The current pandemic situation leads researchers to reflect on conducting qualitative research, completely changing how they conduct participatory research. As it became clear that the pandemic would last many months, researchers started to redesign their planned research in digital spaces through social media channels and participatory online tools. From communicating with participants over Zoom (or other similar applications) to sharing information on exclusive online groups, digital platforms have become, for many, the only way to work, learn, or be entertained. This situation offered a significant opportunity to think creatively about research engagement and reflect on which aspects truly require researchers to be “on the ground” to conduct face-to-face participatory sessions to gather qualitative data. Qualitative researchers must use this opportunity to reflect while using digital tools for distance research. This paper is inspired by the work the authors are conducting in MEMEX – a European-funded project promoting social inclusion by developing collaborative storytelling tools related to cultural heritage and at the same time facilitating encounters and interactions between communities at risk of social exclusion. Thus, the work here presented reflects on the digital tools and techniques to collect qualitative data when the researchers cannot meet the participants face-to-face due to pandemics safety measures or other restrictions.
Impalpable Narratives: How to capture intangible cultural heritage of migrant communities
According to UNESCO, Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) refers to the acts, expressions, and understandings and the associated objects and environments embedded within the ideas and customs of communities and individuals. Sometimes these facets are passed down through generations, but they can also be lost as people’s surrounding circumstances change. This paper investigates how Digital Storytelling (DS) can explore and enable discussions surrounding the various interpretations of ICH, particularly in communities at risk of social exclusion. The authors outline a DS field study, which engaged with ICH notions with first and second-generation migrant participants in Portugal. This process’s objectives were to observe what kinds of stories these methods could elicit and if some ICH form would feature in them. The outcomes were then analyzed to understand if and what sort of ICH is highlighted and how it connects to their present surroundings. These insights were used to inform the requirements of a new interactive DS platform for the authoring and viewing of stories that engage with the subject of ICH.
This contribution intends to present the design, methodology and first results of MEMEX, a 3-year project (2019-2022) funded by the European programme Horizon2020, aimed at promoting social cohesion through collaborative, heritage-related tools that provide inclusive access to tangible and intangible cultural heritage (CH) and, at the same time, facilitates encounters, discussions and interactions between communities at risk of social exclusion. Cultural participation is conceived as a way to engage communities in lifelong learning processes taking place in informal contexts, aiming at promoting social inclusion and cohesion. To achieve these goals, MEMEX uses innovative ICT tools that provide a new paradigm for interaction with heritage through Digital Storytelling (DS), weaving heritage-related memories and experiences of the participating communities with the physical places/objects that surround them. The project encompasses the ICT tools and the use of DS in the framework of Audience Development (AD), defined as a strategic and dynamic process enabling cultural organisations to place audiences at the centre of their action. The use of DS applied to CH is highly related to lifelong learning processes, since it provides knowledge, understanding, awareness, engagement and interest, enjoyment and creativity. The evaluation of a number of DS produced by migrant women participating in a MEMEX pilot project in Barcelona confirms the validity and soundness of the methodology and the power of DS to engage in cultural experiences.
The application of Machine Learning (ML) to Cultural Heritage (CH) has evolved since basic statistical ap- proaches such as Linear Regression to complex Deep Learning models. The question remains how much of this actively improves on the underlying algorithm versus using it within a ‘black box’ setting. We sur- vey across ML and CH literature to identify the theoretical changes which contribute to the algorithm and in turn them suitable for CH applications. Alternatively, and most commonly, when there are no changes, we review the CH applications, features and pre/post-processing which make the algorithm suitable for its use. We analyse the dominant divides within ML, Supervised, Semi-supervised and Unsupervised, and reflect on a variety of algorithms that have been extensively used. From such an analysis, we give a crit- ical look at the use of ML in CH and consider why CH has only limited adoption of ML.
Memex project started in 2019 and will run until 2022.
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870743.
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