The other side of digital divide

Enrico Tomaselli
A glance on cont/arts
5 min readMar 20, 2014


For many years, in Italy, it is talk about digital divide, the structural and cognitive gap that positioning Italy far behind not only with respect to the main European partners, but often also respect to small nations, such as the Baltic republics.
This gap manifests itself precisely in the relationship between Italy and other countries, both within the country itself, as a dividing line between those who know and can access digital technologies, and those who do not know and/or don’t can access them.
This indeed is not surprising, considering that Italy, for twenty years and more, is basically chained to a tv-centric culture, whose broadcast mode is useful to the ruling class increasingly shaky — as well as being functional to the personal interests of one of its greatest exponents. The italian ruling class — whole, not just the political class — is in fact characterized by the push for conservation, not innovation.
In every field, be it economic, administrative and cultural, consolidated elites endeavor primarily for the purpose of self-preservation, perpetuation of their positions of power, pitting resistance in various forms to every changing that can challenge them.

In this context, it is not surprising that the italian Network is now technologically backward, for data transmission capacity and penetration, or that the public administration remains in a state of backwardness amazing compared even to repeatedly proclaimed willingness to implement digitization.
Of course, the fundamental issue is that Italy does not have a country-system.
In Italy, neither politics nor entrepreneurship are capable of governing the transformation processes, which are constantly suffered, the most hunted. Always dealt with in a narrow perspective, often with the sole objective to draw the greatest benefit (economic, patronage), in the shortest possible time.
If, then, Italy is structurally not move with the times — not to mention, of course, very little of its capacity for innovation — it goes without saying that the digital divide also present another face, for us particularly serious: the little or no impact that digital technologies have on the artistic and cultural sector.
This additional gap occurs, as is obvious, on several levels.
In terms of public policy, for example, the distance between what could be possible do and what actually is done, is abysmal. And I speak not only, for example, about a system for real-time monitoring of the archaeological site of Pompeii, but most down to earth, how to book online a visit to the Colosseum…
There isn’t a real digitized museum network, and certainly the continuous succession of ministers in the Ministry of Culture, more often than not placed there just because they were with the match in hand at the end of the division of the seats that matter, certainly does not help the development of coherent policies and lasting. In doing so, in fact, there is a perpetual self-condemnation to dab the daily emergencies, with no idea (let alone any action) to reverse the trend.

This past February was held in Florence 2014 edition of Museums and the Web, an international conference devoted to the relationship between museums and places of culture on the one hand, and the other new paradigms of digital culture: social media, mobile tour, augmented reality. It would be desirable that can not be solved with italian way, with emerged ideas, experiences and contributions, which will remain small talk among insiders, never going to affect the actual practices, guidelines and legislation.
More or less the same days, was held in Udine another international conference, Business meets art. In this case, as the title suggests, the subject of the meeting was rather the possible relations between the world of culture and the business. Even here, there is hope that come into contact with different experiences, says something not only for policy makers, local and national, but also Italian entrepreneurship, which in this area also reflects an extraordinary cultural lag and noted once again especially for a conservative and/or parasitic approach.
For the Italian business world, in fact, the top of modernity is still the pleas-motif of the culture like Italy’s oil.
As wrote recently Marco Bazzini, outgoing director of the Centro Pecci, “the whole discussion around our cultural spaces for too long now it is limited to the issue of the public, as to attract him primarily as a tourist. (…) It seems that visitors are having to meet the needs of the museum, arriving en masse and consume the offering, and this is not the needs of people, as it should be I think. Still thinks too much in terms of consumers and not as participants, instead the culture and art should do.”

This, inevitably, is reflected in the waterfall on the lower levels: the artists, the smaller operators. That not only pay the total lack of structural policies, as well as an articulated cultural system of the country, but in turn are likely to get bogged down in old patterns of production, intended to marginalize them more and more.
In particular, there are some segments in which, apart from the usual peaks of excellence, they are likely to miss the train.
I think i.e. at the field of design, which in Italy has a tradition of extraordinary level, as well as design and as a realization, that without a needed flash could not hook the phenomenal innovative trend linked to the spread of 3D printers.
I think at the field of videoart, which could rot in its niche, without making the leap to the contamination of languages ​​and other channels — such as a video artist Steve McQueen won the Oscar for the cinema…

In short, if we fail to grasp even the opportunity that the crisis brings with it, take the opportunity to abandon old practices and patterns worn out, instead focusing our chances on innovation, risk really go the way of Pompeii. A country that is crumbling day by day, continuing to lose ground, while the rest of the world goes on.

We can and should, however, go back to being innovators.



Enrico Tomaselli
A glance on cont/arts

Graphic + web designer / Magmart Festival Art Director / Management culturale