Between Utopia and Dystopia


At 10:00, Angelique initiated the mapping session on the Utopia and Dystopia of the Voices of Makers. She began with an introduction to the day’s agenda, offering insights from Hmm and Rogier. Subsequently, all participants were introduced, revealing a collective interest in the intersections of the body and digital/virtual spaces.

Between 10:30 and 11:30, Maaike, a former business manager at STRP and ITA, introduced the project. She highlighted DEN’s collaboration primarily with traditional cultural organizations, emphasizing its role in driving digital transformation. Unlike focusing solely on creativity, DEN facilitates all elements essential for creativity to thrive. Maaike expressed curiosity about the needs of makers and encouraged participants to share their thoughts.

Maaike Verberk, DEN

Maaike underscored that digital transformation is a policy priority in the Netherlands, prompting the question of the urgency behind such transformation. One point she emphasized was the reflectionabundance of digital artworks not exhibited in museums and whether these should be collected. There’s a noticeable shift in audience behavior, especially among interesting-practiceyounger demographics, who increasingly prefer digital accessibility and other cultural references. A prime example is Travis Scott's virtual concert in Fortnite. Even prior to the Covid pandemic, interesting-practicefewer people were visiting cultural organizations like theaters. Instead, popular forms of entertainment such as live music and podcasts have garnered significant popularity. Furthermore, Maaike highlighted the role of AI in shaping this shift in art creation and consumption, citing examples such as the writers’ strike in the US and corresponding legal changes.

Maaike provided various examples highlighting the transition toward digital practices. Notably, in the art domain, the interesting-practicesurge of immersive experiences stands out. These experiences have begun to establish themselves as integral components of neighborhoods, reminiscent of the role once held by libraries. Additionally, amateur makers now find a stage online, where they not only showcase their work but also engage in self-education. Platforms like TikTok have also contributed significantly to music discovery.

With the implementation of the European Accessibility Act in 2025, accessibility measures have been greatly emphasized. As part of this, utopiafeatures like subtitles on AR goggles have become increasingly common, ensuring inclusivity for all users. In the modern era, the importance of such legislation is evident, as digital integration has become an integral part of our society, poised to endure as a permanent fixture. Young individuals are growing up within this digital landscape, wherein new opportunities for value creation emerge for cultural institutions. DEN advocates for the establishment of a red threadshared digital space to facilitate this evolution. Now, Generation Z anticipates personalized interactions across diverse channels, valuing traits such as individuality, integrity, trust, and transparency. They actively seek out conversations and engagements that pique their interests. Meanwhile, Generation Alpha is expected to witness significant impacts from educational technology (edutech). interesting-practiceRaised with screens serving various roles like pacifiers and entertainment, they are likely to embrace gamified educational experiences as a natural progression. These observations prompt the question: questionDoes Generation Z have a disruptive relationship with more traditional forms of culture

red threadDigital transformation represents a fundamental shift in customer interaction and experiences, value propositions, business models, operational processes, and the management and utilization of information (data). It permeates every aspect of an organization, yet it can be implemented gradually, step by step.

DEN focus model

Cultural organizations typically undertake digital projects, often focusing on a single aspect of the DEN focus model. For instance, Playgrounds initially emerged in the “value” quadrant. platformsOriginating in the physical realm with 4,000 participants, it transitioned to an online platform, attracting 40,000 participants from 42 countries. This progression began in the “creating value” quadrant and extended to other quadrants such as process, experience, and creation.


When Lilian questionquestionned about the challenges faced by non-digital organizations, Maaike shed light on several significant issues. She first pointed out the complexities surrounding author rights. Moreover, she emphasized the platformsdifficulty in pinpointing the requisite skills for digital endeavors, often stemming from a lack of clear online objectives. Additionally, Maaike noted a prevailing conservatism in these organizations’ approach to cultural production, where quotetraditional content-driven methods often take precedence over more innovative approaches. quoteThere is a desire for transformation, particularly from the audience perspective. Merely focusing on marketing adaptations falls short of true innovation.

When H questioninquired about a culture shift, Maaike firmly confirmed its existence. Regarding venue adaptation, there’s an assumption that the new generation effortlessly navigates between digital and physical realms. Failure to embrace this digital shift could result in overlooking an entire generation. interesting-practiceIn the Netherlands, there's a slightly lesser emphasis on commercial and big-tech influences, with funds available for critical, smaller-scale initiatives. However, while funding opens doors for new ventures, it can also hinder traditional institutions from innovating, as they’re often funded based on established practices.

Bert van Loon

Bert van Loon, with a background in publishing, asserted during his introduction that quoteinnovation primarily stems from individual efforts. He took as an example the attic room inventors.

During Bert’s presentation, the central query revolved around questiondefining the nature of a collective, interactive digital space. He posed questions regarding its design and formation: questionshould it be carefully constructed or allowed to organically evolve? Bert emphasized the necessity for traditional organizations to transition into this new digital realm. Conversely, platformsfor the makers present, digital is their natural habitat—a native environment where creativity flourishes effortlessly. Bert highlighted the tendency for interesting-practiceeach cultural institution to develop its own digital platform, leading to fragmentation. While this diversity fosters learning, he questioned whether reflectionresources could be better shared for the benefit of the broader audience. He drew parallels to a shared railway system, suggesting that opinionfragmentation might not be advantageous for the cultural sector or the public at large.

The question of what the future audience will resemble surfaced, prompting insights derived from project research focusing on the audience of tomorrow. Examining digital profiles and behaviors, key findings emerged:

  1. While full digital equivalents of traditional cultural experiences have yet to gain widespread acceptance among audiences, the potential for engagement with online cultural content offerings remains vast.
  2. platformsPersonalized online experiences hold unique value, considering that theater is traditionally a shared experience where sharing plays a pivotal role.
  3. There exists a platformssignificant opportunity for complementary content, which may not be the first consideration but adds substantial value to the overall experience.
  4. From the perspective of customers, platformsconvenience and accessibility are paramount. Just as in a traditional marketplace where one can find all necessities in one location, red threadthe aggregation of offerings in one place is appreciated in the digital realm. In examining market dynamics, it becomes apparent that interesting-practicepromotional platforms aggregating content tend to focus on a broad spectrum of leisure activities, rather than exclusively on cultural endeavors. Consequently, there arises a quoteneed to reassess our understanding of what constitutes culture within this evolving digital context. Furthermore, the landscape is characterized by continual evolution in platforms and technologies, presenting both challenges and opportunities. Notably, interesting-practiceestablished cultural institutions are increasingly carving out their own digital spaces, prompting considerations about their collective impact on the cultural sector as a whole. Meanwhile, channels for the distribution of cultural content vary widely, platformsspanning from broad and commercially driven platforms to niche and specialized channels.

From the perspective of makers,quotethey are actively engaged in navigating these market dynamics, collaborating with initiatives like Playgrounds. Their forthcoming insights, expectations, desires, and needs are anticipated, reflecting their experiences and endeavors within this ever-evolving digital landscape.

DEN introduction

The creation of a shared space prompts several pivotal questions:

  1. questionIs there a desire for a collaborative space where makers can collectively create? 1. Is there value in establishing a space for joint fundraising efforts or for exchanging perspectives on copyrights and intellectual property? 1. What methods are employed to interact with your audience, and is there an interest in sharing audiences? 1. What does "togetherness" entail, and do makers recognize its value? Is it perceived as a structural component or as an opportunity for collaboration? In addition, digital native creators are asked to consider reflectionwhether they view themselves as catalysts for change within the broader cultural sector, and if so, to articulate the ways in which they envision bringing about transformation.


After the morning introductions, the participants took a break until the question brainstorming session, which commenced at 11:45 and concluded at 13:00.

How do makers think of a shared digital space?

This overarching question leads to several subquestions, prompting participants to reflect on their wishes and needs, as well as explore potential dystopian and utopian scenarios.

Lilan provided examples of red threadshared spaces, such as Oh yay (from IDFA Doclab), HMM's Clean Core initiative, an open calendar project (now defunct), and a WhatsApp project (marred by privacy concerns).

When discussing the type of collective in question, B suggests it opinioncould be undefined, possibly focusing on the Dutch language space. H, on the other hand, sees it as opinioninvolving sharing and collaborative work in various capacities. R proposes a scenario wherein opinionmultiple cultural organizations share a collective space to showcase their work and share audiences. A suggests platformsusing the term "shared" instead of "collective". M agrees, adding that opinionaudiences themselves can be considered as creatives in this shared space.

During the discussion, K questioned reflectionwhether collectivity is solely expressed online or if it can also extend to physical spaces. Other participants argued that while opinionindividuals may come together for a common goal, it doesn't necessarily constitute a collective. M emphasized the necessity of collaboration, citing the sharing of knowledge about audiences as an example. Additionally, it was noted that it’s dystopiachallenging to attract "narrow" culture users to explore new domains or worlds. While this may be difficult in physical spaces, the dynamic may differ in the digital realm.

K expresses belief in the reciprocal structure discussed by Maaike, which involves transferring between different spaces. Maaike emphasizes that platformstraditional organizations transitioning to digital platforms require collaboration with others. A adds that quotethere must be an exchange between the real and virtual realms, advocating for a hybrid approach.

G raises the question: questionCan we effectively market something digital that isn't inherently digital? In response, M suggests that the opiniondigital realm comprises 10% technical elements and 90% interpersonal dynamics.


The group brainstorming together.

In the discussion, the reflectionhierarchy between traditional and 'infinite' digital culture was explored alongside the potential benefits. A suggested the opinionimportance of involving programmers and directors from traditional institutes to showcase the possibilities of digital culture, while M emphasized the opinionurgency of showcasing the new generation of makers and their role in driving transformation. H questioned reflectionwhether an opportunistic approach could be effective, to which M affirmed the need for a clear vision and inspiration for organizations. H further inquired about the reflectionbest method to change a director's perspective, with M noting the importance of demonstrating added value and considering associated costs. A proposed opinionframing digital as inherently physical to sway minds, while Angelique advocated for critical examination of existing digital practices.

The brainstorming session on this question spurred the need to delve into additional inquiries, particularly regarding the reflectionpotential integration of existing programs and strategies, as well as reflectionmethods for attracting audiences to digital collections in compelling ways.


Utopia/Dystopia map

The concept of ‘different layers’ entails engaging with diverse experiences. interesting-practiceFor instance, in Japan, not all activities occur at street level, prompting participants to think beyond architectural references.


Utopia and Dystopia map

Different POV

K highlighted opinionanonymity as a challenge, acknowledging that while anonymity may not always be an optimistic act, he values the concept itself differently as a consumer and a maker. quoteMakers want to be known.

N highlighted the availability of different modes and observed the prevalence of dystopian elements, dystopiaciting examples such as artist Instagrams or portfolio websites. She expressed her perspective that the utopian aspect of isn’t derived from its design, arguing that the design itself isn’t particularly remarkable. Instead, she attributed the appeal of to the creative activities people engage in on the platform. However, she acknowledged that the utopiaplatform does indeed stimulate makers' creativity. Meanwhile, P stressed the platformssignificance of institutions fostering open dialogue and cultivating healthy structures for discussion and feedback.

K expressed concerns regarding the fleeting nature of trendy platforms and pondered reflectionwhether new structures or content are necessary to maintain user interest, noting the platformsneed for continuous new experiences. In response, R metaphorically metaphorquestioned if a new train track is required for every new train, sparking a discussion about the significance of organizational frameworks. G reflected on this discussion by proposing an intriguing concept where interactions within a system, similar to how the color of a train changes based on what’s communicated through a microphone, could mutually influence one another. This idea leads to considering reflectionhow makers could showcase their work within such a system. H contributed to the debate by extending the train track metaphor, noting that the underlying technology has remained largely unchanged for a significant period. This underscores the importance of platformsconsidering foundational elements and the influence of commercial foundations on the resulting products, emphasizing that every element is built upon the initial idea.

Audience map

Audience map

The map delves into the needs of the audience, revealing similar answers across different perspectives and uncovering unexpected insights. It highlights a platformspressing need for equality that encompasses older generations. Participants engaged in reflection on the complexities of diversity, expressing a readiness to platformsremove curators and institutions from the process of shaping artistic narratives. They questioned questionhow these dynamics translate to social media platforms, acknowledging the challenges of authenticity within these spaces, where the dystopiaplatform itself often dictates interactions and messages.

M introduced the notion of negotiation in physical spaces, highlighting the dopinionecisions artists must make regarding where and how to display their work (e.g., white cube, experimental space, festival, cave). She suggested that replicating this negotiation process online could be beneficial. Nevertheless, H expressed contrasting views, noting that M’s negotiation process requires intermediaries, whereas opiniononline environments aim for a flat, diverse landscape where everyone acts as their own curator. He questioned questionhow this shift impacts the negotiation process valued by M. This conversation led to a thought-provoking question: questionwhat is the significance of touch in the mind of a cursor?

More Brainstorm

Around 14:00, participants were asked to delve deeper into brainstorming sessions concerning an imagined space. They explored questions such as: questionWhat common grounds could we think or imagine for this shared platform? Additionally, they pondered on the types of metaphors that could be useful to conceptualize this shared platform.

One participant shared a utopian vision of the utopiapost office space in Amsterdam, citing it as a prime example of a hybrid space.

G emphasized the concept of interesting-practicegatherings where individuals bring their own chairs, illustrating a sense of community and participation beyond traditional structures. This prompted a discussion on reflectionwhether audiences are evolving into makers themselves, to which G responded affirmatively, noting a definite shift towards greater participation. The conversation challenged conventional notions of audience roles, suggesting that certain metaphors necessitate a more active and participatory role from the audience, thereby reshaping traditional dynamics.

G emphasized the importance of utopiausing digital platforms not only to showcase work to new audiences but also as tools for personal development and learning from others across different disciplines. This approach, she suggested, implies a transformation for both individuals and institutions towards a more platformsinclusive and participatory digital landscape resembling a digital Gesamtkunstwerk. She is willing to opinionengage on the long term with people from different backgrounds, thus functioning akin to an institution. However, she acknowledged the dystopiachallenge of building and maintaining long-term engagement with audiences, particularly from a designer's perspective.

K emphasized the importance of platformsmaintaining a manageable scale to facilitate interaction among makers within digital spaces, viewing them as fertile ground for creativity. Angelique highlighted the platformsneed for platforms to adapt and respond to audience interactions dynamically, offering varying experiences based on user activity. H underscored the significance of platformsmaintenance in digital applications, often overlooked in their development.

Ultimately, Angelique emphasized the platformsdual role of digital platforms as public-facing examples for audiences and as platforms for makers, highlighting the importance of red threadcreating spaces that foster interaction and engagement for both parties.


Participants highlighted several positive aspects, including the effective mapping out of ideas in physical spaces, the smooth flow of discussions, and the excellent structure of the brainstorming steps. However, a negative aspect noted was the length of the opening keynotes.