Museums, Art, Identity, and the Digital Ecosystem: A Paradigm Shift

  • Tula GianniniEmail author
  • Jonathan P. Bowen
Part of the Springer Series on Cultural Computing book series (SSCC)


A defining moment in the development of digital culture, when communication went digital, can be traced to the paper, A Mathematical Theory of Communication by Shannon (Bell Syst Tech J 27:379–423, 1948), the inventor of the “bit” and a new digital model of communication that he referred to as Information Theory which postulates that “all data could be reduced to zeros and ones, easily measured, processed, and copied – and that’s now the basic architecture that underlies large chunks of our everyday lives. In fact, Shannon’s master’s thesis a decade before had already explored the idea of processing binary information with electronic circuits.” (Morris 2016). Looking through our 21st-century lens, we see that Shannon’s work set the stage for the paradigm shift from analog to digital communication across the Internet where people and digital things connect using a variety of devices and modalities from smart phones, tablets, laptops, streaming video, film and TV to embedded media. Living in a media saturated society, we find ourselves part of an expanding digital ecosystem that connects human activity, the arts and science. Now enter museums, as they transform from their siloed existence in a world dominated by experts and glitterati focused on cultural heritage preservation, conservation and curation, to wearing a new social identity made real by digital communication and media, which in turn is driving a new social order in place and cyberspace where people and cultural institutions meet and converse.



Parts of this chapter are based on material from Giannini and Bowen (2018).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of InformationPratt InstituteNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.School of EngineeringLondon South Bank UniversityLondonUK
  3. 3.Southwest UniversityChongqingChina

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