At the crossroads of journalism and technology


Brief Meeting Notes on Meeting to Discuss Changing Cultural Institutions

Present: all except Amin who is at a conference

Agenda: To discuss the changing nature of cultural institutions in the information age

The group discussed the origins of Halloween which is in itself an american institution (not cultural?).

Pictures were taken with Seung Hoon's digital camera of everbody's feet for mounting on the website. Jean feels that the habit of photographing faces/torsos was yet another method of pushing people into boxes (is this right?).

The group had taken the view that we would not limit our discussions to museums, art galleries etc. We decided that cultural institutions should also include cinema, music, television, libraries and schools. Each member of the group had made a study during the week on one topic, looking for relevant URLs. These were as follows:

The comment was made at the start that the plethora of information available out on the web was making people increasingly dissatisfied with the present as it led to rapid fire changes from one thing to the next without really looking at anything in depth. It was pointed out that Buddhists have been saying this for thousands of years.

The web is clearly being used to put up a lot paridies of the nations institutions. Jean found a site called c3f which had spoof film synopses and compared this to the Hollywood site run (perhaps) by the LA Times. She pointed out that a lot of what is put out on the web is very derivative in this way.

The internet could be thought of as giving a surrogate experience in some way. Perhaps even a wholly different experience of the same thing.

The group wondered whether placing such institutions as the Library of Congress on the web in some ways devalued the reverance which can be felt going into the actual building. Does this effect what one takes away from the institution? The answer is yes. Here was just another poor website!

It was acknowledged that such things as searching the library's bibliography was a very useful and potentially money saving provision.

In terms of the movie industry, Brian made the point that here was an industry which was pushing the frontiers of technology and not being a slave to it e.g. in sfx

The so called low-res film producers were able to film and distribute their films at a fraction of the costs of the production studios which had the potential to radically alter the nature of the industry. However at present it was not given the limitations of the internet in terms of bandwidth.

Tom made the point that Jazz music, while it can be considered an institution, is really just a collection of different players e.g. musicians, record companies, venues, writers etc. What can be seen is that the web is bringing together a lot of these consituents in what might be termed a Digital Institution with no homologue in the real world. This could be a distinct advantage for the future.

The problem of maintenence and archiving of such digital institutions and websites in general were discussed. No real conclusions.

The group visited a number of the websites and discussed their attriutes. Below aer some links to the main URLs (Brian, over to you).