The UK Government has announced the first seven projects it will be supporting under the £13 million Culture Online initiative.
The objectives of this initiative include “to open up our cultural institutions to the wider community, to promote lifelong learning and social cohesion [and to] extend the reach of new technologies and build IT skills and support wider and richer engagement and learning by all adults.” Although announced by the Arts Minister, Culture Online is also intended to link to Curriculum Online, which is run by the Department for Education and Skills.
It will be interesting to see how well these projects fulfil the criteria of good culture and/or good learning.
The seven projects appear to have been chosen to cover as many points on the compass (and lobby interests) as possible: from primary school to museum, from history to horticulture, and from theatre and visual arts to experimental sonic arts.
It’s amusing to see that the technology lobby is still trying to find problems to match the ‘solution’ of broadband video-conferencing. The ArtisanCam project is thus the one I’d give least chances of success: providing real-time video feeds of artists at work seems likely to be less than inspiring for the viewers and distracting for the artists (especially if they have to break off from their work to participate in a discussion forum). My bet is that after the first evaluation report, they will scale back or ditch the video-conferencing, and focus on the more scripted masterclasses and workshops that can be properly edited on video, complemented by artists’ weblogs.
Closest to my own interests is The Dark, whose visitors will “experience British history in new and participatory ways by using the latest digital sound technology to create three-dimensional soundscapes filled with the virtual ghosts of our past.” You will be able to visit both online and in the flesh, and I shall look forward to seeing how these two experiences compare. It appears they’ve enlisted the help of Martyn Ware from Heaven 17 (etc), who hopefully will have learnt some lessons from the 3D ambisonic work he did for the National Centre for Popular Music.