Coding da Vinci is the first German open cultural data hackathon. Founded in Berlin in 2014, Coding da Vinci brings cultural heritage institutions together with the hacker & designer community to develop ideas and prototypes for the cultural sector and for the public.

Coding da Vinci runs for a total of at least 6 weeks. The sprint begins with a two-day kick-off event: plenty of time for institutions to present their data sets, and for participants to make contact with the cultural heritage institutions, develop project ideas, and form teams. Over the next weeks, the teams work together to develop and submit their prototypes, before presenting them at the public award ceremony.

What kind of creative possibilities can be realised if digitised cultural data is made freely available and reusable? More and more cultural heritage institutions are digitising their collections, making it (at least in theory) much easier to share the collections with the public. However, some in the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) space are hesitant to do so out of a fear that freely circulating digital cultural artifacts could be misused or that commercialisation by third parties could mean loss of value for the institutions.

However, digital accessibility of artifacts has the effect of changing the relationship between cultural institutions and culturally interested people: if the digital counterparts of physical originals can be copied, if they can be modified, edited, and made available everywhere through the internet, the visitor is empowered and can actively participate in the creation of culture. Rather than just consuming knowledge, they have the possibility to spread, enrich, re-contextualize, and work with it in order to create new knowledge.

Sadly, despite their huge potential, this type of digital user is often unknown to the cultural institutions. Within the realms of networked possibilities available to us today, it becomes increasingly important for archives, museums and libraries to address the question of how they connect with their digital visitors, and how and in what shape they want to make their digital collections accessible.

It is now time to discover what new perspectives and questions arise from this digitisation; to see what role GLAMs will play in promoting cultural heritage, allowing access to new target groups; and to gather experience from within the sector.

‘Coding da Vinci – Der Kultur-Hackathon’ is a joint project of Deutsche Digitalen Bibliothek (DDB)Open Knowledge Foundation Germany e.V. (OKF DE)Servicestelle Digitalisierung Berlin (digiS) and Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. (WMDE).

Source: Project Website