Digitaalsed käsitöökogukonnad / Digital craft communities
While technological advances provide new freedoms and opportunities, they can also lead to insecurity or to a feeling of being left behind. This paradox motivated Swedish, Estonian and Italian crafts organisations to jointly develop a training course to increase the digital confidence of crafters. The educational programme was put together and carried out in the framework of the project EUdigiTAC – Digitally Crafting New Communities of Practice. The project was funded over two years (1st May 2016 – 30th April 2018) by the EU Creative Europe programme.
The goal of the project was to encourage crafters from different generations to use digital tools. This change was especially vital to middle-aged or elderly experts of crafts heritage: IT offers a much more efficient means for the description of handicraft than slower alternatives, such as books or magazines. The project involved the development of an educational programme uniting textile crafters with skilled multimedia specialists. Unconstrained discussions in small groups allowed each master of crafts to find the best means and channel for presenting their work through media. In Estonia, the focus was on audiovisual methods. Things that are difficult to describe in words are much easier to present in videos. The use of social media allows simultaneously you to share your knowledge with a large number of people. Even language barriers can be broken: a crafts video does not necessarily require verbal instructions or comments.
Special attention was paid to three types of videos: those documenting the work of a master in the course of field work, training videos, and promotional videos. In the field of traditional crafts, personal development often means doing fieldwork in the workshops of experienced artisans. Good videos require a skilful interviewing technique which directs the conversation, but a purely verbal interview will be less than informative without a simultaneous demonstration of hands-on work and tacit knowledge. The second genre emphasised by our crafters was that of preparing training materials, as these are often required when presenting workshops or training courses. Audiovisual training materials can also be used in the general promotion of your work or crafting technique, enabling the audience to distinguish genuine handicraft from mass production and teaching them to value the work of a master more highly. Promotional videos allow craft entrepreneurs to draw new participants to their events or workshops, as well as to introduce their work or company. In addition to shooting and editing videos, it is also important to focus on what should be done with the end result: where and to whom the video should be shown, and how followers might be gained on social media.
All this international experience-sharing was important in creating an interactive web platform which crafters could continue to use after the end of the project. All the relevant materials can be found at the project website at http://eudigitac.eu/. Experience gained through the project was used in preparing guidance materials for other organisations seeking to carry out similar training courses or projects related to the development of crafts and digital skills. The most important result of the project, however, was the general increase in awareness and digital confidence among the crafters involved – moving them from ‘This is way over my head’ to ‘This could work; it is well worth a try’.