on economic aspects of digital heritage.
– Goals:
• To document the digitization process
• To give a voice to all participants
• Raise awareness and inspire further research
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
The Research Method
• Writings (self-made research framework)
“Museums.” In Handke, Christian and Ruth Towse (eds.) (2013)
Handbook of the Digital Creative Economy. Cheltenham: Edward
Elgar, pp. 330-343.
“Digital Cultural Heritage.” In Rizzo, Ilde and Anna Mignosa (eds.)
(2013) Handbook Economics of Cultural Heritage. Cheltenham:
Edward Elgar, pp. 251-271.
“Becoming Digital: A Dutch Heritage Perspective.” (2014) Journal of
Arts, Management, Law and Society. 44:3, 153-168.
“Museum Libraries: Collections of Collections” with John Mackenzie
Owen in Palabra Clave (La Plata). No.1 Vol.1, October 2011, pp 1220. Universidad Nacional de La Plata (Argentina).
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Main results
Museums are becoming digital: use of digital tools to
enhance core activities, enable newness, and increase
greater reach in a networked market of information.
Generally, there is a three-step process:
• Computers are first used for internal management.
• Then to communicate with the public (museum
information, then collections online).
• When fully adopted, the digital tool permeates all core
activities and museum merges into the networked
market of information.
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Main results
Main changes documented in museums:
• Collection information processes:
marginal and supporting role  at the core.
isolated  networked across institutions.
controlled  serve to communicate.
monopolized  participation is democratic.
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Main results
Adoption of digital technology has required an
adaptation process (50 years) that continues to
this day.
Areas of analysis:
• Users and technology
• Networks
• Information valuation
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Main results
Users and technology:
• SCOTS theory (Social Construction of
Technology Systems) explains the relation
between technology and society.
• Adoption of technology is dependent on
people’s interpretation of its use.
• There can be multiple interpretations
(controversy) until eventually a single use is
adopted and closure is found.
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Main results
Users and technology: General interpretation of
computers changing over time.
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Main results
Users and technology:
• It is no surprise that every museum adopted
technology differently:
– Allard Pierson Museum: focus on AR, interactivity
– Amsterdam Museum: all collection online, links
– Maritime Museum Rotterdam: coordinate network
– Naturalis: inventory (1970) to mass digitization
– Rijksmuseum Amsterdam: high quality images
– Tropenmuseum: contextual information
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Main results
Networks:
• The value of the network depends on the number
of people already connected.
• Network externalities are often positive, effect
without payment.
• Positive feedback makes selected network
stronger (winner takes all).
• Networks are social (MARDOC, SVCN) and physical
(Internet). 99% museums have websites (-1/3
collections are published online).
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Main results
Network benefits:
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Main results
Networks:
• Choosing the right technology is important: to avoid the
dialectics of progress (de wet van de remmende
voorsprong).
• Switching costs are ubiquitous in information
technologies for hardware, software, netware.
• Too large costs can lead to lock-in: acquisition of
equipment, training, and information (data) and
databases (data storage).
• Most museums have multiple databases, paper
information systems have been partially transferred to a
digital system due to limited resources.
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Main results
Information valuation:
• Usability depends on the content and the
information service (package) that delivers it.
• Information has characteristics of experience
goods. Value is linked to use.
• Some information has the ability to serve as
catalyst for future development and innovation
(so value is hard to measure).
• Ideally, content and package should be balanced.
This is not the case.
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Main results
Information valuation:
• Ultimately, the user defines communication.
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
Main results
Information valuation:
• Selection is key:
– Production: quantity / quality.
– Distribution: channels, restrictions, services.
– Selection: information need, accessibility.
– Use: market supply, information literacy, available
technology, trust.
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
In summary
• Research question:
– What processes have Dutch museums followed to
adopt information technologies and how are these
reflected in current (digital) museum practice?
• The current museum:
– Has followed a specific path in the interpretation
and thus adoption of technology;
– Has become part of the (social / physical) network;
– Aims to position collections online balancing
content and package to increase use (=value);
– Is in the process of becoming digital.
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
In fact, it is all about access.
Thank you to all the individuals
that advanced the process to become digital !
Discussion
• What are museums waiting for to become digital?
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What prevents museums from developing a financial strategy?
Are there benefits to increase transparency?
Why are only 25% of collections available online?
Should there be better statistics to (open linked) digital data?
Are financial incentives the only reason to change?
• How can national policies support institutional processes?
– Are governments responsible for the digitization of collections?
– Is it only a matter of resources?
– How can policies ensure balance in financing of content and
packages?
– What future research would benefit the field / policy makers?
A History of Digitization | T.Navarrete | Boekmanbibliotheek
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A History of Digitization: Dutch Museums