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Driving Curiosity at EU Screen, Rome

November 12, 2010

It is now over a month ago, but I want to stop and note a fantastic conference, namely the First EU screen conference on content selection and contextualization.  Not only was it at Cinecitta in the amazing city of Rome (they also fed us the most opulent lunches I ever hope to have at the Hotel Majetic on the Via Veneto) but it was an exciting gathering of scholars, archivists and a range of other practitioners.

The central, simple and profound question – that goes beyond TV history – boils down to: what do we do with the past, especially now that it seems to be proliferating?  The answers and questions that flowed out of this were intriguing in their range – from a question mentioned by Andrew Hoskins whether the youth of today (hard to use that phrase with a straight face) are less able to re-invent themselves now that past photos still circulate on social networking sites, to John Ellis’s ideas about how the vast archive of television history might be used for something other than ‘heritage’.  A full report can be found here.

My own stab at this, called “What’s the (European) story? Making sense of the digital heritage environment” was to wonder how to drive curiosity about the past on a broad level while at the same time still making available some of the interpretive skills and frameworks of those who engage with it on a scholarly level.  Practically speaking: how do we create online tools that can help make sense of the plenty?  In part I was presenting my current virtual exhibit project, and was thinking through a blog post by Nina Simon on the new role of experts and authroity in presenting information.  In my case I was also struck by a lovely example I found at the Dutch institute for Sound and Vision:  a 1965 episode of the Dutch  TV Dance party “Combo”, where the Swedish pop star Siw Malmkwist sings in German for a hall full of Dutch teenagers.  There are a lot of interesting stories there to tell (hell, there’s a whole research project in there) but how do we make the skills and knowledge available to help explore them?

This same theme also was a key issue raised in my own workshop a few weeks later (more on that soon….)

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