Online Platform Heritage Information

by Bauke Folkertsma

In the summer of 2018 I’ve graduated for my Master’s degree Media Innovation at the NHTV Breda University. My thesis and research was about whether local communities (hamlets, villages, and small cities) would prefer a small scale online platform for the sharing of heritage information. This question arising from the fact that I’ve involved in the subject of local online platforms for heritage information for over a decade. The outcomes of my research seem to be relevant seen from the heritage information perspective but also from the tourism perspective. The destination management perspective to be more precise. The NRIT has since added a chapter on the topic in the Capita Selecta section of the Trend rapport 2018a and shortly the same article will be printed in NRIT’s next issue of Vrijetijdstudies.

If you are interested in the subject here’s a popular version of the conclusion.

I have investigated whether local communities are more inclined to share their heritage information on a small-scale local platform compared to sharing it on large scale platforms such as social media and Wikipedia. The results of the research point towards a preference for the small one local platform because participants experience a closer bond with it, feel safer and more involved.

Secondly, desk research shows that the semantic web might play an unexpected stimulating role. Heritage institutions, traditionally the guardians of heritage information, are, by and large, busy to prepare for the semantic web. They experiment with Linked data or have arrived at the stage where they make heritage information available via this method. Leading international (heritage) platforms such as MyHeritage, Europeana, Historiana, Google Arts & Culture and Wikipedia take a leading position. The relevance of the semantic web for this article is primarily that Linked data ensures that the place of data storage becomes irrelevant since the meaning of data is leading in its distribution.

Both outcomes combined provide an interesting mix. If a small-scale heritage platform better meets the needs of local communities and, at the same time, the importance of the physical location of data storage is eliminated, a system of public platforms for heritage information can have a catalyst function with regard to the recording of heritage information while seamlessly integrating the result into the whole.

Because of its importance for tourism, the DMO could play a leading role in this, provided it wants to transition from top-down to bottom-up heritage information management. The latter means working together, giving up autonomy and relying on self-sufficiency from both the tourist and local communities involved.

To round off, maybe you’ve heard about an initiative called Redbot. This is the initiative under which Tresoar is making the semantic web operational for the province of Friesland with regard to heritage information. Plans are made to experiment with Redbot and a local online platform for heritage information. The results might be interesting from both a practical and a scientific point of view as explained above.