4.2.11 New technologies and digitalisation in the arts and culture
Since the late 1990s, the Finnish government has emphasised the central role of the new ICT in economic and social development. In the early 2000s, new information policy programmes were outlined and strategic plans written by governments and ministries, but most of them were concerned either with instruments (the techniques of distribution and reception) or contents (knowledge, educative material). This division corresponded by and large with the division of jurisdictions between the Ministry of Trade and Industry (now the Ministry of Employment and Economy) and the Ministry of Education (now the Ministry of Education and Culture). Although digitalisation was making its forceful entrance into the media and in so-called "memory institutions" (libraries, museums, and archives), the issue of digitalisation was left to a no-man's land without special policy attention. The only strategy paper that set digitalisation in the primary position both in the commercial and public service context was the National Knowledge Society Strategy 2007–2015. It was written in 2006 in the Prime Minister's Office, within the framework of the Government's Information Society Programme and titled "A renewing, human-centric and competitive Finland".
The document paints the following picture of the ensuing Finnish knowledge society:
"Knowledge-intensive products and services have mainly become digitalised, and citizens and organisations have received coaching in the use of related electronic services. Service and information transfer occurring by means of data networks has made a new international work distribution possible also in service production. Finland is successful as a result of its innovation orientation and transformation capacity both in private and public sectors."
The document then locates the future state of digitalisation within the context of this development:
"Digital content produced by memory organisations and other parts of public administration has been gathered into a national digital library, which serves citizens, enterprises and research institutions. This foundation has led to the development of new chargeable and free-of charge content production. A significant amount of the information gathered in publicly funded national databases and registers is available to citizens free of charge."
This optimistic vision of the future National Digital Library (NDL) and its beneficial social and economic effects has not yet been realised, but it is now, five years later, close to coming true. In 2008, the Ministry of Education and Culture started a three-year project for implementing the vision sketched in the quotation above. The project:
The public interface makes it possible for the NDL-users to search through the digital information resources of libraries, archives and museums. During the project 16 million objects will be digitised. They include historical photographs and maps, old newspapers, church records, war diaries, works of art, artists' sketch books, museum artefacts and herbarium specimens. A majority of these collections will be available to all through the public interface. The public interface will be introduced in phases, beginning in 2011. It is maintained and developed centrally at the National Library of Finland in cooperation with other participating organisations. http://www.minedu.fi/export/sites/default/OPM/Julkaisut/2011/liitteet/OKM26.pdf?lang=en