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Web 2.0 projects. Practices for cultural institutions

Somehow it managed to take quite some time to write this post. However if, after so long, I’m still interested in writing about the activities organized by the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona Lab (CCCB Lab) and Citilab, concretely its project named Expolab, about cultural institutions and 2.0 practices, it’s a sign I’ve found many interesting ideas and reflections in them.

Using same title for talking about two activities isn’t very precise. In short, I can say that I’m referring to 2 activities: a talk about museums 2.0 and a workshop about practices 2.0 in cultural institutions. Although the 2.0  atribute was the leit motiv of the sessions, there was a big difference in the understanding of this concept.

The talk “Cultural institutions 2.0?” consisted of a round table discussion where representatives of several museums and cultural institutions explained and reflected about projects involving web 2.0 tools, lead by their institutions.  My personal impression is that, despite there are some interesting projects that really make an effort to give users a voice and promote participation, mostly web 2.0 tools are merely used as another channel of communication to attract more visitors, or simply strengthen the links with the existing visitors. The institution has the control and users are only allowed to participate in very specific ways.

The choice of technology in and of itself seems to explain and justify why these institutions identify themselves with the 2.0 label. Other usual 2.0 qualities such as transparency policies rewarding users for their contribution weren’t seen as relevant.

On the other hand, the workshop consisted in developing an understanding of the meanings underlying 2.0 practices, in other words 2.0 philosophy. The key aspect was the approach. Technology was a secondary element to take into account.

The purpose of the workshop was to share and put in practice new approaches towards creation, colaboration and continuity of the activities started in centers of creation and cultural divulgation. Communication with the public is important, but participation is an strategy that forces us to think carefully about interaction styles, shared creation, collaboration and broadcasting.

The workshop was conducted under a participatory design approach. Groups were made according to participants’ interests. After this, each group developed a project and built a 3D model (amazing how people enjoyed using plasticine – me included ;). Time was very limited, but was still time for quick  peer to peer revisions,  as well as a public presentation of each group’s projects. During the afternoon session, groups were asked to think about specific questions related to their project definition.

Obviously, the intention of the workshop was to generate questions and to open spaces for reflecting about 2.0 practices and participation, rather than offer answers. Maybe this is the reason why I’ve taken so much time for writing about it. Certainly I’ll need to read, think and learn more before I can stop thinking in participatory approaches (this means there will be more posts about this 😉

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