The Digital Monument Challenge

Paolo Russo and Giorgia Marchioni, President and Lab Manager, CRHACK Lab Foligno 4D, Italy

Paolo Russo: General Secretary at Stati Generali dell’Innovazione. Promoter of the “Crowddreaming: Youth co-create Digital Culture” contest and its coordinator since its first edition in 2016. Inventor of the “crowddreaming” concept and of the “museater” format, that he experimented for the first time at the “Treasures & Tales of Italy’s Art Recovery Team” exhibition held at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, DE (USA) in 2014, while he was working for the State of Delaware as responsible for cultural exchanges with Italy. Currently exploring the opportunities offered by digital cultural heritage as an economic development and social inclusion tool, and the evolution of the museater concept as a participatory digital monument with the “Europe Square” and “Quintana 4D” co-creation projects in Italy. Paolo has a strong professional background in innovation, cultural mediation and socio-economic development. In the past years he served as Director of UNCEM Servizi, the in-house company of UNCEM, a quasi-governmental organization representing Italian mountain-areas local authorities (2000-2007). In the same years he served also as a member of many Italian Government’s permanent technical committees about policies for innovation and digital technologies (PCS – Public Connectivity System, e-Government Steering Committee, E-Democracy Project, Open Source Committee). He acted as project manager or co-manager for many nation-wide e-egovernment, e-democracy and socio-economic development projects. He has some limited direct experience of EU projects since UNCEM Servizi participated as
a partner in the Interreg III – “Media-Alp” project in 2004-06.
Paolo is a mathematician with a degree in quantum physics.


Giorgia Marchionni is a Junior Project Manager, Tutor, Trainer and coordinator of the CRHACK LAB. She holds a Master degree in Management of Cultural Heritage (University of Macerata, IT) and a Post Graduate degree in Cultural and Historical Heritage (University of Macerata, IT). As a consultant, she collaborates in other topic-related projects (such as 1) ACCESY that aims to raise awareness of the importance of European cultural heritage, to open the cultural heritage to people with intellectual disabilities and to use cultural heritage as an instrument to promote the social inclusion of PWCD and 2) WAAT which aims at creating digital storie to promote cultural heritage).
Furthermore, in the past she had been actively involved in activities focusing on the accessibility to and usability of cultural heritage by persons with disabilities (Alzheimer’s patients, deaf people etc).



In 2016, the team that created the CRHACK LAB F4D in 2019 began to propose a conceptual challenge: what is a digital monument, and how is it built? 

The challenge complies with the stigmergic approach to innovation: it represents a stimulus for the birth of research and experimentation projects or even for simple reflection in schools of all levels. 

The idea was born from an empirical observation that emerged in numerous meetings in very different contexts. There is little awareness of the nature of digital technologies as tools for manipulating energy to create semantic value. Hence the erroneous conclusion that digital cultural heritage is immaterial or “something” that is not better defined, neither material nor immaterial, as also emerges in high-level guidance documents of the European Union. The negative impact of this conceptual error is significant in terms of development policies and at a practical level in teaching and research. 

The design of a digital monument capable of transmitting the values ​​of current generations over the centuries forces us to ask ourselves a series of helpful questions. The search for answers to these questions resulted in local projects such as Quintana 4D and the Crowddreaming Contest in Italy. They have been considered good practices at the European level and promoted through Erasmus projects “Crowddreaming: Youth co-create Digital Culture “and” DREAM – Digital Reality and Educational Activities in Museums “.