IMD Think Piece by José-Carlos Mariátegui, Member of the Board of Directors at MALI, Lima, Peru

The Coronavirus has revealed the fragility of the system of culture in the world.  One of the most apparent aspects is the absence of new technologies in many museums, as well as the sheer inadequacy of skills to be able to use them.  During this terrible pandemic, events on Zoom and virtual tours are becoming more frequent, and some governments have even financed the creation of digital cultural content.  None of this will be relevant however, if it is not accompanied with a deeper and more systematic understanding of the characteristics of the digital world.

Digital media, like live activities, involve challenges, technical knowledge, and a good measure of innovation.  All digital projects operate within an immense repository that also takes on the role of a distribution channel: the internet, which enables the user to package, produce, reconfigure, connect and distribute content.  But these possibilities do not appear out of nowhere.  They require sufficiently flexible platforms with content that is digitalized and organized, so that users are able to imagine heterogeneous circuits around long-established tales, in this way building original narratives.  To remain relevant in a global surge of digital content that competes for our attention, it is fundamental to develop efficient distribution strategies that consider the diversity of our citizens, their local idiosyncrasies, languages, and age groups.  All of this would involve the training of a new digitally-skilled museum professional, with repositories of know-how and an understanding of user experience, metrics and data analysis.  This is an opportunity to generate a digital transformation that allows us to rethink culture, so that it continues to contribute to enriching global awareness and diverse audiences.

José-Carlos Mariátegui is a Member of the Board of Directors at MALI (Lima, Peru), the board of The Peruvian Curators Association, researcher for LSE and CEO of ATA, an organisation working on arts, culture and technology