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What Audience?

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  1. What Audience? The death of Mass-Digitisation and the Rise of the Market Economy Nick Poole Chief Executive MDA

  2. We used to say that an infinite number of monkeys, given an infinite amount of time, would re-create the works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know that isn’t true. Anonymous

  3. A lesson from history… Print Woodblock (220BC) Movable type (1040AD) Lithography (1796AD) Harry Potter (2001AD) The Internet

  4. The Mass Digitisation equation… n  g  e =  € Where: n = number of poorly-documented pieces of pot in storage g = how guilty we feel about the bits of pot e = the amount of time until the next election

  5. The principle… The philosophy of mass-digitisation is based on the principle of the right to access The right to access is based on a socialist view of public ownership of culture The public own it, therefore, the public should have an automatic right to access it freely Which is true, except…

  6. Some unfortunate truths… It will never be possible to document every object in every collection There is never going to be enough public investment to pay for every object to be digitised A very small number of digitised objects are economically sustainable in their own right There is not enough value in the high-value items to pay for the total-cost-of-ownership of all the low-value ones Not all objects are created equal…

  7. Value chain Digitisation Creates… Resources Used in… Projects Leading to… Products Delivered as… Services Which create… Value

  8. + Overhead & staff costs + Cost of equipment/service + Cost of acquiring skills + Software costs + Rights clearance (time + license fees) Adding value (metadata/content creation) = Total cost of ownership

  9. General public Family historians Specialist researchers ? Richly-described objects Inventory-level records Uncatalogued material

  10. The NOF Digitise Example £70m Government-funded digitisation programme 2,000 projects to digitise cultural assets Hundreds of thousands of resources digitised Intended to demonstrate sustainability for 3 years The majority of projects were inaccessible after 2 years The sector could not afford the infrastructure to sustain the services

  11. The Google Print Model Google enters into partnership with large library Google pays for mass-digitisation of books Library users have access to millions of digitised books Google has access to content for its Google Print initiative Google recoups its costs by building its brand and increasing market share Everybody wins…

  12. Except… The incidental costs of book digitisation are lower than for objects The model depends on a small number of large organisations – it doesn’t work for the large number of small ones The library has to pay for the long-term implications of digital preservation Because it involves a separate partner, the model doesn’t allow for future acquisitions

  13. Implications The economics of mass-digitisation are inherently unsustainable for cultural organisations The culture sector doesn’t have the capacity to create the services necessary to make sense of large datasets Artefacts, books and manuscripts are different things – and different types of collection have different requirements A large amount of money and effort is being expended to meet the needs of a small part of the market (the academic researcher)

  14. The solution? Reduce the cost of supplyby aggregating services De-risk digitisation bymoving to digitisation on demand De-regulate the market and enable market forces to apply Accept that not all content is equal, or equally valuable

  15. The advantages of the Digitisation on Demand model Scalable – grows and shrinks with the market Accessible to large and small organisations Enables the museum to balance cost, value and price Flexible enough to recognise the difference between collections Enables us to build our fund of publicly-accessible digital material over time, instead of trying to do it all at once Still allows Governments to ‘commission’ and subsidise digitisation

  16. Making the supply chain work for us Aggregating demand into simple services – reducing the number of ‘points of entry’ Reducing costs of participation Reducing costs of digital preservation by aggregating demand for preservation services Migrating towards eCommerce/microtransactions Using licensing to control permitted usage Using transactions to develop market intelligence

  17. Moving from ‘access’ to ‘value’ Access is passive and unrealistic Access de-emphasises the role of the curator Access is not sufficient to grow audiences Our ability to add value to cultural content by selection and interpretation is what makes us unique in the marketplace The future sustainability of our online services depends on making the transition from universal access to sustainable and valuable service.

  18. Conclusions Mass-digitisation may not be ‘dead’, but it is only applicable in certain situations, for certain types of collection Creating, maintaining and storing a digital asset is expensive and it is irresponsible to ignore the long-term cost implications Selective digitisation, based on known market need is the only way of sustaining digitisation for the culture sector in the long-term Access does not automatically lead to value

  19. Nick Poole Chief Executive MDA http://www.mda.org.uk http://www.collectionslink.org.uk http://ww.culturalpropertyadvice.gov.uk nick@mda.org.uk 01223 415 760