Rotterdam, Netherlands. Crowdsourcing intangible heritage
On a busy street, a man is horizontal, hovering in the air. With just the strength of his arms he is holding himself out from a signpost like a billowing flag. The photograph comes from an exhibition documenting the 40-year history of the phenomenon that brought such distinctive scenes to Rotterdam: Breakdance.
Breakdance may feel like a modern phenomenon to some, but Dig it Up and the Rotterdam City Archives are working hard to help people understand that history is not just wars and empires – it is something that you are a part of. “I believe in a bottom-up approach to cultural heritage, not a top-down approach,” says Rotterdam Digital Archivist Marie-Claire Dangerfield. “Myself and Dig it Up’s director Simona da Silva, are quite passionate about making culture accessible to people, that it shouldn’t just belong to memory institutions like museums.”
It was this passion that fuelled the city’s collaboration with Dig it Up, a local grassroots cultural heritage organisation that works to preserve people’s memories and memorabilia of local history. Dig it Up came to the city looking for technical support to help create a system that ordinary residents could use to digitise their cultural knowledge and artefacts.