See to that people are on board before rushing ahead with new technology in heritage organisations

Having studied and worked with technology in a heritage context for a while now, it’s easy to forget sometimes that everyone are not as in to tech as I am. Just another day my business partner Jenny mentioned to me about a friend and colleague that had called her up and asked her what XML was. I must have gotten a suprised look on my face because she continued ”Elin, not everyone knows what XML is, it’s like Etruscans”. ”The Etruscans” have become a codeword for us when we get caught in the situation explaining something to people, that we thought everybody knew about. It seems like just as in the case of XML, all people do not necessarily know who the Etruscans were.

Even though my initial reaction was a surprise of course I realize that people have different levels of digital literacy. Understanding new technology and media may come easy to some, but may pose a struggle to others. I also grew up in a generation where adjusting to new technology have come to be rather natural, but I can see how my parents struggle with it, and many working in museums and heritage organizations does too. I noticed that many museums and heritage organizations have a wish to use new technologies in various ways, partly to try out new ways of doing things, making items and collections more accessible, but also for marketing reasons. Many of the same organizations doesn’t really know what can be done with new technologies and how. That doesn’t mean the new technologies cannot and should not be implemented, but I do find that it helps a lot if the majority of the staff is on board on the project.

know of projects where one person wants to create something ”new and fun” and suggest some sort of technology and new media involved idea. The person in question rarely grasps what it involves and other people involved in the project even less so. Even though I’m all for combining heritage and technology, it should be done in a manner in which it is explained to all involved so that hopefully they can see the purpose of it. Usually the regular staff are the people who will have to deal with issues and questions concerning the project and it’s important that they are on board.