Written by Magdalena Pasikowska-Schnass,
The digital shift has touched all aspects of human activity, and culture is no exception. Cultural assets and works have been digitised and digital technology has become a tool for novel creations. Digital-born works have enriched the resources available to those interested in culture. Technology has huge potential to facilitate and democratise access to cultural resources.
However, certain technical conditions are required to allow access to these cultural resources, for example webpages devoted to digitised cultural heritage and its hidden treasures as well as those devoted to novel creations. These conditions include an internet infrastructure, computers, tablets, or, more frequently, a smartphone − all of which has a price tag. Moreover, the deployment of such infrastructure needs to be evenly distributed so as to provide equal and democratic access to cultural resources − which is not yet the case.
Access to costly technology is not sufficient. The technology used must go hand in hand with digital skills that are not evenly acquired by all ages and social groups. Persons with disabilities are in a particularly difficult situation, since ICT equipment often does not suit their specific needs. Moreover, cultural resources are often not available in suitable formats for them.
European Union policies and strategies in many areas take all these challenges and access barriers into consideration. EU funds finance connectivity infrastructure in areas in need, training, and educational initiatives across policy areas going from culture and education to innovation and technology. The relationship between technology, science, the arts, and culture is becoming increasingly close in the digital era.
Read the complete briefing on ‘Digital culture − Access issues‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.
Listen to policy podcast ‘Digital culture − Access issue’ on YouTube.