Digital Social Innovation and the Evolving Role of Digital in Museums


Thursday, April 04, 2019: 11:00am - 12:30pm - Grand Ballroom: Papers: What is digital inclusion?

Haitham Eid, Southern University at New Orleans, USA

Published paper: Digital Social Innovation and the Evolving Role of Digital in Museums

This article takes an exploratory approach investigating the possible role of the Digital Social Innovation (DSI) framework in contemporary museums. Gaining momentum in Europe, DSI is an emerging field of study, which aims to employ the power manifested in digital technologies to improve humanity. The discussion in this article uncovers how the DSI framework can unlock and free the creative minds in the museum sector to present genuine innovations that can potentially transform communities and improve lives.

Museums and their role in society have evolved over the years. Contemporary museums see themselves as agents for social change. This is reflected in the museology literature as well as the discussions in many museum conferences, workshops and social media platforms. On the other hand, digital has been recognized in the museum sector as a tool that helps museums engage audiences (in gallery and online), increase accessibility and market programs, exhibitions and various events but no direct connection to the newly assumed mission of museums as agents for social change. The structural and operational function of digital in museums has been productive in achieving what is designed for, from immersive digital experiences and digitization of collections to museum branding and running social media campaigns. On the downside, this model has isolated digital (as a concept and a tool) and prevented it from providing solutions that directly tackle the core mission of museums to improve communities.

With the intention to spark a wider conversation in the museum sector, this article provides a framework that can help museums produce more effective and measurable social impact. With the acknowledgement of both the potentials and the challenges of adopting the DSI framework in museums, the article concludes by recognizing that the use of DSI by museums is a paradigmatic shift that releases digital from the constraints imposed by the traditional digital model.

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