"Patrimonio e digitale: il caso CoopCulture" is a contribution extracted from“Fondazione Symbola – Unioncamere, Io sono Cultura – Rapporto 2018".
CoopCulture has faced the challenge of innovation and the relationship between heritage and digital, bringing a change in its model of service to cultural heritage and its internal and external processes This rethinking has occurred and has been possible by putting into practice an approach that takes into account of three aspects: people, collaboration and sustainability.
In recent years, many analyzes, observers, comments, projects, training programs, events and conferences have been dedicated to the theme of cultural heritage and digital technologies, adopting multiple and different approaches: from that on new professional figures to the more technological one, on multimedia and virtual tools to make cultural heritage more attractive, to that on social media to increase its promotion and reputation. In many of these initiatives, the grafting of new technologies was sufficient to characterize their innovative character
In recent years, CoopCulture has tried to address the challenge of innovation, as a non-IT cultural enterprise and with a cooperative form, focused more on people than on products, more on cooperative than competitive models. This is why Coopculture has started a rethinking aimed, first of all, at its model of service to cultural heritage and, at the same time, at the organization and internal and external processes to develop a new planning, programming and monitoring of actions, aimed at growth sustainable organization of its own organizational efficiency, of its ability to spread cultural values and to produce, in a systemic way, economic and social value, to maximize the impact in terms of work and territorial supply chain.
The cooperative therefore proceeded with the Digital Transformation with a humanistic, collaborative and sustainable approach, respectful of its cultural and cooperative identity. Humanistic, to put people and their needs at the center, towards which technology acts more as a tool than as an ultimate goal, preferring processes of empowerment and participation, rather than mere entertainment and attraction activities. If the ultimate goal is to reduce the inequality of access to culture, it is not so much a show to make cultural heritage more spectacular than to activate, through new tools, a process of expansion, diversification and deepening of the relationship with the public and reference communities; and, where possible, ensure that technologies do not increase the already difficult access to cultural work, but can constitute opportunities for experimenting with innovative, albeit dignified, forms of work. A collaborative approach is functional to use shared platforms of contents and networking of services, to facilitate thematic connections, cultural itineraries and cooperative networks between the different actors of a territory. In fact, to grow and create development there is a need for broad and inclusive territorial systems, in which cultural resources and local productions are integrated. A collaborative and networking logic is also needed with the world of research and training, so that innovative projects and skills are shared with companies, to allow a digital transformation of the sector, with strategic and systemic value, rather than sterile acts of research and prototypes. A sustainable approach, on the other hand, is essential to measure innovation with respect to social impact: for each innovative investment it is appropriate to monitor the degree of usability, replicability, ability to create and distribute cultural and social values. A sustainable approach avoids further immense investments in pharaonic installations, with technologies that are difficult to maintain, in places that are difficult to access and little known.
Trying to keep faith with this approach and with the will to experiment, both with a view to improving the use and the relationship between cultural heritage and the territory, CoopCulture has created some technological solutions, of which it is monitoring transferability, replicability, multitasking capacity and multiplication of impacts.
Art Planner is the first system in which the cooperative has invested. It is a networking and capacity building project for territories and for heritage education: a cooperative platform that focuses on the operators of a territory (institutions, cooperatives, associations, small businesses), their cultural offers , promotion and pricing policies, systematizing and maximizing their visibility and distribution capacity. In this way, the wide and diversified cultural offer, developed around the great attraction, is coordinated and integrated in the eyes of the user, enhancing an entire territorial supply chain. This modus operandi is sustainable because it creates economies of scale and network, favoring collective growth. Just to give a few numbers: the portal www.rivieraculture.it presents an offer that includes 51 places or points of interest, through 19 itineraries and the mapping of 9 typical products, creating a network between 6 subjects. On the one hand, therefore, the operators of a territory, on the other the visitors with their needs, followed at all times of their visit or travel experience: from simple information on places, to the offer of itineraries and circuits, the possibility to customize your itinerary accompanied by the digital guide, up to the purchase of the ticket.
Equally interesting are the possible applications of this system, as is the case with ArtPlanner Scuole. Also in this case, the student is at the center of the project and, in close collaboration with the world of school, the cultural heritage is used as a stimulus to creative capacity and broadening of views. Through the digital platform, students can carry out projects that affect their territories, experiment with different professional profiles, get to know, understand and make their own all those processes that underlie the development of a technological product. In addition to all this, thanks to the humanistic approach adopted, they can give space to the creative, descriptive and critical imagination, learning to use digital in a way aimed at something concrete, approaching those new professions and skills, in a multidisciplinary and collaborative. Between 2016 and 2018 422 young people were involved, in 17 projects and 1520 hours of tutoring.
The humanistic approach was also important for the creation of the virtual reality of the immersive guide of the Baths of Caracalla: Caracalla IV Dimension, in which the visitor at the center of the project is free to move around the monument, choosing his own path. The user and wear friendly nature of the technology, simple and portable, which uses a stereoscopic VR viewer, inside which a smartphone is inserted, allows the visitor, with simple commands managed by a single button, to easily orient himself within the archaeological area since the device is equipped with a compass and georeferencing system. But it is above all the contents that allow the visitor's empowerment, overcoming the traditional cognitive barriers: the emotion of reliving the architectural spaces as they were, without effort of the imagination, transforms the visit into a lived experience, producing an effect beneficial on the memorization process.
In fact, it is scientifically proven that emotional involvement strengthens and amplifies the learning ability of the individual, also arousing in him a feeling of affection for the place and the good he is visiting. Virtual reality thus also assumes the role of mediator between the scientific world and the general public. Over 20 years of study on the monument are returned in legible and easily understandable images: the same for everyone, for all levels of acculturation. And the reconstruction is not the result of a reminiscent fantasy but the result of a philological reconstruction, scientifically correct and of high quality from the point of view of use: the result of a synergistic collaboration between CoopCulture, the Special Archaeological Superintendence of Rome and the National Research Council . Under the banner of a collaborative approach and continuous experimentation. The versatility with which the immersive guide was designed also highlights its usability and replicability: it can in fact be used in contexts other than the autonomous visit. For example, as a support for a guided tour with an educational operator, as an enhancement to his explanations; or, it can also be used at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples to give context to the sculptures of the Bull and Farnese Heracles, which came from the Baths of Caracalla. Equally incisive and functional are the ease of management and maintenance of the instrument - being a low-cost device and not a monumental set-up - and the consequent economic sustainability. To confirm the economic sustainability and the capacity for audience development of the immersive guide created, there are the numbers relating to the period from January to April 2018: out of 10,868 educational aids (audio guide and immersive guide) sold at the Baths of Caracalla, 7,455 are immersive guides, which have more than doubled the sales of the traditional audio guide, on a total audience of 77,995 people. Translated into percentage terms, 14% of visitors to the Baths of Caracalla chose the immersive guide, increasing the number of visitors who resorted to hiring an educational aid by 4%.
Wisdom, in terms of awareness and responsibility, cognitive accessibility, usability, economic sustainability, subsidiarity with research centers and with the public administration: these are the keywords underlying CoopCulture's action in the digital field. To maximize the social impact of technology, against the inequity of access to culture and cultural professions. In this process, some contributions from experts, associations and networks with which the cooperative is in relationship have been illuminating. Just to name a few: Symbola's work with the publication "Museums of the future" as part of the European project Mu.SA, which clearly shows how important it is for museums, for the purpose of innovation, to work transversally on a new organizational model, rather than just juxtaposing single digitization interventions; the work that the Association for Humanistic Informatics and Digital Culture of the University of Bari has been carrying out for years with its humanistic approach on the use of digital applications in all areas of the human sciences; the DiCultHer network - Digital Cultural Heritage, Arts and Humanities School, which brings together over sixty organizations to build digital skills in schools; collaboration with Prof. Francesco Antinucci and, in general, with the CNR; the precious reflections of Pier Luigi Sacco contained in the interview with the Giornale delle Fondazioni regarding the change of the public which, becoming a producer of cultural content, must be followed and supported with empowerment processes to promote access and cultural participation.