Technology & Content

Use an appropriate technical platform
Communicating cultural heritage values is not about technology, but different technologies can allow for or limit certain options. The right platform depends on the specific purpose and can be a simple weblog just as well as a content-heavy web portal, a virtual environment, a mobile augmented reality or other application.

Chose mature technology
Heritage institutions need ICT solutions that are cost-effective, sustainable and capable of addressing different needs of users. Therefore, technologies which are in prototype stage (i.e. the latest development of a science & technology centre) will hardly fit for the purposes. The technology should be mature enough but not likely to be outdated quickly. For mature technology also service providers will be available.

Give priority to content and knowledge
Technical applications offer new ways of communicating cultural heritage, but they are instrumental, the core role is with the cultural content and knowledge. Therefore it is very important to avail of experts for the selection, preparation and communication of the content.

Avoid an institutional, authoritative presentation
Products of cultural heritage institutions often present an institutional, authoritative view of heritage that does not invite and engage users. While curatorial expertise in heritage objects and contexts is important, it must not necessarily stand in the way of other forms of communication.

Connect people with heritage
Make the content accessible and “readable” for people through linking it with the region, town or village. Ask if the content is meaningful for the local community or stereotypical. If the local context is missing, both residents and tourists will miss something.

Make publicly funded digital content available under an appropriate license
“© All rights reserved” is still prevalent in the cultural heritage sector. It can also be difficult to gain permission for using some content for a project. Sometimes the copyrights are not cleared or an institution is concerned about making available digital images, fearing that they might be captured and used in inappropriate ways. The digitisation of heritage content and related work is often publicly funded. Therefore it would be appropriate to release some content under an open content license (e.g. one of the Creative Commons variety of licenses).

Enable a “do-it-yourself” approach
Openly available digital heritage content enables a wider use of the material. For example, students could use historical images of local archives for social history projects. Making available worksheets for teachers and students might also help bringing available digital content in wider use.

Consider crowd-sourcing to create a collection
Projects lacking content could consider using crowd-sourcing to establish a collection, i.e. invite people to capture and contribute images. Content collected in this way still needs to be curated. For instance, content might be submitted that violates existing copyrights or the privacy of other people. What kinds of contributions are welcome should be made clear and some editorial control will be necessary in most cases.

Use social media effectively
Social media platforms, tools and channels can be useful communicative elements in most projects. They provide a cost-effective way to “spread the word”. If the project wants to allow anybody to contribute, an external content sharing platform (e.g. Flickr, YouTube) can allow for setting apart the core project website from content on the external site.