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THE DIGITAL AGE Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

Therese Mc Guinness VIC 303 Research and Writing

University of Ulster BA Hons Graphic Design and Illustraton


THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

CONTENTS

CONTENTS INTRODUCTION CHAPTER 1: Radical Change CHAPTER 2: Identiyfing the problem CHAPTER 3: Collaborations CONCLUSION BIBLIOGRAPHY ANNOTATED JOURNALS

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“Love it or loathe it, digital is here to stay”

BROWN AND WARREL, 2012, p.20


THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

INTR ODUCTION

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THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

INTR ODUCTION

INTRODUCTION This essay endeavours to explore the enormous effect that digital visual media and the ubiquity of the internet have had on the supply and delivery of images through examining two prevalent articles on this subject matter. The article, Art in the digital age: a comparative study of the adoption of electronic visual resources in the UK, Ireland and North America, by Victoria Brown and Catherine Worrall, 2012, looks at the problems inherent in rapidly evolving technology and the demands of the ‘millennials’ and ‘digital natives’. It also examines the barriers preventing a more fluid adoption of legal, good quality resources and the role that image specialists bring to the mix.

In the same vain, the article, The Future of Museums in the Digital Age: New Models for Access to and Use of Digital Collections, by Enrico Bertacchini and Federico Morando, 2013, provides an analytical framework for identifying the challenges of online imagery collections, museums role as authoritative providers of content and the adoption of new metrics to assess the overall social impact.

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RADICAL CHANGE


THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

CH APTER 1 - R ADICAL CH ANGE

The visual resources profession has experienced radical change during the transition from analogue to digital and electronic resources. Brown and Worrall’s study has revealed that many visual resources professionals in the UK are currently struggling to keep their collections intact and maintain their positions, as “universal access to the internet is making both redundant”. The same can be said for museum professionals. As stewards of cultural materials they have always managed access to and use of their collections “but the digital revolution is radically changing cultural consumption and production patterns, obliging museums to rethink how they relate to their audiences as users of cultural content.” (Bertacchini and Morando, 2013, p.60) Brown and Worrall’s survey responses from UK visual resources curators and image librarians suggest that there is, or at least until now has been, “little co-ordinated effort in terms of digital image collection development, beyond the acquisition and promotion of image database subscriptions”; this, they believe is a situation which sits in stark contrast to the days of analogue resources. Bertacchini and Morando agree and further explain that the need to digitize image collections, combined with the increasing capacity of storage and Internet access to digital information, is causing a rapid change from the traditional models of using, managing, and accessing knowledge and information related to cultural heritage and artworks. 09


THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

Despite significant technological advances, the means of managing access to and use of cultural materials by museums and libraries have remained fundamentally the same throughout history. (Bertacchini and Morando, 2013, p.61). Cultural objects were typically made available to the public directly through in-house exhibitions and to scholars through physical access. Control over the distribution and use of images was facilitated by physical and technical constraints. (Bertacchini and Morando, 2013, p.61). When the distribution of art reproductions was realized through film-based slides, transparencies and printed images, obtaining an image generally meant that the physical object, film or paper-based image had to be moved from one place to another. Moreover, although images, once acquired, could be duplicated, the quality of

CH APTER 1 - R ADICAL CH ANGE

reproductions has always been inferior to that of the originals (Hamma, 2005, p.61). Today duplications of digital artwork results in very little quality loss and transportation and sharing of them across the internet is costless and instantaneous.

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THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

CH APTER 1 - R ADICAL CH ANGE

Brown and Worrall believe that the ‘death of the slide’ specifically signalled the end of the library’s role as image provider, as patrons resort to internet search engines such as Google to fill the void created by the library’s inability to move at the same pace as rapidly evolving visual technologies. Bertacchini and Morando also touch on this issue in their article, highlighting the “new “technology-leading” information providers –other than established museums – that are gaining in importance in the distribution of digital content such as Google and Flickr. A report by Green (2006) commissioned by the NITLE (National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education) and Wesleyan University revealed that over 90% of academic at the university there were using images drawn from their own collections, collections largely assembled ‘out of frustration at the pace of construction of institutional collections’. This lag from institutions to digitize content shows a clear problem in their current systems and users will not wait around long while the institutions contemporize and clear copyrighting discrepancies. Staff and students alike will turn instead to online platforms or better yet to systems that already have copyright laws set in place.

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CH APTER 1 - R ADICAL CH ANGE

New technology-leading information providers are gaining in importance in the distribution of digital content

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2

IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM


THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

CH APTER 2 - IDENTIFYING THE PR OB LEM

7.4 % DECREASE IN UNIVERSITY APPLICATIONS

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THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

The slow pace of institutions digitisation of collections is becoming an increasing problem and as Brown and Worrall point out will become an specific issue for educational institutions. They state that “in comparison with the USA, tuition fees in the UK have until now been extremely modest and the bulk of funding was state provided. However, with tuition fees set to rise with the forthcoming new intake of students, on the back of a catastrophic drop in government funding to Higher Education, there seems to be a shift to a system relying more heavily on student fees - hence a move towards a more American model.” In reaction to this, UCAS, the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, not surprisingly recorded a 7.4% drop in university applications this year. Brown and Worrall suggest that with the increase

CH APTER 2 - IDENTIFYING THE PR OB LEM

in fees, UK universities are anticipating a rise in expectations and demand for better facilities from their students. Institutions will have to show value for money in order to entice students through their doors, at a time when universities have to tighten their belts and review their budgets, expenditure and services. Libraries sit right at the centre of this and now more than ever funding must be given to prioritize the digitisation of their cultural collections in order to provide apt visual resource centres/databases that can compete with the current online visual resource providers such as Google and Flickr. If students can use and find such platforms with greater ease and efficiency then the university is not living up to its standards.

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THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

CH APTER 2 - IDENTIFYING THE PR OB LEM

Brown and Worrall’s survey revealed that in many universities this is indeed already the case as the majority of students indicated they would only use Google to find a picture. A mere “nineteen out of sixty-three respondents said they would use the visual resource centre, databases, library or professional museum archive collection when researching imagery.” More worryingly respondents signalled no awareness of copyright restrictions when accessing the imagery, nor did they assess the quality or authority of the images they were discovering. Gramstadt (2010) also raises the issues associated with searching for images on the open web, all of which point to the importance of having a controlled central collection of images:

“Despite advances in technology we are still dealing with issues such as scale, colour reproduction, image quality and provenance in the visual representation of the arts.”

Bertacchini and Morando expand on this issue pointing out that as more and more information is produced in the digital environment, users have access to an ever greater plethora and variation of content and quality. Thus, to experience such content, “the new real scarce resource and valuable commodity is the contextualization, quality and authentication of content, which comes about through authoritative image collections from established museums and libraries” (Pantalony, 2007, p.62). However the Bergstrom paper given at the ARLIS/NA annual conference 2008, concluded that many Visual resource centres were not then utilising their websites effectively to market their services to a sufficiently broad constituency. This in turn is why staff and students resort to online image providers as their online platforms are marketed widely and effectively, with image search results that are instant and effective.

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THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

This issue of marketing is a key point in the discussion of this topic. As Brown and Worrall point out “Web 2.0 technology is being implemented less for promotion of services than might be expected.” Their research showed that educational institutions have even stopped printing leaflets because they ‘no longer have an active visual resources service (apart from off-air recordings)’. Only 25% publicise using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or via a blog. Similarly, only 25% of our US respondents reported utilising social networking sites and blogs for promotion. Brown and Worrall’s therefore conclude that librarians and museum professionals should concentrate on raising the profile of their local collections in the rankings of search engines. This consolidation

CH APTER 2 - IDENTIFYING THE PR OB LEM

and review is perhaps in recognition of the importance of developing efficiencies at a time of financial austerity and is heavily dependent on collaboration with other online image providers, levels of which seem to vary widely from one institution to another, according to their survey respondents.

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3 COLLABORATIONS


THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

CH APTER 3 - COLLABOR ATIONS

It appears that collaborating with online image providers is both inevitable and key to the success of digitizing and promoting library and museum collections and hence crucial to their survival. Brown and Worrall’s survey revealed that to the best of respondents’ knowledge, there is no such facility in the USA that provides subscription-based content with ‘freely’ available educational, nationally-hosted and distributed material, similar to our Visual Arts Data Service in the UK. “The closest resource they could equate such a service to was Flickr, Google Images or WorldImages”. This research shows just how prevalent these content providers are becoming as well as the importance of Creative Commons (CC) licensing that they use. Bertacchini and Morando expand upon the standard copyright licensing model Creative Commons in their article, explaining that it has been “adopted by some cultural institutions to permit the use, reuse and redistribution of content from their digital collections in an openaccess framework,” the only requirement being attribution and (possibly) share-alike of any derivative work (Hatcher, 2007). Brown and Worrall likewise researched to what extent CC licenses were used and promoted by institutions. Their results showed that in the UK and Ireland, 91.67% are familiar with CC licences and 50% provide links on their web-pages to Flickr or other sites using CC licences. One institution has taken this a step further by creating a tool called Xpert Attribution, which searches across CC-licensed images in Flickr and 21


THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

retrieves those that are free to use/download for educational use. In the US 76.92% of respondents promote and use image websites with CC licences and add these to their own collections. (Brown and Worrall, 2013, p.24) Enrcio and Morando believe that partnerships and collaborative like this with agreements with technology-leading information providers such as Google and photographic stock agencies may provide opportunities to increase the value of digital collections and reinforce the role of museums and libraries as providers of authoritative content through innovative Web distribution channels. They note “these new players in the information economy have the financial resources and technology necessary to provide enhanced

CH APTER 3 - COLLAB OR ATIONS

services to museums and libraries for the digitization and online dissemination of their collections.� Further, if a museum is not in a strong position, it may want to partner so as to strengthen its authoritative position or the potential of its offering. Such partnerships have favoured greater access to collections or more efficient delivery of digital images. Moreover, collaborating with these players may itself constitute a valuable experience in terms of know-how in the digital environment (Roberts and Stevenson, 2011).

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THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

The risk is that the new technology- leading information providers will obtain monopoly rents on access to digital reproductions

CH APTER 3 - COLLABOR ATIONS

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THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

CH APTER 3 - COLLAB OR ATIONS

However, similar to the intellectual property concerns raised by publishers regarding access to and use of electronic books (Coyle, 2006; Samuelson, 2010), these partnerships can have serious long-term drawbacks for museums in their role as stewards of cultural collections in cyberspace. Bertacchini and Morando point out that “depending on how licensing agreements are framed, the risk is that the new technology- leading information providers will obtain monopoly rents on access to digital reproductions.” Brown and Worrall agree stating that producers and distributors of image resources are more likely to occupy monopolistic positions in the information market. They elaborate explaining that “once a firm has established market dominance with a particular product, it is not easily unseated”, Google being a prime example in this case. Bertacchini and Morando support this view suggesting that “endemic network effects in digital information markets tend to drive demand for online access to content towards a limited number of distribution and content aggregation platforms. As a result, digital content providers would gain a position of dominance over original content producers, such as museums.” However Bertacchini and Morando also highlight that while museums must provide access to high-resolution images of their collections, these players are better equipped than established cultural institutions to exploit this content to its full potential by developing innovative online applications.

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THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

CONCLUSION

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THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

CONCLUSION

CONCLUSION Ultimately the traditional collection and licensing models of libraries and museums based on exclusive control of digital art images is still not likely to match new patterns of use and distribution channels on the Web. The dissemination channels on Web 2.0, such as social networks and the blogosphere, require increasingly faster and broader access to digital content, especially a more rapid and efficient system for managing their reuse, without the need for users to seek permission for the rights every time. (Bertacchini and Morando, 2013, p64). As noted by Benkler (2006), this is essential to support the commonsbased peer production systems of knowledge and cultural content in a networked environment. Bray, (2009) agrees with this view noting that “the digital revolution and the current reproduction of digital images entails new types of Web users and demands for faster dissemination of authoritative digital content�.

Museums, Libraries and educational institutions that participate in publicly funded digitization projects must adopt policies and strategies for making their digitized content available with limited economic, technical and legal barriers, to widen diffusion and reuse and to enhance users’ cultural and educational experience (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2006). As a result, the case for open access and flexible reuse of digital images of artworks in the public domain will generate social, cultural and educational benefits in making digitized information available to the public for both commercial and educational purposes. (Quiggin, 2009, p.64).

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THE DIGITAL AGE: Effects on visual resources and cultural collections

B IB LIOGR APH Y

BIBLIOGRAPHY Bakhshi, H., and D. Throsby. 2010. Culture of Innovation: An Economic Analysis of Innovation in Arts and Cultural Organisations. London: National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. Benkler, Y., 2002. “Intellectual Property and the Organization of Information Production.” International Review of Law and Economics, Vol. 22, p. 81–110. Benkler, Y. 2006. The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Bertacchini, E, & Morando, F 2013, ‘The Future of Museums in the Digital Age: New Models for Access to and Use of Digital Collections’, International Journal Of Arts Management, 15, 2, pp. 60-72, Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost, viewed 18 March 2014 Bray, P. 2009. “Open Licensing and the Future for Collections.” In Museums and the Web 2009: Proceedings, J. Trant and D. Bearman, eds. Toronto: Archives and Museum Informatics. Accessed 16 November 2011 at http://www.archimuse.com/mw2009/papers/bray/bray.html. Brown, V, & Worrall, C 2012, ‘Art in the digital age: a comparative study of the adoption of electronic visual resources in the UK, Ireland and North America’, Art Libraries Journal, 37, 3, pp. 20-27, Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost, viewed 18 March 2014. Coyle, K. 2006. “Mass Digitization of Books.” Journal of Academic Librarianship, Vol. 32, no 6, p. 641–645. David Green, ‘Using digital images in teaching and learning: perspectives from liberal arts institutions’, Academic commons (October 2006),http://www.academiccommons.org/ imagereport/. Dierickx, B., and D.K. Tsolis. 2010. “Barriers in On-line Access to Culture.” Uncommon Culture, Vol. 1, no 2, p. 39–61. Hamma, K.J. 2005. “Public Domain Art in an Age of Easier Mechanical Reproducibility.” D-Lib Magazine, Vol. 11, no 2. Available online: http://www.dlib.org/dlib/november05/ hamma/11hamma.html. Hatcher, J. 2007. Snapshot Study on the Use of Open Content Licences in the UK Cultural Heritage Sector. Bath: Eduserv Foundation.

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INTR ODUCTION

Marie-Therese Gramstadt, ‘Changing light: a plethora of digital tools as slides gasp their last?’, CHArt conference proceedings vol.13 (2010), http://www.chart.ac.Uk/chart2010// papers/ gramstad.html Marie-Therese Gramstadt, ‘Changing light,’ (2010) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2006. Digital Broadband Content: Public Sector Information. OECD Digital Economy Papers #112. Paris: Author. Pantalony, R.E. 2007. WIPO Guide on Managing Intellectual Property for Museums. Geneva: World Intellectual Property Organization. Quiggin, J. 2009. The Value of Public Sector Information for Cultural Institutions. Australian Public Policy Program Working Paper WPP094_ . Brisbane: Risk and Sustainable Management Group, University of Queensland. Roberts, S., and A. Stevenson. 2011. Open Libraries, Open Resources, Open to Change? Library Organisational Development and Design to Improve and Support the Creation and Open Publication of Research Resources. Paper presented at IATUL 2011: Libraries for an Open Environment: Strategies, Technologies and Partnerships, Warsaw. Samuelson, P. 2010. “Google Book Search and the Future of Books in Cyberspace.” Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 94, no 5, p. 1308–1374. Tracy Bergstrom, ‘A content analysis of visual resources collection web sites’, Art documentation 8, no.l (2009).

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ANNOTATED J OUR NALS

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ANNOTATED JOURNALS

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The Digital Age