Giving culture a second life
Q&A with Bella Boender from VPRO
Bella is presenting a post-seminar talk at the upcoming Digital Identity sessions hosted by Van Abbemuseum in November. She talks about her role, the changing media landscape and giving culture a second life and more online.
Bella, tell us a little about yourself
My whole career I’ve been working in media. I love it. I find it fascinating how the landscape is evolving and how some people in the sector seem to be upset with this change. To be honest, I think there’s plenty of opportunities to experiment and to have fun as you do so.
“What might be trending in your timeline might not be big news at all. So who defines the context?”
When you say the landscape is evolving, what do you mean?
We used to have our radio, television and print media. And that is how it was was it for a long time. Then there was the internet and then, smart phones. Now things seem to have turned upside down. For example, I now see a lot of people get news updates from their social media timelines rather than a newspaper! Think about it, what might be trending in your timeline might not be big news at all. So who defines the context?
“I think there is an opportunity for us to grow, become more self-aware and create influence.”
Is there a danger we are becoming self absorbed?
There you have it… that word, danger. Ok, let’s think about this for a moment. Yes there is a danger we might become self-absorbed. But I think we need to see this period of transition as an opportunity. I think there is an opportunity for us to grow and become more self-aware. There is an opportunity for all of us to create influence. We are all now social filters in our own right.
“People are the new social filters. We need to let our content make its way through these filters.”
How does this relate to your idea of giving culture a second life?
For a long time, some of our cultural heritage was locked into archives that were only available to people in the sector. At the moment things are improving. But we need make access much more widespread. People are the new social filters. We need to let our content make its way through these filters. Let other people be an advocate for your content and see where it turns up! We need an element of discovery to understand how this happens.
“It was incredible! To see the show come to life again through conversations on social media.”
Can you give us an example of how this could work?
Earlier this year we released the archives of the iconic television show Rembo & Rembo. We had a hunch that we shouldn’t release this content as full length, 20 minute episodes. So we cut it up in new ways and took a multi-channel approach. We were surprised by how much goodwill this project generated. We also had people curating our content. They were sharing snippets from our archives with their communities on their social streams. It was incredible! To see the show come to life again through conversations on social media.
Is there a commercial opportunity in all of this?
Working in a public organisation, commercial gain isn’t our immediate goal but we do want to increase our reach and impact. So, we need to figure out how to do this in an effective way. I think accountability is very important.
“We need to make sure that we are able to raise issues and start debates on subjects that may be considered unsexy or taboo.”
Accountability is great, but how will you survive?
I think we have to rethink what survival means. Our goals may be the same as any commercial enterprise. However, sometimes we do things because we think it’s good for people. By that I mean we need to make sure that we are able to raise issues and start debates on subjects that may be considered unsexy or taboo, or subjects that aren’t tackled by commercial organisations. I am very proud that as a team at VPRO, we aren’t afraid. We want to be relevant and want to reach people. It’s a balancing act.
The Digital Identity sessions will be hosted by Van Abbemuseum on November 17–18, 2015. The sessions introduce new approaches to storytelling using social and digital media. Please click here for details and registration information.