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“You Cannot Make a Technology Where One-Size-Fits All”

The Danish ARKEN Museum of Modern Art is not doing what many others are doing these days. Choosing new digital tools out of convenience and speediness. Arken has had ethical thoughts before choosing their new webinar tool in their digital transformation. “You cannot make a technology where one-size-fits all.”

Over the years, ARKEN, a modern and popular museum in Denmark situated in Ishøj south of Copenhagen, has done quite a lot of analogue teaching in art and technology. Due to the Corona crisis, the temporarily closed museum has gone purely digital for a while. In the department of education and mediation, citizens can thus attend online tours and courses.

But the head of the department of Education and Mediation at ARKEN decided not to hurry over to ‘free’ or very cheap digital services – where you often pay with your data or your users’ data in stead of money. They started investigating which tools to use – tools that would also be sustainable in the long run.

“Many of our users are socially vulnerable groups. When we reach out to them and everybody else, we want to do it in an ethically responsible way that does not compromise anybody’s privacy,” says Katrine Pedersen, head of Education and Mediation at ARKEN. “So we looked at the alternatives to the free or very cheap products from Silicon Valley and found that there are actually many alternatives based on a data ethical formula.”

Katrine Pedersen believes that everybody – including public authorities – should consider both the potentials and the risks of tools they install and make other people use. Many, including political parties, public authorities and private companies turn to the wildly popular Zoom and Facebook Live without considering the backdrops.

“Many people chose to use what others use. It is only sensible. But there is another side to this, and that is our privacy and democratic rights. We must stay critical towards what we want technology to do and not do. And looking for alternatives does not cost that much time or inconvenience,” she says.

She also likes the idea of using local, when possible, just like more and more do when it comes to e.g. food.
“What I like about the solution we chose is that you don’t need to register. You just get a link, and you are on. It is also convenient.”

According to Katrine Pedersen the devil is in the detail – also when it comes to technology.

“My focus is digital culture. And most of us have learned a digital language, which is completely dictated by US companies. Most of their tools have embedded their values. You cannot make a technology where one-size-fits all. Our culture and values are different, and we should think about that when schools and education institutions go shopping in the digital world.”

Says the head of Education and Mediation at ARKEN.
She continues to explore new ethical digital solutions for educational purposes at the ART+TECH LAB at ARKEN Museum of Modern Art

Press Photos

Among the tool ARKEN ended up choosing was Norwegian – also because is recommending it. But there are many others depending on your need and pockets. See them here.