inDICEs is conceived as a project that aims to empower policy-makers and decision-makers in the Cultural and Creative Industries to fully understand the social and economic impact of digitisation in their sectors and address the need for innovative (re)use of cultural assets.
By tracking policies in an open observatory and establishing policy priorities for successful digital transformation and future governance of cultural and creative content ecosystems, inDICEs is working to provide tools to measure and advance the impact of cultural heritage in Europe.
As a result, policy-makers will have a solid framework to assess the impact of cultural heritage and an open observatory to keep track of the advancement of its impact. For their own part, Cultural Heritage Institutions will be able to make strategic decisions that will allow them to increase their positive contributions to the CCI and society.
inDICEs brings together internationally renowned research groups in the domains of Cultural Economics, IP Law and Digital Humanities, representatives from the CCI with substantial outreach capacity, social innovators and platform developers.
Our work promotes the use of digital technology that makes cultural heritage online accessible, traceable and trustworthy, which in turn means people can explore it, use it, be inspired by it and learn from it with confidence. It contributes to an open, knowledgeable and creative society.
The inDICEs consortium recognises the relevance and importance of the European digital principles through its work with the cultural heritage sector. However we believe that a fundamental principle is missing – that of universal access to cultural heritage online. The role of digital technologies in enabling access to culture as a means of promoting inclusivity, creativity, critical engagement, education and knowledge-sharing, is essential to empowering citizens and creating fairer societies.
Ensuring the principle of universal and continuing access to culture online will be fundamental to achieving that goal.
We also believe that the proposed principle of a secure and trusted online environment does not go far enough if our digital landscape is to truly reflect the values-based society that Europe aspires to. It is not enough to aspire to an alternative to Big Tech, we must actively build it. To that end, we propose that this principle be expanded to encompass the concept and development of an open, decentralised, and trusted European digital public space. A digital public space that is built on democratic values and public digital infrastructure, and that ensures an inclusive, rights-based, people-centred alternative.
The Cultural Heritage Sector is a key enabler of the advancement of the Cultural and Creative Industries in Europe. Not only does it provide access to vast amounts of reusable cultural content, it can be seen as a R&D lab of the cultural and creative ecosystem through which it contributes both to the economic advancement and to society at large. However, researchers and policy-makers are struggling to fully understand the crucial role that the Cultural Heritage Sector can play in the digitisation process of the cultural and creative ecosystem in Europe.
Public service & community media, educational and academic institutions, cultural organisations and producers as well as civic initiatives have increasingly become dependent on the services of Big Tech in the absence of viable public alternatives. The result has been an enormous transfer of wealth from the public sector to these private actors’ platforms, which in turn has allowed them to wield enormous power over the media landscape and public discourse, with little or no accountability. This imbalance and lack of a viable alternative is detrimental to the internet, to our democratic values, and to the health of our European societies.
Over the past few years we have seen an increasing willingness to regulate in the digital space with the express aim of upholding democratic values and individual rights, accompanied by a clear recognition of the central role that digital plays across society and in Europe’s future. These efforts to regulate and improve the digital space are very much welcome, however we can do more, indeed we must do more. It is not enough to aspire to be an alternative to Big Tech, we must actively build it. A European Digital Public Space, built on democratic values and public digital infrastructures, can be the cornerstone of that alternative.
Public digital infrastructures will promote more sovereign societies and individuals through the democratisation of access, transparency and accountability, while shared standards and interoperability will allow knowledge and culture to flow, helping people to connect. Europe’s technological and civic communities already lead the way in developing the building blocks that will make this a reality. However, that must be accompanied by ambition, investment and a strategic approach at the political and European level. Now we only need the political will to create digital public spaces that offer a credible vision beyond narrow commercial interests to make this Europe’s Digital Decade.
Universal access to internet services
The inDICEs consortium believes that a fundamental principle is missing here – that of universal access to cultural heritage online.
The role of digital technologies in enabling access to culture as a means of promoting inclusivity, creativity, critical engagement, education and knowledge-sharing, is essential to empowering citizens and creating fairer societies. Ensuring the principle of universal and continuing access to culture online will be fundamental to achieving that goal.
The inDICEs consortium pleads for universal right to open, public alternatives and for access to an open, decentralised, trusted European digital public space, built on democratic values and public digital infrastructure that ensures a rights-based, people-centred alternative to commercial platforms.
Universal digital education and skills for people to take an active part in society and in democratic processes
- The realities of educational infrastructure, resources as well as skills and expertise vary vastly across the EU, and those differences have become further pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular in the digital sphere.
- The development of digital competences must include both educators and learners, throughout all appropriate levels, areas of education and stages of life.
- Cultural heritage institutions are valuable resources and places for non-formal education, however there are numerous barriers to accessing their actual contribution to building lifelong learning infrastructures. Digital provides both an imperative and means by which to bring both formal and non-formal educational spaces together.
- The need to provide the opportunity to build digital skills for all citizens, those in formal education and those who are lifelong learners.
- The need for ever greater emphasis on accessibility in terms of visual, audio, cognitive and physical usability to ensure that older, digitally challenged, or less able citizens can access online resources to support their equitable participation in society.
- “Digital Education” should include as a key component “Education to Information” in order to support critical thinking and Ethical approach as well as a more human centered approach in the Digital.
Accessible and human-centric digital public services and administration
- Cultural Heritage Institutions are understood to be driven by the public interest, to make access to culture universal, and they strive to ensure that purpose informs their online role and presence also.
- Democratising access to cultural heritage through digital technology means doing so in ways that recognise and are able to address the challenges of algorithmic bias, and support better understanding of data and its validity countering a lack of representation and the growing threats of disinformation and deep fakes.
- Developing AI specific undergraduate study programmes, in line with European digital values, and the use of such technologies to support inclusivity and representation in educational resources, is of the essence.
- A human-centric and ethical approach to Artificial Intelligence (AI) should be further developed at EU level for cultural heritage based on the European Commission’s White paper on Artificial Intelligence – A European approach to excellence and trust – and adopted at Member State level.
Access to digital health services
The proven positive impact that engagement with culture can have on mental health, social and community interaction as well as for well being, and the potential for digital access to culture to provide opportunities for all people to benefit from that impact.
An open, secure and trusted online environment
- The proposed principle does not go far enough and should be expanded to the principle of an open, decentralised, trusted European digital public space, built on democratic values and public digital infrastructure that ensures a rights-based, people-centred alternative to commercial platforms.
- Cultural heritage institutions – large and small – are the trusted guardians of the world’s heritage and knowledge, open to and sharing that knowledge with the public. That safe, trusted and open access space must be mirrored in the digital environment.
- Digital technologies and expertise can, and must be, used to ensure our shared cultural heritage remains accessible, authentic, trustworthy and traceable online. Shared standards and interoperability can support this, allowing knowledge and culture to flow, and helping people to connect.
- The inDICEs project strives to promote a secure and trusted online environment, creating a digital space for culture where the rights of users are respected, where reliable, trustworthy data and information are exchanged, and where people are informed and confident on the possibilities to safely and legally reuse items they access. This is evidenced by our collaboration with the Creative Commons Public Domain Charter, the CC0 release of millions of items, and the adoption of the ‘Commons’ as a guiding principle.
Protecting and empowering children and young people in the online space
- Digital content, tools and services have the potential to democratise access to cultural heritage and therefore knowledge for all including children and young people. However, this must be done in ways that support inclusivity, creativity, and critical engagement in education and knowledge sharing if they are to truly have the opportunity to contribute to a more equitable and inclusive society.
- The promotion of media literacy and critical thinking through the use and analysis of trustworthy primary sources has the potential to empower children and young people in a digital environment full of disinformation. Cultural heritage institutions are an important source of reliable, trustworthy and high quality digital content for education at all levels.
- Cultural heritage institutions are key providers of digital resources for supporting learning and creativity, and there is a need to address issues ensuring the reusability and interoperability of those resources.
- Empowering children online means that they must first be online; this principle is therefore closely linked to the principles of universal access to internet services and universal digital education and skills. The underlying imperative that no-one is left behind must inform Europe’s digital approach, recognising and supporting those that lack equitable access to online services, resources or educational environments, including children and young people.
- It is important to recognise how, when and where children engage with digital content to be able to protect them and ensure they interact only with content suitable for their age.
Ethical principles for human-centric algorithms
- Democratising access to cultural heritage through digital technology: to recognise, to address the challenges of algorithmic bias, support better understanding of data and its validity countering a lack of representation and the growing threats of disinformation and deep fakes.
- Everyone should be informed on the ethical rules and laws applicable on the Internet content in terms of non discrimination purposes. The information about the terms and condition of utilisation should be clearer in order to ensure their understanding by all citizens.
- Developing AI specific study programmes, in line with European digital values, to support inclusivity and representation in educational resources.
- A human-centric and ethical approach to Artificial Intelligence (AI) should develop at EU level for cultural heritage (European Commission’s White paper on Artificial Intelligence – A European approach to excellence and trust) – and adopted at Member State level.
- The question of algorithmic systems and AI should be closely related to ethical principles.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme (H2020-DT-GOVERNANCE-13-2019) under grant agreement n° 870792.
If you are interested in learning more about the inDICEs project, contact us at email@example.com (Sara Di Giorgio, inDICEs Project Manager, ICCU – Central Institute for the Union Catalogue of Italian Libraries and Bibliographic Information).