Cultural heritage – particularly important in a recession?

Articles on the value of the arts and cultural heritage are useful at the best of times, let alone when funding to the sector is being squeezed.  From the New Statesman, Looking back to go forward:

In looking at, visiting and absorbing culture and heritage, we are doing more than simply finding things out and enjoying them. Certainly, these are vital and thoroughly justifiable parts of the equation, but we also need to think about how heritage is presented and what role it plays. Culture and heritage are spaces in which we encounter different values: the objects in museums, the results of our creativity and the fabric of our buildings are the material signs of our beliefs and values. Our cultural and heritage institutions can help us interpret and make sense
of these.

Certainly, if culture and heritage can distract from graver issues, then that in itself is a reason to support them. However, they also provide spaces in which we can confront, approach, discuss and renegotiate the many values that make up our society, and this is what we need as our worldview has been shaken to the core.

Hat tip: I only spotted this article because the link was tweeted by Bridget McKenzie.

Innovation crunch?

Slightly old (mid-December) news, but I’ve had deadlines/been on holidays: Google Shutters Its Science Data Service:

Google will shutter its highly-anticipated scientific data service in January without even officially launching the product, the company said in an e-mail to its beta testers.

Once nicknamed Palimpsests, but more recently going by the staid name, Google Research Datasets, the service was going to offer scientists a way to store the massive amounts of data generated in an increasing number of fields. About 30 datasets — mostly tests — had already been uploaded to the site.

The dream appears to have fallen prey to belt-tightening at Silicon Valley’s most innovative company.

What do stories like this mean for innovation in 2009, as we lurch on in a state of financial panic/crisis? And as with layoffs at Flickr, there’s possibly a salutary lesson for cultural heritage organisations investing resources with even the biggest companies – always make sure you’ve got backups and an exit strategy.